First, I would not call this a "dub" album. Laswell's work seems to be associated with that label, but I think his work rises well above the level of most of the boring dreck that goes by the name "dub." The haunting, spacey electronic elegance of the "Outland" series, for example is more reminiscent of the sophisticated work of Brian Eno than it is of the reggae-based basement tape feel of of most "dub." Dub often has an underlying rhythmic component I associate with that genre, which much of Laswell's work does as well, but which this one does not. In any event, this cd is different from all the other Laswell work I have heard.
The title refers to the holy city of Benares, on the banks of the Ganges, the most holy of rivers to the vast and rich complex of religions in India we Westerners refer to as Hinduism. Benares--city of funeral ghats, where the faithful set the remains of loved ones afloat, as their spirits return to the great river of life; city of Shiva; city of continual change and of eternal timelessness; city of cremation grounds; city of light.
This cd is a sound painting of Benares, an exquisite dream you had, a recollection of a holy pilgrimmage made there in a prior life, at once exotic and intimately familiar. The sounds of the river, the voices of people in the streets, recitations of sacred poetry read with a Laurie Anderson-like quality of mystical dreaminess, a woman reciting her sacred devotions, the timeless sound of a holy man chanting his mantra--yes that sound that awakens you from the slumber of a thousand lifetimes to remember--remember! To remember our true nature, never gone for an instant, yet somehow seemingly forgotten.
The first time I listened to this cd, I was working on the computer and playing it as background. The whole thing sets a wonderful state of mind, but when the sound of that fellow chanting the ancient sound of that mantra came on, I literally froze at its familiarity, my eyes filled with tears, I forgot where I was. For weeks afterward, I heard that sound, felt the vibration of it in my own meditations.
I like all of Bill Laswell's work I have heard. This cd is different.