Fortified presents: Scientist vs The Upsetters

Fortified presents: Scientist vs The Upsetters

‘Let me tell you man, reggae is the hardest music to engineer'

Capturing the sounds of the studio and helping to commit them to wax while preserving and, if possible, enhancing the essence of the performance, the studio engineer is a conduit between the art and physics of recording. In many respects the process is an alchemical one, but in others it’s profoundly technical. It was in his Kingston studio watching the young Hopeton Brown’s rigorous approach to recording King Tubby uttered the words, ‘Damn, this boy must be a scientist.’

Brown’s imagination was captured when he started experimenting with studio equipment. ‘I noticed the different effect reggae would have on an amplifier,’ he explains. ‘It needed much higher fidelity and a wider frequency range than any other music.’

Thirty years later, Brown (better-known as Scientist) will tour the UK as part of a project with Pinch’s Tectonic label. For this very special show he will perform live with brothers Aston ‘Family Man’ and Carlton Barrett – original members of Lee Perry’s Upsetters – providing the raw material for his live remixes and over dubs.

Brown takes great pride in the resonance his music has with younger producers. ‘Influence is a very important thing,’ he says. ‘It’s always good when other people admire what you do and want to create something of their own with it.’

He also maintains resolute faith in the art of the dub engineer. ‘Let me tell you man, reggae is the hardest music to engineer, when you can master reggae everything else is lightweight.’

Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Sun 21 Nov.

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