Man, back in the very late 70’s (and throughout the 80’s), you couldn’t swing a dead cat without knocking a Bill Laswell album off the turntable. The dude was EVERYWHERE, recording under a slew of aliases and with a bunch of different bands, including Anton Fier’s Golden Palominos and the downtown avant art jazz funk band Material. And like many people, I bought just about everything his name was attached to for quite some time. That is, before it became completely overwhelming to keep up. Or maybe it was because I slowly drifted apart from his collaborations. But I hung on for quite a while, pretty much loving all those Subharmonic productions and many of those ambient records he did with Namlook. Honestly, it’s hard for me to still pull up all that stuff in my brain.
This EP, alternately know simply as “Praxis” or “1984” (the year it was recorded) fell into a supremely beat-heavy period for Laswell. He had produced Herbie Hancock’s groundbreaking “Future Shock” record, spinning off the hugely successful hit “Rockit” and I think this may have been the start if a long-running relationship with turntablist Grandmixer DST. Again, I can’t remember all the timelines, and the combination of laziness and early-in-the-week need-to-get-a-ton-of-stuff-done anxiety won’t allow me to spend a whole bunch of time digging through reference material.
This EP was just another logical extension – or off-shoot – of Laswell’s continuing and evolving musical curiosity. No musicians credited, only instrumentation – DMX, turntable, records, tapes, shortwave radio. I’m sure there is clarification on the musicians involved somewhere, but DST has to be manning the turntable and I believe Christian Marclay (most recently heralded for his 24-hour video piece, “The Clock”) would be operating the shortwave. Tape manipulation is totally up for grabs. Fifteen minutes (at best) of minimalistic soundscape goodness. With beats. Good…stuff. Unsurprisingly, doesn’t sound too far removed at all from his Hancock work or, as many reviews have noted, The Art Of Noise.
I’m sure this made its way onto CD at some point. But again, that would take time to figure out. And hey, if it did make it to disc, I doubt it’s still readily available. (This just in, as I had to look, Subharmonic did issue this in the late 90’s and it is currently out-of-print, though fairly easily accessible). Considering this is mastered by Howie Weinberg, at 45rpm, no way the CD is gonna sound better than this.
Sealed with a cut corner; $20.