1/  Patterns of War                            (Dr. Israel)                  6.06
  2/  Salvation                                  (Bromfield)                   3.48
  3/  One World                                  (Dr. Israel)                  4.09
  4/  Do Or Die                                  (Bromfield)                   2.59
  5/  Revolution                                 (Dr. Israel)                  4.36
  6/  Herb Is Burnin'                            (Bromfield)                   3.47
  7/  Elijah's Lament                            (Dr. Israel)                  4.29
  8/  No Justice                                 (Bromfield)                   4.44
  9/  TaykeOvah                                  (Dr. Israel)                  3.46
  10/ Dis Never                                  (Bromfield,Tricky)            3.26

          Recorded and mixed at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey
          Additional recordings at Revolution Sound, Brooklyn, New York
          Engineering: Robert Musso
          Second: James Dellatacoma
          Produced by Method of Defiance
          Executive Producer: Giacomo Bruzzo
          Package Design by John Brown @ Cloud Chamber
          M.O.D. Technologies: John Brown 
          M.O.D. Japan: Yoko Yamabe
          M.O.D. Technical Support: Dave Pak at Play X Play
          M.O.D. Digital Support: Dave Brunelle (Silently Watching)
          Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper at Turtle Tone Studios, New York
Bill Laswell: bass; Bernie Worrell: keyboards; Guy Licata: drums, percussion; Dr. Israel: vocals; Hawk: vocals; Dominic Kanza (6,8,10): guitar; Lady K (3,5): additional vocals; Chae Lawrence: additional vocals; Patch Dub (1,5): additional beats.

          2010 - M.O.D. Technologies, MD0002 (USA) (CD)


Retro-Reggae Redux

After 30 years of creating supremely challenging, mind f*#king, ground-breaking if not earth-shattering music as both a top contending bass player AND producer (in more musical categories than Quincy Jones even knew existed); creating, carving, fusing, forging, morphing elements and genre's in a Petri dish that would make Dr. Frankenstein envious, when I read about this debut cd on Bill Laswell's newly-launched label, M.O.D. Technologies, of course my expectations were elevated. Therein lies the problem - when expectations are that high, rarely are they met.

Bill Laswell's penchant for dub and reggae synthesis' are well-known and well-plumbed, as he's released dozens of related cd's over the years, whether it be collaborations with Jah Wobble, his 'Trojan Dub' series, his dub-ambient excursions (including a Bob Marley ambient tribute), the 'Sacred System' and 'Dub Chamber' series, 'AfterMATHmatics', 'Invisible Design I', 'Roots Tonic' and even the Hebrew-themed 'Matisyahu' dub-toast release. Whew. He even anchored his astonishingly brilliant 'Tabla Beat Science' projects and various drum n' bass collections with sub-woofer-shattering dub bass. I love (almost) all of it, but here's my thing - do we really need more? I pose this question seriously.

Launching the label with this release is extremely anti-climactic, as it amounts to a well-produced (duh - it's Laswell) reggae album that sounds like virtually every third release on the Island label (then owned by upstart Richard Branson and Chris Blackwell) back in the early to mid 80's, LP's and 12" dub remixes (remember them?) by other reggae artists who found it tough to survive amid the New Wave movement of the time. There's nothing new on display, unfortunately - oh sure, for those who weren't around then this is great stuff, but for someone who's been following Laswell's tracks (no pun intended) for 30 years, this is retro-reggae-redux and little more. Don't get me wrong - it's not bad, not in the slightest, it's just nothing new, and I expect more from Bill + his cohorts, who rarely let me down.

Titling the cd 'Method of Defiance' was incredibly misleading as well - the first two releases were skull-f#@king Drum-N-Bass releases fused with contributions by jazz legends, noteworthy turntablists and avant-garde artists like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Leibman, John Zorn, Byard Lancaster and Buckethead, among others (read my review of 'Inamorata'), creating a bone-crushing hybrid incomprehensible to most listeners who could sit through the entire cd. This release has more to do with Marley, Steel Pulse, King Tubby, Matumbi, Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, Augustus Pablo and Gregory Isaac than its predecessors. Hence my frustration.

