Bill Laswell


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Material: Memory Serves , 7/10
Material: One Down , 5/10
Massacre: Killing Time , 6/10
Baselines , 7/10
Material: Red Tracks , 7/10 (comp)
Material: Seven Souls , 7/10
Third Rail: South Delta Space Age , 5/10
Hear No Evil , 7/10
Asian Games , 5/10
Low Life , 5/10
Material: The Third Power , 6/10
Praxis: Transmutation , 7/10 (EP)
Material: Live In Japan , 5/10
Praxis: Sacrifist , 6/10
Divination: Ambient Dub Vol 1 , 6/10
Divination: Ambient Dub Vol 2 , 5/10
Material: Live From Soundscape , 5/10
Material: Hallucination Engine , 5/10
Psychonavigation , 5/10
Visitation , 5/10
Cymatic Scan , 5/10
Axiom Ambient: Lost In Translation , 7/10
Axiom Ambient: Mysteries Of Creation , 6/10
Axiom Funk: Funkcronomicron , 5/10
Praxis: Metatron , 5/10
Second Nature , 5/10
Automaton: Dub Terror Exhaust , 7/10
Automaton: Jihad Points Of Order , 5/10
Silent Recoil: Dub System One , 5/10
Web , 5/10
Valis I: Destruction Of Syntax , 5/10
Somnifix Flux , 6/10
Divination: Akasha , 7/10
Divination: Distill , 4/10
Laswell: Ambient Compendium , 6/10
Sacred System: Cpt 1 - Book Of Entrance, 6/10
Sacred System: Cpt 2, 6/10
Laswell: Bass Terror , 5/10
Laswell: Oscillations , 6/10
Laswell: Oscillations 2 , 6/10
Possession + African Dub: Off World One , 7/10
Arcana: The Last Wave , 6/10
Arcana: Arc Of Testimony , 5/10
APC: APC Tracks , 5/10
Laswell: City Of Light , 5.5/10
Sacred System: Nagual Site , 5.5/10
Praxis: Mold , 5/10
Hashisheen: The End of Law , 4/10
The Dark Side Of The Moog VI , 5/10
The Dark Side Of The Moog VII , 5/10
Massacre: Meridiem , 4/10
Massacre: Funny Valentine , 6/10
Material: The Road To The Western Lands , 4/10
Material: Intonarumori , 4/10
Laswell: Imaginary Cuba Deconstructing Havana , 5/10
Laswell: Invisible Design , 5/10
Laswell: Lo Def Pressure , 6/10
Charged , 5/10
Dub Chamber 3 , 5/10
Permutation , 4/10
Tabla Beat Science: Tala Matrix , 6/10
Cyclops , 4/10
Filmtracks , 4/10
Massacre: Meltdown , 6/10
Radioaxom , 6.5/10
Dub Chamber 4 (2003), 4/10
Shine: Heaven And Hell (2004), 6/10
Blixt (2011), 6.5/10
Links:

