On Record: Stroboscopic Artefacts’ Lucy sparks up and pays tribute to Lee Perry’s Blackboard Jungle Dub
On Record is an occasional series on FACT in which we invite an artist, DJ or label-owner of note to talk about a record of special significance to them. This month it’s the turn of Lucy.
Real name Luca Mortellaro, Lucy hails from Italy and is based in Berlin, where he runs his label, Stroboscopic Artefacts. SA’s formidable and ever-expanding catalogue includes tranmissions from the techno and electronic avant-garde by the likes of Xhin, Perc, Pfirter, Dadub, Kangding Ray and of course Lucy himself, whose 2011 album Wordplay For Working Bees is arguably the imprint’s crowning achievement to date.
FACT called up Lucy to talk about Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s 1973 album Blackboard Jungle Dub, also known as Upsetters 14 Dub Blackboard Jungle. One of the very first dub albums, it was initially released in Jamaica in an edition of just 300 copies, but soon attained legendary status – a status which has been consolidated by a number of subsequent reissues, most recently a 10″ box set released for Record Store Day 2012.
Lucy is playing in London this Friday, 26 October, alongside Blawan, Pangaea, Objekt, Kowton and others, for Bleep.com’s party as part of The Hydra series at a warehouse location TBA. More information and tickets here.
“I still remember very clearly the moment that I heard it first. It was when I was still a teenager, still living in Sicily, and I was at this dub festival, close to the Etna volcano – one of those amazing dub-roots raves that they would have in my hometown. I still remember us dancing in the sand, the sun was shining and everything…it was kind of dreamy [laughs]. Then suddenly I heard this thing that was simultaneously so in theme, shall we say, but at the same time so different. It just sounded very weird. And I was like, why does this sound so different to me, am I fucked up? [laughs]. It was really something inside the sound. And that was my first encounter with Lee Perry.
“I approach the selector and saying, ‘What’s this?!’ And he says, it’s from this, and I see the cover of Blackboard Jungle Dub. And I was like OK, I need to go deeper. It was so intense: this extensive use of sampling, but very raw, but not so treated. Sounds that are actually very mimetic of the jungle: the screaming, the strange birds, the lions. It was incredible, because when you listen carefully you realise that these are not samples of animals, this is Perry using studio tools in such a revolutionary way. For Perry it was so easy to, how to say, mould his own tools to express what he wants them to express. You know, it’s just a phase and a tape delay in a chain…any original signal, with auto-oscillation, to make the sound of a lion roaring, you know? [laughs]. I was like OK, this is really revolutionary for my ears. Using noise, and deforming it into something that is very musical and expressive.”
Would you say the record has influenced your own work?
“It was so important to me…I did a lot of interviews about my album of 2011, and people often asked me about this ultra-extensive use of field recordings, and I can say that the roots of that passion I have for treating field recordings and transforming them into music comes also from that kind of early dub experience. With sampling, if you think about it philosophically, you’re actually taking a part of the external reality, which is a chaos of sounds that are not yet music, and then you’re putting them into something that is totally yours. That’s a very high level artistic process. For me it’s like trying to translate reality into artistic language…it’s really like cutting a bit of reality and putting it into your very subjective mind-trip, you know what I mean? That’s why that album was, and still is, so important to me.”
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