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Echoes Of Madness; A Night With Lee Scratch Perry
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TITLE (EDIT)
Echoes Of Madness; A Night With Lee Scratch Perry
DESCRIPTION
a review and textual memory of a recent night observing and experiencing the legendary Dub producer, and pop culture mystic, perform.
[1,295 words]
AUTHOR
Martin De Leon
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alive.
[October 2000]
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Echoes Of Madness; A Night With Lee Scratch Perry
Martin De Leon

Echoes of Madness;
A night with Lee “Scratch” Perry.


Through the thick black space that choked the nameless venue that loomed over me, he came. He appeared and burst splitting sightlessness into that dimension where the seen is lighted by the senses. Exhuming the breath that for what seemed eternities was being graffittied with the smoke of that herb of secular divination that only it seeps through. SWALLOWED BY THE ENERGY OF MAD RASTAS. The dry dreadlocked heads of many peered through the darkness, making one feel an acute diversity and non-divisiveness. I stood paralyzed by the interplay of absence and presence. The idea that moments from what I simply knew as now the stage would be the playground of physicality for the Jamaican Satyr’s mentality. The anticipation was soon swiftly cut as the keyboardist dropped his fingertips into the oceanic essence of notes that rose softly from his instrument of Dubimentation. The drummer iced with glasses resembling a distant relative of Posdnous slapped the snare into existence and followed the swaying glare of the bassist’s finger’s drifting. The gray light of the thick downwards rumble emanating from his speakers which stood thousands of feet over him, maintained the rhythmic sculpture like Nam June Paik drunk with focus. THE MADNESS HAD BEGUN. The man who had once walked the streets of Kingston with a toaster around his neck, slamming a hammer into the paved skin of Jamaica was at the brink of presence. He floated out dancing on a toothbrush, tongue spread leaking out of his mouth, wailing screams of how he had conquered Italy with his left foot. He stormed out in a green wardrobe with a turntable around his right wrist, whispering in German on how he licked Mohammed’s eyebrows. We were now floating in Lee Perry’s 5th Dimension. We were robotic thoughts enslaved in Scratchattica, where all was valid, nothing was extremity. Yet in reality he graced his beloved blunted audience by skipping slowly on stage from behind an unmarked door, smiling from universe to universe. HE WORE A HAT THAT ADORNED MORE ICONOGRAPHY AND MEDIA THAN A WARHOLLIAN REMIX OF A SCHWITTERS COLLAGE, OR A JOSEPH BEUYS AMALGAMATED PIECE. OLD BUTTONS, MIRRORS, AND LOOSE PASTED PINS DRAPED HIS BOOTS AS WELL. He wore an immense black Haile Selassie I t-shirt that hugged his small bouncing body. He drifted from the left side of the stage lit only by the insolent black hole of weed that sprout infinitely from his mouth dripping smoke upwards into a thin oblivion. He had entered as was now completely hopping from one spot to another as if precisely calculated, leaving only his words to stain his movement. He proclaimed himself the “black Christ” and the “black Messiah”. He smiled with a humility that was impossible to ignore. The dub thumped with a drunken echo filling the eyes of those who were fortunate to shell out 30 dollars to experience this modular meditation made from this otherwordly Mind. Scratch made everyone with a beating muscle stuck between their body make a little love that night. He also spoke for centuries about the government (how he embodied it), sampled many icons from American popular culture such as SHE-RA and HEMAN as well as the amazing Superman button he had swinging from the rings that adorned his microphone. He flipped and swung those rings that were drowned out by global and religious paraphernalia. Intermitting between speeches of how much he loved us, and offbeat onomatopoeias, were deep inhalations on Perry’s source of insanity, that fat joint stabbing the space around him. He removed his cap on occasion to display his short burning bleached hair blazing with a yellow energy of humor, for it is humor that ultimately makes Perry the God of Dub. Whether he was beating on his knee and asking the crowd to jump, or to stick there tongues out for some unknown reason, I recall that Perry’s acts, just as his music, defy reason. He is an Artaud of Dub music, a little more stoned and humorous than his French counterpart of 20th Century theater.
