Axiom label creates ambient 'sculptures'

By Noah Lopez

Arizona Daily Wildcat

On another label, this release would be nothing more than just an ambient music collection by various artists. Indeed, with track contributions by the Orb and Terre Thaemlitz two of ambient music's reigning sound architects it is tempting to characterize it as such.

But this isn't another label. It's Bill Laswell's Axiom label. And with the exception of Thaemlitz and the Orb, the remaining artists are from vastly diverse musical backgrounds. From such regulars of the Laswell regime as the avant-garde multi-instrumentalist Nicky Skopelitis and blazing metal guitarist Buckethead, to the frequent world music heavies Asian singer Sola and violinist Shankar to name a couple that Laswell is prone to use, this has the potential to be an eclectic and unfocused work.

Never underestimate the power of Laswell, the masterful music utopian, however. From the opening track, "Eternal Drift," it is apparent that the Axiom oracle again has a vision to hand down to his faithful followers. Lost in the Translation is billed as sound sculptures by Bill Laswell a fitting characterization. Laswell has taken songs from his wealthy catalog of skillful song constructions, and reassembled them with more of an

"ambient" focus.

Laswell adheres well to Brian Eno's description of ambient music as "sonic wallpaper." And, like Eno the Godfather of electronic ambient music Laswell excels at creating aural landscapes that absorb the listener and whisk them away to alien territory. "Eternal Drift," a 16-minute composition with five movements, evolves in a smooth, rhythmic manner as fragments of the original Material (Laswell's jazz/world beat supergroup) song literally drift in and out.

The rest of the double album is equally engrossing. The listener is transfixed in the sheer beauty that Laswell is able to create, however, in the second track, the elegiac "Peace." With contributions from free jazz saxman Pharaoh Sanders, Laswell has lifted guitar tracks off his work with late guitar legends Sonny Sharrock and Eddie Hazel weaving them into elegant tapestries. The track is a touching, 17-minute tribute that has the potential to bring tears to a listener's eyes.

Lost in the Translation is an innovative new chapter in the '90s burgeoning ambient music scene, one that blurs the distinction between producer and artist. A stunning work.

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