Wading through Lee Perry’s sea of a discography is a bit daunting. You have to put in a few laps, taking the hits with the misses, mostly because of all the tapes floating around and landing in the wrong hands. So when Techno Party with its butchered, pixely, PhotoShop cover found its way to my desk, I was equal parts wary and intrigued.
Since Perry’s legendary Black Ark studio (where he produced Bob Marley and the Wailers, The Congos and others) burned down in the mid-’80s, the artist (who has been dubbed a dub genius and a certifiable madman) continues to work. Now in his 60s, Perry has broken new ground musically with this electronic experiment. Techno Party, produced by the Mad Professor, explores the fringe of drum ’n’ bass, dub, techno, hip hop and trance. Despite some tacky “Whoo! Yeah!” calls running through one track, most of the album mixes these styles fluidly, creating something totally new and surprising. And the reggae master shines as always with his tripped-out, stream-of-consciousness lyrics that remain steady with the lazy bass notes, despite the electro noises swirling overhead. In “My Name Is,” an oddly pleasing sing-along, Perry’s voice has been sped up to match cartoony, futuro spaceship noises. “Crooks in the Business” mirrors some of his past work, targeting industry bigwigs who have stolen material from him. It’s a bit revenge-oriented: “I’ll make you eat your shit/Eat up your shit/Drink up your piss/Smell your poop/And read your book/I am a book/Crook in the business/Can you read me?” Despite the shady packaging and questionable intent, the disc throbs with Perry’s famous hep-hep ska jumps and creative stretches in a futuristic format. And the end result, while not entirely revolutionary, is incredibly listenable.
Melissa Giannini is the Metro Times staff music writer. E-mail her at email@example.com.