170

Bill Laswell/Various Artists: Subharmonic In Dub

Chris M. Slawecki By

Sign in to view read count
Bill Laswell/Various Artists: Subharmonic In Dub Bill Laswell has composed, performed, and produced just about every style of music known to man—and a few more, too. In the early 1990s, in tandem with producer John Matarazzo (Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Tito Puente, Manu Dibango, Fela Kuti, Sly & Robbie), Laswell co-founded Axiom Records.

Through Axiom and its subsidiaries (including Subharmonic and Strata Records), Laswell has explored modern electronic music, including ambient, dub, and funk. This extensive and kaleidoscopic two-CD overview of Laswell's work through this period, with John Zorn, Anton Fier, Nicky Skopelitis, and other world-class musicians, embodies Axiom's mantra: "Nothing is true—everything is permitted.

"Everything is permitted except maybe editing. Three tracks on disc two clock in over sixteen minutes, while the repetitious deep space dub of "Asiyah Dub (Blinding the Starry Yes of God) on the first disc recalls an old joke about progressive-rockers Pink Floyd: Play anything slowly enough, and play it over and over long enough, and some somnambulant and cross-eyed stoner will eventually think, "Wow, that's profound, dude.

This anthology does deliver occasional glimpses into possible future musics.

"Morning of Balachaturdai by Painkiller (Laswell with saxophonist John Zorn and Mick Harris, drummer for Napalm Death) shoots out like metallic shrapnel the possibilities of combining free jazz with industrial hardcore. Its bass and drum crescendos thunder beneath Zorn's uncharted explorations, as he bleats through his own echoes like honking traffic in the supersonic passing lane. "Morning is almost a musical palindrome that doubles back upon itself, and definitely an instrumental freakout worthy of seminal jazz-rock experimentalists the Mothers of Invention. (I'd suggest that this style might be called "free industrial jazz, except the phrase sounds like it means hearing Kenny G piped in at the mall.)

The shifting cast of free funk-jazz ensemble Praxis, perhaps the most recognized of Laswell's myriad musical incarnations, includes Buckethead, Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell, turntablist AF Next Man Flip, and drummer Brain. Their groove-infested "The Hook explores tribal electronica, jabbed sharply with turntable scratches and a bass line dropped in from the planet of James Brown's "Licking Stick-Licking Stick.

The songs—rather, the pieces—seem programmed to progress through more and more abstract musical states. The ambient rhythm of "Dead Drop by Cypher 7 (Laswell with keyboard player Jeff Bova and guitarist/producer Alex Haas) is almost completely static, with synthesizer lines whistling melancholy as they hover in this grey rhythmic murk.

"Transfer Complete by Web (Laswell with ambient producer/DJ Terre Thaemlitz) takes the minimalism even further, a piece stripped of rhythm and of melody. It's not a song, not even music, but a soundtrack in the basic sense of the word "sound —the sound of modern alienation caged in its human machine age.

Track Listing: Disc One: Wake the Dead; Warm Time Machine/Low End Transmission/Over the Foaming Deep; Asiyah Dub (Blinding the Starry Yes of God); Cold Rolled/Iron Dub; Agrippa; Morning of Balachaturdai; The Hook; Dream Light; Divination One; Inferno/Heatseeker/Exploded Heart. Disc Two: Astral Altar (The Gateway of Legba); Dead Drop; Illuminoid Assassin; Transfer Complete; The Terran Invasion of Alpha Centaurai Year 2794; Maggot Dream.

Personnel: Bill Laswell performing as/with Praxis; Automaton; Divination; Painkiller; Cypher 7; Web; Death Cube K.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Collision | Style: Beyond Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Closer Than Before" CD/LP/Track Review Closer Than Before
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Signals" CD/LP/Track Review Signals
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 13, 2017
Read "Code Noir" CD/LP/Track Review Code Noir
by James Nadal
Published: March 27, 2017
Read "With Due Respect" CD/LP/Track Review With Due Respect
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 23, 2016
Read "Z Octet" CD/LP/Track Review Z Octet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "In Tokyo, Japan" CD/LP/Track Review In Tokyo, Japan
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!