Mr. Bill Laswell, one of the world’s busiest producer/performers is at it again. This fellow’s got his fingers in so many diverse musical pies of his own and others (who’s baking he supervises) it’s dizzying - and therein lies the rub, bub. With all the stuff he puts out (under his own name or a nom de musique) - not even counting the myriad sessions he produces - Laswell may as well have his own Disc of the Month Club, the downside being all the output can’t all be good. But he’s thrown us a curve w/ his latest, and it’s a humdinger.
The latest in his Sacred System: Dub Chamber
series, Book of Exit
, is something of a radical departure from the others. They all feature dense, dark, jazz-, reggae- and Middle Eastern-inflected dub - similar approach here, but this ‘un lets a bit of light in. For one thing, it’s got a vocalist: the excellent Ethiopian singer "Gigi" Shibabaw, who has an entrancingly high, translucent, ethereal voice (a wee bit like Flora Purim), with strong Middle Eastern/North African overtones (though with a heart-rending touch of modal Irish-ness on the closer "Jerusalem"), though she does not overdo the melisma common to most Arabic singers. This stuff is as heavily rhythmic as before (re: the other fine discs on R.O.I.R.) and Laswell still uses the holy language of Dub to communicate, but it’s not as ominous and bass-heavy, more spacious and a little brighter. The instrumental sounds seem to gently, gracefully soar over (and occasionally down) yawning chasms. Laswell plays a few guitar lines encompassing shades of both West African guitar music and the late Jerry Garcia. You can actually listen to this one in the daylight, while the other volumes are definitely for night or darken rooms. (That’s not a put-down, btw.) This particular Book
I’ve been able to sit through twice in one sitting, and there’s not many discs out there that have that power. Highly Recommended, this one is.