MATERIAL

Dub/Ska/Reggae / Jazz Related Rock / Jazz Related RnB / Eclectic Fusion • United States
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One of the most high-profile projects of the endlessly prolific bassist and producer Bill Laswell, Material pioneered a groundbreaking fusion of jazz, funk, and punk that also incorporated elements of hip-hop and world music well before either's entrance into the mass cultural consciousness. Formed in 1979, the first Material lineup consisted of Laswell, multi-instrumentalist Michael Beinhorn, and drummer Fred Maher, all three staples of the downtown New York City underground music scene. The group, plus Kramer and a few others backed Gong's Daevid Allen during his New York visit, resulting in the album About Time by New York Gong. After Material's debut LP under their own name, Temporary Music, the group's ranks swelled to include figures ranging from Sonny Sharrock to Henry Threadgill to Fred Frith, additions which yielded 1981's superb Memory Serves. A guest list running the gamut from Nile Rodgers to a then-unknown Whitney Houston distinguished the avant read more...
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The Third PowerThe Third Power
Axiom 1991
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Hallucination EngineHallucination Engine
Island Records 1994
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Psych Rock Lp 10” Daefvid Allen With New York Gong (aka Material) Jungle Window Psych Rock Lp 10” Daefvid Allen With New York Gong (aka Material) Jungle Window USD $9.99 (1 bids)
1h 32m
COLEMAN HAWKINS - Body and Soul ~ QUINTESSENCE 25131 [IN SHRINK] - COLEMAN HAWKINS - Body and Soul ~ QUINTESSENCE 25131 [IN SHRINK] - USD $28.00 Buy It Now 1h 46m
2 CDG LEGENDS KARAOKE DISCS MADONNA 1980'S POP OLDIES R&B CD+G MATERIAL GIRL 2 CDG LEGENDS KARAOKE DISCS MADONNA 1980'S POP OLDIES R&B CD+G MATERIAL GIRL USD $19.99 (0 bids)
2h 4m
MATERIAL ISSUE - Goin Through Your Purse - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** MATERIAL ISSUE - Goin Through Your Purse - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** USD $147.75 Buy It Now 2h 24m
MADONNA Material Girl Into The Groove Angel 1983 OOP LP OBI Japan P-5199 MADONNA Material Girl Into The Groove Angel 1983 OOP LP OBI Japan P-5199 USD $14.99 (0 bids)
2h 29m
Omd-The Punishment Of Luxury: B Sides & Bonus Material CD NEW Omd-The Punishment Of Luxury: B Sides & Bonus Material CD NEW USD $13.25 Buy It Now 2h 44m
Madonna Material Girl Japan Only Special Edition 12 Vinyl Obi P-5199 Madonna Material Girl Japan Only Special Edition 12 Vinyl Obi P-5199 USD $19.99 (0 bids)
3h
MATERIAL Time Out 1982 edit + dub Bill Laswell Elektra MATERIAL Time Out 1982 edit + dub Bill Laswell Elektra USD $9.99 Buy It Now 3h
THE MIDDLE CLASS Out Of Vogue Early Material Red Vinyl LP Plays Well Punk Rock THE MIDDLE CLASS Out Of Vogue Early Material Red Vinyl LP Plays Well Punk Rock USD $49.99 Buy It Now 3h
SEALED NEW CD Material - Temporary Music 1979-1981 SEALED NEW CD Material - Temporary Music 1979-1981 USD $8.99 Buy It Now 4h
Gene Levine-Unsolicited Material CD NEW Gene Levine-Unsolicited Material CD NEW USD $18.59 Buy It Now 5h
Destination Universe by Material Issue (CD, May-1992, Mercury) Destination Universe by Material Issue (CD, May-1992, Mercury) USD $3.49 Buy It Now 5h
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Universal Music Group George Harrison - Living In The Material World [LP] Universal Music Group George Harrison - Living In The Material World [LP] USD $22.98 Buy It Now 8h
George Harrison: Living In The Material World Hardback Book (UK) George Harrison: Living In The Material World Hardback Book (UK) USD $21.43 Buy It Now 8h
Larry White-Unsolicited Material CD NEW Larry White-Unsolicited Material CD NEW USD $18.59 Buy It Now 8h
SPIRIT OF THE WEST - OLD MATERIAL (1984 - 1986) - CD - NEW SPIRIT OF THE WEST - OLD MATERIAL (1984 - 1986) - CD - NEW USD $16.28 Buy It Now 9h
Universal Records Rock Sampler Promotional Material PA CD Universal Records Rock Sampler Promotional Material PA CD USD $9.99 Buy It Now 9h
SLY and ROBBIE  BOOPS (HERE TO GO) 12-inch Single - BILL LASWELL/MATERIAL - Good SLY and ROBBIE BOOPS (HERE TO GO) 12-inch Single - BILL LASWELL/MATERIAL - Good USD $5.03 (0 bids)
9h
MADONNA VINTAGE METAL PIN BADGE FROM THE 1980's MATERIAL GIRL RETRO POP MUSIC MADONNA VINTAGE METAL PIN BADGE FROM THE 1980's MATERIAL GIRL RETRO POP MUSIC USD $6.29 Buy It Now 9h
