Bill Laswell – Points of Order
Defining prolific artistic significance, Bill Laswell, the legendary composer, bass player, and producer continues to build on a body of work that singles him out as one of the highest achieving musical revolutionaries of the last century. With ‘vision, integrity and expression’ as self-direction and spiritual guide, his tireless productivity as producer and remixer (Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Fela Kuti, Bob Marley), performer/collaborator (Peter Gabriel, John Zorn, Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Tony Williams, Mick Jagger, George Clinton, Buddy Miles, The Last Poets, Afrika Bambaata, Yoko Ono), and label head (Axiom and Innerhythmic) has secured his place in musical history and shows no signs of slowing down. His travels and field recordings from Cuba, Japan, Morocco, India, Brazil, and West Africa have established him as progressive music’s representative ethnomusicologist–allowing every heard sound to contribute to his creation of music’s perpetual tomorrow. Credited with over 300 albums, Laswell’s ‘realization’ of the gifts of his contemporaries as a driving force behind his own creativity seems to be his ultimate fuel, and his first solo record in three years bares no exception.
Laswell’s debut for his Innerhythmic imprint, Points of Order brings together a highly acclaimed group of musicians who help create a challenging environment for this inventive recording. ‘X29′ begins the set with an announcement of quick-beat fortitude underneath Laswell’s patented hide-and-go-bump bass lines, the Miles-esque trumpet work of Toshinori Kondo (William Parker, United Future Organization) & Graham Haynes, and the organ-jazz melodies of German born pianist/producer/contemporary Karl Berger (Lee Konitz, John McLaughlin, Charles Mingus). A regular family member, Berger’s Material Strings section has appeared on numerous Laswell recordings including Dream’s of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub. Building an enormous pocket vamp that creates ample room for wild organ solos and mutated trumpet work, the track (and much of the resident backdrop on Points) hints at the wide open atmosphere of the Miles Davis period brilliantly reworked on ‘Panthalassa’ expanded by an ever-locking Laswellian bass/drums interplay.
‘Staple Nex’ and ‘Broken Toenail Gland’ introduce abstract beat poets Anti-Pop Consortium (comprised of Beans, Priest, and M. Sayyid) to the mix with high-anticipation to fans of both artists. Intellectually scaling a dark string-heavy track courtesy of guitar wizard Buckethead on Staple, and the savage funk on Broken, APC could easily be Laswell’s best-suited lyricists, combining their intellect with exceptional rhythmic abilities so lucid their lyrics sound like streaming freestyles. ‘The day greets me, I wake with an unchained approached for travel, charmed by a journey of sheer spectral beauty as a pilot of exploration.’ Their decidedly ultramodern direction in the expounding of boundaries within music is perfect within this context, a precise boundary-less den with a flooring beat.
With the curtain of vocals, ‘Cyclops’ transitions back to a thematic drum’n bass vamp etching out room for the ambient minimalist swirling of Berger’s piano in ‘White Ark’ and ‘Iron Cross’ that push the mood’s cerebral cunning deeper into a grassy knoll, while ‘Conquer Worm’ and ‘Lightning Teleportation’ submerge farther into pulsating groove with commanding trumpet solos and percussion by Six Degree’s artist Karsh Kale. Points of Order once again shows Bill Laswell’s cultural intuition, leading the latest motions of both hip-hop and electronic music, while continuing his passion for dub, trance, and the ambient amalgamation of them all. While the breadth of his recorded output has few contemporaries, his longtime friends, collaborators, and fans, some of them the greatest living musicians, have become widespread.