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Summary:
Over the course of three decades, Bill Laswell has proven to be one of the most prolific, influential and innovative musicians of the end of the 20th century. His career spans at least three musical genres (rock, jazz, funk and dub) and countless ensembles. His first project, Material, with Fred Maher on drums and Michael Beinhorn on electronic keyboards, was a spin-off of Daevid Allen's band. Their Memory Serves (1981), featuring Fred Frith, Sonny Sharrock on guitar, Billy Bang on violin, George Lewis on trombone and Henry Threadgill on sax, documented Laswell's idea of austere funk and jazz fusion. Material focused on the "groove" with One Down (1982), Laswell and Maher also recorded as Massacre, but their Killing Time (june 1981) was a bit too cerebral. On the other hand, Laswell's first solo, Baselines (1983), achieved an effervescent sound that stood as a summary of 20 years of crossover experiments, from Frank Zappa's big bands to David Byrne's ethno-funk combos. The EP Praxis (1984) was an imaginative "lo-fi" work, with Laswell dueling a drum-machine. Laswell was one of the few rock musicians to be relevant in the history of jazz music, thanks to his collaborations with Herbie Hancock and to his tenure with Last Exit (Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brotzmann, Ronald Shannon Jackson). A new focus emerged with his second solo album, Hear No Evil (1988), featuring L Shankar on violin, Zakir Hussain on percussion and Nicky Skopelitis on guitar, a session that indulged in instrumental jams of exotic new-age music, aiming for a sinister trance, a catatonic stream of consciousness, a sort of revisitation of raga-rock. Material's Seven Souls (1989), featuring the usual wealth of guests, dressed up the band's "no disco" with a production derived from William Burroughs' "cut-up" technique. Yet another ensemble, Praxis, featuring two George Clinton collaborators (bassist Bootsy Collins and keyboardist Bernie Worrell) plus a mixmaster, a drummer and a guitarist (Buckethead), debuted with the EP Transmutation (1992), devised jams of futuristic space-funk (such as After Shock) that merged Clinton and Hendrix, hip hop, speedmetal, jazz-rock, psychedelia and dub. Blind Idiot God, John Zorn, Napalm Death's Mick Harris and the Boredoms' Yamatsuka Eye helped out on Praxis' chaotic and frantic Sacrifist (1994). Another all-star cast popped up on Material's Hallucination Engine (1994), but the occasion only proved that Laswell's multiform persona was running out of steam. A number of pretentious collaborations defined his passion for gothic and ethnic new-age jazz, but only Axiom Ambient's Lost In The Translation (1994), with Ginger Baker, Sonny Sharrock and Pharoah Sanders, was successful. Most of Laswell's energies were poured into ambient psychedelic dub, notably on Automaton's Dub Terror Exhaust (1994) and Divination's Akasha (1995), perhaps his best works of the 1990s. A third avenue, which peaked with Possession's Off World One (1996), had to do with ethnic music, and eventually led him to Indian devotional music. While none of them was flawless, subsequent albums became heterogeneous mosaics of hip hop, jazz, dub, raga, electronica, drum'n'bass, etc: Dub Chamber 3 (2000), with a stellar combo comprising but, rock, jazz and Indian musicians; Tabla Beat Science's Tala Matrix (2001), a project with master percussionists Zakir Hussein, Trilok Gurtu and Indian table player Karsh Kale; Radioaxom (2001); and so forth. Much more intriguing when he is "constructing" rather than "deconstructing" music, Laswell has invented more genres than he can name them (or fully explore them).


Full bio

(Translated by DeepL from my original Italian text)

Born in Salem, Illinois, in 1955, Bill Laswell began by playing soul, blues, and funk in the Detroit area, and learned the bass guitar from the rhythm sections of black musicians.

Laswell came to New York in 1979 and first found work in Daevid Allen's Gong. At the end of that experience the Material was born, a sui generis trio consisting of a rhythm section (Laswell on bass and Fred Maher on drums) and an electronic keyboardist (Michael Beinhorn).

The two Temporary Music (Zu, 1979 and Red, 1981), collected in Red Tracks (Elektra, 1985), show the evolution from an eclectic and professional but uncreative funk-rock to an estranged experimentalism in which Stockhausen and Moroder are juxtaposed as naturally as possible. Also released under the Material name are the EPs American Songs (Celluloid, 1981) and Busting Out (Ze, 1981).

Memory Serves (Celluloid, 1981) is more jazzy (even George Lewis on trombone and Henry Threadgill on alto sax) and almost entirely instrumental, and marks the meeting with Fred Frith. With an edgier funk propelled by Laswell's 8-string bass and Maher's percussive hail marys, the album establishes itself as a milestone in "negative" dance.

Alongside tracks of conventional hard-bop, such as Disappearing, are subtle linguistic equivocations. In Upriver, Sonny Sharrock's shrill blues guitar intones with Billy Bang's folk fiddle a haunting jig that ends on a disco beat. Similar mutations decapitate Lewis and Frith's country fanfare in Memory Serves. Instead, Frith's acid, minimal guitar ramps up in Square Dance, punctuated by Lewis and Threadgill's dissonant babble (a folk dance performed along the lines of Glenn Branca's symphonies.

The subsequent album One Down (Celluloid, 1982) broadens the horizons to disco music proper, with notable guests ranging from Nona Hendryx to Whitney Houston, from Archie Shepp to Oliver Lake: Take A Chance is the archetype of their "no-disco" disrupted by an infinity of "cultured" cues that can dissolve into hypnotic "grooves" like Time Out or can explode into "angry" black power rhythm and blues (Come Down and Holding).

When veteran British producer Giorgio Gomelsky invited Henry Cow's and Art Bears' guitarist Fred Frith to New York, Frith met with bassist Bill Laswell and drummer Bill Maher, who were trying to add a dance beat to the music of Art Bears. Frith fell in love with the concept and formed a trio with them, Massacre. They recorded an all-instrumental album, Killing Time (june 1981 - Celluloid, 1982 - ReR, 2005). The thin, atonal and somewhat swinging tone of Frith's guitar dominates the syncopated dance of Legs and the moody variations of Tourism. The guitar paints the disjointed soundscape of the nine-minute Corridor, basically divided into three parts: first loud jazzy semi-melodic glissandoes, then droning feedback and finally sparse atonal phrases. An avalanche of feedback buries the first half of After. But elsewhere the core of the album is the rhythm section. The frantic rhythm that accompanies the wordless vocalizing of Aging With Dignity become even more frantic and inintelligible in Subway Heart, then mutates into the slanted, angular, warped funk machine of Killing Time. Frith's flying dissonances become part of the rhythm section halfway into As Is, another nine-minute track, and a hypnotic tribal orgy. The main drawback of the guitar-intense tracks is that they seem to always change into something else, thus leaving little substance behind them. Other than Frith toying with his instrument, there is little that is memorable. The rhythm-intense tracks may have more potential, but, again, the trio never quite demonstrates that it knows what to do with its peculiar ideas.

