Bill Laswell

Picture of Bill Laswell

Silent Recoil

©1995 Low
1. Amphora
2. Sombre Stream
3. Undercurrent (Endless Light In Nameless Land)

Bill Laswell is a name that most should be familiar with. His wide reaching resume of work stretches from Material to Motorhead to the Golden Palominos and beyond as both performancer and producer. Admittedly I'm not terribly familiar with much of his work, but given the quality of this particular release, there is good reason to explore further. Silent Recoil is a three song lengthy excursion into one of my favorite genres: ambient space dub. The first two songs are long explorations of electronic dub with the expansive, far-reaching echoing sounds. Heavy on bass and dub rhythms, but with airy piano sprinkles and electronic effects zipping around, these two songs are splendid examples of ambient dub. Fans of dub Controlled Bleeding material and Twilight Circus will easily find this enjoyable. The last song is actually more an unstructured soundscape piece that approaches a purity in ambience. Focusing on tones, changing sounds and the rising and falling of certain pitches, this track has more in common with Lull than anything else. Overall this is a wonderful album with trance and meditative qualities.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 05/1999

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Veve

Bill Laswell - Veve ©1998 WordSound
1. Baron Samedi
2. Magamat
3. Kurukulla
4. Luk Krok
5. Set Rising
6. Aether
7. Madre De Agua
8. Yama
9. Maka

In yet another collaboration with fellow Painkiller Mick Harris, Bill Laswell teams up with Eraldo Bernocchi (whose musical background is entirely unknown to me, but if you're curious, try a search at www.google.com) for Veve, which is unsuprisingly a dub oriented release. The album is filled with Laswellisms in his bass playing as well as Harrisisms in the more experimental sound collages overlaying the foundation the rhythm men have set forth. The main focus of the music is a fairly steady vector of dub music with the echoing and often eerie background noises floating above and in skew lines to the music. In other words, this is Jamaica taking acid and lacking the island tropical warmth. The most notable thing about this album is that three different studios are credited in the making of the CD, suggesting the three men collaborated overseas and two continents. The result is much more even than one might think under those circumstances. The music never really makes a bee line for a structured beginning, middle and end, but does tend to encompass the listener with a stream of consciousness and flowing musical experience.

As any Laswell fan probably can guess, Veve is recommended for them and for those interested in some very solid modern electronic dub music.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Imaginary Cuba

Bill Laswell - Imaginary Cuba ©1999 Wicklow/BMG
1. Habana Transmission I# / Avisale A La Vencina Dub
2. Para Clave Y Guaguanco
3. Loungin With F.E.
4. Chacon And Daniel
5. Dejala En La Puntica
6. Habana Transmission 2# / Cuban Evolution
7. Los Ibellis
8. Habana Transmission 3# / Shango Sound Scan
9. Hombre Lobo, No! Hombre Nuevo, Si
10. Guerillero Heroico [el Che Vive!]
11. Shango
12. Pompa At The House
13. Madre No Me Pida In Dub
14. Chaos In The Heat [last Transmission]
15. Drafting Shadows / Leaving La Habana [peaceful]

Based on reconstructions of traditional Cuban music, Bill Laswell's journeys into the heart of the island country on Imaginary Cuba are nothing short of amazing. The recordings are based on over a half dozen Cuban performers recorded in the streets and studios of Havana and are rebuilt in typical Laswell fashion, only this time the man has created a rather haunting and dreamlike musical landscape on Imaginary Cuba. The album on a whole flows like one long journey, oscillating between echoing and translucent voices, drums and percussion and guitars to a more dub based foundation. There is a definite dreamlike quality throughout the album, as though you are half trapped in a state of mind between consciousness and deep sleep. Moreover, the Cuban music basis is very interesting, having a very tribal feel without delving into yuppie-fied "World" music. As the bleak pictures in the liner notes show, Cuba is not necessarily a pretty place and the stark poverty shown in the photos is somewhat translated into the music, only with a deep spiritual backing behind it. The course of the album will flow by in a most fluid manner, fully engulfing the listener and enchanting him or her as well.

Of all the Laswell projects I've heard up to now, this is easily one of my most favorite. His treatment of Cuban music is both honest to his musical signature and respectful and quite loving to the original Cuban music he bases this work on. Definitely and most highly recommended listening.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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