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Lee Perry: dub on 4 tracks

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Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - 07:01 pm:   

Does anyone know how exactly LSP made such complex stuff on just 4 tracks in the black ark? and dont just say "track bouncing" because i know that much already.

The Interruptor
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2001 - 10:29 am:   

At that time jamaican producers used to record
the whole band at once. With four tracks only
I guess they just grouped instruments together
on one track. For example: Drums & Percussion on
one track, bass on the next, guitar, piano and
organ on a third track. This setup would leave
one track empty to record the vocals later.

(In the SKA era the whole band was directly cut
to 2 tracks..)

Posted on Thursday, March 15, 2001 - 10:04 am:   

The real early Perry days. Perry also recorded on just 2 tracks. Drum & Bass on the left and all the rest on the right channel.


Posted on Friday, March 16, 2001 - 07:17 pm:   

One way to make a four track work like an eight track is to group instuments with unlike frequncies onto the same track. For instance, bass drum and high hat. Then send the track out of two separate effects sends, apply high pass filter to one and low pass to the other, this isolates the instuments. Of course you will get leakage but that is what makes it funky. I'm also pretty sure that like the Beatles, Perry had access to two four tracks so that he could record basic riddems onto one and then bounce onto one or two channels of the second. I also read a Sly And Robbie interview where they talk about splicing multitrack tape to make loops. You can get a lot of variety out of a two bar loop when you can fade a different part of it in and out of the mix, I'm positive this is what Muslimgauze did.

Posted on Saturday, March 17, 2001 - 10:36 pm:   

>> Muslimgauze

Sorry for My ignorance
who is "Muslimgauze"


The Interruptor
Posted on Sunday, March 18, 2001 - 02:21 pm:   

Check this Link:

I only know one of his tracks: His remix of
Unitone Hifi's "Babylon is Iraq" on the rewound +rerubbed CD (incoming! recs)

a beautifully strange piece of dub!

Posted on Monday, March 19, 2001 - 03:53 pm:   

Then you'll have a Muslimgauze tune. As well as a track of mine. :-)


ryan moore
Posted on Thursday, March 22, 2001 - 01:55 pm:   

re: the above, i played guest percussion years ago with muslimgauze for a radio session taped in amsterdam - released later on staalplaat. he told me that he did his loops by splicing & looping 2 trk tape. a revox machine i think. i think his drumming was underrated - as lots of those fat beats are him laying it down on acoustic drums.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 06:54 pm:   

I read an interview with Perry where he was asked the same question, he replied scathingly "There are only three tracks i use, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost"
If you can persuade those three to get into a recording studio i'll be dead impressed as i hear they dont normally work on contract.

Mike Zee
Posted on Friday, June 29, 2001 - 09:42 am:   

hi, guys,
this is actually pretty much mind moving topic for general discussion about DUB.
well, first of, i have no idea about how LSP actually did his 'thing', my thought would be that nobody actually does know much abut it...;), yeah, Gravy, this 'three-track method' , he he, is actually pretty normal sort of answer for LSP. He also said somewhere, that he would not share 'secrets'..., leave it in 'mystery zone'.
Also 'ghosts and spirits' I beleave must have allot to do with DUB, well, mystically speaking, again.
On serious note, it's really a mixture of real technical skills and 'electronic alchemistry', and as the whole thing is done by a 'creator' in real time, where creator's soul is being in charge, spirits and ghost may really 'kick in'...;), so as we see, it's a some tough task actually for anybody to really describe 'how was it done, you know what I mean /?, well...
closer to the subject:
what ianoditer is saying is actually the key here, as I think.
Now days, it's just the way it is, when we hear something strange, unusual, complicated etc..., the first thing come through our mind (may be) is that it has to be some multi-source, like 16/32 track or something, you know...
The fact is, we often may miss, that actually 'single source' is not that 'poor'. Well, this is why MIXER is the HEART in DUB.
I would hate to even try, but just as example, may I? Just something primitive:
Let's say you have two track, which is simply four bass picks (loop like play, or actually loop), nothing else. You have it as two tracks (stereo), it's on Ch1 and 2 sent to main mix. Then you have Ch1 and Ch2 direct out through distortion back to mixer on Ch3 and Ch4 sent to main mix. Ch3 and Ch4 also sent to subgroups SG1 and SG2. SG1 and SG2 out sent to some spasey reverb with output back to mixer Ch5 and Ch6. Now, you play back your two track. Just 'clean bass'. You see, if you move up Ch3 and Ch4, you add some distortion to the bass sound, if you also move up SG1 and SG2, you send distorted sound to reverb, and if your Ch5 and Ch6 is up (return) you also get that long tail spasey reverb sound.
He he he, sound like a bit of nonsense, maybe. But here is where 'ghosts and spirits' must kik in...., while grooving to the riddim, you start adjusting eq (for example) on channels, and then depends on how and when, you are finding something REAL..., which creates the whole new feel, it may sound, like first bass pick is deep and clean, second and third gets some 'scratchy distortion vibe' and the FOURTH actually add some sort of sound like long tailed reverb[ed] distant snare shot/or brush....,
Now, the 'alchemistry' here may go as complicated as you just can imagine (like delays, dynamic filters etc can be involved...) and what ever 'toys' you've got around you. Anything can go.... just look at it 'wid oppened mind'...
Well, guys, I hope you are getting my point right...., I gues, the main point is that the source can be 'minimal', or how shall I say it?, can be a single voice, in a sense, then it's like a branches of a tree, splitting out from root/base withing you dub-lab, and you are the 'magic soul'n'mind' to do all that and you the one to put it all back together ...., yeah, MAIN OUTPUT, he he he...

now, joking or not, but if you think about it more like again and again...., then you may really pray before your next dubbin' session.
It may get spookey, sometimes ;)...


well, I wish to add , btw, that I really believe that you gotta go ANALOG mixer. Man, I have nothing really to back up this point. All I can say is, that it's just the way it feels. It's like when you work with analog board, ..., it's like living creature, organism...., you move one thing, the whole body reacts. Or I say: analog board actually MIX, while digital re-writes.

oh, well, I'll give it a rest...