(Translated by DeepL from my original Italian text)

Laswell then recorded under his own name Baselines (Celluloid, 1983), an album of experimental jazz-funk that boasts such collaborators as George Lewis, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Frith, David Moss and others. The ensemble coins an effervescent sound made to dance on liquid bass solos. The result shines in inventiveness (the percussive delirium of Hindsight, the fiery, electronic cataclysms of Barricade, the surreal cacophonies of Conservation) and shock force (the galactic funk of Activate, the volcanic pseudo-blues of Lowlands).

The influences of Frank Zappa's "bandism" and David Byrne's "ethno-funk" can be felt.

That season was crowned by the single Rockit (1983), recorded with jazz musician Herbie Hancock, a collage of postmodern funk and hip-hop. The album Sound System (1984) that followed it offered a "crossover" of jazz and hip-hop that was prophetic.

Niels Jensen's The New York Street Percussionists (August 1990) documents a collaboration among Jamal Evans (buckets and metals), Robert Russo (keyboards), Bernie Worrel (keyboards), Nicky Skopelitis (synthesizer), Bill Laswell (bass), Niels Jensen (resonator guitar and vocals) and Peter Broetzmann (saxophones).

Deconstruction (Restless, 1993) is a double anthology collecting material from the disparate experiences of this period.

A bass virtuoso, Laswell is also one of the most cultured and transgressive intelligences of the new rock and jazz avant-garde. The exotic melange of soulful melodies, funk rhythms, white noise and rap arrangements places him at the forefront of the most creative catalyzing agents.

Bill Laswell continues his forays into the world of popular music, not only through countless collaborations and productions (most notably for Herbie Hancock), but also with records under his own name and those under the Material name (the difference between the two being purely age-related).

In fact, his major career has done nothing but recycle and refine the ingenious insights of his youth: the sinister sound of the bass as a dreamy background, the rhythm of funk and hip-hop as a gloomy ether for intellectual digressions, William Burroughs' "cut-up" as a compositional method, the director's role played by the producer being enhanced by exceptional performers, jazz as expressive freedom and timbre research.

His solo career, which had been inaugurated by Baselines (Celluloid, 1983), was interrupted by a stint in the Last Exit of Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brotzmann, and Ronald Shannon Jackson. Laswell plays bass on Last Exit (Enemy, 1986), The Noise Of Trouble (Enemy, 1987), the live Koln (Enemy, 1988), and The Iron Path (Venture, 1988).

Having become a shouty producer, Laswell did not find time to record another solo record until 1988. Hear No Evil (Virgin, 1988), a work of exotic new age that abuses trance-like rhythms, sinister melodies, and streams of consciousness to build impressionistic atmospheres, employs violinist L Shankar and percussionist Zakir Hussain (both former collaborators of John McLaughlin) and guitarist Nicky Skopelitis.

Laswell coins there a form of instrumental jam that resorts to improvisation only "locally," as the structure of the piece is predefined geometrically: the musicians are free to add minimal trappings that do not alter its essence. It is a technique that causes a hypnotic trance effect in the indie-esque Bullet Hole Memory and a distorting dream or drug effect in the catatonic blues of Illinois Central.

If Assassin serves as a link to tribal funk, Laswell's production and assembly technique instead goes in a completely different direction with Last Roads, which is in fact a collage of small, imperceptible sounds, with Kingdom Come, and its tenuous din of percussive events, and with Stations Of The Cross, which is a raga slowed to a stasis, until it vanishes in a cloud of languid chords.

Laswell would never follow up on this artistic line, which had instead yielded highly suggestive results, effectively re-inventing raga-rock in light of modern production techniques.

Also from this period are two prestigious collaborations, Asian Games (Verve, 1988), with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Low Life (Celluloid, 1989), with Peter Brotzmann.

Seven Souls (Virgin, 1989), again under Material's name and with another bevy of collaborators, accentuated his extravagant production techniques, using none other than William Burroughs' "cut up." Arabic Ineffect and Mexican Deliver are demented "world music" tracks, in which ethnic content is "alienated" by immersing it in a hyper-modern context of programmed and artificial entertainment.

