Bill Laswell: Fractal

Bill Laswell's "Fractal" is one of the more interesting cuts on his Invisible Design II CD. Even though the minor-keyed minimalism is pure Laswell, the recording stands as proof of how expansive a single chord can be in such a context. The sound effects dominate the mix 1/3 of the way through, and, while the bass keeps the beat steady, the simplistic guitars enter and the proceedings deconstruct even further.

Any bassist could play these riffs-even beginners. However, it would be tough for a beginner to produce this, because the raw material contained within is so detailed and the approach so symbolic of higher thought processes at work that the tune makes a major statement by virtue of its impressionistic conviction.

Listeners will immediately acknowledge Laswell as someone who can shape a rather rudimentary idea into something more colorful, dense, and abstract. A great deal of skill at assembling the parts is what you will hear, as this is a track that stands apart from the rest of its respective CD and makes an impact as a mood setter for any occasion.

May 09, 2009 · 0 comments


Bill Laswell: Solar Clip

"Solar Clip" is a fairly unmemorable sound collage. That isn't to say that Bill Laswell doesn't play well on it. During the odd metre, his goal of creating music befitting of outer space is credible. However, the music, after it ends, does not adhere to the mind. Much of it is heavily reverbed, and the repetition of the main melody is not engaging enough to stand on its own.

It is tough to recommend such a recording to the average listener because the track is not even abstract enough for curiosity's sake. I hear a guitar that plays a single distorted power chord, a bunch of percussion-like sounds that seem to emphasize the same pattern ad infinitum, and some effects meant to sound like flares running through the recording.

Certainly, uses for such music exist, as it could find a home as part of a TV or film soundtrack. However, this cut is disappointing. Such criticism is not aimed at Laswell, personally; many of his recordings can be classified as "genius" in scope, but this one fails to compete with his more finely attuned soundscapes.

May 08, 2009 · 0 comments


Cannonball Adderley: Caribbean Cutie

The melody of "Caribbean Cutie" is lilting, but after it plays out, the structure of the cut is too conventional to stand out from the crowd. The first few minutes are dedicated to a piano solo mixed much too far in the background, and, once the horn solos kick in, momentum is somewhat clouded under the fact that the limited chord structure and the traditional swing of the rhythm section breaks no new ground. On this track, the horn solos seem perfunctory and uninspired. Nothing about it will remind you of the Caribbean or of female island inhabitants. However, you may enter dreamland soon after it begins, because the six minute running time is much too long to interest anyone. The melody that bookends the nausea-inspiring jams should have been expanded somehow by the performers, because the content here is weak, and, overall, the recording seems originally unintended for release. Spontaneous Combustion is, mostly, a fine display of Cannonball Adderley's genius, but this track is for fanatics only.

April 16, 2009 · 0 comments


Cannonball Adderley: Spontaneous Combustion

Regardless of its conventionalism, Cannonball Adderley's "Spontaneous Combustion" is a treble-toned display of his early confidence. As he sounds rather youthful, the fact that the basic blues pattern underneath is kept in check allows him the space to blow notes wherever and whenever he feels he should. The freedom of approach shows that his skills as a bandleader and player were already finely attuned at the outset of his career; his lead playing blazes a trail that is audibly tough for the other soloists on the bandstand to follow. The force with which his sax tears through the mix is the aural equivalent of spontaneous combustion, and later recordings would leave this kind of power behind for a more refined approach that helped him achieve commercial recognition later on. Adderley was part-trailblazer, part-showman, and the explosive duality never ceases to amaze.

April 16, 2009 · 0 comments


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