Lee Scratch Perry Black Ark Studio Jamaica 1975
Behind the smokescreens, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was a true master of sound and spacetime.
With only a rudimentary four-track machine and a battery of studio effects — reverb, echo, delay, phase and a syrupy slow flanger that felt like the universe breathing — Perry elevated the act of recording music into a feat of levitation. From a humble backyard recording studio that he dubbed “the Black Ark,” Perry moved like a hermetic alchemist, infusing reggae music with all the gooey squishiness of space time itself. Thick as island humidity, opaque and swirling as exhaled smoke, Perry’s productions for the likes of Max Romeo, Junior Murvin, the Heptones and the Congos took familiar chunks of American soul and R&B (that guitar lick from Al Green’s “Love and Happiness,” Stax balladry, the aching falsetto of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions) and transformed them into something spellbinding, empowering and weird.
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