Rhythm and Recurrence

  1/  4D                                         (Laswell,Musso,Showard)       5.08
  2/  Cut Virus                                  (Laswell,Musso,Showard)       5.51
  3/  Scratch Code                               (Laswell,Fernando,Showard)    5.53
  4/  Ghost Dub                                  (Laswell,Showard)             4.47
  5/  Subcut                                     (Laswell,Musso,Showard)       6.09
  6/  Black Dust                                 (Laswell,Musso,Showard)       6.13
  7/  Lo-Tek                                     (Laswell,Fernando,Showard)    5.34
  8/  Phase Draft                                (Laswell,Musso,Showard)       5.53
  9/  Posthuman                                  (Laswell,Fernando,Showard)    4.31
  10/ Dark Black                                 (Laswell,Fernando,Showard)    5.44

          Created at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey
          Engineered by Robert Musso
          Assistant Engineer: James Dellatacoma
          Artwork: Blast
          Design: John Brown
          Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell
          Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studios, New York
Bill Laswell: instruments; GrandMixer DXT: turntable, percussion, keyboards, sounds; James Dellatacoma (5,8): guitar; Skiz Fernando (3,7,9,10): beat construction; Robert Musso (1,2,5,6,8): beat construction; Sly Dunbar (4): drums.

          2003 - Sub Rosa (Belgium), SR216 (CD)


A look back over the shoulder to the heyday of old school hip hop, according to a number of listeners. Although indeed accompanied by one of the original innovators of the genre, Grandmaster DXT, I myself see this CD more as another in the stream of excellent instrumental beat albums Bill Laswell has been producing for some years now. He still thwangs the heaviest bass around and his sidekicks Robert Musso, Skiz Fernando and Sly Dunbar provide him with the most crucial of beats.

On this foundation DXT is let loose to extrapolate his "sounds" and masterclass turntable flourishes. He is such a dab hand, with a little surprise at every turn - just listen how he makes his scratches "talk" on "Lo-Tek".

Dubheads will enjoying bobbing along to "Ghost Dub" (only natural, since this is the track Dunbar drummed on). That "get up then sit back down again" bass line so familiar from Laswell’s first two Dub Chamber CDs on ROIR escorts dramatic string-like flourishes through "Black Dust", while "Phase Draft" is downright relaxing in its context. The penultimate track "Posthuman" has a very "robot-y" vibe to it, while the closing "Dark Black" has something 007 about it, scratchen not stirred.

It is a credit to the very cerebral Sub Rosa label that they have established such a giving and intimate relationship with Laswell. The music Laswell has generated specifically for the imprint (Oscillations, Oscillations 2, Lo Def Pressure) is often of a more straight-forward and percussive nature but then again, sometimes a solid beat says more than a thousand words.

Stephen Fruitman (courtesy of the Sonomu website)


Bill Laswell is trying way too hard. He couldn't decide whether or not this record was going to be broadcast from Mars, made danceable by solid rhythms from the past, or infected with the spirit of imagination and experimentation and this is more than enough to hurt the album. There are all sorts of pseudo-melodies winding their way between bass-heavy rhythm sections and musty turntable effects, but none of them stand out or doing anything like create the feel of a hook. Now and then there's a groove established by way of bass guitar and record-scratching, but none of them stand out over the other; it's as if every instrument was made to take center stage. This is a solo record for all heavy and groggy instruments in the court of nothing. At once a song can feel like an excursion into Jamaica, a shout out to the beat-masters of yesterday, and a trip into the drug-fuelled, hallucinogenic march of the future. "Black Dust" is a perfect example; the bass sounds great, the rhythm is heavy and hot, and there's a hint of some exotic instrumentation weaving its way out of the background; but none of these elements ever mix together. They clash like President Bush and common sense. The sound of Casio keyboards imitating disco-era horns don't synch well with the grit and grime of funky rhythms and sumptuous bass pounding. I can appreciate someone who wants to push boundaries and create new sounds for others to work with, but Laswell simply isn't doing that or, in the very least, he isn't doing it well enough. With a mix like this, all of the elements can't work together in a perfect unity; something has to be sacrificed (I'd like it if it were all the faux-psychadelia and space-inspired thematics) for it to work.

courtesy of the Brainwashed website