/mike zee

/pls ignore misspellings :(

Solomon Jabby
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 01:06 am:   

I have heard that Lee Perry used a TEAC 3340 4 track along with a TEAC 2 track. He would record on his 4 track first. Then dump those 4 tracks onto one of the channels on his two track. On the other channel of the 2 track he would add vocals and then play the 2 track back to the 1st and 2nd channels of the four track. That would leave 2 additional tracks to play around with before the final mix is made. I'm pretty sure he didn't sync two 4 tracks like the Beatles did, the Black Ark was a primitive studio even by Jamaican standards in the 70's. The Federal recording studio had a 16 track machine in the early seventies and was considered high tech. Perry didn't own an eight track until the 80's although he may have had access to one while recording in London. But really, in my opinion, the equipment used in Black Ark isn't what gave it it's characteristic sound (with the exception of maybe the effects and the drum booth), but more importantly I think it was Perry's ability to blend melodies and percussion; mixed with a steady supply of innovative musicians ever present around and near the Ark. Man, if I had guys like Watty Burnett and Linval Thompson sleeping in my studio (they lived in the Ark for a couple of years) I could probably do a little better......

walter carlos dobro
Posted on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 06:00 am:   

Forget it, guys...
You will never come an inch close to what those guys did.They did not THINK about, they did not DISCUSS about it, they just DID just do something completely different and stop running after "that" magic, like knights of the round table, will you.

Posted on Tuesday, August 07, 2001 - 07:34 pm:   

hi perry had a 16 track mixing console and a 4 track teac recorder. jack all instruments in the channels than while the band is playing he mix everything up like EQ and Fader positions
then i think scratch got 4 recording outz in his mixer and send dem ina de 4-track teac


YA understan´?

thats it but dont talk too much bout makin music jus´do it Like john lee hooker said

Ruu from germany.

Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 04:31 pm:   



JAH LOVES DUB!!!!!!!!!

Mike Zee
Posted on Tuesday, September 04, 2001 - 05:13 pm:   

if Ya'got music in your heart, or in your soul..or mind or where ever you could think of, it will stay there and go nowhere unless you learn how to get it out. You have to learn to play, you have to do it the way it was done, you have to try your own way (if there is any...), and then you have to get tools to put it all together, and when you get tools, it's again just a beginning..., then you have to learn how to use these tools..., and if you ignore all that, then you are just dreamin', and it's just your fantasy and imagination.

and, c'mon, guys, cut it out, will you please... what's this "DON'T TALK ABOUT IT" thing is about ????, this is what b-board is about: communicating, sharing experience, means: TALKING. this is why I am hanging out here, anyway, so to hear what other dub producers do and how...

And what's with this CAP(s)??? ;) You cant get bigger than you are anyways... ;)

best regards n'respects,

/Mike Zee

Posted on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 04:19 pm:   

of course they thought about it and of course they discussed it THEY WERE (ARE) NOT STUPID!!!

Posted on Wednesday, October 31, 2001 - 01:07 am:   

my 2c.

Scratch was interviewed by (I think it was Rodigan) on UK radio around 81 or so.

I remember him emphatically stating that all he needed was 'tree' tracks - 2 for the band and a dub track.

He also said that 'the power of the magnet refuse to work with dirty people'.

Posted on Thursday, November 29, 2001 - 08:33 pm:   

I'm not really interested in trying to re-create scratch or tubby's sound as much as i'm interested in the best way to record rhythms on a limited number of tracks. So I'm naturally interested in the way the "originals" did it.

Being still very new to recording I have a small "studio" in my basment with a 4-track and a few effects. I guess you could say I like the idea of making dub with primitive tools.


Brian McMillan
Posted on Monday, February 25, 2002 - 05:53 am:   

I have a Tascam 244 4 track, EEM-2000 Analog Echo and a Teac GE-20 Graphic EQ, Boss Super Phaser, Hendrix Wah, Hammond Organ, Les Paul Gat and Yamaha Bass. I recently recorded with my Roots Band in a fairly decent studio on a Studer 2inch. I must admit my shitty little gear in comparison kicked the full on studio hands down. It dosent matter what recording devices you have or how primitive it may be. Without flat response speakers and rooms (my bedroom full of shit) and attention to EQ recording in and volume plus EQ when bouncing tracks, you'll never get the true emulation of organic music and how your body relates to the frequencies. Blah saying that over here in NZ we dont have much engineers that would any clues on how to mix or remix Reggae or Dub. Frustrating but all I do is listen to Niney or Tubby or anything by the Radics and try and decipher the basic secret. Which I believe is volume and EQ.


Posted on Sunday, May 26, 2002 - 02:21 am:   

"It was only four tracks on the machine, but I was picking up twenty from the extra terrestrial squad."
- Lee Perry

There's the answer.

Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 12:18 pm:   

Check this Link:

Lee 'Scratch' Perry reggae Dub master in the Black Ark.


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