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Bill Laswell: Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmission

Chris M. Slawecki By

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Bassist, composer, and producer Laswell here reconvenes with several co-conspirators from previous dub and other world-beat projects: Keyboardist Bernie Worrell, drummer/percussionist Abdou Mboup, percussionist Karsh Kale (who served with Laswell in Tabla Beat Science and in the rhythm section for Herbie Hancock's acclaimed Future 2 Future set), and bassist Jah Wobble.

I get Laswell's dub, or at least I think I do. It's Miles Dewey Davis dub: No musical instrument, rhythm, style, or sound is out of bounds so long as you can make it work. And there's more whacked-out shit flying around V2V than you would even find onstage at the conclusion of the national Republican or Democratic Party conventions.

V2V serves Laswell's trademark dark and potent brew, bubbling from a deep cauldron. Though its basslines and riddims are dub based in reggae, it expands to sources beyond the Caribbean by incorporating Indian and African percussion rhythms from Kale and Mboup—not just reggae dub, but world dub, you might say, dynamic and panoramic. The ringing cycle and telephone bells and subtle yet clattering percussion break in "Dystopia," the tabla pulses tiptoeing alongside the hard beat of "Simulacra," and more, contribute subtle but necessary harmonic and melodic spice.

Electric guitar (uncredited but most likely from Laswell) enlivens the dub with exotic effects and phasing as rhythm in "Simulacra" and as a psychedelic sub-aquatic electric blues which claws through the murky thickness of "Space-Time Paradox" and "Babylon Site" like a desperate drowning man.

Still, this set sounds like every song was written—as it was—by one bassist (Laswell) or two (Laswell with Wobble). Just walk down the street humming the bass-ic thump to "Babylon Site," even once, then see how many days it takes you to shake it.


Track Listing: Dystopia; Simulacra; Space-Time Paradox; Babylon Site; Night City; System Malfunction

Personnel: Bill Laswell (bass), Jah Wobble (bass), Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Abdou Mboup (drums, percussion), Karsh Kale (percussion)

Title: Version 2 Version: A Dub Transmission | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: ROIR

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