If you had to label his style, it might be called Ambient-Avant-Jazz-Dub-hip-hop-free-experimental-world-Punk, but most likely Laswell would call that label too confining. As a musician, he's an adept improviser and foundation layer, choosing to work within the deep, sub-harmonic range of the bass. As a producer, he puts together amazing musicians in odd combinations that come from the funky inner depths of New York City, exotic regions of the earth, and nether realms of outer space electronica. His work in bands such as Material, Massacre, Last Exit and Praxis continually pushes the boundaries of Funk, hip-hop and Free Jazz, covering it all in an atmospheric haze. A partial list of some of the top-notch musicians with whom he has collaborated includes Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, Afrika Bambaataa, Mick Jagger, Sly Stone, Tetsu Inoue, George Clinton, Wayne Shorter, Zakir Hussain, Fela "Ransome" Kuti, DJ Spooky, Sly & Robbie, David Byrne, Yoko Ono, Public Image Limited, Motorhead -- the list goes on and on. So does his sound, which continues to be progressive, original and fiercely different.
Bill Laswell Concert Films
World Beat Sound System: Live at Soundstage
Runtime: 55 minThroughout three decades, Bill Laswell has been a constant innovator, fusing seemingly disparate genres into a whole new sound. Touching upon everything from worldbeat, funk, rock, hip-hop and jazz, there are no limits to his experimental approach. No matter what the project, one thing remains a constant – Laswell’s pretty basslines provide a rhythm to which all sounds connect beautifully. The Grammy winner is one of the most prolific artists in modern music, fronting his own band Material and serving as producer, label owner and performer on other’s albums. He has worked with many respected artists, including Herbie Hancock, Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel, Yoko Ono and Laurie Anderson.
Among his many talents is his ability to bring together well-matched singers and players to create a distinct style that defies easy classification. His Soundstage episode embodies his unique approach, transcending any genre boundaries and delivering an engaging performance. From the World Beat of Tabla Beat Science, to the jazzy flavors of Pharoah Sanders backed by Material, it’s an exciting mix. Other surprises include a rocking Buckethead set that includes a little breakdancing and songs by Praxis. The show culminates with an all-star performance, funked up by Bootsy Collins.
Runtime: 41 minHomeland,' long awaited in recorded form, has evolved over more than two years of touring as Anderson developed the songs in front of concertgoers around the world, from downtown clubs in Manhattan to an amphitheatre in Athens, Greece. In Artforum, Anderson summarized the songs as 'one-third politics, one-third pure music, and one-third strange dreams.' The work was shaped more by humanity than by technology; Anderson built an intimate rapport with her audience during a show that featured a shifting set-list of new material and relied on words and music far more than visual and theatrical effects. That intimacy is just as palpable in the songs that evolved to make up her new album.. The Guardian said ''Homeland' represents some of the most purely beautiful music she has ever made.' In the States, Daily Variety declared, 'The music that accompanies the vignettes and songs is some of the loveliest that Anderson has ever written ...Like the narratives it accompanies, the sound's grave but not without wit; measured and dispassionate, but not without heart.'
On the road, 'Homeland' drew acclaim and attracted controversy for its political content. But Anderson is not merely criticizing or complaining; on tracks like the stunning 11-minute album centerpiece, 'Another Day In America,' Anderson is really singing for our survival, retelling the stories of our present state in the most forthright material of her career. It can be harrowing but it can be hopeful, and it is as riveting as anything Anderson has produced since the groundbreaking 'Big Science' in 1982. As Variety concluded, ''Homeland' reinforces Anderson's place as the best interpreter of our troubled times.'