The other tracks are musical backgrounds for the recitations of Burroughs and others, and therefore very calculated gears for the construction of atmospheres (climax of lyricism and pathos in The Western Lands). Nicky Skopelitis on guitar, Jeff Bora on keyboards, Simon Shaheen on violin, and Aiyb Dieng on percussion now constitute the core of his accompanying ensemble.

In 1991 Laswell returned to the Material theme song for Third Power (Axiom, 1991) and to the original idea of an "all-star-cast" (including Bootsy Collins, Henry Threadgill, Herbie Hancock, and Nicky Skopelitis). Laswell merely "conducts" the orchestra behind the console, guiding it through the dub mesh of Reality, into the "acid jazz" of Drive By, and finally into the fanfare of Glory. Above all, Laswell has redefined the concept of "complex" and continues to refine the quality of harmonies, coining the baroque of electronic reggae-funk. Most of the songs are covers, where the arrangement matters most.

The following year Laswell resurrected a minor episode in his career, the 1984 EP Praxis (Celluloid, 1984), in which he duetted on bass with a drum machine with spectacular results (futuristic ballets/fanfares like 1984) that set the stage for the industrial music of the 1990s while serving as a suture with avant-garde experiments ( Stockhausen's Hymnen, for example).

Praxis is the name of the ensemble built around two former members of George Clinton's P Funk All-stars: Bootsy Collins (bass) and Bernie Worrell (keyboards). They were joined by Laswell, a mixmaster (Afrika Baby Bam of the Jungle Brothers under the alias Af Next Man Flip), a drummer (Brain of the Limbomaniacs) and a (prodigious) guitarist (Buckethead). The result, the EP Transmutation (Axiom, 1992), is an unbroken jam of experimental space-funk that mixes Clinton with Hendrix, incorporating elements of speedmetal (Dead Man Walking), jazzrock (Giant Robot), psychedelia (The Interworld And The New Innocence), industrial music (Blast/War Machine Dub), flash-rock (Seven Laws Of Woo) and rap (Animal Behavior) to coin a neurotic form of ambient music.

The record (and perhaps Laswell's entire oeuvre) culminates in the sixteen minutes of After Shock, a pyrotechnic collage that does as a pro what John Zorn does as an amateur, with real riffs, real melodic themes, real solos (masterful, especially Worrell's very long one as a Keith Emerson of the dissonant avant-garde).

On Sacrifist (Subharmonic, 1994), the continuation of the Praxis saga, the influence of Napalm Death, because of Zorn, is much stronger. The songs are noisy, heavy, frenetic, chaotic. The ensemble includes, in addition to Zorn and those from last time, Mick Harris (Napalm Death, Scorn), Yamatsuka Eye (lead singer of Boredoms) and Blind Idiot God. All in all, it is one of the few works Laswell could have done without: he and Zorn four-handedly manage to write only the banal house of The Hook, so that in the end the record is saved by the comprimariums (the long organ solo of Worrell Crossing, the dissonant orgy of Buckethead Rivet, the electronic suite of Collins Deathstar).

1994 is also the year of Divination, meaning Laswell, assisted by Buckethead and Skopelitis, grappling with "ambient house," the genre of Orb and co. On Ambient Dub Volume 1 and Volume 2 (Subharmonic, 1993) Laswell cannot compete with Orb, but on the more dub tracks (Seven Heavens) he builds a singular bridge between cosmic music, ambient music and danceable music. The second volume features Jah Wobble, Mick Harris and Jeff Bova. Evil Eye, at the crossroads of African tribalism and dub, is perhaps the pinnacle of the experiment.

The Material are by no means shelved: after a Live In Japan (Restless, 1994), with Skopelitis, Dieng, Worrell, Ginger Baker and a kora player improvising on ethno-funky themes, the other Live From Soundscape (DIM, 1984), and the feverish single Mantra (with Zakir Hussein's tablas), 1994 saw the release of Hallucination Engine (Axiom, 1994), a much more ambient album than usual that boasts an even richer cast than Seven Souls. Always glacially balanced, the jazzrock of Black Light and the latin-jazz of Eternal Drift, both with Wayne Shorter on saxophone, the electronic suite of Ruins, with exotic samples, and the lengthy Shadows Of Paradise, with Skopelitis and Shankar coloring the harmonies with their decadent timbres, denote a sound that is now flawless, but also lacking in identity.

The uncertainties and repetitions of Material and Praxis (which is more and more Buckethead and less and less Laswell) actually indicate that Laswell is nearing the end of a phase. The Subharmonic label actually sanctions the emergence of a strong ambient alter-ego, which gradually takes over.

