Innerhythmic Sound System
Bill Laswell - "Babylon Sync"
Sacred System - "X-ibit-i"
Gonervill - "Longyness/Smokey Joe"
James Blood Ulmer - "O Gentle One"
Praxis - "Flux and Reflux"
Nicky Skopelitis/Raoul Bjorkenheim - "Sacrament"
Bill Laswell / Jah Wobble - "Wasteland"
Suphala - "Psyche"
Praxis - "Movement 1"
James Blood Ulmer - "Momentarily"
Let it be known that a spectre is haunting what has chosen to identify itself as the music industry. It is a spectre recognized by many names, but which, as dictated by the insatiable need for immediate understanding in today’s hyper-accelerated and connected world, can be called “radical innovation” for now. The Innerhythmic imprint – founded by musician and producer Bill Laswell as a critical proving ground for radically new, and in fact revolutionary, sound – was first conceived as an alternative outlet for musicians from a variety of different backgrounds who are dedicated to exploring the recombinant possibilities of music. With a scope of influence that welcomes the traditional and “trance” rhythms of far-flung cultures as openly as the hip-hop, dub, jungle, jazz, funk and electronic cyber-styles emanating from the DJ underground and beyond, the label stands out as an active realization of the “collage system” – a system where entirely new forms can emerge almost at will from fusions of the familiar.
Consider this “an ecstatic journey into known and unknown worlds of sound.” In an era of electronic and digital technologies, and in an age where the boundaries between human and machine have become increasingly blurred, whatever distinction that remains between real music and sound effects is collapsed and mutated into a transcultural, international formation. Electronics transform listeners into electribes, and yet the “tribalness” of traditional sonic technologies is understood to be already futuristic, with or without the aid of circuity. With this vision, Innerhythmic delivers an almost unimaginable range of sonic collaborations, gathering musicians of truly masterful ability and opening a new vista on today’s electro-acoustic frontier. Put simply, this is a past that arrives from the future to scramble the present; drum-and-bass, dub, mutant hip-hop, harmolodic fusion, new jazz, world and otherworld musics all connect to expand the potential of the experience.
True to its name, Innerhythmic does acknowledge beats – whether obvious or internalized, whether looped by machines or played live by humans – as an important focus. Rhythm, it has been said, permeates all things, and the Innerhythmic Sound System literally surges with it. Collecting assorted tracks from the label’s first round of releases, this set offers an aural roadmap through a vibrant network of acoustic, electric, symphonic and often cosmic performances, all of them joined at their syncopated center by the ever-present pulse. Compare the frenetic interplay of Sacred System’s “X-zibit-i,” featuring tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, with the equally quick-stepping “Psyche” by Suphala (herself a student of Zakir’s and his late father, the great Ustad Allarakha), or take the loping groove of “O Gentle One” (with James Blood Ulmer on vocals and guitar and P-Funk veteran Jerome “Bigfoot” Brailey on drums, anchored by Bill Laswell on bass with Bernie Worrell and Amina Claudine Myers on synths and organ) and wind it around the dub-wisdom of Laswell and bassist Jah Wobble’s “Wasteland”…it quickly becomes clear that the groove here is the essential guide.
And yet Innerhythmic takes this even further when applying rhythm to the act of collaboration; one interpretation might put it akin to a “flow,” as in the liquid, almost groove-like trading of solos or ideas among artists in the midst of a shared and spontaneous creative up-link. It can be heard in the layered melodic exchanges between guitarists Nicky Skopelitis and Raoul Björkenheim on “Sacrament,” or in the aggressively improvised beats, riffs and turntable breaks of the constantly evolving avant-shred unit Praxis, recorded live and unfettered by studio retakes or edits. This technique of “free collaboration” in music is of course an ancient one, but somehow it still offers a glimpse of the future of interaction among musicians: the act of striving to capture a sound that emerges only briefly from the ether, and to fully commit to it before it is gone.
Innerhythmic Sound System also owes a conceptual debt to the sound systems that have defined the course of music in DJ culture – dub and hip-hop in particular, but also stretching back into other percussive traditions that have harnessed the collective energy of music and helped eradicate the restrictive boundaries that exist between people in one form or another. Where beats are involved, no matter how subtle or spread out, there is nothing quite like a booming system and a hefty dose of low end – and this can be in the form of a corps of drums, as well as in a stack of speakers – to “move a crowd” and create a general feeling of traveling to another place. The inner journey itself is at least half the whole vibe of getting there, especially when the walls are throbbing to every beat along the way. Innerhythmic Sound System offers the perfect jumping-off point to start the trip.