1/ Azlo (Kamiyama,Laswell) 8.50 2/ Todes Fuge (Kamiyama,Laswell) 6.17 3/ Sospirando (Kamiyama,Laswell) 4.09 4/ The Desert (Kamiyama,Laswell) 13.52 5/ Zarathustra (Kamiyama,Laswell) 6.10 6/ Sad Emissions (Kamiyama,Laswell) 16.19 7/ Parrot Fashions (Kamiyama,Laswell) 4.06 Recorded by Yoshiaki Kondo at GOK Sound, Tokyo Edited by Hoppy Kamiyama and mad sheep Mix translation by Bill Laswell at Orange Music, Orange, New Jersey Mix engineer: Robert Musso Produced by Hoppy Kamiyama and Bill Laswell Executive Producer: Yuji Hoshino for CREAGE Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper and Alex Theoret at Turtle Tone Studio, New York City Artist Management (Bill Laswell) and Studio Coordination: Shin Terai for Texture Inc.Hoppy Kamiyama: digital president, slide geisha, ass hole box, gram pot; Bill Laswell: bass, effects; Kiyohiko Semba: drums, percussion, electric drums.
2004 - CREAGE/Yamaha (Japan), YMCC-2001 (CD) 2004 - Kanpai Records (USA), 73043-2 (CD) 2021 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (Bassmatter Subscription Exclusive)
Fans of improvised jazz electronica should check out this CD. It's challenging and experimental, but has strong jazz-funk rhythm section that helps to propel the tracks along.
The production is excellent, especially on the drum set. It sounds almost like you're looking over Semba's shoulder as he plays.
The highlight of the CD is Sad Emission. Laswell lays and Semba lay down a vital 5/4 groove over Indian drones and effected flutes. A little over two minutes into the track, though, Semba changes gears completely, taking things into more of funk territory. This is the first of several gear shifts, each one tempting your ears into thinking things will come to a crashing halt, before the drums and bass kick into work again and send things in another direction.
The rhythm section throughout is exciting, but Kamiyama's electronic stylings adds a cinematic quality to the tracks that take things into different territory.
Traveling to A Navel City is not for the faint of heart, but adventurous travelers will be rewarded.
courtesy of the Synthtopia website
Both of these music personalities are well-known for their assorted collaborations, so it should be no surprise that they have finally gotten together to see what results. Tokyo-based Kamiyama is a producer and keyboardist, perhaps best known as head honcho of the God Mountain label and the impresario behind acts as varied as eX-Girl and the Pugs, while producer and bassist Laswell has been involved with everything from Material and Painkiller to remixing Miles Davis.
The idea of Laswell's deep dub sensibilities combined with Kamiyama's more prankish nature intrigued me as soon as I heard of the project. These seven long pieces place Laswell's bass and Kamiyama's keyboards over drums by guest Kiyohiko Semba, with tricky sound effects by both Kamiyama and Laswell sprinkled liberally throughout. The good news is that the outcome of this collaboration balances the impulses of both strong personalities, giving the listener deep grooves and playful touches. Semba's strong, nimble drumming is worthy of more than just a brief mention as well; he moves easily from simple, straightforward beats to fast, head-spinning fills, and is an excellent match for both Laswell's dub pulsing and Kamiyama's weird jazz moments.
The disc's opener, "Azlo," begins with Laswell’s bass and echoing drums. As it progresses, though, the rhythm section heightens the tempo with some very impressive drum fills, as synthesized pings and bells enter here and there. "Todes Fuge" features sparkling piano work with metallic sound effects, while "Sospirando" layers a variety of electronics over a simple, strong beat.
The drums are again noteworthy on "Zarathustra," after a slow introductory movement filled with cymbals and what's probably ultra-compressed bass. "Sad Emission" also evolves from one sonic signature to another, beginning with slow, thick bass and drums that quickly accelerate, dominated by alien keyboards and a dense bassline. Later it slows again, morphing into a gently jazzy piece with drops of rainlike piano and strangely murmuring background sounds.
All in all, these and the other songs here offer a fair variety while concentrating on what each of the participants does best. Unlike some collaborations, which can seem forced, these pieces feel comfortable in the sense that Kamiyama and Laswell apparently realized how they could best take advantage of their combined strengths. Good work all around.
Mason Jones (courtesy of Dusted Magazine website)
Navel city is a land of its own. Possibly due to the art album cover navel city is located in east asia with lush mountains plenty of eastern religious iconic figures and the statue of david. With a view of water and an industrial city landscape.
This is the first album ive heard from Hoppy Kamiyama (digital president, Slide Geisha, Ass hole box& gram pot and Kiyohiko Semba (drums, Percussion and electronic drums) I hope we all know laswell ( Bass-effects)
1st song Azlo starts with a very ambient structure then melts to a slow jazz dub feel mainly drum and bass are present with sparatic digital ambient sounds and bells. Some light horn work is also present as the jam cuts in and out from style to style and different time signatures. Song clocks in 6:17
2nd song Todes fuge is a bite ambient with light percussion, piano and laswell style bass very badawi style with intense piano fills. 4:09
3rd song Sospirando is an up beat jazz dub with very strong digital sounds and lots of drum filtering/processing.
4th song The Desert is the second best song on the album, starts out with a very tribal feel, flutes, ambience and tribal drum set and percussion with dub bass. The song progressivelly changes styles including a very Herbie Hancock 70 fussion psychodelic style with lots of filter minipulation and frequence delays, incredible. Best jazz song ive heard in a long time. Cuts in and out of the jazzy and tribal very badawi style kinda last samurai eastern japaneese style. song is 13:52
5th song Zarathusta is very tribal with crickets and strange electronic sounds with what i think is the geisha which turns to a suttle jazz then to progressivelly more jam bandy 6:10
6th song Sad emission is by far the best song on the album and the longest. Very eastern flutes, Tambura. Slow tribal jazz drums laswell dubinz then continues to the more reminicent structure jazzy latout which swirls into a long tabla and flute with digital delays. beautifle then continues to jamming. 16:19
7th song Parrot Fashions is very ambient with bells trasitional laswell electronic hums. The streets of navel city, your destination is greated with strings, monkeys and birds in a swell of psychopathic koas of beauty and truth.
All in all its a very different approach very jazzy with excellent dub style laswell bass. Some of the best drums around, awesome inegration of the sound structure not to much very light. Excellent tribal themes. Note Some of the jam band stuff sounds a lot like the Broken Vessels soundtrack progressive rock song but an entirelly different band.
This is one of the greats for laswell never to be forgotten for we should salute our president of navel city mr Kamiyama, Mr. Laswell head of foreign afairs, and Kiyohiko Semba head of landscape structure. I would love to live in navel city its always changing, theirs always psychonavigated rythems constantelly altering the landscape and perception. Plenty of island feel and room for all who will except their right of passage fans of Bill Frisell, Medeski-martin-&wood,Jah Wobble, Herbie Hancocks 69-74 period, Miled Davis 69-74 era, John Zorn, Badawi, Pharoah Sanders, Equations of eternity (EOE).
yajdubuddah "yajarod" (courtesy of Amazon website)