Recent listening, current

Thursday, July 16, 2020

214. Sacred System / Chapter One: Book of Entrance (1996)

Dub alert. Book of "En-trance," get it? I got into Laswell after I saw his credit on albums by people like Henry Threadgill, then discovered his towering discography under many pseudonyms. Laswell works in NYC with everybody from Nona Hendryx to John Zorn. I get the impression that if you hung around the Bowery for long enough, and made a habit of staying up way past your bedtime, you'd eventually end up recording with him. 'Chapter One' is the first of four records (I think it's four) under his Sacred System moniker. The music is a unique flavor of ethereal trance-oriented dub. Tracks build from subtle, soulful bass grooves into all-out psychedelic dub glaciers where the keyboards speak in tongues, replete with weird echoes, prepared loops, backwards banshee wails, and self oscillating delays... but chill, really chill. You get the picture. 

If you're not all that into trance or dub, or you get turned off by the genre description, please understand that this is not your garden variety, up-all-night dance soundtrack. Laswell is a master producer and does not employ effects for their novel value, nor does he beat you over the head with them. (He doesn't beat you over the head with his beats, either.) He knows how to build a musical track into an eight-minute experience for the ears and mind; his aural soundscapes are constantly in flux, with new textures coming and going, perking the attention span. It's a process of regeneration -- new chittering spasms of sound are born as others decay, so out with the old and in with the new as the groove rolls onward. The bottom line is that you never know what's lurking around the next sonic corner. 'Book of Entrance' is a fantastic example, not just a clever title.

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