1/  Golden Spiral                              (Laswell)                     11.20
  2/  Tabu                                       (Laswell)                     16.16
  3/  Shadowline                                 (Laswell)                     15.05
  4/  The Seven Holy Mountains                   (Laswell)                     17.56

          Created at Orange Music, West Orange, NJ
          Engineering: James Dellatacoma
          Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at TurtleTone Studio, NYC
          Artwork by Yoko Yamabe @ Randesign
          M.O.D. Reloaded: Dave Brunelle, Yoko Yamabe
          Photo by Toshiya Suzuki
Bill Laswell: bass, effects; Pharoah Sanders: saxophone; Peter Apfelbaum: saxophone, flute, keyboards; Herbie Hancock: electric piano; Jerry Marotta: drums; Chad Smith: drums; Hideo Yamaki: drums; Satoyasu Shomura: drums; Adam Rudolph: percussion.

          2020 - M.O.D. Reloaded (USA), MODRL00100  (digital)
          2020 - M.O.D. Reloaded (USA), MODRL00100  (24 bit Digital)
          2020 - M.O.D. Reloaded (USA), MODRL00100  (CD)
          2021 - M.O.D. Reloaded (USA), MODRL00100  (Vinyl planned second 1/2 of 2021)


Can music itself be wise, or just the people who create it? Can it perhaps impart wisdom? Certainly some profundity is layered into this album's compositions, choice of players, improvising and production, so that, while being breathtakingly innovative, it also feels mysteriously ancient. Ever questing, composer/bassist Bill Laswell has come up with an opus that in some ways is an heir of Panthalassa, his 1998 remix of some of Miles Davis' electric music.

Indeed, Herbie Hancock is among the contributors here, his flickering electric piano dancing amid the enchanted forest of percussion textures. Pharoah Sanders is here too, the great saxophonist's vast sound spreading some of that sense of wisdom. Then there's multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum and Laswell himself, with his love of a bass sound that seems to swell the diameter of your speakers.

But, as vital as all those contributions are, Against Empire is also a celebration of drums and percussion. Laswell has assembled four quite different kit drummers (including Jerry Marotta and Chad Smith) and brilliant percussionist Adam Rudolph, so the music's surface is in constant flux – whether tumultuous or as peaceful as a lake.

4/5 stars

John Shand (courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald website)


Bill Laswell continues to expertly blur the lines between preconceived musical genres with his latest effort, a powerhouse display of acoustic/electronic jazz-infused, dub-oriented rock-related suites in four movements. Each movement is anchored by a different drummer: Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Hideo Yamaki (Japan’s top drummer), and Satoyasu Shomura (a highly regarded Japanese pop performer). But that is merely the beginning. These tracks are combined to make a statement against much of what is taking place in the United States today. In short, Laswell and his fellow musicians (which include keyboardist Herbie Hancock and sax legend Pharoah Sanders) have created an audio protest march, and it is in our best interest to take heed of what’s being said. It should surprise no one that the grooves are tight and the leads are powerful, emotional, and spot-on. This is one of those performances better experienced than written about. And the experience will be quite transformative.

courtesy of the CirdecSongs website