Lee "Scratch" Perry Must Be Free
Published Sep 21, 2016Lee Perry's monolithic stance in the world of music is unassailable. Simply put, the man is one of the authors of dub and has traversed not only the content but the form of the Afrikan electroacoustic expression, everything from a two-and-a-half-inch tape reel and tube mixers to the digital madness of infinite sound and fearless edits.
This release bounces from dubstep to acid jazz to noise, all aided and abetted by Subatomic Sound System, IAMPhlobo and the Groovematist — but this is where it gets tricky. There is a lot going on, and while it's crafty in the extreme, it all tends to be of a piece. There are echoes of the Disciples and Rhythm and Sound here, but we could get into "chicken or egg" arguments that would go on forever; that's how much of an influence Lee Perry has had.
While fans will undoubtedly love it, neophytes would be better off taking a serious look at the analogue beginnings to fully appreciate what is going on here. While there's room to reflect on things like dynamics and vocal mixing (Perry's ancient cackle sometimes gets blurred, patios aside), and while Perry is one of the best mixologists in history, Must Be Free is not his best.