1/  Voice of Thunder                           (SXL)                         21.51
  2/  Speed of Light                             (SXL)                         22.27

          Recorded live on Sony PCM F1 by Billy Youdelman in Osaka, Tokyo and
            Fukuoka, Japan, July and August 1987
          Assistant engineer: Robbie Norris
          Final production and editing by Robert Musso at Quad Recordings, New York
          Sound and vision: Aki Ikuta
          Business Illuminations: Tony Meilandt
          Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Masterdisk
Bill Laswell: bass; Shankar: violin, voice; Ronald Shannon Jackson: drums; Aiyb Dieng: percussion; SAMULNORI - Kim Duk-Soo, Lee Kwang-Soo, Choi Jong-Sil & Kang Min-Seok: percussion.

          1988 - Enemy Records (Germany), EMY 106 (Vinyl)
          1988 - Celluloid (USA), CELD 5017 (CD)
          1989 - ENEMY/TOKUMA (Japan), 30JC454 (CD)
          1992 - JIMCO! (Japan), JICK89181 (CD)
          2016 - Bill Laswell Bandcamp (digital only)


Sxl was a short-lived project of Bill Laswell's in the late '80s, combining the funk/world direction he developed on albums like Hear No Evil with the spectacular Korean percussion ensemble SamulNori. With Ronald Shannon Jackson and Aiyb Dieng complementing Laswell in the rhythm section and Shankar's electric violin flying in the lead, the makings of a fine band were already in place, but with the addition of the four Korean drummers, you had the potential for sheer, joyous sonic overload. The first of the two side-length tracks, "Voice of Thunder," opens with Laswell's quartet establishing a fine post-Milesian groove for about ten minutes before a break in which SamulNori stakes a claim to the rhythm. It's one of the central conceptual victories of this music that Laswell was able to see a connection between his brand of free funk and a Korean music centuries old. These drummers are quite able to give Jackson a run for his money and then some (check out their superb disc on CMP, Rhythm of Changes). The second cut, "Speed of Light," reverses the prior order, beginning with SamulNori in full splendor, their unusually (to Western ears) tuned drums and gongs a-clatter with strong, vibrant rhythms. Toward the end, they're joined seamlessly by Laswell's band to ride out the piece in delirium. Into the Outlands is a fine disc (released several times by several different labels) and fits in comfortably with the best of Laswell-associated items from the late '80s.

4 out of 5 stars

Brian Olewnick (courtesy of the All Music Guide via the Get Music website)