Lee “Scratch” Perry revisits his classic Black Ark album that defined Jamaican dub music, reincarnating the magic for today’s sound system generation.
How do you improve on a masterpiece? 41 years after Lee “Scratch” Perry defined dub music with his seminal 1976 Super Ape concept album, the musical genius at the age of 81 returns with NYC’s Subatomic Sound System to conquer again, reincarnating the magic of his Black Ark studio in Jamaica, leaning even heavier on Ethiopian horns and percussion, while invigorating it for urban jungles with booming Subatomic beats and bass to capture the energy of their innovative live electronic show.
The original album was a cornerstone in the development of independent, producer fueled, beat and bass driven music. This new version aims to explode the line between live performance and studio recording. “Every night, we set up a sort of digital studio on stage as an instrument in the band, taking Scratch’s whole process of dub mixing out of the confines of the studio and onto the stage so that instead of just hitting play, it allows us to remix and arrange the music in real time in a way that is not unlike a jazz solo. That is how we create the live show, but it also allows us to take it back into the studio to create an album with that same live energy and spontaneity,” says Emch.
Created just after Scratch broke off working with Bob Marley & The Wailers, Super Ape included dub versions of two of reggae’s most enduring songs “Chase the Devil” and “War Ina Babylon” that Scratch had recorded with Max Romeo, which on this new album, combine original dub elements with original vocal elements. Songs like “Zion’s Blood”, “Dread Lion”, and “Super Ape” are heavy spiritual meditation vibes, now with bass pressure turned up and extended Ethiopian horns. The ganja tune “Underground Roots” now features Ari Up, pioneering singer of the first all-female UK punk band The Slits, joining Scratch on vocals. Sadly, it seems this was Ari’s last recording, shortly before she passed away. “Curly Dub” features a bold steppers beat and unlikely swaggering jazz bass line, taken on a psychedelic trip back to Africa. Also heavy on the jazz influence, “Patience” features horns and bass. Meanwhile, “Come Along” and “Three in One” deliver the feel good reggae vibes made famous by Scratch for transporting you straight to sunny Jamaica. Both songs feature new chatting verses by Screechy Dan, a tip of the hat to the fact that Scratch was the first to ever record chatting on a song. “Three In One” extends the falsetto soul singing of the original recording. Several instrumental dub mixes are included both for DJs as well as for listeners to better hear the song elements.
Lee “Scratch” Perry’s next U.S. tour runs October 24th through November 5th hitting Boston, NYC, Chicago, Austin, Denver, LA and more – visit www.SubatomicSound.com for dates.