Bill Laswell

Invisible Design

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Though Bill Laswell is no stranger to his inner creative genius, there is something about the complete free reign that the Tzadik label routinely gives its artists that seems to bring out their best work. So it is not surprising that Invisible Design, his first Tzadik album, hums with energy and the poetic grace of a well-executed thought. The overwhelming element throughout is a kind of meditative flow -- with synth elements and lingering bass notes floating in and out like breath. The percussive element of some of his other albums is not to be found here -- this is a work of pure contemplation. Deeply spiritual, the album also creates a landscape of chill and emptiness. It is nearly never dark, but sometimes gives the impression of light viewed from a place of shadow. A few pieces show contrast -- "Black Aether" alternates the atmospheric elements with swaths of grind and buzz, and "Oceans of Borrowed Money" trades the slow, lingering bass of many of the other tracks for something more up-tempo and funky. The result is active, but never frenetic or tense. Invisible Design may echo elements of Laswell's other ambient projects, but this is a unique project and nowhere yet has he produced a record that is so consistently good from start to finish.

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