The first release from the namesake project of bassist Bill Laswell’s M.O.D. Technologies label, Jahbulon introduces a collective freed by evolving membership yet united by a common prayer: to move. In this incarnation, Laswell island-hops with fellow travelers Dr. Israel and (Garrison) Hawk on vocals, Bernie Worrell on keys, and Guy Licata on the percussive front line. Yet the beacon of this record is Hawk himself, who, true to name, soars above every soundscape with sharp vision and dives for the kill at the slightest hint of escape.
In this respect, “Patterns of War” speaks less of outward aggressions than inner protections. Its opening whistle, reminiscent of a bomb in freefall, sends up a shock of hip-hop particles, shot through with reggae afterburn. The latter bronzes the words, each a fist against oppression that turns mass destruction on its head until weapons fall out of its pockets in two equidistant piles. In the shadow of this difficult introduction, the little flame of “Salvation” flickers into a full-fledged conflagration of brotherhood. God is not only in the details, it seems to say, but also born from them. This is glory in Creation, a circulation of nature as father, mother, and child in one.
Singularity further prevails in “One World,” a central, affirmative palette. Its vocal fingerprints litter the canvas until portraits of a city, a borough, and its denizens take discernible form. In their hands, a book of knowledge reads: Whenever you are disillusioned by what happens down here, know that reality never ceases up there. Such is the message of “Do or Die,” the halting beats of which serve to emphasize its corporate surgery before retexturing into smoother down midway through.
Whether spiraling through the tightness of “Revolution” or sending listeners on missions of the heart in “No Justice,” splashing the inner ache of “Taykeovah” or looking beyond skin into the stealth groove of “Elijah’s Lament,” each song blasts its refusal to be held down, translating technology of the rich into aid for the destitute. A testing of faith by the genocide of global interests. A scriptural circle in which judgment is swift only for those unworthy to wield it.
Each of these urban zones acts as a reflection of the body and its genetic recitations—rituals forged in breath and semantics. Even the illustrative affirmations of “Herb is Burnin’” and “Diss Never” breed a certain invincibility of purpose. Worrell’s sparkle and shine are particularly salient at expressing the changes of tomorrows, even as they nibble on leftovers at the table of survival. No soul should have to fend for sustenance on a planet united against its own iniquities. But this is exactly what’s going on, and why we need to open our ears like the pages of a book. We must rise above the power of difference not between each other but within ourselves before we can recognize what we all share.
Blood, music, love.
(For ordering information, visit M.O.D. Technologies here.)