Laswell, Bill Filmtracks 2000
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Mick Harris
Trace Decay

Bill Laswell has managed to have his hand in a lot of things, and just about all of it good. His music has always managed to have a certain degree of culture and has maintained a quality that many artists wish they could consistently produce. Filmtracks 2000 is an amalgam of genres, fusing jazz-like bass lines, ambient sounds and solid backbone of Middle East culture and music into one album.

Most of the album caries a low-key tone, but at time, the beat and pace does pick up, giving enough variety to keep the formula from getting stale. Oman is an excellent opening track that sets the pace for the rest of the album. It slowly opens to a casual drum & bass populated with a citar string arrangement that adds a great depth to the track. From that point, the album flows on, raising it's voice when it needs to. There's a casualness to the music that makes it so easy to listen to.

There really are some wonderfully written tracks on this album. With such a huge cultural influence mixed in with the wide variety of style that Laswell already displays, you'll find this album hard not to appreciate. Portals has a great grove and even some power when compared to other tracks. You come away wishing it was longer because the beat and bass line is so catchy. Turf War may be the most straight-forward and mainstream track on the album, but that doesn't make it any worse than the others. In fact, it acts as a sturdy column by which the more ambient tracks can hinge from. Oum el Bouaghi and OHagi Baig show a larger cultural influence. Siren Song provides a strong horn piece that just seems to fit so well.

Maybe the only failing I have with this album is that so many of the tracks are short and that they just end way to early. Many times, I just wish certain songs, like Soldiers of Misfortune and the aforementioned Portals, carried on longer.

If you were ever interested in giving Bill Laswell a try, this is as good a place to start. It has a large amount of variety but is casual enough to survive repeated listenings. Fans of more radio-friendly music might not appreciate it as much as those who enjoy more diverse and experimental works. This is the kind of album that open-minded listeners will really enjoy.

- - Kinderfeld

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