The Life Divine - Bill Laswell, McLaughlin, John [J
Naima - Bill Laswell, Coltrane, John
Angel of Sunlight - Bill Laswell, Coster, T
Bliss: The Eternal Now - Bill Laswell, Coltrane, A
Meditation - Bill Laswell, McLaughlin, John [J
Bliss: The Eternal Now-Return - Bill Laswell, Coltrane, A
The music Carlos Santana released in 1973 and 1974, while heavily informed by his devotion to guru Sri Chimnoy, was hardly the lightweight worship fodder of some other religious rockers. In fact, only Santana's gorgeous, f... more »luid guitar work marked it as rock at all; with the likes of John McLaughlin, Alice Coltrane, and a wide array of percussion and string players on board, the Santana/McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender and Santana/Coltrane Illuminations had more in common with the rich, eclectic sound paintings that Miles Davis was then presiding over. Producer-musician Bill Laswell, having remixed and "reconstructed" Miles and Bob Marley tapes, now sequences much of the two LPs into this ear-opening suite. One of those records that seems designed to sound great at any time of day or night, Divine Light's thread moves through a gorgeously orchestral opener with hints of Indian music ("Angel of Air") to two John Coltrane compositions (a hypnotic translation of "A Love Supreme," a hushed "Naima"), a lengthy "Angel of Sunlight" with fervid solos by Santana, saxophonist Jules Broussard, and electric pianist Tom Coster, and the prayerful "Bliss: The Eternal Now" and "Meditation." With Santana's fame greater than ever thanks to Supernatural, the thought that Divine Light will reach some of those new ears is a happy one. --Rickey Wright« less
The music Carlos Santana released in 1973 and 1974, while heavily informed by his devotion to guru Sri Chimnoy, was hardly the lightweight worship fodder of some other religious rockers. In fact, only Santana's gorgeous, fluid guitar work marked it as rock at all; with the likes of John McLaughlin, Alice Coltrane, and a wide array of percussion and string players on board, the Santana/McLaughlin Love Devotion Surrender and Santana/Coltrane Illuminations had more in common with the rich, eclectic sound paintings that Miles Davis was then presiding over. Producer-musician Bill Laswell, having remixed and "reconstructed" Miles and Bob Marley tapes, now sequences much of the two LPs into this ear-opening suite. One of those records that seems designed to sound great at any time of day or night, Divine Light's thread moves through a gorgeously orchestral opener with hints of Indian music ("Angel of Air") to two John Coltrane compositions (a hypnotic translation of "A Love Supreme," a hushed "Naima"), a lengthy "Angel of Sunlight" with fervid solos by Santana, saxophonist Jules Broussard, and electric pianist Tom Coster, and the prayerful "Bliss: The Eternal Now" and "Meditation." With Santana's fame greater than ever thanks to Supernatural, the thought that Divine Light will reach some of those new ears is a happy one. --Rickey Wright
Enrique Torres | San Diegotitlan, Califas | 12/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Revisiting this era of Santana's music is like taking a bath in the river Ganghes, a cleansing of the spirit again....or as David Bryne sang in one of his classic songs "same as it ever was." Producer extraordanaire Bill Laswell, who has worked with many giants in the music industry, has teamed up with Santana to reconstruct music from Carlos Santanas "Devadip" daze, or do I mean days? For those that weren't around or missed it, here is your chance to hear it again with slight modifications that don't disrupt the original recordings but actually enhance it. I was skeptical because I hated Laswells disc of Bob Marley songs in an ambient mode, I even returned it! There is no extraneous noise here, only vital music. There is none of the radical transformation either, just a sweetened version of the originals("Love, Devotion and Surrender" & "Illumminations") on one disc, featuring some truly explosive guitar riffs and solos by Santana and John McLaughlin. The spiritual nature of this disc is evident, just check out the names of the songs. It has an India feel to it, complete with tablas, mixed with Latin percusssion and strings that include violas, cellos, violins and bass under the direction of harpist Alice Coltrane, the wife of the late great John Coltrane. The version of "A Love Supreme" is superb, complete with incantations at the end, a true masterpiece and an excellent interpretation of the Trane classic. He also borrows two songs from Alice Coltrane, her composition "Bliss: The Eternal Now" & "Bliss:The Eternal Now - Return." Alice Coltrane's cascading, heavenly harp is featured, juxtaposed with Carlos Santana's erie guitar work that bends and lingers with a dissonance reflective of the title............ommmmmmmm! This is great stuff for old and new fans of Santana, featuring his spiritual side that we all possess and his music just helps unleash the inner sactum. These essential recordings, that are nearly 30 years old, have been revitalized and reenergized with modern studio techniques and sound even better than the originals. The art work within the disc jacket is an additional bonus and very cool too, much like a surrealistic Dali vision. A must have for fans of the music of Carlos Santana."
