1/ Dread Iternal (Laswell) 9.19 2/ Thunupa (Laswell) 13.32 3/ Cybotron (Laswell,Wobble) 9.27 4/ Ethiopia/The Lower Ground (Laswell,Shibabaw/Laswell) 13.48 Track 1 created at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York Tracks 2-4 recorded and mixed at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey Engineering and pre-production on track 1: Robert Musso Engineering on tracks 2-4: Robert Musso Assistant on track 4: James Dellatacoma Studio Support on track 1: Anton Fier Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell Material Inc./Design: John Brown Axiom: Bill Murphy Luma: Janet Rienstra Roots Control/WordSound: Skiz Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone, New York CityBill Laswell: EFX, bass, keyboard; guitar (4); Robert Musso (1): programming; Graham Haynes (2): flugelhorn, cornet, EFX; Nicky Skopelitis (2,3): coral sitar, 6 and 12 string guitars; Bill Buchen (2): tablas, long drum, parabolic gamelan, water drums; Style Scott (2): additional beats; Jah Wobble (2): bass; Ejigayehu "GiGi" Shibabaw (4): vocals; Karsh Kale (4): drums, tabla; Aiyb Dieng (4): percussion.
2003 - ROIR (USA), RSCD 9500 (CD)
"Dread Iternal" ('96) is in the classic King Tubby reggae dub tradition, with a spare recurring piano line echoing across of the mix, motivated by Laswell's towering bass, and augmented by the periodic opening whoosh and closing basso boom of massive doors (Mordor?), denatured guitar noodling, revving of a not yet invented engine, and hints of dark energy.
"Thunupa" ('97) burrows through the space/time continuum like a four-dimensional Bugs Bunny and emerges in Arabia, India, Jamaica, and Miles Davis's America of the '60s assembled into one intoxicating post-modern quaff of a tune. Bill Buchen's frenetic tabla is redolent of curry, the drumming of reggae-man Scott Style reeks of sticky ganja, the space-cornet of Graham Haynes wears darkest glasses, Laswell's bass pops in for very heavy periodic visits, and the unsuspecting earth continues to twirl in place.
"Cybotron" ('00) funks it up in a galaxy far, far away as Jah Wobble joins in for double your bottom-end cruising pleasure, Nicky Skopelitis soul vamps on galactic guitar and Craig Taborn messages the keyboard, all over a choppy, tough beat tha eventually gives way to the whoosh of hyperdrive.
Lastly but not leastly is the splendiferous lushness of Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu "GiGi" Shibabaw's voice on "Ethiopia/The Lower Ground" ('02), a departure from the boombastic bass-and-beats of Laswell's other dub tracks. The setting here is delicate acoustic guitar and light electronics from Laswell, and subtle percussion from Karsh Kale and Aiyb Dieng, which around the 7-minute mark transforms from "Ethiopia" into the somewhat heavier "The Lower Ground," adding dubby bass and subtracting GiGi for a protracted, groovy denouement.
Truly profound selections from the master Laswell.
Eric Olsen (courtesy of the Blog Cleveland website)
Dub is reggae for uber stoners. It goes beyond the realm of laid back and feisty beats with a revolution attitude. This stuff is waaaay laid back, usually no vocals and so bass heavy you’d swear the bongwater was vibrating as you played the album. Bill Laswell has done several Dub albums and this is a 4-song collection of some stuff from his past. They transcend into the light and eternal but do not deviate from the initial intent as some tunes gone Dub might hint towards. The first tune is you’re A-Typical Dub groove: Weedy incantations of rhythm and bliss that only Jah could come close to. The second is more of a mix of Indian (what with the use of tablas), Arabian sounds and even a hint of jazz, but never deviating from the Dub weight. The third is almost a hip-hop song gone space age and my favorite on this disc. The last is equally amazing yet completely different. Gone are the sub woofer drives and heady sounds, this one moves in a more organic and spiritual manner with guitar work and vocals by an Ethiopian songstress. Together they form what Laswell calls “Sacred Systems: Book of Entrance, chapters 2, 3 and the Book of Exit”. They all form a common thread yet are completely independent from one another, yet totally bound together. You’ll see. Or hear. Either one. The ganja is optional...yet somehow welcome.
Mark (courtesy of the Shredding Paper website)
Few American record labels have done more to further the cause of modern dub than New York's ROIR imprint, which has not only reissued classic dub recordings, but also actively encouraged contemporary artists to reinterpret the tradition according to their own vision. And since bassist and producer Bill Laswell is among the most prolific and original modern exponents of dub, it was inevitable that the two would find their way to each other. Laswell has recorded four albums of progressive dub under his own name for ROIR, and this retrospective collection brings together one track from each of them to make a more-or-less full-length compilation. At just over 46 minutes, the program is a bit skimpy, but it does sell at budget price, and there's certainly no arguing with the quality of the content. The first track, which comes from the least interesting of his four Dub Chamber albums, is the most ambient and the least compelling, though it is very pretty. "Thunupa" livens things up considerably by incorporating the ethereal cornet sounds of Graham Haynes, the drumming of reggae legend Style Scott, and the tabla playing of Bill Buchen. "Cybotron" is a collaboration with fellow bass master Jah Wobble, guitarist Nicky Skopelitis and others, and is simultaneously spacier and funkier. "Ethiopia/The Lower Ground," featuring vocals by the Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu "GiGi" Shibabaw, is one of the most rapturous, lovely compositions in the Laswell catalog. This album would make a fine introduction to Laswell's work for ROIR, but you really need to own all four albums (or at least the last three).
Rick Anderson (courtesy of the All Music website)