Disc one:
  1/  Green Evil - Paul Schutze                  (Schutze)                     11.36      
  2/  Subharmonic Invocation of the Dark         (Namlook)                     12.50
        Spirits - Pete Namlook
  3/  Ether Vibes - Haruomi Hosono               (Hosono,Koshi)                7.51       
  4/  There - Mick Harris                        (Harris)                      9.36

 Disc two:
  1/  Zone - Thomas Koner (Async Sense)          (Koner)                       12.00
  2/  Blue Filter - Anton Fier                   (Fier)                        8.24
  3/  Interlink - Tetsu Inoue                    (Inoue)                       10.27    
  4/  Black Dangers - Bill Laswell               (Laswell)                     29.50
          Prepared at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Disc one, track 2 recorded in Frankfurt, Germany
          Disc one, track 3 recorded at Quiet Lodge, Tokyo
          Disc one, track 4 recorded in the UK
          Disc two, tracks 2 and 4 recorded at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Each track produced and performed by it’s respective writer
          Compiled by Bill Laswell
          John Brown and Robert Soares: Material, Inc./Submeta
          Bill Murphy: Axiom
          Mastered by Robert Musso and Anton Fier
Disc two:
(2) Knox Chandler: guitar; (4) Robert Musso : engineering, processing.

          1996 - Submeta (USA), SM 9803-2 (2CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital)


The Divination compilations keep getting mellower and mellower as time goes on, which moves them right into my segment of view. Akasha had a split personality, but this one keeps the faith right on through. There's not much I can say about this compilation than I haven't already said about the individual artists: Mr. Schulze's been around forever, done everything, and has a track on Twilight Earth; Mr. Namlook's track is dark and creepy, but soothingly so; Mr. Harris is Lull on Swarm of Drones; Mr. Koner's track actually has beat, a rarity for such a dronemaster; Mr. Fier is usually more uppity, as can be seen on Valis and Crooklyn Dub [he's erroneously thinking of Layng Martine's Corp. Blossom tracks on these comps. - SW]; Mr. Inoue's track is on an album being sold separately, and, of course; Mr. Laswell has his say. Remember to point and click before you shop!

Dan Foley (courtesy of the Ambience For the Masses website)


Well, Mr. Laswell, at it again, I see! Actually, Laswell only appears on the last track of this double CD set of the soundtrack to nightmares. This time around, Divination is not a band per se, but individual artists working apart (more of a compilation). The artists are: Paul Schultze, Pete Namlook, Haruomi Hosono, Mick Harris, Thomas Koner, Anton Fier, Tetsu Inoue and the Big B. Anybody out there expecting stuff along the lines of the Ambient Dub series will be disappointed, because the disc is almost all beatless, with the exception of some low end rumbling on the tracks by Hosono and Koner. Keep in mind that this is very far from romantic ambient music (what do you expect with song titles like "Green Evil" and "Subharmonic Invocation of the Dark Spirits?)This album is pure dark ambient, and is excellent. Anybody that is going to buy this (or already has it) should check this out: there is some disturbing similarities between Anton Fier's "Blue Filter" and Main's "Terminus Part One" (from Terminus/Hertz). Can you say explicit sampling, boys and girls? I knew you could!

Overall - 4/5

Creaig Dunton (courtesy of the False Prophet Campaign website)


With Distill, Bill Laswell presents a further disbanding and dis-integration of collaboration and focus in the Divination series -- not that there's anything wrong with that! -- that began with the previous 2-CD Divination: Akasha. Beyond that, this boils down to an excellent 100+ minute thinly-veiled compilation disc of broadband dark isolationist ambient that is, if not cohesive by design, a solid set of textbook examples of the genre.

Finally got hold of Divination: Distill, the fourth in the series of Divination volumes that began with Ambient Dub: volume 1 and Dead Slow: Ambient Dub volume 2 back in '93 and '94. I say finally got a hold of, because SubMeta, Bill Laswell's new label that has risen from the ashes of his passed on Subharmonic enterprise (from which all other Divinations have sprung) can't seem to find its distribution or promotional ass with both hands and a flashlight: it has taken me months of asking several distributers to secure me a disk. Given that, and with the following elaborations, it was worth the wait, even though the result is essentially a compilation volume.

