1/  Virus                                      (Laswell)                     7.36
  2/  Autopia                                    (Laswell)                     8.24
  3/  El Hombre Invisible                        (Laswell)                     16.09
      for William S. Burroughs
  4/  Red Night                                  (Laswell)                     16.12

          Created at Orange Music: New Jersey, late 1997
          Engineered by Robert Musso
          Composed and performed by Bill Laswell
          Material Inc.: John Brown
          AXIOM: Bill Murphy
          Luma: Janet Rienstra
Bill Laswell: bass, beats, sounds.

          1998 - Sub Rosa (Belgium), SRV 133 (Vinyl)
          1998 - Sub Rosa (Belgium), SR 133 (CD)


Described by a sticker on the case as "advanced drum 'n bass", Laswell's Oscillations 2 is a four-track expression of influences and styles of which drum 'n bass is just one. Tracks one and two, Virus and Autopia both trade on d 'n b basics. Virus utilises a deep and muted bass and light, ambient string synth sounds and the occasional stabbing rock guitar to hypnotic effect. The finished piece is less straight d 'n b, more a dub take on it with unexpected and satisfying results. Autopia sounds like a classic Cabaret Voltaire title and one could be forgiven for believing that Laswell intended this, for what follows is not a million miles from CV's early 80s output like Crackdown and Microphonies. More disjointed than Virus, Autopia can lay claim to being advanced drum 'n bass suited for long distance driving.

Taking up a large chunk of the 48-minute total running time is the 16-minute El Hombre Invisible. Subtitled "for William S. Burroughs", this is where even the 'advanced' part of the cover sticker fails to be appropriate. Ambient keyboards and guitars drift slowly for the first four minutes or so. Soft percussion crosses its path, and for a while it is as though two completely different tracks have converged somehow; and the result doesn't blend perfectly yet the two elements somehow compliment one another. The wistful guitar gradually gives way to flanging noises and a more prominent bass drum before returning, full circle, to the ambient drifting of the opening seconds.

The forth and final track Red Night falls just a couple of seconds short of the 16-minute mark also. Breaking percussion echoes around a vast soundscape as a bass drum reverberates across the void. Delving into three basic sound realms, including a lost bass guitar and similarly disorientated piano, Laswell visits each realm in turn as though walking in circles and repeatedly having the same ambient sounds of some otherwordly landscape. Listening to Oscillations 2 is like finding a remote cove on the coast and falling asleep to the sound of waves gently washing against the shore. From the safety of the beach, it's a comforting if sometimes strange noise but one that could be teeming with unknown layers if you were to plunge in deep enough.


Rob Dyer (courtesy of the Dark Star website)