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January/February 1998

Bill Laswell
Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub
Island

Reinterpreting the music of Bob Marley is a task rife with pitfalls. On Dreams of Freedom: Ambient Translations of Bob Marley in Dub: (Island 314-524-419-2, 66:48), producer Bill Laswell, by focusing on Marley's music and not on his legendary voice and lyrics, has avoided most of them-and produced a pretty damn cool piece of modern dub in the process. Like Hendrix, Marley isn't someone you challenge on his own turf; straight reggae readings of his music are usually doomed to fail, for the same reasons rockers look foolish trying to guitar-interpret Jimi. By taking the material to another arena, Laswell has allowed himself the space to create a satisfying, affecting work. His detailed, yet expansive production adds an otherworldly vibe to some of Marley's most familiar tunes, one which only serves to underscore the spirituality that lurked just beneath the surface. The churchy organ figures, uplifting chorus swells, all are drawn out and embellished with touches that range from the impressionistic to the pastoral (the Garden-of -Eden background of "One Love").

Originally published in January/February 1998
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