Milford Graves & Bill Laswell: Space/Time – Redemption

Photo: Dominik Huber

Milford Graves and Bill Laswell turn in another one of those duet albums that don't sound like one.

Milford Graves & Bill Laswell

Space/Time – Redemption

Label: TUM
US Release Date: 2014-11-18
UK Release Date: 2014-11-18
Label website
Artist website

Describing Space/Time – Redemption as an album of drums and bass only gives you a fraction of the picture. For starters, the drummer in question is Milford Graves. Not only has he provided rhythm for some enormous names in modern jazz since the mid-'60s, but he has proven himself to be a versatile all-around percussionist. His approach to his instrument is a broad one, giving the listener a large canvas in which to get lost. And if you are looking for a good improviser who can jam on their instrument while creating a distinct atmosphere with a variety of electronics while possessing enough studio know-how to make it all sound good in the end, then you can't do whole lot better than Bill Laswell. And so when Graves and Laswell combine their forces in the recording studio, less has the opportunity to be so much more. There are lots of instrumental duo albums looming around in all the post-everything genres, and they're all pretty good. Space/Time – Redemption goes beyond "good", or "decent", or "admirable". This one-hour jam is an extraordinary creature with a nervous system and a pulse, fermenting underneath the perceived limitations of the instruments involved. It's hardly a "look at how clever we can be with limited tools!" gimmick, more of a "hey, try this on" kind of invitation.

Space/Time – Redemption is made up of only five "songs" and just over half of the running time belongs to two tracks -- "Another Space" and "Another Time". These are the two tracks where Milford and Laswell surrender all they have while allowing their ideas to stretch and stretch some more. It's especially impressive that Laswell is able to place his sounds in and around some incredibly complex drumming from Graves, who never takes the easy way out of anything on this release (or ever, probably).

Subtlety is saved for the other tracks, like "Autopossession", which is a nine-minute percussion piece, though Graves's sense of musicianship allows you to almost overlook that fact. "Sonny Sharrock", named after a unique guitarist with whom both Graves and Laswell were lucky enough to perform, is allegedly built from the melody to "Auld Lang Syne" (combining Sharrock's name with the New Year's folk song on Google doesn't yield an explanation for this). But they didn't need to paraphrase anything to get the tune going, with the bass's ghostly overtones setting the scene for Graves's kitchen sink. Starting track "Eternal Signs" also has a melody to share, one that is seemingly at odds with the polyrhythm tumbling from the drum kit.

It's a good thing when talented musicians remain prolific, especially when they are inching so close to the air when your average working stiff begins to size up their 401K. By the same token, that prolific nature could mean that Space/Time – Redemption will get lost in the shuffle of Bill Laswell's already-overflowing catalog (he once told me that his name appears on at least 3000 projects). As all kinds of media and entertainment endlessly flow through our collective nets, here's hoping that Space/Time – Redemption snags itself to the netting long enough for us to evaluate or luck with Milford Graves and Bill Laswell still hanging around.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.