Surprisingly Lee Perry walked offstage as if saying goodbye to his hometown friends, enthusiastic and tired. It seemed like he had been on stage for 10 minutes. But just as he had appeared, Scratch had dissolved into the resonating thin weed smoke that filled the room. He left us gaping, wanting more. This surreal odyssey through the mindscape of this legend could not cease, not then. Yet he had undone the magic he had constructed with his presence. The band pounded strokes of thick, wet rhythms into the black canvas of the night and just as Perry led, they followed. I stood gazing into the empty instruments parading onstage through their stillness. Confusion flowed, chatter ensued and noise began to bubble deep in the mouths of those that stood wanting their Scratch to preach of “his level” and utter the outskirts of his mind’s flesh. So we made some fucking noise. Soon to our weak eyes a hazy figure emerged, dreadlocks swirling in the air. It was the keyboardist caressing the cool skin of his Korg, waiting for Perry to appear out of the air’s matrix. And after the rest of his aural entourage glided on stage, the noise had reached a level of comfortable annoyance. And we were asked to scream, to clap to bring the man who aided Bob Marley in constructing that harmonious sound he was so dearly adored for, back to ritualize the evening like a stoned Buddhist monk chanting “I love you all”. What an entrance that entranced us all. SIR SCRATCH flowed from behind that unmarked door with his version of a Jamaican “Fantasia”. A bright Wizard’s hat bleeding with blueness and cosmic symbolism floated atop his small aging head. an equally bright blue cape draped around his frail wiggling body flapped as he jumped with rejuvenation. He returned with even more sounds that intoxicated the body with movement so thick and hazy, it numbed the legs. The tight snap of the snare drum coupled with the screeching tones of the keyboard, all neatly backdropped by the precise fluidity of the bass made for toxic outcomes, making us all sick with pleasure. It was amazing. And there he was defying gravity, licking the ceiling, puffing on light bulbs, and ultimately speaking and smiling (the latter encompassing truth). He closed this pseudo-spiritual ceremony of peace and succulent vibes with words that left me stunned. Above all his grandiosity and innovation, Sir Scratch simply said “[paraphrasing] I’m a working man , I’ve got to go home my friends, got to go to bed.” All with his insolent smile that dangled softly from his face, giving way to those wrinkles to disprove his agelessness.
Lee “Scratch” Perry is a religion. He is a faith. Beyond the cultural cage of iconography he is a pseudo-mythological being of sound. a “Person” in the etymological sense, trapped in a human body, escaping through an offbeat, humble dialogue with those that are fortunate enough to encounter this spirit abounding with creativity. May this blunted Orpheus reign from his studio of sonic wizardry, tapping his fingers on the flesh of infinity and skip past the grave of cultural waste. He is an indelible source of inspiration and interest. Hear the echoes of his mythos shatter time, and let his sound’s shadow pulsate through the wall’s of your imagination’s phosphorescence.



Notes:
This is a reactionary review and experiential piece on an evening of wonder and amazement, dancing and laughing that occurred on the evening of March 17, 2001. Some 21st century live Dub shit, watching Lee “Scratch” Perry at Fitzgeralds in Houston, Texas. No footnotes or bibliography needed. Just thought. peace.

 

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"It's good to know your alive man!" -- AC Keane.
"ypu seem to love music as only those who love silence can. your texts are a caleidoschope of Order and stream of counsciousness. you do it well with the art and knowledge of a teacher. are you a teacher?" -- Jorge Freire.
"i want to formally thank you for taking the time to read my work, Jorge. Please know that your commentary on various pieces of mine will be fully appreciated and valued. In response to your question, no, i am simply a student of the written word. peace." -- martin de leon.

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2001 Martin De Leon
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
March 2001
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1735
 

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