Lee "Scratch" Perry

Repentance

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Since his legendary Black Ark studio burned to the ground in 1979, eccentric reggae godfather Lee "Scratch" Perry has made the transition from dub producer to oddball dancehall vocalist, delivering his wild lyrics in a futuristic Rasta style while leaving the bulk of the work to other musicians and knob twiddlers. This has driven away his purist fans, who find his later work "rubbish," and while they have a point when it comes to Perry's iffy relationship with quality control, the man can be a fascinating left-field personality and wonderfully twisted guru given the right surroundings. Any collaboration with Adrian Sherwood or Mad Professor's name on it is just that. Repentance adds a surprising name to that list, Andrew W.K., the "Party Hard" man who here creates a laptop dancehall landscape filled with head-bobbing grooves, slight touches of dub, and just the right amount of strangeness. Sounding much more animated and inspired than he did on 2007's The End of an American Dream, Perry rides the shift from slow Jamaican shuffle to crunchy guitar grumble on the opening "Shine" and acts like the dreadlocked equivalent of Usher on the great "Pum-Pum," L.S.P. and A.W.K.'s version of the hip-hop strip club track. "Crazy Pimp" might even be more pimp than crazy, while the busy space disco of "Santa Claus" finds the one they call the Upsetter belting out a hearty "hee-haw!!" Anyone who thinks A.W.K. the wrong man for the job probably isn't aware of his history on the avant side of rock -- founding member of noise heroes Wolf Eyes for one -- or his work with the apocalyptic folk group Current 93, whose leader, David Tibet, shows up on the especially creepy "Baby Sucker." Former Half Japanese and Gumball member Don Fleming shows up too, but none of these iconic names come close to upstaging the master of ceremonies, leaving him plenty of room to praise Jesus or praise booty. Repentance likes to wander and sprawl -- it can get sleazy, and can sometimes fade into the background -- but it's a great example of how the snobs are really missing out on something fun, weird, and uplifting in the most bohemian way possible.

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