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An accident in the fish tank

This is Hopton Brown, aka Scientist. He is the boy protege of King Tubby, the innovator of Dub music. Hopton told me that they called him scientist because he loved to tinker with machines. Many of the effects used in early tub were created or tweaked by Scientist. As a child prodigy, he had a knack for taking things apart and putting them back together again. Even when I was talking to him here in Tokyo, he had a bag full of gear and a screwdriver in his hand. He was working on some sort of new effects pedal that would create some dubby sound. Honestly I didn’t understand it. What I did know was that he is a master of his craft. Years ago we were in the club and he began to rearrange the soundboard set up. The head engineer was very upset and didn’t want him to touch anything. Scientist ignore him and completed his mission. All he said the entire time he was working was “wait then listen“. When he was done, he played some music through his newly arranged board and the sound engineer was astonished. I remember him deeply apologizing, bowing, then getting his notebook out so he could learn how Scientist had created the sorcery he did. To scientist, sound manipulation was like speaking another language. Dub was the tongue he grew up with. He learned to speak it along with Jamaican patois and English. When he wasn’t mixing in the studio or making some new sound gadget, he loved to talk about politics. His favorite thing to say was “Marcellus don’t you know those politicians are not in control. If they try to do what they want, you can be sure they will have an accident in the fish tank.“ I always thought it was the funniest thing I had ever been told. I can still hear his voice in my head speaking with that heavy Jamaican accent. It’s like a catchphrase ear worm. It’s also a deeply profound truth.


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