1/  First Reading                              (Azizi,Laswell)               0.29
  2/  The Old Man of the Mountain                (ArnoLubeck,Laswell)          3.12
  3/  The Western Lands                          (Burroughs,Techno Animal)     6.12
  4/  The Spilled Cup                            (Shabestari,Deyhim)           1.47
  5/  Marco Polo's Tale                          (Polo,Skopelitis)             1.43
  6/  Pilgrimage To Cairo                        (Khusraw,Laswell)             1.50
  7/  Freya Stark At Alamut                      (Stark,Fier)                  0.20
  8/  Castles                                    (Juvayni,Fier)                0.57
  9/  Hashish Poem                               (Khamis/al A'ma,Laswell)      2.52
  10/ Sinan's Post                               (unknown,Laswell)             1.56
  11/ Assassinations                             (Shabestari,Fier)             0.33
  12/ The Mongols Destroy Alamut                 (Juwayni,Schutze)             1.14
  13/ The Divine Self                            (Sadiq,Wobble)                5.09
  14/ Morning High                               (Rimbaud,Skopelitis)          3.03
  15/ A Quick Trip To Alamut                     (Gysin,Schutze)               3.41
  16/ Slogans                                    (Hammer-Purgstall,HC,Laswell) 0.47
  17/ Book of the Highest Initiation             (Stern,Helios Creed,Laswell)  2.41
  18/ The Lord of the Resurrection               (Laswell)                     0.52
  19/ Assassinations                             (Tusi,Fier)                   0.52
  20/ Tale of the Caliph Hakem                   (de Nerval,Eyeless in Gaza)   5.00
  21/ The Assassins                              (Bey,Laswell)                 2.05
  22/ Last Reading                               (Wali,Laswell)                0.37

          Text Compiled by Peter Lamborn Wilson
          Spoken Word: Readings arranged and produced by Janet Rienstra
          Track 13 produced by Jah Wobble; Assistant Producer: Mark Ferda
          Track 20 produced by Anne Clark, Eyeless in Gaza, Martyn Bates and Peter Becker 
          Soundtrack compiled by Bill Laswell
Susan Deyhim: reading (1,4,22); Genesis P Orridge: introdution (2), reading (16,17,20); Percy Howard: reading (2,8,12); William S. Burroughs: introduction (3); Iggy Pop: reading (3,15); Hakim Bey: reading (5,6,21); Nicole Blackman: reading (7,9,11,19); Unknown Persian singer: voice: (8); Ira Cohen: reading (10); Jah Wobble: reading (13), bass (13), keyboards (13); Neville Murray: Congas (13), bendir (13); Jaki Liebezeit: drums (13); Lizzy Mercier Descloux: reading (14); Patti Smith: reading (14); Oliver Ray: additional guitar (14); Bill Laswell: bass (16,17), sounds (16,17); Helios Creed: additional music (16,17); Hassan: Hassan (18); Anne Clark: reading (20).

The first writer listed is the composer of the text, others the writer of the music.
Track 9's text was written either by Ibn Khamis or Ibn al-A'ma.
Track 18 was adapted from original sources, hence no one writer is listed for the text.

          1999 - Meta/Sub Rosa (Belgium), SR154 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital only)
Note: This was reissued together with Bill Laswell's 'City of Light' in a 2CD slipcase at a reduced price. There are no added tracks.


Over the last couple of years, Janet Rienstra and Bill Laswell have been putting together spoken word projects which have blended atmospheric ambient music and the craft of story-telling. Each project has had its own focus, beginning with Greek and Roman mythology, bending eastward for Kundalini's tale, and returning to the Mediterranean for the tale of The Old Man of the Mountain: Hassan-i Sabbah. Hashisheen isn't intended as promulgation of the Assassin rhetoric, but rather as an examination of the historical texts and mythology which surround this 11th century sect. It is an attempt to weave together music and text to "produce a visionary experience of the Hashisheen and their inner history."

The basic idea is to use their own writings, myths of their exploits, historical descriptions by their enemies and other observers, and to give these words life through the rich vocal talents of folks like Sussan Deyhim, Genesis P. Orridge, Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs (from beyond the grave), Hakim Bey, Percy Howard, Patti Smith, and Nicole Blackman. Wreathed around the stories is music from Techno Animal, Laswell, Anton Fier, Paul Schutze, Jah Wobble, Helios Creed, and Eyeless in Gaza. How can you do justice to all of the contributors? Rienstra and Laswell have gotten good at this sort of construct and the result is a lyrically expansive hour of music and voice that seems not so much a history lesson as an adventure to a space and time which has been obscured for centuries.

And frankly, Sussan Deyhim and Nicole Blackman don't get enough work. Their voices, completely beguiling for differing reasons, add such texture that you aren't too terribly disappointed at the brevity of their contributions. On the resonant baritone side, Percy Howard, Hakim Bey, and Genesis P. Orridge bring an excellent counterpoint. The only marring voice is Iggy Pop's, who just seems a little out of step with the rest of the vocalists. Just a little.

e[ar]P[ollution] co-conspirator Paul Goracke and I traded emails about this album last month, and he had a concise insight which summed up the trouble I was having classifying this disc: "If you like companion books to PBS series, you'll probably like this." The ambient stylings of the music push this disc away from conscious listening, but the words pull it back towards you. It does demand a more active participation from its audience, but it is an evocative listen that will build a place in your collection over time...if you are the type who has actually thumbed through the stack of picture books on your coffee table.

Mark Teppo (courtesy of the Ear Pollution website)


As you can see from the above track listing, this release has many great artists contributing their talents to the overall fine production and content of "Hashisheen". The music is of course excellent and ranges from eastern ambient/textures, drum & bass to more ethereal and natural elemental. Included also are Eastern ethno-core vocals and music.  The musicians and bands include: Bill Laswell, Techno Animal, Eyeless in Gaza, Anton Fier, Paul Schutze, Helios Creed, Nicky Skopelitis, Jah Wobble, and Sussan Deyhim. Spoken word/readings are by Bill Laswell, Genesis P. Orridge, Iggy Pop, Sussan Deyhim, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Patti Smith, Hakim Bey, Jah Wobble, Nicole Blackman, Ira Cohen, Percy Howard, Anne Clark and Hassan. This release brings us stories how Hassan-I-Sabbah came by his uncanny power(s) and how his devotees struck terror into the hearts of men from the Caspian to Egypt. It is one of the most extraordinary of all tales of secret societies. The sect of the Hashisheen continues to exist in the form of Ismailis, whose chief is Aga Khan. (DEI) Words of wisdom, truths, eternal life through living the divine master's truth, and explantions of mysteries in living and death are delivered in these readings. "Hashisheen" is a fabulous documentation, both in the stories it tells, and the music it presents. If you enjoy previous music or readings by these artists "Hashisheen" is definitely a must have for you.

Kim Alexander (courtesy of the Last Sigh website)