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Album Review

This collaboration between trumpeter Toshinori Kondo and bassist/producer Bill Laswell is an interesting fusion of the spiritual and the musical that ends up being more interesting musically than spiritually. The first three of its four long and untitled tracks consist of rich ambient atmospheres created by Laswell and Kondo, into which are woven recorded excerpts of speeches by the Dalai Lama on the subjects of life, space, and death. The "Life" and "Death" tracks both feature Laswell's typically melodic and funky basslines bumping along under Kondo's sometimes-heavily treated trumpet lines; the "Space" track is arrhythmic but no less lovely. The problem with these three tracks is not the music, but the spoken-word content, which tends toward inarguable banalities like "Time is always moving" and "As human beings, this planet is our only home." Surely the recorded archives of the Dalai Lama could have yielded more enlightening tidbits than these. The album's final and longest track consists of 14 minutes of instrumental ambience so gauzily insubstantial as to be almost inaudible. Not bad stuff, but hardly essential.


Born: February 12, 1955 in Salem, IL

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A longtime linchpin of the New York City underground music scene, Bill Laswell has been among the most prolific artists in contemporary music; as a performer, producer, and label chief, his imprint is on literally hundreds of albums, the majority of them characterized by a signature sound fusing the energy of punk with the bone-rattling rhythms of funk. Born on February 12, 1955, in Salem, Illinois, he initially played guitar, but soon switched to bass; raised primarily in the Detroit area, he honed...
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Life Space Death, Bill Laswell
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