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The Architect of Dub

 

blog LeePerryThe man, the legend, Lee “Scratch” Perry, makes his way to the Alley

A legend of Jamaican roots reggae culture and an astronaut pioneer of the echoing spaces and rhythms of dub music, Lee “Scratch” Perry continues to wow audiences worldwide at the tender age of 75. Originally a sound engineer and producer, Perry created an inimitable sound in the studio of full bass and drum-locked rhythms, and well-interwoven soaring vocal harmonies that would mark some of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ best music, and take reggae to another place entirely.

Perry came up in a time when one of the world’s most-loved musical forms was just an embryo in the womb of a highly infectious Jamaican jazz styling called ska. It is said that summer in Jamaica during the mid-’60s was so immeasurably hot that the quick rhythm drives of ska slowed way down and turned the bass volume way up, creating both the predecessor style, rocksteady, and soon after, reggae music.

Enter Perry from the Jamaican countryside to make sure the music and culture of reggae was here to stay. After gaining recognition behind the sound board, Perry went on to create Black Ark studio in his own backyard and founded Upsetter label in the early 1970s. There, he would record classic roots artists like Junior Murvin, Max Romeo, the Heptones, and the Wailers. Perry could instinctively bring out the flourishes of a river and the haunting echoes of a night in the countryside.

At that time, his use of sound effects was totally unprecedented, and his use of manual control over sound engineering was unlike any other producer’s to date. Perry created a profound artistic relationship with those he recorded. The music he recorded for Bob Marley, brought out a playful, fresh, and unique sound in some of his greatest tunes, including “Small Axe,” “Duppy Conqueror,” and “Sun is Shining.”

He remains a wizard at the soundboard today. After a number of labels and a re-entrance into the realm of musical performance, Perry continues to shine. He has collaborated with dozens of high-grade artists around the world, including DJ Spooky, and explored the infinite realms of dub with artists such as Dubblestandart and Sub Atomic Soundsystem.

In 2003, he received a Grammy for his album Jamaica E.T. The next year, Rolling Stone put Perry in its list of the 100 greatest artists of the century. In his life the roots of ska have evolved to ska-punk bands like Death Cab for Cutie, while his use of sampling, bass, and drums laid the foundation for hip-hop in Queens. Similarly, his production of dub has heavily influenced electronic music and dubstep today. And—believe it or not—at 76, his shows still get rave reviews. Perry touches down this Sunday at Moe’s Alley for a show that’s bound to be out of this world.

 


Lee “Scratch”  Perry plays at 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $25/adv, $30/door. For more information,  call 479-1854.

 

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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