It still didn't stop me from ordering 'Incunabula', the remix instrumental follow-up release; at least here I know Las will shine both as producer and reconstructionist, something no one does better, not even DJ Spooky, though I love his work as well, and they're practically Brooklyn neighbors. In spite of my many grievances, if you're unfamiliar with the work of those mentioned above, grab this effort, you'll enjoy it. For jaded a*#holes like me, it's another story, we're always looking to have our front teeth kicked out by something massive. It's a burden... I'll give it 4 stars for the uninitiated, 3 stars for us jaded old warhorses who aren't ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

4 stars out of 5

Anthony C. Rubbo (courtesy of the website)


If you've followed bassist and producer Bill Laswell during any phase of his 30-plus year career, then you know it's rare for him to take part in a vocal-driven band. The timing seems right, though, for Method of Defiance. Fronted by not just one, but two lyricists with demonstrative streaks, M.O.D. tempers a postmodern message of resistance with a get-up-and-party attitude, funneling dub, dancehall and drum-and-bass grooves into a bottom-heavy onslaught that flows back to Black Uhuru, Massive Attack and Laswell's own Material collective. Of course, it also helps to have players like Laswell, Brooklyn-based drummer Guy Licata and keyboard legend Bernie Worrell in the fold. Behind such provocative fare as Doctor Israel's "Patterns of War" and Hawk's growling toasts on "No Justice," the band churns up an uneasy but somehow inviting dystopian mood that rings stark, bold and brutally honest in these weird recessionary times.

Bill Murphy (courtesy of the Relix website)


The first release from the namesake project of bassist Bill Laswell’s M.O.D. Technologies label, Jahbulon introduces a collective freed by evolving membership yet united by a common prayer: to move. In this incarnation, Laswell island-hops with fellow travelers Dr. Israel and (Garrison) Hawk on vocals, Bernie Worrell on keys, and Guy Licata on the percussive front line. Yet the beacon of this record is Hawk himself, who, true to name, soars above every soundscape with sharp vision and dives for the kill at the slightest hint of escape.

In this respect, “Patterns of War” speaks less of outward aggressions than inner protections. Its opening whistle, reminiscent of a bomb in freefall, sends up a shock of hip-hop particles, shot through with reggae afterburn. The latter bronzes the words, each a fist against oppression that turns mass destruction on its head until weapons fall out of its pockets in two equidistant piles. In the shadow of this difficult introduction, the little flame of “Salvation” flickers into a full-fledged conflagration of brotherhood. God is not only in the details, it seems to say, but also born from them. This is glory in Creation, a circulation of nature as father, mother, and child in one.

Singularity further prevails in “One World,” a central, affirmative palette. Its vocal fingerprints litter the canvas until portraits of a city, a borough, and its denizens take discernible form. In their hands, a book of knowledge reads: Whenever you are disillusioned by what happens down here, know that reality never ceases up there. Such is the message of “Do or Die,” the halting beats of which serve to emphasize its corporate surgery before retexturing into smoother down midway through.

Whether spiraling through the tightness of “Revolution” or sending listeners on missions of the heart in “No Justice,” splashing the inner ache of “Taykeovah” or looking beyond skin into the stealth groove of “Elijah’s Lament,” each song blasts its refusal to be held down, translating technology of the rich into aid for the destitute. A testing of faith by the genocide of global interests. A scriptural circle in which judgment is swift only for those unworthy to wield it.

Each of these urban zones acts as a reflection of the body and its genetic recitations—rituals forged in breath and semantics. Even the illustrative affirmations of “Herb is Burnin’” and “Diss Never” breed a certain invincibility of purpose. Worrell’s sparkle and shine are particularly salient at expressing the changes of tomorrows, even as they nibble on leftovers at the table of survival. No soul should have to fend for sustenance on a planet united against its own iniquities. But this is exactly what’s going on, and why we need to open our ears like the pages of a book. We must rise above the power of difference not between each other but within ourselves before we can recognize what we all share.

Blood, music, love.

Tyran Grillo (courtesy of the ECM Reviews website)