After four of these releases, it has become obvious that Divination is less a project or group (although it began as a loose one) than a state of mind, or an end to a means. This may be a result of Laswell-- mind-bendingly gifted as the prolific little fucker is -- having little overt plan, vision, scope or structure to the D. endeavor as a whole. Perhaps he may be content to let the D. evolve or mutate freely, as opposed to trying to control it as a concisely defined or guided artistic situation: whether this due to admirable restraint and confidence, or just overload-induced flakiness -- c'mon, the guy plays on, produces or creates about 370 new CDs a week -- I don't know, but I'm assuming a combination of both). No matter: the end result is satisfying and horrifyingly beautiful, if not cohesive, as a package. Whereas the other Ds have been the product of collaboration between a set federation of players and tweakers, this new disc stands as a master work of the isolationist genre not only in style, but in execution: the eight tracks spread across two discs (just over 100 minutes of sound) are "solo" pieces from an equal number of artists (most of whom are frequent Laswell collaborators). While this disc breaks no new ground, it serves up quite uniformly some superbly crafted, almost definative examples of "dark" or "isolationist" ambient sculptures and soundscapes.

The disc starts with with a slow, twittering and steamy Gamelan ditty from Paul Schütze called "Green Evil", one of the only artists on the CD (and perhaps in the whole world) with little prior or obvious connection to Laswell. Schütze's brilliant New Maps of Hell (Extreme, 1992) changed the way I thought about the integration of sub-ethnic elements into electronic ambient music, and indicated what could be done with theme and pace given enough timbrality; unfortunately, after a great deal of shopping and spending, most of Schütze's other, later work has dissappointed, with his Uzecht Plaush More Beautiful Human Life disc being glaring exception -- if you do not know this disc, track it down and buy it: this and New Maps are all the Schütze anyone really needs). The track on Distill is a narcotic and atomized variant of the Balinese-temple-on-a-microchip atmosphere of The Rapture of Metals, another good Schütze outing that he pegs as a "sequel" to New Maps, but I have always completely failed to see the connection or the importance of one-- the work stands pristinely on its own.

Fellow ambient workaholic Pete Namlook surfaces on the next track with an extremely monochromatic and threatening piece of bass-squilge drone called "Subharmonic Invocation of the Dark Spirits". Intensely menacing and morbid, it's a real pick-me-up, and good lead in for the next track by Haruomo Hosono, who gives us "Ether Vibes", one of the three or so tracks on the disc that feature discernable beats. A gently busy pattern of mysterious industry emerges, allowing one to picture a team of alien scientists performing intricate calculations of biology, time and space among the strange forms of towering trees of some temporally dislocated far-flung forest at twilight. I must investigate more Hosono, sometime: he seems delicately twisted and most beautiful.

Disc 1 closes with There from Mick Harris, a black, shimmering, steaming turd of an outro of black form and purpose, detached from Harris's usual dubby or fright-hop affectations. The second disc opens with Thomas Koner's "Zone", the best track on the set, and the most perplexing, in terms of attribution. Not that I'm well-versed in Koner, but I've never heard anything like this from him before: at first, I thought Robert Rich had snuck into the party uninvited, and then the beats coalesced -- decidedly Laswellian beats, along with an insistent, troubling pulse -- and the track became a cold blast from the Divination past, a throwback (although a brilliant one) to the initial thrusts of the series. The composition is a curving sonic march across the bones of musical thoughts that ordinarily remain hidden, or that are too abvious to see or too sublime to think about.

Laswell Golden Palomino-buddy Anton Fier steps in next with an un- characteristically flat pience of cold terrain called "Blue Filter", nice and cold and squirty, the kind of music you might hear as you die in the ice of hypothermia.

A track called "Interlink", from Testu Inoue, is next, with a typical Celtic Arab sample-wash intro (at least, typical forTestu, as of late-- I suspected he had lifted the sample from the first track of his World Receiver disc on Instinct, then I realized it was the same track, which pissed me off) It's a fairly uninvolving (although somehow delicately beautiful) piece.

Uncle Bill himself closes the collection with a half-hour of shiftshaping, ambient studio jism called "Black Dangers". A darker continuation of, perhaps, the ambient offerings on the first disc of the third Divination disk, Akasha, but of little importance or effect. Still, I am greatful whenever Bill Laswell stamps his name on any piece that omits his idiotic, obvious and regurgitated basslines as found on the lame Sacred System: Book of Entrance, which I bought yesterday on a self-dare and am still kicking myself for. It's almost like he has to get the moronic bass-poison out of his system after producing something as towering and near-pure as Distill.

Larry Molmud (courtesy of the 90.3 fm kazu website)