Monday, October 22, 2007

Control in a Constructing Reality

The music emerging from Kingston not only dabbled in experimentation it reflected its surroundings. Through sound alteration artists like Lee “Scratch’ Perry and King Tubby could create a reality on their own terms. “They created a music as roughly textured as the physical reality of the place, but with the power to transport their listeners to dance floor nirvana as well as the far reaches of the cultural and political imagaination: Africa, outer space, inner space, nature, and political/economic liberation.” Just as in reggae a “slower tempo resulted in a brooding mood to discuss heavier topics” which was evident in early dub works. In Lee Perry’s “Guiding Star’, the slower tempo sets up a darker, ominous mood. The echoes and reverbs in the piece create an eerie sense of the past. However it simultaneously serves as a dance beat, and the lyrics suggest a rub-a-dub element to the piece in which couples can dance slowly and closely with one another in the dance halls. King Tubby captures this environment as well by bringing the harsh sounds of the streets directly into his track “A Ruffer Version.” A dance beat is paired with the firing of bullets and sirens. The sounds layered together make them inseparable. Just like Lee Perry track, heavy tones are set to beats that bring the community closer together. It was impossible to escape the violence and turmoil but they were able to harness and control it through sound while still incorporating cultural influences. The ability to place the sounds to their liking brought forth a sense of control and power during a time of instability and despair.

1 comment:

saratoga said...

Your review really makes me think of M.I.A's "Paper Planes" off her new album Kala. In the chorus she's mixing in gunshots with her lyrics (All I wanna do is *pow pow* And a *cash register* And take your money). Her lyrics are always all about revolution, but so focused on creating this really nice space for escapism.

I also found it hilarious that when she was on David Letterman, they censored her song and took out the gunshots!