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Though some artists have chafed against Laswell's distinctive recording and production style (most noticeably some of his for-hire production gigs including Motörhead, Swans and White Zombie) many other collaborations, such as with pianist Herbie Hancock and singer Iggy Pop have been lengthier and recurring.
He has also worked extensively with his wife, Ethiopian singer Gigi.
Laswell has been a staple of the downtown New York music scene since the late '70s, when he founded Material, a rotating ensemble whose output ranged from angular art-funk to more club-friendly, futuristic electro-pop, with 1982's One Down remaining a career highlight.
Laswell's commercial breakthrough came when he co-wrote and produced Herbie Hancock's groundbreaking 1983 electro track "Rockit." Throughout the decade, he participated in projects such as Massacre, Deadline, and Last Exit, in addition to releasing the occasional solo effort such as 1983's Baselines.
Material remained active, venturing in more of an experimental hip-hop direction, while Laswell's avant-funk-metal group Praxis helped introduce the world to the unique stylings of guitarist Buckethead. Born on February 12, 1955, in Salem, Illinois, he initially played guitar, but soon switched to bass.
During the 21st century, he remained eclectic as ever, but particularly explored Indian music (participating in Tabla Beat Science along with musicians like Karsh Kale, Talvin Singh, and Zakir Hussain) and drum'n'bass, co-founding Method of Defiance with Submerged. Raised primarily in the Detroit area, he honed his skills in local funk outfits before relocating to New York in 1978.
Submerged -- was entitled Brutal Calling and issued by Avant in 2004 with contributions from Toshinori Kondo and Guy Licata.
Through the Sanctuary label's earlier acquisition of the seminal reggae label Trojan, Laswell now had access to the Jamaican label's sizable back catalog.
However, he's also known for immersive ambient explorations, as well as fusions of disparate genres, including traditional Indian music, opera, klezmer, hip-hop, jazz, and seemingly every other genre known to humanity.This was followed by 2007's Inamorata, on Ohm Resistance. Said to be centered around the principles of a solidified Method of Defiance lineup, the label released three albums that year: Method of Defiance's Jahbulon (a reggae album featuring Hawk and Dr.This date found the pair teaming various drum'n'bass producers -- including Future Prophecies, Evol Intent, and SPL -- with jazz, rock, and avant artists such as Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Nils Petter Molvaer, and Buckethead. Israel), the instrumental dub-centric Incunabula, and a live offering from Laswell's spouse, Gigi, with Material, entitled Mesgana Ethiopia.He also produced records for a wildly diverse array of artists, including Mick Jagger, Nona Hendryx, Laurie Anderson, Ramones, and Swans.During the '90s, Laswell ran the Island-affiliated Axiom label and co-founded the Subharmonic imprint, releasing ambient dub as Divination and Automaton and collaborating with electronic producers such as Pete Namlook and Jonah Sharp. Technologies, a genre-defying label in the spirit of the earlier Axiom, and released albums with avant-jazz artists like Milford Graves, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Evan Parker.