All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.
Bill Laswell's primary role as producer on most of his recordings has historically overshadowed his role as musician and performer. He earned a notorious reputation for his fine work with musicians like Pharoah Sanders and Ginger Baker, though the end products of these collaborations have fairly been criticized for being over-produced. The characteristic Laswell sound is quite wet: heavy on effects and thickly textured. In rare moments Laswell has stepped out on his own as an instrumentalist, playing bass outside the groups he produces.
The new solo Laswell record, Invisible Design, marks one of these moments. Unfortunately it's not all that memorable. Like his very similar 1988 record Hear No Evil, the new release displays an excess of introspective redundancy. Laswell's compositions for solo bass on Invisible Design, remarkable in their simplicity, lie buried under layers of reverberant echo, synth textures, and effects. Unfortunately, Invisible Design prizes indulgent self-reference over outright musical content. Simple melodic lines end up shrouded in murky grayness, inevitably collapsing into muddled twiddling. This record, along with Laswell's previous solo work, suffers from a decided lack of clarity.
Track Listing: Black Aether; Commander Guevara; Oceans of Borrowed Money; Aisha; Night Air and Low Frequency; White Arc
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.