It is the producer's soul that dives headlong into this art of pure artifice, of pure studio magic. Laswell hangs out with the genre's practitioners in Cymatic Scan (Subharmonic, 1995), with Tetsu Inoue, which includes an hour-long composition, Monochrome Existence, with its almost imperceptible delirium, bordering on the audible, in Psychonavigation (Subharmonic, 1994), with Pete Namlook, who instead delves into the mazes of the psyche, for example with the frightening eddies of Angel Tech, but also in the melodic, cadenced electronics of Black Dawn,

Visitation (Subharmonic, 1995), which in Aion goes so far as to verge on the gothic with its sinister sounds, and in Zurvan Akarana sinks into the shifting sands of new age jazz-ethnicity, and Psychonavigation 2 (Fax, 1996), Psychonavigation 3 (Fax, 1997), Psychonavigation 4 (Fax, 1999) They are, however, discs of annoyingly self-indulgent music, which in the best moments simply lead back to the cosmic music of Klaus Schulze.

The Axiom Ambient records, Lost In The Translation (Axiom, 1994), with Ginger Baker, Sonny Sharrock and Pharoah Sanders, and Axiom Funk, Mysteries Of Creation (Axiom, 1994), Funkcronomicron (Axiom, 1995), with Sly Stone, Maceo Parker, Anton Fier, Buckethead, and many others, are doctrinaire works that perhaps attempt to sum up twenty years of scientific research on sound by Laswell, who, availing himself of increasingly spectacular casts, seeks to remedy a chronic lack of inspiration.

The double Funkcronomicron (Axiom, 1995) is the quintessence of Laswell's intellectual eccentricity, a post-modern project revising the music of P-Funk, featuring that team (including George Clinton himself) and a host of admirers, young (Skopelitis, Buckethead) and old (Maceo Parker).

Praxis' new album, Metatron (Subharmonic, 1994), and Second Nature (Fax, 1995), featuring Atom Heart and Tetsu Inoue, come out in droves.

In the mid-1990s Laswell launched projects again and again. Under the name Automaton came out records of dub suites: Dub Terror Exhaust (Strata, 1994), with the Africanizing Asiyah Dub, one of his masterpieces, and Jihad: Points Of Order (Strata, 1995), with Ports Of Entry, whose deafening rumble is punctuated by the usual myriad of effects.

Silent Recoil's Dub System One (Low, 1996) serves as a summation of the various directions of his experimentation (dub, hip-hop, world-music and electronic). Valis' Destruction Of Syntax (Subharmonic, 1996) also stems from a heterogeneous mosaic of hip-hop, ambient, dub, jungle, and so on.

On the more abstract front, Web (Subharmonic, 1996), featuring Terre Thaemlitz, is an otherworldly collage of indecipherable noises, although Open URL is unusually animated, populated by almost cosmic mumbles and hisses.

Somnifix Flux (Subharmonic, 1996), with M.J. Harris, contains two half-hour pieces each, Distal Sonority, a monolithic accumulation of ominous drones, and Capacious.

The peak of his experimentation on dub remains the Divination project, with collaborations with Mick Harris and Haruomi Hosono, Anton Fier and DXT. The third, Akasha (Subharmonic, 1995), is divided into an ambient half, comprising Descent and its mixture of alien sounds centered with unnerving precision, and a rhythmic half, predominantly chaotic and effervescent variations on jungle such as Tangier Space Draft, Navigation and Illuminoid Assassin. That record was immediately followed by another work under the Divination name, Distill (Sub Meta, 1996), again with Mick Harris and Anton Fier.

Bass Terror, on Bass Terror (Sub Rosa, 1995), is yet another ambient dub suite (but Nicholas James Bullen's two suites steal the show).

Ambient Compendium (Esperanto, 1996) gives a quick summary of his myriad activities.

Laswell also produces the Nus record, All The Vertical Angels (SubRosa, 1996).

Oscillations (SubRosa, 1996), followed by Oscillations 2 (SubRosa, 1998), are devoted to drum'n'bass, which is almost the antithesis of his dub. Faktura, on the former, is a superb fusion of acid jazz and Indian music.

El Hombre Invisible, on the second, is a grueling collage dedicated to William Burroughs (with Percy Howard on vocals, Charles Hayward of This Heat on drums, and Fred Frith on guitar). They will be collected on Final Oscillations (Quatermass, 2003).

Laswell also contributed to Dubadelic's Bass Invaders (Wordsound, 1998), which, if it were his own, would rank as one of his best albums.

