BILL LASWELL — Aspiration (review)

BILL LASWELL — Aspiration album cover Boxset / Compilation · 2011 · Dub/Ska/Reggae Buy this album from MMA partners
2/5 ·
Matt
It looks like Bill has headed back to the ambient side with his latest production "Aspiration" which is on the label Metastation Records who actually specialise in world, electronic and ambient music, they do say yoga as well but I cannot see you doing the twist to this brand spanking new production. Bill Laswell has done a few with Metastation records in the past with the majority being "Asana" which were Bill's yoga albums which are Indian influenced to a degree but ambience is the main drone (pardon the pun) and are compilations from previous productions except number 4. The artists involved with the writing in " Aspiration" are Bill Laswell who wrote four of the six compositions with Alice Coltrane providing the second "Bliss: The Eternal Now" and the last one on the album is by Pharoah Saunders which is "Peace In Essaouira" and dedicated to Sonny Sharrock ( guitar) who was one of Bill's band regulars till 1994 when he passed away. We have a very impressive list of muscians who particapated but only Nicky Skopelitis is appearing in two comopositions and only plays guitar on one and assists Bill on the last track by Pharoah Saunders with percussion.The rest only appear on one track each and they include, Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet, Carlos Santana, guitar, Sussan Deyhim, vocals and co-writer with Bill, Bootsie Collins, bass, Pharoah Saunders, tenor saxophone. Bernie Worrell, electric piano and organ and even the Dalai Lama gets his bit in on the 2nd last tune. First up with all these contributions you would expect a bit of good jazz but alas this really is not the case as things remain ambient for the majority of the album. There are beats on two of the tracks and although another starts that way it heads back to ambient drift quickly. The music is suitable for yoga and maybe you should have the incense stencher smouldering as well but things go nowhere and the compositions just drag along.

The best is first with all thanks going to Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet who with Zakir Hussain on tabla give the composition a superb laid back feel. Bill's bass is booming on "Pattabhi Jois" and Nils blows a lovely low tone with the tablas giving the tune a great texture as well as Bill's bass. Alice Coltrane makes her appearance in "Bliss: The Eternal Hour" on piano and harp which are her contribution with Carlos Santana providing guitar and Bill Laswell is doing reconstruction. There is some lovely accoustic guitar played by Santana with Alice adding piano and harp but when the harp arrives it just is not a good contrast straight after accoustic guitar and the track just falls off. "Searching For You' is Susan Deyhim's shot on vocals with ney ( flute), mediatation bells and Bill on bass and providing a little texture as well. It does not gel and seems lost between Iran and India with what is just drone. The albums next two tracks,"The Hidden Garden/Naima" and "Time" which is where we hear his Holiness the Dalai Lama are just more of the same. The last is where Pharoah Saunders basically plays a lone solo for the majority and he does sound great. Later in the composition Nicky and Bill provide percussion. Pharoah Saunders has a beautiful tone and he is a master on his instrument the tenor saxophone but why does he push it so hard at times that the notes are squawking out losing the atmosphere that he has created.

Fans and yoga only. I will stick with Chubby Checker though for my twistin'. Too much of the same and I did not hear one thing that I thought was new or different. Bill Laswell has done over 300 albums and sometimes he should go for quality and not quantity. I am sure he could make a total masterpiece and he has come close at times but not here.
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js wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Laswell just phones em in sometimes. What a waste of talent.

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