At a postcard-perfect beach in Jamaica: sunshine, blue skies, blue sea, the paradise on earth. Lee Scratch Perry grew up in utter poverty during a time when Jamaica was still a colony of the British Empire. He left school early, unwilling to deal with a Victorian school system and discipline and went to Kingston to be part of the music scene.
In 1962, Jamaica formally gained its independence and the island, in its enthusiasm, searched for cultural identification. The revolutionary movement of the Rastafari emerged, strongly influenced by Marcus Garvey and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
“I don’t know who has sent him to me,” Lee Perry tells the camera about his encounter with Bob Marley, “but what we did was a revolution, not a revolution to kill people, it was a spiritual revolution, against parasites and vampires, against the heads of governments and council of churches.” Lee Perry combined African rhythms and feelings with modern pop song structures, a mixture that exploded when Bob Marley presented them to the world.
Lee Perry continues: “I had the order to build my studio in my own backyard. The Black Ark had the duty to protect the original Jah soundtrack, music that came from far beyond, from a time without problems, a time when men and animals lived in peace, a time without greed and jealousy, before the original sin was committed.” Perry was virtually creating a theology of music: “Music as the Holy Ghost can do anything.”
The Black Ark Studio became the creative and spiritual centre of Jamaica. What happened there really does enter the realm of the legendary and fabulous. Though many have attempted, the way the unique sound was produced at the Black Ark cannot be explained.
A thrilling, poetic narration with the legendary Lee Scratch Perry, this movie is a unique project in many ways: it’s not a biography but rather a fairy tale documentary! The director followed Lee Perry for 15 years and discovered a story that is almost impossible to believe: a revelation, told about and with one of the major protagonists of contemporary music. It is a mind-blowing encounter with “the” inventor of reggae and dub, the mentor of Bob Marley and as such one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The movie is a humorous adventure of epic dimensions and can be seen as a guide on how to change the world with music – with a positive attitude, mindset or, as Lee Perry calls it, vibration.
Directed by Volker Schaner