1/  Mektoub                                    (GB,BL,Wobble,Skopelitis)     7.05
  2/  Under Black Skies                          (Baker,Laswell,Skopelitis)    6.59
  3/  Time Be Time                               (Baker,Laswell,Skopelitis)    5.00
  4/  Alamout                                    (GB,BL,Wobble,Skopelitis)     5.48
  5/  Basil                                      (Baker)                       5.21
  6/  South To The Dust                          (Baker,Laswell,Skopelitis)    5.00

          Recorded at B.C. Studio, Platinum Island and Krypton
          Produced by Bill Laswell
          Engineer at B.C. Studio: Martin Bisi
          Engineer at Platinum Island: Oz Fritz
          Assistant Engineer at Platinum Island: Paul Berry
          Engineer at Krypton: Robert Musso
          Assistant Engineer at Krypton: Anne Pope
          Mixed by Jason Corsaro at Platinum Island
          Assistant Mix Engineer: Oz Fritz
          Special Mix Assistant: Ian Linault
          Mastered at Masterdisc by Howie Weinberg
Ginger Baker: drums; Jah Wobble: bass; Jonas Hellborg: Wal MIDI bass, fretless & acoustic bass; Bill Laswell: bass, fretless & six string bass; Nicky Skopelitis: 6 & 12 string guitars, baglama, coral sitar, electric banjo, fairlight; Faruk Tekbilek: ney, zurna; Bernie Worrell: Hammond organ; Aiyb Dieng: doff, talking drum, metals; Mar Gueye: sabar (hand drum); Magette Fall: tama (hand drum).

          1990 - Axiom/Island (USA), 539 864-1 (Vinyl)
          1990 - Axiom/Island (USA), 422-846 753-2 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital)


Awesome mixture of exotic acoustic and electric elements, rhythms and tonalities. Ginger Baker is a world traveler and this has heavy leanings to African themes but Bill Laswell’s production brings it out of the village into the studio, but just barely.

The drumming and percussion throughout the album goes beyond the boundries of both rock and world music. Bass duties are handled by Laswell and Jah Wobble, often both on the same track. Exotic guitars played by tonemaster Nicky Skopeltis. No vocals, no need for them here.In fact I’ve played this recording since it first came out (circa 1989) but not until writing this review now did the abscence of vocals even dawn on me.

Middle Passage is an album of six masterful arrangements of various intensities from bold to simmering. I like Laswell’s production style but on some recordings he gets to “loop happy” and looses ground, but not here this is a great meeting of real playing with only a slight sense of production.

Ginger Baker is one of the most recognisable names in drumming the world over, despite over a 10 year sabbatical from the music industry (mid 70’s until mid-late 80’s) and also being an artist with integrity, taste and intention.

For those of you who are aware of his sublime Horses and Trees album Middle Passage is like the next progressive step in strength and intensity but with relativly similar exotic acoustic/electric instrumentation.

The overall picture presented by the music? maybe something like having a big bowl of saucy spiced hot stew inside the flame and insense lit brick and clay walls of an African-Asian hashish lunchoenette den.

courtesy of the website