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Divine Light: Reconstructions & Mix Translation - Bill Laswell

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 31, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

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

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Angel Of Air
  2. A Love Supreme
  3. Illuminations
  4. The Life Divine
  5. Naima
  6. Angel Of Sunlight
  7. Bliss: The Eternal Now
  8. Meditation
  9. Bliss: The Eternal Now - Return

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 31, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B00005MKE4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,329 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Enrique Torres VINE VOICE on December 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
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!Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
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?
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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.
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