Bill Laswell

Book of Exit: Dub Chamber 4

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One of the most prolific men in music, Bill Laswell doesn't release albums under his own name as often as he once did, which makes Book of Exit, the fourth in his "Dub Chamber" series, especially worthy of attention. While the previous "Dub Chamber" releases leaned more toward hard Jamaican-style dub music, with instruments dropping in and out and plenty of reverb and delay, this is altogether a different beat, in large part due to the vocals of Ethiopian singer Gigi. And what Laswell, Gigi, drummer/tabla player Karsh Kale, and percussionist Aiyb Dieng end up with is really ambient dub -- something lighter and more flowing because it adapts itself to the vocals. And Gigi is in excellent form, possibly better than on her own debut, whether on "Ethiopia" or the memorable, beautiful "Jerusalem," which mixes a slight R&B inflection with dub for something outstanding, beautiful, and ethereal. Laswell's light hand at the controls (even the disc's heaviest track, "The Lower Ground," is hardly the stuff of Lee "Scratch" Perry and King Tubby) works subtly -- shifts happen gradually, making for a sense of movement and focus about the pieces. And his work on guitar, bass, and keyboards is as accomplished as his colleagues. Slightly unearthly but always lovely, this dub chamber is a place worth exploring.

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