Revisiting old spirits...and making the whole trip BETTER.
David S. Minjares | Montebello, CA. USA | 08/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When Bill Laswell & Carlos Santana are mentioned in the same breath, one has to scratch the head. Bill Laswell...Material, Painkiller, Axiom, etc. Carlos Santana...Woodstock, Latin-Rock fusion innovator, multi-Grammy winner, genuine spirit, etc.And yet, who is the instrumental party that brings these two full circle? You guessed it. Miles Davis."Divine Light" is more than just a reconstruction of two very challenging Carlos Santana titles, but a definitive shaping of the very best the two originals had to offer. Let me explain..."Love, Devotion, Surrender", the 1973 duet collaboration between Santana & Mahavishnu Orchestra guitarist John McLaughlin, was kind of a tough one to swallow if not fully prepared. When I first heard it, it was a devastating experience for me, with "Caravanseri" still very fresh and impressionable in my mind (for a six year old). The wild fusion jamming was, I thought, rather self-indulgent and, though it had its moments of beautiful playing, a mess. Even being reunited with it in 1989 with plenty of music aggression under my belt, it still left me cold.The 1974 Santana/Alice Coltrane collaboration "Illuminations" was an even divide for me as well. The first side's combination of guitar, jazz unit, harps, strings & piano was a beautiful and strange listening experience. It was also one of the very first aural trips (for me) into absolute etherealism. The second side, on the other hand, was another self-indulgent trip, through the musicianship was much better, still, it was a tough pill to swallow.So how does Bill Laswell do it? Bring these two ambitious yet uneven efforts together as one? Laswell is very sympathetic to the Middle Eastern influences more than the original records and gives them a badly needed (& definitive) beginning, middle & end. He uses a drone throughout the 60 minutes of this CD which variates between sitar/tamboura drone, organ drone, percussives and ambient purring. There are also some very subtle reverb and dub touches that are more complimentary to the music rather than throwing a splash of technology paint.And yet, it still maintains an unpredictability factor. Just listen to this in the dark and decide for yourself whether Santana/McLaughlin/Coltrane failed to meet their spiritual core. I think they did. Laswell goes further to restore that center and bring a remarkable respect to the musicians' overall work. When I first heard the Laswell/Miles Davis reconstruction ("Panthalassa"), my ears were immediately touched. It was an eerie reevaluation of Miles' fusion work and how supple the forms were. Laswell made an unintentional drama of those pieces, resembling the final death scenes in "Soylent Green" (with Edward G. Robinson viewing the images of past natural life on a big screen with music.). Come on, who ISN'T inspired by that film in one way or another?This one isn't as eerie as the Davis album, but there's plenty of moments that qualify as truly inspirational. I think some of the younger generation recently weaned on "Supernatural" will find this album a major shock. They will not be prepared for the absolute power of this man's guitar in the forefront and in duets with McLaughlin & Coltrane, or even backed by Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Larry Young, Jan Hammer, Dave Holland or even the underrated Jules Broussard. When this man cooked during the 70's, live or on record, he was a one-of-a-kind force to be reckoned with. I hope this album will give people a second chance to hear this period, as uneven as it was. The great thing is that it comes full circle courtesy of an ambient soundhead visionary who, again, brought it a badly needed center. This is truly a past & present collaboration & update brought to you by very blessed talents. Let's hear more."
High expectations, total disappointment
sdw6 | Ithaca, NY United States | 08/14/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, let me establish my credentials as someone who should have loved this album. I thought the job Laswell with the amazing but often unfocused electric Miles Davis was brilliant (Panthalassa). I also own several of the Santana albums from when he was Devadip Carlos Santana (though not the album Illuminations, from which half of the material on this album was drawn), and I've always thought that half the tracks sizzle while the other half are dragged down by self-conscious spirituality. There are times when nothing but the Santana/McLaughlin treatment of 'A Love Supreme' will do. So when I heard Laswell was giving the remix treatment to this period of Santana, I rushed out and bought.What a disappointment, though. The tracks from Illuminations (with the lone exception of 'Angel of Sunlight') are just drenched in strings and really overbearing harp. The guitar playing above the strings is not really that interesting. Jules Broussard, the sax player, doesn't get a chance to cook the way I know he can. Laswell's treatment of 'A Love Supreme' doesn't improve on the original, and in fact I think he muddies up the driving sparseness that makes the original something I go back to over and over.To be fair, track 6, 'Angel of Sunlight', is a keeper. But that's just 15 minutes of a 60 minute CD, and a CD I expected to have in my player constantly for the next two weeks, no less. I think this puppy is going to sit on my shelf instead."
