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Various Artists: Arcana’s Ark of the Testimony

The all-star cast on Arcana’s Ark of the Testimony (Axiom 314 524-431-2, 53:41)-Pharaoh Sanders, Graham Haynes, Sun Ra vet Byard Lancaster, and guitarist Buckethead-is enough to recommend the disc by itself. But the fact that it includes some of drum giant Tony Williams’ final masterstrokes pushes it into “must get” territory. Williams’ always protean skinsmanship turns producer/bassist Bill Laswell’s semi-ambient soundscapes into subterranean nuclear tests: matching muscle with Buckethead’s hyperkinetic flailing on the pounding metalloid “Illuminator” (vaguely reminiscent of “Open Fire” from 1979’s Joy of Flying, which paired Williams with hard rock maverick Ronnie Montrose), and prodding Sanders on “Gone Tomorrow” and “Circles of Hell.

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