UPDATE New mixes also available 3/18/2016 on Black Ark Vampires digital EP.
Lee “Scratch” Perry & Subatomic Sound System “Black Ark Vampires” limited edition vinyl 45 debuted Nov. 4. 2014 on Juno Records, #1 in dub, #1 in reggae, and broke the top #100 in all music before selling out on the site (more copies on the way). It premiered for Halloween on Brooklyn based Jamaican culture site Large Up and received an overwhelming response. Buy it directly from Crosstalk Distribution (US), Juno Records (UK) (who ship worldwide), Jetset (Japan) and many other fine record stores around the globe.
On “Black Ark Vampires”, Lee “Scratch” Perry & Subatomic Sound System have crafted a throbbing sound-man tune propelled by subsonic bass, bubbling skanks, and pulsing beats that balance the murky and mystical vibes of Perry’s classic Jamaican dub reggae recordings with the flammable energy and subsonic vibrations of current electronic bass music, fine tuning a recipe that they have slow cooked throughout their last four years of U.S. tours spreading authentic dub to a new generation in places like Coachella, Dub Champions Festival, and Red Bull Music Academy.
Lyrically the track features Perry’s most focused lyrics in a decade, a poignant oath of vengeance against the vampires that corrupted the ark of the covenant and forced him to burn down his famed Black Ark studio, told in comical rhymes that echo the cadence of a Dr. Seuss story coupled with the morbidity of Edgar Allan Poe, promising the details of where, when, and how he will kill these vampires, from Kingston to London to New York City and everywhere; vampires beware; he will kill them with his hair, with fire, with electric wire, and even with roast corn. Melodically the tune packs soaring vampire hooks, spiritual vocal choirs, groaning melodica bursts, and even a few lines from dancehall vocalist Jahdan Blakkamoore, produced and recorded by Emch at his Subatomic Sound laboratory in NYC. Scratch’s vocals were recorded in Brooklyn at the Hook Studio after an NYC performance with the production assistance of On-U Sound’s legendary Adrian Sherwood, producer of some of Perry’s finest post-Jamaica recordings.
The session was filmed by a Dubspot video crew after a long drive through New York City to The Hook Studio in Brooklyn during which Perry recounted the better part of his life story as a warm up for the session. The footage was used for this interview with Lee Perry and for an upcoming documentary on the making of this song.
At the age of 78, Lee “Scratch” Perry has built a life based as much on his fame as a reggae and dub inventor who exhibited boundless creativity and innovation in music composition and production, as he has on his reputation as a madman with playful wit, a propensity for lighting things on fire, a natural mystical spirituality that he famously introduced to Bob Marley, and his defiant individuality and commitment to personal freedom. “Black Ark Vampires” brilliantly ties together these divergent characteristics to create classic Lee “Scratch” Perry material on all levels.
Perry loves to dance and loves dancehall. His nickname actually comes from the name of dance he invented called Chicken Scratch. During his tours with Subatomic Sound System, Scratch had a voracious appetite for hearing new sounds and was interested in the “Vampires & Informers” dubstep track Subatomic Sound System had produced for dancehall vocalist Elephant Man. Perry began performing on the riddim live which led to developing the lyrics for Black Ark Vampires and Subatomic developing a riddim for Perry that captured his vibes. Though Perry is known for seldom giving straight answers and many have wondered if he really burned down the Black Ark studio, Emch from Subatomic Sound System says that one night after performing a show in California, he and percussionist Larry McDonald, a Black Ark studio veteran, were talking backstage when Scratch told them the reasons for his own longevity: “Stress will kill you. That’s why I had to burn down the Black Ark.” He said the popularity of the studio had attracted the vampires who came to suck him dry and corrupted the magic of Black Ark, but rather than let that slowly destroy him like a cancer, he chose to close the book on that chapter of his life and move on by torching the studio and making an exodus to the UK leaving the vampires with nothing but the ashes.
THE ARTISTS: Grammy winning reggae and dub inventor Lee “Scratch” Perry is a living legend, one of Jamaica’s most prolific producers and a true original with a spirit that has defined and influenced countless artists across genres and generation, decades of great Jamaican artists from Bob Marley to Max Romeo, punk rockers The Clash, The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards, The Orb, The Beastie Boys, Paul McCartney, Kode9, and the list goes on. At 78 he continues to tour, record, and paint incessantly.
Spearhead by producer, DJ, and instrumentalist Emch, NYC’s Subatomic Sound System is leading a dub music renaissance, founders of the US & Europe Dub Champions Festival, 4 years acting as the live band for legend Lee “Scratch” Perry on tours including Coachella & Red Bull Music Academy; plus independently touring North America, Europe, and Asia, and for a decade producing flavors ranging from classic dub to dubstep.
THE SUBATOMIC SOUND LABEL: Subatomic Sound specializes in limited edition exclusive vinyl releases that push the envelope of dub, reggae, & dancehall in the context of electronic bass music through forward sounding productions and unlikely collaborations with icons such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, David Lynch, Anthony B, Elephant Man, Ari Up of The Slits, as well as new school torchbearers like Dubblestandart, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Dub Gabriel, and many more. Subatomic Sound actively produces events and founded the annual Dub Champions Festival running 4 years in the USA and Europe. Subatomic Sound Radio airs on Brooklyn Radio and for three years ran on KEXP’s Radio New York, 91.5FM broadcast which transmitted to a footprint of 11 million listeners.