Two writers at The New York City Jazz Record included Bill Laswell’s Means of Deliverance among their picks for Albums of the Year. Download back issues of the gazette here.
The very essence of music, and music as communication, has to be folk—the people’s music. The original roots music, folk can be defined as sound without pretensions and artificiality. Such is the acoustic bass recording by Bill Laswell. These nine solo pieces, plus one duet with singer/producer Ejigayehu “Gigi” Shibabaw (Laswell’s wife), bridge the folk musics of Laswell’s birthplace in Kentucky with his wife’s continent of Africa. Known for his various collaborations with an almost endless list of musicians that include the likes of Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, Zakir Hussain, and Raoul Bjorkenheim and explorations into the genres of dub, ambient, avant-dance, hip-hop, punk, and his more recent African music, Laswell distills varying sounds into revealing their fundamental essence.
Laswell plays a 4-stringed Warwick Alien fretless acoustic bass throughout. It gives his sound a warmth and makes each piece attractive. He draws attention to the simple nature of each piece with repetitive lines and minimal use of overdubs and drones. He can set off a buzzing tone that acts as a set table for his lyrical meal on “A Dangerous Road” or overdub a western (almost Ennio Morricone) theme with “Ouroboros.” Laswell draws a bluesy feel throughout. He connects American folk and blues with African music on “Epiphaneia,” and “Bagana/Sub Figura X” where Gigi chants from an ethereal mountain top.
by Mark Corroto for All About Jazz
It’s a rare bassist who can turn out a true solo recording that’s as full-bodied and gripping as the music he makes in the company of others. But Bill Laswell—one of the most prolific and inventive masters of the bass guitar to come along in the past few decades—proves with Means Of Deliverance that he’s more than capable of pulling off that feat. Playing an acoustic Alien bass manufactured by Warwick, Laswell is at turns lyrical, assertive, experimental and even orchestral on these 10 tracks. Each sports its own personality (one features an ethereal vocal by Laswell’s wife, Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu “Gigi” Shibabaw), but what makes Laswell’s creations that much more alluring is his knack for coaxing sounds from his bass that—while retaining all of the instrument’s natural depth—often sound so, well, alien, that they could emanate from another instrument all together.
by Jeff Tamarkin for Relix