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bill laswell

Bill Laswell

This nOde last updated December 30th, 2006 and is permanently morphing...
(5 Caban (Earth) / 10 K'ank'in - 57/260 - 12.19.13.16.17)

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In contrast to the kind of reductionist thinking that separates music into discrete categories with their own record store bins, Laswell heard the music whole, as a complex, dynamic system in whichthe components are distinct but always subtly related. In terms of internal linkchaoshail Eris! theory, the latest imaginal construct of the theoretical physicists, the music then bouncing off the walls of various Manhattan canyons was a chaotic system; Laswell, -- to use the physicists' parlance -- acted as a "internal linkstrange attractor," defining the system as a whole by holding it clear in his mind, containing its multitude of jostling interactions within...Laswell began to test various deconstructive/recombinant mix-and-match strategies, forging ever more unlikely but ultimately fruitful combinations fromshards of the chaos ...Again and again, coming in at various oblique angles, he has kin- dled this pyro-magick in the heart of contemporary music.

-- Robert Palmer, from notes to Bill Laswell -Deconstruction: the Celluloid Recordings



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As a bassist Laswell collaborated with internal linkBrian Eno and David Byrne on the groundbreaking _My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts_ 12"atomjacked inventory cache recording, and did numerous sessions with a broad variety of artists, including Curlew, internal linkJohn Zorn, Golden Palominos, Kip Hanrahan, Tom Verlaine, Fred Frith, and Eno (the internal linkambient _On Land_ album), to name a few. He also created ensembles such as Massacre (with Frith and Maher) and Deadline (with Philip Wilson and others) which overlapped greatly or entirely with Material, and which in the early internal link1980s often shared bills in New York clubs, early testimony to an ability to generate work for his tribe of players.

Davidy Byrne and Brian Eno polaroid

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While developing blueprints for the future of Hip-Hop and R&B in the early 1980s, Laswell was coming up with new ideas based in his fascination with the implications of randomness as a creative tool, as employed in the "cut-up" techniques and _The Third Mind_ book of Burroughs and Gysin (in which they explore the idea of a separate, third internal linkforce being created or evoked by the interaction/collision/collaboration of two creative beings, i.e., in which the sum of collaborative energies is profoundly greater than its parts). Also intriguing and influential was the work of such 20th-century progressive classical/new music/avant-garde music artists as internal linkKarlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakas, Luciano Berio, internal linkArnold Schoenberg, Harry Partch, andinternal linkJohn Cage, Germany's Free Music Productions (FMP) collective -- which included the improvisational and sonically jagged work of Peter Brotzmann and other European artists -- as well as Derek Bailey's Company in the UK and John Zorn's Gamepieces, which began to take shape in New York in the late 1970s. The work of other European "progressive rock" innovators -- including Magma in France, Can and Neu in Germany, and Hawkwind, King Crimson, Soft Machine and Henry Cow in the UK -- had been similarly absorbed into Laswell's active views of musical possibilities.



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The radical fusion movement in the US, with its improvisational and sonic power, was similarly imprinted upon his psyche, most notably including Tony Williams' Lifetime, John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Miles Davis' bands, and internal linkOrnette Coleman's work, which spread into the influential territories of intuitive creation and the internal linktrance music of internal linkJajouka.
 

Ornette Coleman Master Musicians Of Jajouka

Laswell experimented and explored with countless lineups of the Material ensemble and other projects -- such as the rare, original Praxis album -- synthesizing radical textures and sonic palettes. Ideas of now- fashionable "industrial" music and art -- both overt or implied -- are a long-term element in his productions, from such basic ideas as sonic "distortion" as found in the early Stooges, Blue Cheer, and internal linkJimi Hendrix through the "noise is beautiful" aesthetic/theories and even noise generators of F.T. Marinetti and the Futurist movement, as found in Luigi Russolo's E Larete Dei Rumori (Art Of Noises). The musical phenomena of internal linkharmonic-rich sonic distortion and internal linkfeedback, as well as higher harmonics flying like sparks off of internal linkclashing or harmonious tones below, are examples of real and metaphoric representation of "Third Mind" entities, consciousnesses, spaces and planes.



