1/  Echo                                       (Suso,Laswell)               13.24
  2/  Rainfall                                   (Kouyate,Laswell)            10.09
  3/  Shadow Crossing                            (Suso,Laswell)               12.38
  4/  Ascending                                  (Kouyate)                    9.20

          Created at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York
          Engineering: Robert Musso
          Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell
          Material, Inc./ Submeta: John Brown and Robert Soares
          Axiom: Bill Murphy
Fousseny Kouyate: gony; Foday Musa Suso: baliphone; Aiyb Dieng: percussion; Not credited - Bill Laswell: bass, sounds,beats.

          1996 - Submeta (USA), SM-9801-2 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital only)


As one of the major landmarks in Laswell's Dub Empire, this richly layered CD is similar to the Transonic series in that it is built around heavy, lumbering hilly dub beats and a phat bassline. But Possession is markedly less minimal and is packed a little thicker with such worldly instruments as the gony and baliphone. This is a likeable intersection of the overly westernized lowrider mentality with genuine African soundsources. Regions involved in this fusion are the West African coast and the French Sudan areas. The chants and rainsticks in >Echo< are suggestive of a vibrant yet hidden rainforest lavishly covered in mosses and vines. A great opening track for the album. A rolling avalanche of drums introduces >Rainfall< which features an initial repeating Bass Phase and then a lovely theme from a stringed instrument I can't identify. These tracks are at once rugged and versatile, yet sound also meticulously planned out. The only downside I can see is that at 45 minutes, the disc is kind of short. >Shadow Crossing< starts out with loops of tribal voices and some melodic percussion. After a few moments, other elements tumble out of the brew, Bill's bass and some slick rimshots fill the empty areas out well. Things go from beatless to dub and back again. The final track, >Ascending<, has a little more of a "dark" feel to it. This track shares a similarity with >Rainfall< in that both contain a higher, plucked string theme. There is also a loop of what I believe to be a portion of the Baraka soundtrack: I think the loop is lifted from the first 30 seconds or so from #10 on the soundtrack, Finale. If you are familiar with it, it's kind of a low rumbling drone type of sound. Anyway, combined with the other elements of the song, which are mostly playful and innocent, this loop brings out an impression of impending doom. Perhaps the contrast is suggesting that the world of thick greenery is gradually disappearing, and there is little the people in that world can do to stop this. They go on rejoicing and celebrating the existence of nature perhaps unaware of the dangers that hang over them. Truly Possession is music that respects that culture it intercepts.



This album is a textural masterpiece. Possession constructs an unusual collage of sounds over the course of four tracks which last an amazing 45 minutes. Each instrumental slowly builds and develops into a solid musical mass; however, the themes from each track never fully congeal. To some degree while listening to this album, the listener must remove him/herself from western ideals of music theory.

The musical themes do not seem to move toward any particular goal. You'll find no Bach-like usage of four-part harmony with contrary motion and perfect voice leading. Quite the contrary; the unfamiliarity of the structure is surprisingly refreshing. You never really know what to expect as nothing truly resolves itself. Each track, particularly "Rainfall," seems oddly organic. The music rises and falls as if it were breathing. The African sounding percussion fades in and out of the music as do the more familiar electronically programmed drums. During the more minimalistic segments of the music, ambient noises and samples of who-knows-what run rampant through heavy reverb.

Similar to the percussion's behavior, the bass also enters and exits at various points in each composition. The bass lines are fairly catchy and tend to drone on in their patterns for extended periods of time.

Possession is essentially a four man operation. It is produced and arranged by Bill Laswell. The performers are Fousseny Kouyate of Mali, Foday Musa Suso of Gambia, and Aiyb Dieng of Senegal. This is African Dub off one world, no doubt about it.

The thick layering of numerous sounds is reminiscent of Deep Forest and instrumental-soundtrack Peter Gabriel. Fans of these artists as well as New Age would probably find this recording very enjoyable. Stranger still, I believe consumers who crave bass for their enormous stereos would also enjoy this album. While the music isn't particularly dancable, ambient Techno and Dub fans would probably find something endearing within the music.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear some of this material being played in the background of an episode of the X-Files. Off World One exudes an enigmatic and eerie mood which has the ability to attract a diverse audience.

Stephen Lin (courtesy of the Consumable Online website)


Produced, arranged, and predominantly co-composed by Bill Laswell, Off World One features the musical trio of Fousseny Kouyate, who plays a string instrument called gony or ingony, Foday Musa Suso, who plays baliphone, the African xylophone, and Senegalese percussionist Aiyb Dieng. Along with their producer, who we can assume contributes his low-end bass to the proceedings, they smoothly blend ethno-ambient aesthetics with mellow, trance-inducing reggae grooves for a deep, otherwordly audio journey which ranges from the serene and spacey "Echo" to trippy and upbeat "Shadow Crossing," its unusual flute sounds slow-dancing with light-hearted dub bass. This exotic blend of ethnic and modern sounds provides plenty of aural and mental stimuli. Laswell affairs are either hit or miss, but this recording definitely fits the former category.

BR (review courtesy of the Napra website)