1/  Chaos                                      (Bey,Laswell)                 6.04
  2/  Poetic Terrorism                           (Bey,Laswell)                 4.22
  3/  Amour Fou                                  (Bey,Laswell)                 4.57
  4/  Immediatism                                (Bey,Laswell)                 13.35
  5/  The Tong                                   (Bey,Laswell)                 12.48
  6/  Boycott Cop Culture                        (Bey,Laswell)                 10.38

          Recorded and mixed at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Engineered and mixed by Robert Musso
          Additional engineering by Oz Fritz
          Assistant: Imad Mansour
          Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell
          Mastered at Masterdisc by Howie Weinberg
Hakim Bey: readings; Bill Laswell: basses, treatments, samples, sound collage; Wu Man: pipa; Nicky Skopelitis & Buckethead: guitar.

          1994 - Axiom/Island (USA), 314-524 014-2 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital)


The title stands for Temporary Autonomous Zone, if you've been slacking on your alternative, radical-chic thinkers, and haven't encountered Bey, probably a pseudonym for Peter Lamborn Wilson. Bey, along with Terrence McKenna, exists on the margin of academic credibility (as they should), but command more respect than the term "cult following" usually implies—the tribally enlightened, modern-primitive intelligentsia—hotly debate and cherish their books and reading/happenings. Bey has parallels with Chomsky as a thinker, but is more fascinated with media and pop culture and is well-versed in subcultures as well. Not that he coddles the `alternative culture.' Wherever you stand, you'll find yourself challenged and indicted by TAZ, but thrilled nonetheless. As for the recording, it's great; Bey's voic is clear as a bell, soothing even while his thoughts provoke. Bill Laswell, Buckethead, and Nicky Skopelitis among others provide a global sonic backdrop, as effectively recombining bits from the Axiom catalogue. Bey's ideas and radical, witty intelligence plus the hypnotic presentation make "Poetic Terrorism," ("art as crime") and "Immediatism," a call for ritualistic direct communication, must hears. And I'd like to see MTV try to co-opt the man who wrote "Boycott Pop Culture." Or perhaps Bey could use them to his own effect. If you like recordings of William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, or Jim Morrison's An American Prayer, you'll probably dig this. It may affect you even more.

Danny Housman, January 1995 (courtesy of the Oculus website)


On T.A.Z., writer Hakim Bey reads excerpts from his book of the same name, a work detailing his beliefs that ancient philosophical concepts (such as the Chinese secret society known as a Tong), coupled with modern elements, will return humanity to enlightenment. So it makes sense that Bey's readings are accompanied by backing tracks assembled by legendary producer Bill Laswell. Laswell, as shown by the other, wildly divergent releases on Axiom, has always grafted modern urban sounds and ideas with ancient Eastern musicians and instruments. For T.A.Z. (the title is short for "Temporary Autonomous Zone," Bey's term for a Tong), Laswell constructed ambient, sparse music fusing the sounds of Chinese musician Wu Man with cult guitar hero Buckethead, as well as frequent collaborator Nicky Skopelitis. (Buckethead fans should be forewarned that he plays gentler, more melodic music in the style of his album Colma rather than his usual rapid-fire soloing) The music serves to showcase Bey's voice, which remains at a soothing cadence. His voice never wavers, even when he rabidly excoriates the veneration of police in popular culture, as he does in "Boycott Cop Culture," or when he exhorts listeners to perform pranks in the name of civil disobedience in "Poetic Terrorism." Though the album can be riveting, it has flaws. Sometimes Bey shows off his articulateness excessively, causing his meaning to be totally lost. It's also true that he falls into the danger of preaching to the converted; listeners who are already inclined to agree with his views on society and culture will feel confirmed, while others will simply dismiss him outright. Still, those looking for a modern equivalent to classic albums by the Last Poets and Gil-Scott Heron should seek T.A.Z. out.

Victor W. Valdivia courtesy of the All Music Guide website)