Lee “Scratch” Perry and Jamaica’s First Drum Machine Track

Lee “Scratch” Perry was already known as an innovator before the advent of Electronic Reggae. He is the producer largely credited for Jamaica’s bass-driven aesthetic. As the structure of Reggae music was taking shape, Perry innovated within the mix. The results were undeniable, and the influence continues to this day with almost every modern genre. Another such innovation was the production of 1973’s “Chim Cherie”, Jamaica’s first song using a drum machine. (The EKO ComputeRhythm)

Chim Cherie’s drum rhythm was programmed by Aston “Family Man” Barrett, bassist for Bob Marley & The Wailers. As the official Captain of “Black Ark Studios” Scratch Perry (who actually plays no instruments) would lead the studio sessions from his soundboard, telling each musician what to play as recordings unfolded.

Fans of Perry’s work will tell you his genius doesn’t end there. He also had a penchant for hearing ambient noise as music. Bells, saws, pots, zippers, feedback, screaming all found their way into his recordings. He even took a Bollywood song from 1950 and made a Reggae remix of it. Many people to this day wonder about his inspiration.

Scratch would go on to use the drum machine for many Bob Marley songs and several other artists before shelving it, and moving on, even from Reggae entirely for a while. His next muse (Reverb) would help give rise to the Dub style of music. Dub would spin off into several international genres, ultimately bringing the world a little closer.

Electro Reggae Origins: The Moog, Star Trek & The Vulcans

Electro Reggae Origins: (1972)The Vulcans “Star Trek” was a stylized pop culture reference courtesy of Trojan Records.

While the intention was to cash in on modern trends, The Vulcans helped start a trend of their own by combining Moog synthesizers with Reggae. There may have been earlier examples but this one was the first to really catch fire. The full project is rooted in Rocksteady, a genre which already pushed the envelope. Adding space age noises that had only begun to be interpreted as music, references to “Dracula” and the various planets “Star Trek proved that this new music didn’t take itself too seriously.

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