With Namlook, Laswell recorded Outland (Fax, 1995), Outland 2 (Fax, 1996) and Outland 3 (Fax, 1998). Germans Pete Namlook and Klaus Schulze also involved him in the sixth and seventh parts of their monumental project The Dark Side Of The Moog (Fax, 1999).

Having imprinted rock music with a turn of a magnitude that only Brian Eno can match as a producer (the difference being that Laswell has also been active in the world of hip-hop, collaborated on countless jazz projects, and even tried his hand at ethnic musics), Laswell has ridden the tiger of ambient music with class and intelligence, sensing that that is where (where everything blurs and is reborn) lies the future.

Laswell fits more and more the part of director, less and less that of actor; more and more that of coach, who has to decide the formation according to the game to be played, and less and less that of player. But his trademark (that recycling everything in a kind of musical blender launched at supersonic speed, so that in the end only lumps of pulp remain) is unmistakable.

His multiple excursions into the world of electronica, always under the banner of a baroque style that fuses ancestral magic and a trance-like, technological version of dub, are making him the Ulysses of the ambient.

(Original English reviews by Piero Scaruffi)

Possession + African Dub is the name of the combo Laswell formed with three African musicians to record Off World One (SubMeta, 1996).

Laswell re-lived the Last Exit experience with Arcana, a trio formed with jazzmen Tony Williams and Derek Bailey, on The Last Wave (DIW, 1996). Arc Of Testimony (Island, 1998) features Williams on drums, Buckethead on guitar, Pharoah Sanders on sax and Graham Haynes on trumpet.

APC Tracks (APC, 1996) is a collaboration with French musicians.

Inna Dub Meltdown (WordSound, 1997) is a collaboration with reggae drummer Style Scott.

The four tracks of City Of Light (SubRosa, 1997), graced with Lori Carlson's spoken words, Trilok Gurtu's percussions (Nothing) and Tetsu Inoue's electronics (Kashi), reveal Laswell's love for classical Indian music. The 11-minute Above The Earth is quintessential Laswell. Kala (13:06) is a collaboration with Coil.

South Delta Space Age (Antilles, 1997) is credited to Third Rail, an all-star combo that features dinosaurs of jazz (James Blood Ulmer on guitar), funk (Worrell on keyboards, Ziggy Modeliste on drums) and blues (Amina Claudine Meyers on organ). Unlike most Laswell productions, this one is played with a raw and barbaric energy, like a garage-rock band would (Grounded, Blues March, First Blood, In The Name Of). On the other hand, the musicians' tight funk-blues jamming is on display in the extended Dusted and Funk All Night.

Dreams Of Freedom (Island, 1997) is a "remix" of Bob Marley songs. Panthalassa (Columbia, 1998) does the same to Miles Davis. Jazzonia (1998) targets several rock and jazz classics, from Joni Mitchell's Blue to Quincy Jones. Divine Light (2001) remixed Alice Coltrane's Illuminations and Carlos Santana's Love Devotion and Surrender.

Among his many collaboration were: Dub Meltdown (1997) with Jamaican reggae drummer Style Scott (of the Roots Radics and Dub Syndicate), Life Space Death (2001), another collaboration with Toshinori Kondo that accompanied an interview with the Dalai Lama, and A Navel City / No One Is There (2004) with Japanese electronic keyboardist Hoppy Kamiyama (and percussionist Kiyohiko Semba).

The project Sacred System was started by Cpt 1 - Book Of Entrance (1996), that consists of five trancey dub suites, especially Cyborg Assault, Babylon Ghost and Sub Terrain. Chapter 2 (1997) is instead dedicated to Miles Davis' jazz-rock. Nagual Site (Wicklow, 1998) is dedicated to Indian devotional music, although manipulated through the techniques of jazz, ambient and dub. It contains Black Lotus (10:13), a collaboration with Jah Wobble (Driftwork), a collaboration with jazz trumpeter Graham Haynes (X-Zibit-i), and a few compositions by Bill Buchen and Gulam Mohamed Khan.

Hashisheen's The End of Law (SubRosa, 1998) is a star-studded album dedicated to William Burroughs even if the title is inspired by a medieval Persian guru.

Reanimator's Black Market Science (Ion, 1998) is a compilation of modern dub masters.

Praxis' Mold (Yikes, 1998) fuses ambient, drum'n'bass and dub in mesmerizing pieces like Meldt.

In January of 1998 two thirds (Frith, Laswell) of Massacre reformed 17 years after their first and only album (but with This Heat's Charles Hayward on drums) to back soul singer Percy Howard for his Meridiem (Materiali Sonori, 1998). Funny Valentine (Tzdik, 1998) is a much worthier successor to the Massacre masterpiece.