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Future Shock

Alvin Toffler
A pivotal, culminating, conglomerative project was 1983's very appropriately-titled _Future Shock_ album by Herbie Hancock, which brought many of the elements explored and tried out elsewhere together in one epic, mind-boggling and absolutely unprecedented album. The single _Rockit_ was a massive worldwide hit, taking MTV and the mainstream by storm with a radical new sound consisting of techno beats and synthesizer blips (which are still the staple for today's "techno" dance music), turntable scratching, bata drums, funky synth and clavinet playing by Hancock, and, of course, Laswell's seamless bass playing. The album's title track was a remake of a classic Curtis Mayfield song, demonstrating for the first time the possibilities of fusing soul and R&B with high-tech sounds in meaningful ways, and one of the great achievements of the album as a whole was that it took often sterile synthesized elements and sampling and made them swing with tremendously funky results.
Herbie Hancock - Rock It



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Praying internal linkMantra
As Laswell becomes increasingly involved in the areas of internal linkambient music, it is interesting to note that "The End Of Words" from Seven Souls was included on Virgin Records' _A Brief History Of Ambient, Vol. I_, along with the work of internal linkEnointernal linkGong, William Orbit, and others. The new Caroline Records compilation entitled Excursions In Ambience -- The Second Orbit features a collaboration withinternal linkThe Orb, on a piece entitled "Mantra," that was primarily recorded in Madras, India, and which is featured on Material's _Hallucination Engine_. An edit of this same piece, under the name of "Praying Mantra," is also featured on Volume'sinternal linkTrance Europe Express compilation of ambient/trance music, along with pieces by The Orb, internal linkAphex Twin, Orbital, and others. The complete, 17-minute Orb mix of "Praying Mantra," along with Laswell's dub remixes of the piece, was released on a commercial CD-single and 12" vinyl through Axiom/Island UK, appearing in import and promotion-only forms in the US. 

Material - Hallucination Engine


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Migrating to New York in the late 1970s, Laswell had opportunities to fully explore improvisational, avant-garde, and progressive forms of rock and jazz, internal linkinterfacing with a vast array of musicians. He pursued recording sessions and live gig work in as many challenging contexts as possible to gain experience, try out ideas, and make enough money to survive. Early gigs in New York included work with Daevid Allen and the progressive "avant- internal linkfusion" band internal linkGong, with members of Magma and Henry Cow, and an interest in the burgeoning "downtown" New York scene. Collaborative relationships with such free-thinking and -playing musicians as Fred Frith, Henry Threadgill, Philip Wilson, Billy Bang, Olu Dara, internal linkJohn Zorn and others resulted in a body of work that many from the scene are still trying to augment, a decade later.



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internal link_Dreams Of Freedom: internal linkAmbient Translations Of internal linkBob Marley In internal linkDub_ produced by Bill Laswell  (1997)

Bob Marley - Dreams Of Freedom - Bill Laswell
 

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release _Arc Of The Testimony_ by internal linkArcana

 
Arcana - Arc Of The Testimony


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release internal link_Psychonavigation Vol. 3_ by Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell on Fax (1997)



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Waveforms:
 

Bill Laswell - Sacred Systems Chapter 2 on Roir (1997) Bill Laswell - Points Of Order on Innerhythmic (2001)
Material - The Third Power on Axiom (1991) Bill Laswell - Dub Chamber 3 on ROIR (2000)
Bill Laswell & Jah Wobble - Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission on Palm (2001) Bill Laswell - Sacred System, Chapter 1: Book Of Entrance on Roir (1996)
Bill Laswell - Divination: Sacrifice on Meta (1998) Praxis - Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis)) CD on Axiom (1992)
Material - Intonarumori on Palm (1999) Praxis - Warszawa on Innerhythmic (1999)
Material - One Down 12inch on Mau Mau (1982) Crooklyn Dub Syndicate Vol. 3 Escape From New York compilation CD on WordSound (1999)
Bill Laswell - Emerald Aether: Shape Shifting Reconstructions Of Irish Music compilation CD on Shanachie (2000) Pain Killer - Talisman: Live In Nagoya CD on Tzadik (2002)
Bill Laswell - Imaginary Cuba CD (1999)


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