Bill Laswell

Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission

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Featuring a cast of characters that includes Nils Petter Molvær, Hamid Drake, Amina Claudine Myers, Sly Dunbar, Aiyb Deng, Nicky Skopelitis, Graham Haynes, Karsh Kale, and vocalist Gigi Shibabbaw, this collaboration between bassists Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble is many things, but it is not a dub album. The music found here is a far cry from the stripped-down, spooky reggae created by the economically strapped Lee Perry and King Tubby. What is here is some gobbledy-gook mishmash of world musics and groove jazz. And as such it works very well. From the dubby spirits evoked in "Subcode" and "Orion," to the vocal wonders expressed amid heavily textured instrumentation by Gig on "Anselma Dub" and "Alam Dub," to the wondrous effects these two layer together -- like Skopelitis' slide guitar amid bubbling echo and both basses playing half a beat apart on the same notes -- this is a mind journey of an album that does, at its best, extend the time-space continuum, or at least gives the illusion it does. Also, Haynes' cornet solo on "Orion" is among the most beautifully stated and restrained he's ever recorded. The true identity of the disc can be found on "6th Chamber," with its loopy organ figures (courtesy of Myers) and the percussive weave in the center of the mix that is colored with a gentle, grooved-out soul melody in margins. All of it is smoothed over, edgeless and beautifully understated. This may not be the heavy-duty dub blowout expected by some fans of this pair, but it is an elegant, thoughtful, and very tasteful record, assembling a plethora of melodies, textures, instruments, and rhythms with taste and attention to detail. It would have been easy to wreck such beautiful mind music (in headphones this would be Valhalla) -- God knows Laswell's done it before.

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