Material remained Laswell's main focus, but the remixes of The Road To The Western Lands (Triloka, 1998) and the hip-hop experiment Intonarumori (Axiom, 1999) sounded very trivial and amateurish. With so many mediocre recordings, Laswell is slowly managing to convince everybody that he was one of the most over-rated artists of his age.

Imaginary Cuba Deconstructing Havana (Wicklow, 1999) is a recreation of Cuban music, but still filtered through the ambient, jazz and Indian perspective of Bill Laswell.

Invisible Design (Tzadik, 1999) is a solo bass record.

Permutation (Ion, 1999) features Bill Laswell on bass, guitar and keyboards,Nicky Skopelitis on guitar; Lance Carter on drums; Robert Musso on programming and two samplers who shower the album with exotic instruments. Laswell is again experimenting with wild fusions styles, crossbreeding world-beat with drum'n'bass. Skopelitis steals the show.

Emerald Aether's Shape Shifting (Shanachie, 2000) is remixes of celtic music.

Lo Def Pressure (Quatermass, 2000) attempts a fusion of eastern music and drum'n'bass in two lengthy suites.

Dub Chamber 3 (ROIR, 2000) is more of the same but with a stellar combo that features trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer (Beyond The Zero), keyboardist Craig Taborn (Devil Syndrome), guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, tablaist Karsh Kale and bassist Jah Wobble. The four lengthy dub/jazz jams offer another routine fusion of Indian music, electronica, jazz, drum'n'bass, ambient music and hip-hop, with tablas prominent on Beyond The Zero, Wobble and Skopelitis stealing the show on Cybotron. jazz elements dominating in Devil Syndrome. A Screaming Comes Across The Sky is the most interesting, a sort of marriage between ambient and progressive.

Charged (Apollo, 1999) is a collaboration with Eraldo Bernocchi on electronics and Toshinori Kondo on electric trumpet, and, again, offers a fusion of jazz, funk, hip-hop, drum'n'bass.

Tabla Beat Science is a project with master percussionists Zakir Hussein, Trilok Gurtu and Karsha Kale. Tala Matrix (Axiom, 2001) is, finally, an album full of energy and passion (Secret Channel), although the standout track is, possibly, the soothing Magnetic.

Cyclops (Emusic, 2001), featuring Karsh Kale on percussions, Toshinori Kondo on trumpet and a rapper, is more of the same.

Praxis also released the live Warszawa (Innerhythmic, 2001), with the collaboration of two scratchers.

Filmtracks (Tzadik, 2000) continues his exploration of world-music with the help of an all-star cast.

In the meantime, drummer Charles Hayward of This Heat joined Laswell and Frith in the newest version of Massacre. The trio's live performance is documented on Meltdown (Tzadik, 2001).

Points of Order (2001) features Toshinori Kondo, German pianist Karl Berger and rappers Anti-Pop Consortium.

Radioaxom (Axiom, 2001) is a collaboration with Jah Wobble (also Nick Skopelitis, Graham Haynes, etc) and one of his best albums in a long time. Subcode explores a Miles Davis-ian theme, with Haynes' cornet gracing the thick Afro-beat, and extra-terrestrial organ (Amina Claudine Myers) rising like a mirage. Cornet and trumpet duet at the beginning of Second Sight, which then delves into psychedela with a bluesy organ solo and then picks up speed over feverish funky lines. The team is unusually frivolous, even clownesque at the beginning of Orion, before letting a melancholy cornet soar over a cryptic landscape of suspenseful noises and sounds. The album is more successful than previous outings in part because the mood is so much more upbeat. The effervescent, reverberating, Indian-esque Alsema Dub sets the pace for the busy tribal Virus B, where ghostly strains of trumpet and organ collide again with funky bass lines, but in an even more surreal fashion. Two pieces even introduce a "catchy" element: the jazzy, Caribbean cartilage of 6th Chamber is scoured by galactic melodies, and hummed vocals float in Alam Dub.

Dub Chamber 4 (ROIR, 2003), also known as Book of Exit, uses a completely different line-up from the previous "dub chamber" project and is simply a pretext for some progressive jamming.

Soup (2003) documents a trio with Otomo Yoshihide and drummer Yoshigaki Yasuhiro of Altered States.

Heaven And Hell (Innerhythmic, 2004) is credited to Shine, the project of Bill Laswell, Buckethead, Robert Musso and Shin "Chaos Face" Terai.

Version 2 Version (2004) boasts the stellar cast of Jah Wobble, Karsh Kale, Bernie Worrell and Senegalese percussionist Abdou Mboup.

