Bassist and producer Bill Laswell's career has been a long and varied one, but few of his many recordings feature as many intersections of musicians as his Method of Defiance project's 2007 album, Inamorata.
This album has a slew of renowned jazz performers from the 1960s onward like tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, keyboardist Herbie Hancock, tenor player and flautist Byard Lancaster, sax player Dave Liebman and guitarist Pete Cosey.
Younger jazz performers like trumpeters/cornetists Graham Haynes (son of the great drummer Roy Haynes), Toshinori Kondo, and Nils Petter Molvaer, and keyboardist Craig Taborn are also on board.
Frequent Laswell collaborators John Zorn, along with his Masada String Trio, guitar wizard Buckethead, former Parliament and Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and table player and drummer Karsh Kale.
Finally, as Method of Defiance, in its early incarnations, was heavily driven by the electronic bass 'n drum sound, a plethora of performers from that genre were matched up with the aforementioned musicians, including Paradox, Black Sun Empire, D Star, SPL, Fanu, Outrage, Corrupt Souls, Amit, Evol [misspelled "Evil" on the sleeve] Intent, Fanu and Submerged, the latter being Laswell's partner on the first M.O.D. album and who released this album on his Ohm Resistance label.
These recordings are uniformly interesting and entertaining and some of the performances are just outstanding, including the impassioned playing of Sanders, Liebman and Zorn (and the Masada String Trio's jittery strings with a mournful and brief interlude in the middle of the piece) on their tracks, "Ta' Wil", "Aibi Virus" and "Pattern Engine." The cooler sounds of the several trumpeters provide a nice counterbalance, while Hancock, Worrell and Taborn use their keyboards to nice effect in providing another palette of sounds to contrast with the horns. Notably, Cosey and Buckethead, both incredibly inventive and fast players, are somewhat muted here, using their guitars for color and ambience more than for blazing solos or heavy riffs.
The many electronic performers here work well with the other instruments, providing a diverse array of drum machine patterns, electronic percussion and processed sounds that make this more than a typical drum 'n bass record, introducing diversity in its mixings of "live" instruments in the horns, keyboards and guitars categories. Karsh Kale's excellent table playing on "Aether" is also a highlight, especially as it dovetails with Molvaer's cool keyboards and Laswell's loping bass. "Remains," featuring Corrupt Souls has several cool and varied electronic "riffs", a sampled voice intoning something about science and technology, and another solid Laswell groove on bass. "Black Water" has a solid flow to it and Haynes' ultra-smooth cornet work is countered by Lancaster's hard blowing, while Laswell holds it all together with more great playing.
Holding much of this together is Laswell's bass playing--consistently in touch and integrated with the other sounds and highlighting his talent for holding down the bottom of a piece with little wasted effort and flashes of dub and jazz elements. His work in bringing in a staggering array of jazz-based talent, mixed with Submerged's recruiting of electronic artists makes Inamorata an entirely successful foray into expanding drum 'n bass out of electronics and into a fruitful collaborative partnership with other instruments.
Method of Defiance: Inamorata (Ohm Recordings, 2007)
1, Ta' Wil
3. Hidden Killer
6. Babylon Decoder
7. Aibi Virus
8. Anti-Jazz Glitch
9. Black Water
10. Pattern Engine