Bill Laswell, Means of Deliverance

Ken Micallef

By Ken Micallef

on 10.16.12 in Reviews

It’s hard to imagine any musician holding a listener’s attention with an album comprised exclusively of acoustic bass solos, but veteran producer, remixologist and bassist Bill Laswell pulls off the trick nicely on Means of Deliverance. Laswell’s career has been a journey of bold steps, from his innovative ’80s dub/noise band Material to left-stream production duties with Iggy Pop, Laurie Anderson, Brian Eno, Bootsy Collins and Motorhead, to collaborations with William S. Burroughs and remixes of Miles Davis (Panthalassa), and Bob Marley (Dreams of Freedom). Laswell has followed a singular approach to fulfillment, his own music often cerebral and solemn, yet oddly invigorating.

Cerebral and solemn, yet oddly invigorating

Such is the nature of Means of Deliverance, with Laswell filling the album’s 10 bass solos with rhythmic, rolling melodies that recall Chinese folk songs, Native American chants, North African spirituals, the rambling rhythms of the Deep South, and all manner of blues, jazz, and even a touch of Jaco Pastorious. But at the center of Laswell’s music – from the harmonics bellowing “In Failing Light,” to the Sun Records pulse of “Lightning in the South” (which recalls Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again”) to the voodoo-calling closer, “Low Country” – is an undeniable sense of stillness that is both calming and eerily sad.