Bill Laswell began leading ensembles under the Divination heading in 1993 with the release of the Ambient Dub volumes. But where the early lineups of the fluctuating group found familiar players (Anton Fier, Jah Wobble, Nicky Skopelitis, Buckethead) plunging into the spectrum of Laswell's musical interests (dub, electronica, ambient techno), Divination: Sacrifice pares down the palette on four lengthy ambient excursions. Rhythm is entirely absent from the amorphous backdrops, which don't so much begin or end as melt into each other like one extended composition. The opening "Reflection" features Laraaji's zither prominently. Great gaps of suspended sound offset his notes, which tumble from the instrument like falling rain. The other notable texture emerging from the ambient fog is provided by the elastic tones of Laswell's bass. The two instrumentalists join together as mild tension and the makings of a rhythm begin to build on the album's most engaging piece, "Still." Yet, while the music does have its own subtle ebb and flow, direction (in the strict Western sense) is obviously not the point. Divination: Sacrifice could serve as a virtual textbook definition for a particular school of ambient. It's music most suitable for two specific purposes. On the one hand, it could serve as entirely undisruptive background music. Though that's the sort of dismissive statement commonly made at the music's expense, Divination: Sacrifice is so subtle, it virtually becomes a part of the environment. The other approach (and probably the one preferred by Laswell) is to give the music your full attention. Doing so means suspending your preconceptions about progression and composition: deeply meditative, this music seems designed to get lost in.
Divination: Sacrifice Review
by Nathan Bush
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