Bassist/producer Bill Laswell has established a reputation as a genre-bending fusionist whose groups (Material, Last Exit, Painkiller, etc.) change lineups and stylistic approaches more frequently than marathon runners change socks. So despite the fact that it features three of the group's core members -- Laswell, guitarist Buckethead, and drummer Brain -- it should come as little surprise that this live album (recorded in Warsaw, Poland) bears little resemblance to the Praxis albums that came before it. Gone are the freak-funk jams of 1992's Transmutation (Mutatis Mutandis) and the noise-laden aural assaults of 1994's Sacrifist. And gone are collaborators like Bootsy Collins, John Zorn, and the Boredoms' Yamatsuka Eye. Instead, this is a more hip-hop-oriented album featuring the nimble skills of turntablists MixMaster Mike and phonosycographDISK, whose furious cutting and scratching may actually prove to be the hip-hop equivalent of heavy metal. The album opens with "Initiation," a 20-minute turntable epic that mixes everything from Snoop's "Murder Was the Case" to kung-fu-flick samples together to create a vibrant cut-and-paste manifesto. "Flux and Reflux" brings the bass and drums into the mix, with Brain and Laswell taking up the turntablist's fast and furious beat, then devolving into an ambient funk throw-down. From that point on, though, it's Buckethead's show: "Saturn" is the type of hauntingly beautiful ballad he's made his stock-in-trade, while "Destroyer" is a psychedelic voyage into outer space that casts his guitar as an alien being capable of howling, screaming, or simply gouging your brain out. It's all intriguing stuff, though only recommended for the musically adventurous.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Bret Love