Mole Meets Master
It’s as sad as it is unavoidable that we keep losing legends – this August it was Lee “Scratch” Perry. At least he was fortunate enough to lead a very productive and eventful life and made it all the way to 85. If you have a little bit of time on your hand and are not familiar with the life of Rainford Hugh Perry, read up on him. Or watch the documentary “The Upsetter”. It will give you an idea how it happened that Perry was included in Rolling Stone’s 2004 version of their list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Of course, he will live on, being honored by younger musicians and producers. In the case of Perry it’s not really difficult – over the course of his long life he has produced a mountain of material, and his particular way of using his voice and speaking his mind will be an inspiration for decades to come.
One of the first to take a shot at this is the small Berlin based Mole Audio label. They position themselves as “dedicated to the sound of Dub in vinyl format, quoting the master himself: “Music is magic. If you have good magic you will be followed by good people.”
Their fourth release is taken care of by Andy Martin, a DJ and producer from Mexico. And Lee “Scratch” Perry whose voice is probably the primary reason why this release gets some heightened attention. All of the four mixes on this 12″ are using vocal snippets of Perry. I tried to find out where these bits come from – and then found out that these bits were created for this project which elevates this collaboration another notch.
Martin is featured twice, once as himself and once under his second identity, Nit Yardman. For a moment I wondered where that strange name might have come from – but then I saw it: jumble up the letters of “Andy Martin” long enough and you end up with Nit Yardman. It’s an anagram. Neat, Nit.
As himself, Martin equips his “Revolution” with fast broken beats that make you look at his name yet a third time. But no, it’s Andy, not Dominick “Calibre” Martin – still, at least rhythmically they are brothers. Perry’s bits of wisdom are cleverly placed along the arrangement, fittingly dubbed out and effective. I wonder how Martin got the idea to throw in some accordion samples, but it’s not as if they didn’t work. Interesting twist, at least.
When Andy puts on the Nit cape he is way closer to what the label promises, deep in Dub territory – maybe even entering Dub Techno space. Clearly more spacious and spacey with synth stabs that sound as if they had been hijacked in Tromsø, turning this into something that hovers somewhere between Jamaica and the Arctic Circle.
No idea how label and artist got the idea to ask Legowelt for a remix – but in a way it fits as Danny Wolfers is a guy that is probably similarly far off the beaten track as Lee Perry was, saying that he is a professional Ufologist, among a lot of other jobs. And ex-Amiga programmer – hinting at a love for the early electronic decades that is omnipresent in his remix as well. He equips the track with a fat analogue synth bass theme that could easily have been snatched from an early John Carpenter movie soundtrack.
And then there’s the Turmspringer guys with their version. Galic and Brüggemann turn the track into an Afro/Tech House groover, the warmest and smoothest option among the four. Perry’s voice fragments are getting a role that is less center stage, rather an accompanying one – but that might just be the result of applying the master’s voice to a much more fluent arrangement.
Favorite version? Probably Mr. Martin’s original. And Nit’s synth stab. It made me go back to Biosphere’s great remix of Nicolette’s “No Government”. Definitely need to write about that one some day. Until then we’ll probably get more Dub from the Mole. Looking forward.
Release for review:
ANDY MARTIN FT. LEE SCRATCH PERRY – REVOLUTION – MOLE AUDIO – MA-04