"One seriously must take the comments given by the One-Star reviewer and those of the Four-Star reviewer and split the differences. Although I tend to lean more towards one than the other, I do understand the reasoning behind both reviews and at this juncture, I think it would be safe to say, you either like this stuff or you don't. I do disagree with one prevailing attitude here, and that is that I believe the Laswell treatment here is minimalism at best. If you are thoroughly familiar with the originals, you won't blame Bill for the lush and yes, sometimes overpopulous strings. All Bill contributed was subliminal filler on this recording, believe me. Let's take a step back together and look at the "history". After Woodstock, and three "band" albums, the cohesive Santana Band was falling apart. Some blame Carlos, others Shon and Rolie, but the pointed fact remains, they had all begun to tire of each other and were reaching for other creativities. Carlos went on a binge "tour" with the great Buddy Miles, and then discovered The Self Realization Fellowship. I myself was reading The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda at the very same time that Caravanserai came out. Somehow, Carlos had managed to convince Neil and Greg to hang in there a moment longer before taking off on their Journey, and the result was inescapable to anyone interested in the same inner exploration that Santana brought to the table. Now at this time John McLaughlin was a co-convert with Carlos, as was Alice Coltrane. This set the stage for two projects that would raise the roof on "fusion" music of the period. One may call it self-indulgent ramblings, others speculative self-examination, but the bottom line here is folks, this was music of free expression, the musical equivalent of what Jack Kerouac had ultimately perfected in writing style, a free-form means of letting the soul speak without the conscious effort of obeying "stylistic rules". So if you don't like thinking "outside the box", you ain't gonna dig this, man! And that's alright. Each of these musical ventures has something to offer the listener whether with or without the Laswell treatment. Personally, I like what Bill did with the music, and I find it refreshing that these two albums' best contents wound up here and I have two less but one more CD to have purchased while rebuilding my vinyl collection of Santana into digital form. I have literally everything Carlos has touched, and there is not one "period" of his music I dislike, though I am waiting for him to enter a new phase, and hoping that he is through with the Shaman-pop-artist promotions. Supernatural was a nice novelty. Shaman wore the novelty thin. I see Santana as a musical explorer, bringing his love of life and spirit into his art, much as those adored angels of his inspired a millennia of artisans and craftsmen throughout the ages. Santana, whether Devadip, Carlos, or "The Band", is a religious experience, a spiritual experience, a masterpiece-of-art experience. Everything he touches turns to gold, and so you may not exactly like something on this CD, but there will be something else on it that will just make you sit up and go "Wow, now THAT was worth the purchase alone!" That is IF you have an open mind and enjoy the best guitarist in the world. So getting back to the point, the music on this project is nearly ALL original, with only some drone and an occasional apostrophe added by Bill's hand. And so the formula here is, if you don't like "self-indulgent" fusion then stay away and skip this Santana period entirely. I don't know how anyone can NOT like The Divine Life with it's beautiful chant, or the keys that haunt the rhythmic strokes of guitar and bass layed over a texture of two guitars making love to one another in A Love Supreme, or Alice's harp kissing Carlos' guitar while flying with the Angel of Air, or the gentle sweet sounds of Naima and Meditation, but I DO understand how someone can not be in the particular mood to grapple with the sometimes violent and tempestuous Angel of Sunlight, so try it on another day, say when love turns to lust, or when you need to purge yourself of a particularily bad thought. Beautiful Bliss always follows a storm, and this is no exception, the three part ending will soothe you, relax you, and calm every nerve. Santana's fingers are a gift to humanity from the Divine Himself. Illuminations and Love Devotion Surrender were Santana's forgiveness of himself, for he had visited the face of the Divine. Together with Alice and John, he gave us a gift from that forgiveness, and that gift was his art on these recordings. And now Bill has not embellished them, he has accented them. Enjoy! "
Disappointing -- It Ain't No Panthalassa
Michael Strom | Chicago, IL USA | 01/18/2002
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I must agree with an earlier reviewer who's 1-star review is getting buried, although I think 1-star is a bit harsh. I also am a big fan of both Carlos Santana and Bill Laswell. Based on Laswell's terrific job with the difficult "Electric Miles" period in Panthalassa, and my affection for Santana's jazz-tinged side (especially Caravanserai), this looked foolproof. Unfortunately, much of this CD is larded with sluggish, overly lush string arrangements and pedestrian harp arpeggios (both by Alice Coltrane). The reconstruction of "A Love Supreme" is really good, but the quality drops off sharply from there. There are 2 other tracks that are pretty good, and the rest just doesn't justify the project."