Much ink has been spilled over the length of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s incredible, 50 plus-year music career, and that should be unsurprising as Perry has held a towering and instrumental influence on both modern and contemporary Jamaican reggae music, as Perry has been a renowned producer, record label exec and an artist. With some of the period’s most innovative studio techniques and focus on production values, Perry quickly became a highly-sought after after producer, who eventually handled the dials and controls of hit songs by acts The Wailers, Junior Byles, Max Romeo, The Heptones, Gregory Isaacs, Junior Murvin, The Clash, Bob Marley and countless others. But perhaps most important, Perry is known as one of the forefathers of the dub sound, which he further progressed through his production work and his own wildly, creative and influential work as an artist.
Throughout his lengthy and influential career, Perry also has a long-held reputation for being one of music’s most eccentric personalities, known for bizarre behavior, stream of consciousness interviews, costumes made of found objects, such as feathers, toys, playing cards and coins and dying his hair and facial hair in neon bright colors. And although he may look absolutely ridiculous, he actually is something of a cosmic jester — behind the prat falls, puns and unpredictable behavior is something much more profound. Perry’s material, which is recorded in a free-flowing, zen-like stream of consciousness-based fashion, often focuses on the nature of God, the universe and of man.
And although he turned 79 in March, Perry has managed to be as vital, challenging, forward-thinking and as innovative as ever, collaborating with the likes of The Beastie Boys, The Orb (their The Orbserver in the star house is arguably one of the most unique and compelling albums and collaborations of the past 5 or 6 years) and most recently with Felix da Housecat, the renowned Chicago-based electronic music producer and DJ, who has produced and created work in a wild variety of electronic music genres including acid house, techno warrior, nu-skool-electro disco and a number of others.
“The Natural,” the latest single from Felix da Housecat’s recently released full-length Narrative of Thee Blast Illusion pairs the legend’s distinctive, stream-of-consciousness vocal style with a subtly dub riddim that possess a cosmic glow and it gives the song a futuristic and psychedelic feel. But just underneath the surface is an improvised breeziness that stems from the single’s recording process. As Felix describes it, his tour manager/co-producer Devon James Stewart is the son of a member of The Skatalites, and as a result, Stewart was able to get Perry’s number. Perry wasn’t familiar with his work, so Felix had to send him some material.
After figuring out the necessary logistics of the recording session, Felix describes the recording as being a profoundly psychedelic experience. He managed to get a number of players from Black Ark Studios, which gave the sessions a sense of walking back in time to the 1970s. “You can’t have a normal conversation with him,” Felix explained. “It’s like he has natural DMT. It’s not an act!” He goes to describe that things just kind of clicked and you can feel it through the song.
The official video features Felix da Housecat and Lee “Scratch” Perry in Xbox Kinect-styled CGI animation and their figures dart, bob and undulate to the riddim in a way that’s as fittingly trippy as the song.