Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision of Paradise
Lee Scratch Perry has just reached the grand old age of 80 and, to celebrate, a film following the last 15 years of his life “Visions of Paradise” is being released. After a number of UK film screenings and a few live shows, the film is finally out on 8th April 2016 on DVD, Video on Demand and on its own website.
The film by director Volker Schaner is both a spiritual and geographical journey taking in Jamaica, Ethiopia, Switzerland and London. Interspersed with interviews from an all-star cast of dub and reggae musicians, what really comes across is that Perry is a unique magician harnessing the spirits to assist him in creating otherworldly rhythms and poems. He is seen repeatedly blessing his studio and everywhere he performs/records. He is truly respected and has been an inspiration to all the artists he has worked with including amongst others The Orb, The Beastie Boys, George Clinton, David Lynch, Moby and Mad Professor.
Perry is a godfather of reggae and dub born out of his mixing desk trickery initially at his Black Ark Studio in Jamaica. Having completely re-written the Jamaican musical landscape, he explains how he would then be asked for unfinished tracks to play at the sound clashes and this is how dub was born which he then again totally mastered and dominated. The film travels back to what is left of Black Ark after it was burned to the ground in 1978. We are shown around by his brother who is trying to keep it in the best condition that he can. Visitors can look in but only enter so far. Perry insists that he torched the studio himself in a fit of rage and explains that he felt that he was not being respected by the artists that were passing through, who were simply trying to jump on the bandwagon of what he was doing and take advantage of him. There is reference to Bob Marley, who Perry worked with on his first two albums only to have them later re-recorded without him and for which Perry received very little – if any – remuneration.
The film also features live footage from his shows including with Mad Professor and his amazing bejewelled microphone. To accompany the footage there are a number of unique animated scenes created by artist Maria Sargarodschi featuring imaginary characters influenced by Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Church Art, Perry’s imaginary cosmos and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
You may have heard and seen recently that Perry’s ‘secret laboratory’ studio in Switzerland was recently destroyed by fire in echoes of his original Black Ark studio. This time around he states that a lit candle was to blame. The film spends a lot of time at the studio which is now immortalised in celluloid.
If you have any interest in reggae/dub music, or even if you do not, this film is an amazing insight into a truly unique and original artist/poet who is unlikely to ever be paralleled. It really is a feast for the eyes and the mind. Check it out now.
The film’s website is here: http://www.visionofparadise.de
Interview by 25ThC.