Sacred System is the recording ensemble of sonic heavyweights Bill Laswell, Graham Haynes, Nicky Skopelitis, Bernie Worrell, Jah Wobble, and Bill Buchen. Too trance to be classified as world music and too exotic to be accu... more »rately called dance, Nagual Site is the group's mélange of dub, electronica, and African percussion. It's an interesting listen: the percussion of "X-Zibit-i" gradually gets more furious and loses its worldly roots in a sea of drum & bass and synth sounds, "Driftwork" gets a polyrhythmic vocal and bass treatment, and "Aab Yaad Kar Tu" adds an Eastern vocal style to the mix. Unfortunately, the acid jazz that creeps into smooth jazz on "Derive" is indicative of the whole disc. The styles may cross over, but ultimately the sum total of the parts isn't that interesting. --Jason Verlinde« less
Sacred System is the recording ensemble of sonic heavyweights Bill Laswell, Graham Haynes, Nicky Skopelitis, Bernie Worrell, Jah Wobble, and Bill Buchen. Too trance to be classified as world music and too exotic to be accurately called dance, Nagual Site is the group's mélange of dub, electronica, and African percussion. It's an interesting listen: the percussion of "X-Zibit-i" gradually gets more furious and loses its worldly roots in a sea of drum & bass and synth sounds, "Driftwork" gets a polyrhythmic vocal and bass treatment, and "Aab Yaad Kar Tu" adds an Eastern vocal style to the mix. Unfortunately, the acid jazz that creeps into smooth jazz on "Derive" is indicative of the whole disc. The styles may cross over, but ultimately the sum total of the parts isn't that interesting. --Jason Verlinde
Wonderful fusion of traditional Indian music and rhythmicjaz
Bauwens Michel | Brussels, Belgium | 06/14/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought the CD by chance in a Warsaw jazzstore, misled by the title which in my mind suggested something precolumbian. What I heard instead was most amazing. I have simply never heard a better matched fusion between classical Indian music, expressed in very powerful both male and female voices, traditional instruments, but an especially strong rhythmic section (tabla's, etc..), and on the other hand, very convincing rhythmic jazz with keyboards, trumpets etc.. This is neither one or the another, but a new kind of powerful blend, not newagey at all, but nevertheless trance-inducing through its rhythms ... There's also an identifiable African percussion to be heard. I only give it a four, instead of five, because the documentation is very poor, apart from the names of its musicians, you get no background about the project, the musicians etc..."
Everything that?s good and bad about Post-Modernism
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 07/03/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Wild eclecticism--good. Undigested wild eclecticism--bad. Access to other cultures--good. Access couched in excessive irony--bad. Evocation of non-Western sacred musics--good. Such evocation wrapped in alien contexts--bad. The title gives it all away: Sacred System. How can the sacred ever be turned into a system? That's at the heart of what's wrong here--a notion that anything can be appropriated by mere evocation.A noble attempt to cross several genres--jazz, dub, Indian classical, trance, drum `n' bass, "world lounge," dance, and electronica--there's a real question as to whether this disc succeeds in any. To my ears, this is an unassimilated amalgam, with its wildly clashing styles and aesthetics--sometimes on the same piece, sometimes serially, sometimes all at once--making for aural chaos rather than any kind of enjoyable synthesis. Yet, without the genuine exploratory sensibilities of Bill Laswell, many of us would probably never be exposed to such a wide musical palate. In a sense, you have to hand it to him for bringing together such a wide range of musical elements. That they don't completely gel doesn't necessarily mean it shouldn't have been tried.Yet, again, I do have another real complaint against this record (you can see that I'm really of two minds about it): The talents of such notable players such as Dave Liebman, Byard Lancaster (a very underrecorded musical genius), Graham Haynes, and Hamid Drake are sorely underutilized. One of the reasons I bought this record was for these players. But their talents are swamped by Laswell, Bernie Worrell, and Jah Wobble. Will that satisfy the trance crowd? I hardly think so. One final grouse (you can almost see the stars slipping away): The musicians aren't listed by track, so it's impossible to tell who's playing on what.Bottom line: some interesting sounds unfortunately just kind of left lying there. 2 and 1/2 stars."
This is it... this is the one...
Kevin | Victoria, BC Canada | 06/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok...Disclaimer: Bill Laswell is so far my favorite musician on the Earth. His production: amazing. His fretless bass playing: beautiful and inspiring (I also play fretless bass)His sensitivity, adventurous spirit, respect for music and musicians, his trance-awareness, all unparalelled in the music I've heard.And this album is the embodiment of all these qualities. It's incredibly diverse, yet cohesive. It's intense, yet sensitive. It's new-age, yet respectful of tradition. It's beautiful. Pick it up!"
D. Crouzet | PARIS France | 08/19/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I got this CD per chance. In fact, I don't really appreciate Jazz music, but I really love traditional indian music turned to trance music. As such, two tracks: Aab Yaad Kar Tu, and Saiya Nikasegaye, are really wonderful for trance and meditation. Being a nice mix of traditional, powerful voices, blended with new-age. For these two I give over five stars. In fact after having heard them, I searched (and spends more than a hundred dollars), to get more music like these, but unfortunately failed to find more of it. The remaining of the CD is different, not the kind I like, so all in all I gave it only a 4 stars."
Green Andy Reviews: Sacred System - Nagual Site
A. ZIATS | New York, NY, USA | 10/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Trying to pick out a favorite Bill Laswell album is a pretty thankless affair: the man's released so many albums under so many different band and project names that it's a chore just to organize them all in one place. This one probably comes close to the top of my list, though. A remarkably mature and confident combination of ambient and traditional Indian music, the group includes a lot of frequent Laswell collaborators such as former P-Funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell and post-punk bassist Jah Wobble.
The album does a fairly amazing job of highlighting the commonalities between these two very different genres. At no point does it sound gimmicky or over-produced; a deep, lush soundscape is maintained throughout, and the players' contributions are integrated seamlessly, never calling undue attention to themselves. The primary "stars" of this album are the vocalists: Gulam Mohammed Khan's quick Indian chants almost morph into scat-singing above the rattling drumbeats (aided by percussionists Badal Roy and Zakir Hussain) and Sussan Deyhim's haunting, wordless vocals turn the dub-inflected, 10-minute "Black Lotus" into the high point of the album.
In addition to the vocal tracks, the instrumental "X-Zibit-I" stands out with its urgent bass and drum work, punctuated with distinctive horn charts that later reprise themselves in the closer "Driftwork". And speaking of horns, the group's jazz background comes out strongly on the meditative "Dérive", where the saxophone vies with liquid bass lines (from Laswell? Wobble? I can't tell). Anyway, considering how many players and how many different styles are covered on this album, it's a marvel that it sounds so self-assured and organic throughout. Definitely worth whatever you end up paying for it."