March 1999

Praxis
Mold
Yikes

Picking up a Bill Laswell-produced/associated disc without any background can be a jarring experience. Even if you have been following Laswell's work it can be a bit off-putting-his ever mutating muse often leads him into the realm of pure sound, beyond groove and structure. So if your association with Laswell's Praxis project extends only as far as their still-unsurpassed first album (which featured Buckethead, Bootsy Collins, and Bernie Worrell) the latest, Mold (Yikes, YIK CD 775-2, 68:04) will leave you babbling. A collection of asymmetrical rhythms, disjointed voices and processed texture for texture's sake, this is Laswell at his most outside (the death/disease/decomposition-leaning song titles may offer a clue to his thematic intentions). "Throes of Rasputin," framed by watery synth bleats and Pat Thrall's yowling, disembodied guitar, would sound good underscoring a modern remake of Metropolis, for example. "Viral Sonata," on the other hand, uses a simple opening guitar figure as a springboard to all manner of rhythmic mayhem. Figuring out where Laswell is coming from is like finding your bearings in zero gravity. The thing is, he manages to make disorientation interesting enough not to sweat it.

Originally published in March 1999
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