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Scientist [music]

Entry updated 27 September 2021. Tagged: Music, People.

Working name of Jamaican reggae engineer/producer Hopeton Overton Brown (1960-    ). Initially working as an engineer at Studio One, he subsequently joined King Tubby's studio, then – in 1982 – Channel One. Scientist engineered many reggae tracks, but in the 1980s also began releasing dub albums, some of genre interest (see SF Music).

From the late 1960s the B-sides of Jamaican reggae singles would often be instrumental versions of the A-sides. However, some engineers began to play around with the recording, using special effects such as echo, delay and reverb, emphasizing the drum and bass – essentially remixing a track. Soon albums were released consisting entirely of dubs, with King Tubby (real name Osbourne Ruddock) and Lee "Scratch" Perry being the most famous, but with many others producing memorable work, such as Scientist, Errol Thompson, Augustus Pablo and Keith Hudson in Jamaica and Adrian Sherwood and the Mad Professor (real name Neil Joseph Stephen Fraser) in the UK. Dub was an important influence on punk and post punk; then on house, techno, drum'n'bass, grime, dubstep etc, as well as various experimental and industrial music acts.

In the seventies and eighties, dub music sounded other-worldly compared to most contemporary music; but as with any instrumental work, defining a piece as genre based on music alone is largely subjective: what is futuristic to one person might elicit more mundane associations from another. Vocal snippets, media clips, track names and presentation tend to give more concrete links. With dub there was only the occasional genre-related release – for example, The Vulcans' "Star Trek" (1972) (see Star Trek), Phill Pratt's "Star Wars Dub" (1980) (see Star Wars) and Creation Rebel's "Starship Africa" (1980). However, Scientist was a notable exception: though he released numerous albums whose inspirations were political, religious or light-hearted (such as 1982's "Scientist Wins The World Cup"), several were strongly sf-related.

For example, the tracks on his 1981 album Dub Landing were all sf-linked, including "Beaming", "Vulcan" and "Galaxy"; a Star Trek influence might be detected. The same year's Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires not only had titles referencing Monster Movies – such as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), The Mummy (1932) and Vampire and Zombie films in general – but also inserted cries of "I want blood!" etc when pertinent, and had a splendid Pulp-influenced cover. The tracklist of another 1981 album Scientist Meets the Space Invaders (see Space Invaders) was all sf – "Time Warp", "Cloning Process" and "Laser Attack" to name but three – and the sleeve shows Scientist fighting the invaders in the style of a Superhero Comic cover. 1982 gave us "Heavy Metal Dub", with many Star Trek related titles; also released that year was "Scientist Encounters Pac-Man" (see Videogames), with a back cover laid out as comic panels depicting a Robot Pac-Man attempting to devour our hero. Two later albums continued the sf inspiration: 1999's Scientist Kills the Millennium Bug, with Computer-related titles such as "Ram Dub Memory" and "Kill The Virus Dub", and 2000's Scientist Dubs Culture into a Parallel Universe (a reference to the band Culture), with another superhero comic cover and tracks like "Return Of Mr. Mxyztplk" (a Superman reference), "To Go Where No Dub Has Gone Before" and "Quantum Physics Revisited". [SP]

Hopeton Overton Brown

born Kingston, Jamaica: 18 April 1960

works (selected)

  • Dub Landing (UK: Starlight Records, 1981)
  • Scientist Rids the World of the Evil Curse of the Vampires (UK: Greensleeves Records, 1981)
  • Scientist Meets the Space Invaders (UK: Greensleeves Records, 1981)
  • Heavy Metal Dub (USA, Clocktower Records, 1982)
  • Scientist Encounters Pac-Man (UK: Greensleeves Records, 1982)
  • Dub Landing Vol: 2 (with Prince Jammy) (UK: Starlight Records, 1982)
  • Scientist and Jammy Strike Back! (with Prince Jammy and the Roots Radics Band) (UK: Trojan Records, 1982)
  • Scientist Kills the Millennium Bug (UK: Black Solidarity, 1999)
  • Scientist Dubs Culture Into a Parallel Universe (Netherlands: Real Authentic Sound. 2000)


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