Bill Laswell, Josh Werner, Gigi, Garrison Hawk, Tunde Adebimpe, Sly Dunbar, Jahdon Blakkamoore
"Fusing eccentric spiritual vision with Rastafarian psychedelia, surreal experimental pop, powerful protest music and rock solid dub reggae with African overtones. A world of hidden connections revealing multinational conspiracy theories, Old Testament prophecies, Rastafarian poetry & incantations of the Jamaican folk withcraft known as Obeah. Topped off with hermetic language games and comic book metaphysics." -- Bill Laswell
As one of the most prolific, influential and irretrievably eccentric record producers ever, Lee "Scratch" Perry continues to reshape and refine an adventurous style all his own with his latest studio outing, Rise Again. A long-awaited collaboration with New York-based producer Bill Laswell (and a team of talented musicians), the album marks a milestone in the careers of both artists, arriving as it does on the heels of Perry's 75th birthday, and as a flagship release on Laswell's own M.O.D. Technologies imprint.
To mark the occasion, Laswell has recruited an A-list of talented musicians who each adds their own unique flavor to the project. This diverse line-up includes vocalists Tunde Adebimpe (frontman for Brooklyn art punks TV On The Radio), Gigi Shibabaw (whose Mesgana Ethiopia was previously released through M.O.D. Technologies) and Hawkman (co-lead throat for the Laswell-founded group Method Of Defiance); P-Funk legend Bernie Worrell (keyboards); Peter Apfelbaum (tenor sax & flute); Steven Bernstein (trumpet); Josh Werner (bass); and Hamid Drake (drums). It's a killer studio ensemble that could give Perry's original Upsetters band (with the Wailers' Family Man and Carly Barrett) a serious battle for the backbeat.
"I really should have connected with Scratch a long time ago," Laswell told Bass Player magazine last December. "A lot of it is just about a contact. [Matisyahu bassist] Josh Werner was playing in Scratch's band, and I had worked with Josh. He suggested trying to create something with Scratch, and I was certain no record company in their right mind would touch it, which is why we're doing it ourselves. It's a real production, and really conscious of bringing out Lee Perry. It's his presence that keeps this thing moving. Is the whole idea crazy? That's part of what makes it worth doing."
On Rise Again, Perry still sounds strangely at home on a microphone-a move he first made on the 1978 classic Roast Fish, Collie Weed & Corn Bread, even though he'd produced countless classic records in Jamaica for more than ten years before that. But Scratch is a natural storyteller, a soothsayer, a space-time traveler and a truth revealer-all aspects of a complex persona he has cultivated over the years, shrouded in Rasta mysticism and church catechism, but completely original and unbeholden to any rules or customs. Scratch does his own thing, on his own time, and if songs like "Scratch Message" and "Wake the Dead" and the title track "Rise Again" are any indication, the quickest way to the center of Scratch's ethos is to give up trying to understand him and just let his lyrics wash over you.
Meanwhile, Laswell's tripped-out soundscapes recall the vintage dub sound Perry himself perfected in the '70s, but with the stereo thickness, clarity and warmth of a true state-of-the-art recording. It's still amazing to consider that some of Perry's best dub mixes, like the indispensable Heart Of The Congos album from 1977, were created using a 4-track tape machine, and yet there's a distinctly analog flavor to much of Rise Again, evident in Bernie Worrell's organ lines on "Japanese Food," in the echo-kissed horns and Minimoog belches on "Dancehall Kung Fu," or in the chimes, flute and found sounds that weave their way through the opening track "Higher Level".
01. Higher Level
02. Scratch Message
04. Wake the Dead
05. Rise Again
06. African Revolution
07. Dancehall Kung Fu
09. House of God
11. Inakaya (Japanese Food)