Bill Laswell: Lost Roads


Lost Roads


Bill Laswell (bass, beats)


Hear No Evil (Meta Records 005)

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Bill Laswell (bass, beats), Shankar (violin, voice), Nicky Skopelitis (guitar), Zakir Hussain (tabla),

Aiyb Dieng (talking drum, percussion), Daniel Ponce (congas, percussion)


Composed by Bill Laswell


Recorded: Brooklyn and West Orange; no date given (first released in 1988)


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

The personnel of this 1988 recording is impressive, but also a bit ominous … as promising as a bad day at the United Nations after the translators have gone home. Yet the end result is about as perfect a realization of "world fusion" as you will ever encounter.

Meet the cast. We have Nicky Skopelitis, the eclectic American string player of Greek heritage (you name it, he has played it at some point … lute, oud, banjo, and—yes!—guitar); Indian violinist L. Shankar, who has recorded with John McLaughlin, Frank Zappa, Yoko Ono and lots of other diverse artists; Aïyb Dieng, a percussionist from Senegal; Cuban conga drummer Daniel Ponce; and, of course, the bassist and master of the soundscapes, Bill Laswell. I am surprised Laswell didn't add a didgeridoo player, so that he could have every continent covered. Not that there is much lacking in the collective CVs of these players. If someone can get these diverse views of rhythm to peacefully coexist, there may be hope for mankind yet.

And not only do they coexist, they flourish. This band sounds like they have been playing together for decades, so natural and seamless is the interaction. My ears are especially drawn to Zakir Hussain's tabla, but everyone gets an A+ in this class. Especially Mr. Laswell, who had the brilliance—and courage—to pull off this awe-inspiring collaboration.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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