Brutal Calling (2004) documents a drum'n'bass collaboration between bassist Bill Laswell and Submerged (aka Kurt Gluck) on drums and electronics.

Episome (Tzadik, 2006) was the power-trio of Otomo Yoshihide (on electric guitar), Ruins' drummer Yoshida Tatsuya and bassist Bill Laswell.

The Only Way To Go Is Down (2006) inaugurated another project, Method Of Defiance, a trio with drummer Guy Licata and dj Submerged devoted to a deviant version of drum'n'bass. Inamorata (2007) was a jazzier workout, featuring guests such as Herbie Hancock, Dave Liebman, Buckethead, Nils Petr Molvaer, John Zorn, Toshinori Kondo, Pharoah Sanders.

The new collaborations were Roots Tonic Meets Bill Laswell (2006) with the Roots Tonic (the backing band of Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu); and Lodge (2008) with Finnish producer Fanu (Janne Hatula).

Massacre's Lonely Heart (2007) documented a live 2003 performance by Laswell, Frith and Maher.

Praxis (keyboardist Bernie Worrell, drummer Brain and guitarist Buckethead, vocalists and guests such as the Ruins' drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, turntablist Otomo Yoshihide and Mike Patton) returned with Profanation: Preparation For A Coming Darkness (2008).

Method of Defiance (Laswell with drummer Guy Licata and trumpetist Toshinori Kondo) returned with Nihon (2009), that also featured keyboardist Bernie Worrell and Doctor Israel on vocals, electronics and effects. It was followed by Jahbulon (2010), a foray into hip-hop music, that added guitarist Dominic Kanza to the quintet, and Incunabula (2010), that featured Toshinori Kondo on trumpet.

Near Nadir (august 2010) documents a live collaboration between percussionist Mark Nauseef, Ikue Mori (on electronics), Evan Parker, (on soprano sax), and bassist and composer Bill Laswell.

Blixt (Cuneiform, 2011) was a collaboration with Finnish guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim of Krakatau and Swedish drummer Morgan Agren of the Mats/Morgan Band. The album takes numerous brief detours: the demonic monster groove of Black Whole, the witty funk-pop of Moon Tune, the gloomy cacophony of Tools, the agonizing lysergic blues of Storm, the frenzied Hendrix-ian nightmare 10 4-4-4-4-2-2-2-5-2, and especially the menacing and martial uber-metal of Cinque Roulettes; but its (more radiant) core is to be found in the lengthy Zen-like meditation of Ghost Strokes and in the eleven-minute space jam Invisible One (that at time evokes the suspenseful and magic atmosphere of Peter Green's The End of the Game). The album is largely Bjorkenheim's personal show, aided by the best rhythm section of his career.

Rise Again (2011) was a mediocre collaboration between Lee Perry and Bill Laswell.

Means Of Deliverance - Solo Acoustic Bass Guitar (2012) is a solo acoustic bass album.

Love Me Tender: Live 1999 & 2008 (Tzadik, 2013) collects live performances by Massacre (Fred Frith, Bill Laswell and Charles Hayward).

Method of Defiance's Dub Arcanum Arcandrum (2011) was followed by Nahariama: 4th Column (2013), that featured Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell, Guy Licata and Dr Israel, keyboardist Robert Burger, and cornetist Graham Haynes.

The Road To Jajouka (2013) features music by Ornette Coleman and John Zorn (alto saxes), Marc Ribot (banjo), Lee Ranaldo (guitar), John Medeski (Hammond organ), Bill Laswell and Chris Wood (basses), Billy Martin and Mickey Hart (drums) along with the Master Musicians of Jajouka from Morocco.

Bill Laswell (bass, guitar and electronics), Jon Batiste (piano, electric piano and organ), and Chad Smith (drums) recorded The Process (2014).

More collaborations yielded: Space/Time - Redemption (TUM, 2014) with jazz drummer Milford Graves; The Dream Membrane (2014) with John Zorn (to accompany Kabbalistic gibberish narrated by David Chaim Smith); the classy dub-jazz jams of Realm of Spells (2019) with Jah Wobble; and Smoke + Glass (2019) with electronic musician Alex Haas.

Method of Defiance returned with Column 3 - Babylon Deconstruction (2017).

Against Empire (MOD Reloaded, 2020) contains four lenghty improvisations with famous jazz musicians: saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, Peter Apfelbaum (saxophone, flute, keyboards), Herbie Hancock (electric piano), and the percussion quintet of Jerry Marotta, Chad Smith, Hideo Yamaki, Satoyasu Shomura and Adam Rudolph.

The Cleansing (recorded in february 2021) collects duets between Zorn on alto sax and Bill Laswell on bass.

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