LASWELL, BILL/MATERIAL-TEMPORARY MUSIC/ONE... CD NEW LASWELL, BILL/MATERIAL-TEMPORARY MUSIC/ONE... CD NEW USD $16.87 Buy It Now 10h
POLICE ~ SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD / LOW LIFE ~ 1981 UK 7 POLICE ~ SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD / LOW LIFE ~ 1981 UK 7" SINGLE + P/S USD $5.04 Buy It Now 10h
WHITNEY HOUSTON - WHITNEY HOUSTON - " THE BODYGUARD" Promo Material, Song Lyrics, Promo Posters.. USD $44.13 Buy It Now 10h
NONA HENDRYX - ART OF DEFENSE. (1984, RCA, PL 84999, MARTINEZ, LASWELL, MATERIAL NONA HENDRYX - ART OF DEFENSE. (1984, RCA, PL 84999, MARTINEZ, LASWELL, MATERIAL USD $6.29 Buy It Now 11h
WHITNEY HOUSTON - MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE ALBYM & TOUR PROMO Material WHITNEY HOUSTON - MY LOVE IS YOUR LOVE ALBYM & TOUR PROMO Material USD $44.13 Buy It Now 11h
Preoccupations New Material  Vinyl LP NEW sealed Preoccupations New Material Vinyl LP NEW sealed USD $35.08 Buy It Now 11h
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The Streets - Original Pirate Material (Parental Advisory, 2002) The Streets - Original Pirate Material (Parental Advisory, 2002) USD $3.14 Buy It Now 11h
GEORGE HARRISON Living In The Material World CD Japan TOCP-6952 1st press SEALED GEORGE HARRISON Living In The Material World CD Japan TOCP-6952 1st press SEALED USD $55.77 Buy It Now 11h
George Harrison (Beatles) Living in the Material World Vinyl LP Record George Harrison (Beatles) Living in the Material World Vinyl LP Record USD $8.00 Buy It Now 12h
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Material Issue Cassette Tape Interview Music Sampler Freak City Soundtrack 1994 Material Issue Cassette Tape Interview Music Sampler Freak City Soundtrack 1994 USD $21.59 Buy It Now 12h
THE POLICE - Spirits In The Material World - 45rpm Poster Sleeve AMS8194 Vg/Ex THE POLICE - Spirits In The Material World - 45rpm Poster Sleeve AMS8194 Vg/Ex USD $8.76 Buy It Now 12h
Glassjaw - Material Control [CD] Glassjaw - Material Control [CD] USD $14.90 Buy It Now 13h
Material Hallucination Engine sealed Bill Laswell Wayne Shorter Jonas Hellborg Material Hallucination Engine sealed Bill Laswell Wayne Shorter Jonas Hellborg USD $11.80 Buy It Now 13h
The Police - Spirits In The Material World (Vinyl) The Police - Spirits In The Material World (Vinyl) USD $17.01 Buy It Now 14h
The Deele - Street Beat  Material Thangz  Eyes of A Stranger [CD] The Deele - Street Beat Material Thangz Eyes of A Stranger [CD] USD $24.70 Buy It Now 14h
Hazardous Material by Bob Boykin (CD, Nov-1996, Legato Records (Belgium)) Hazardous Material by Bob Boykin (CD, Nov-1996, Legato Records (Belgium)) USD $7.75 Buy It Now 14h
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15h
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15h
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED VINYL happy LP ORIGINAL PROMO and PROMO MATERIAL * RARE '87 PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED VINYL happy LP ORIGINAL PROMO and PROMO MATERIAL * RARE '87 USD $51.95 Buy It Now 15h
INFLAMABLE MATERIAL INFLAMABLE MATERIAL USD $14.21 Buy It Now 16h
Patti Smith, Faith No More, Swing Out Sister, Material Issue U.S promo cd Patti Smith, Faith No More, Swing Out Sister, Material Issue U.S promo cd USD $2.75 Buy It Now 16h
The Stone Roses - Complete Stone Roses LTD edition bonus CD unreleased material The Stone Roses - Complete Stone Roses LTD edition bonus CD unreleased material USD $6.29 (0 bids)
17h
Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material Dropkick Murphys The Pogues Ramones Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material Dropkick Murphys The Pogues Ramones USD $5.04 (0 bids)
17h
MADONNA - 7 MADONNA - 7" Vinyl - Material Girl / Pretender - 1984 - Sire USD $3.77 Buy It Now 17h
Stiff Little Fingers All The Best Get A Life Inflammable Material Stiff Little Fingers All The Best Get A Life Inflammable Material USD $9.89 Buy It Now 18h
PREOCCUPATIONS - NEW MATERIAL - NEW CD ALBUM PREOCCUPATIONS - NEW MATERIAL - NEW CD ALBUM USD $16.38 Buy It Now 18h
1973 George Harrison Living In The Material World 8-Track 1973 George Harrison Living In The Material World 8-Track USD $5.99 Buy It Now 18h
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THE POLICE * 7 THE POLICE * 7" VINYL* SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD * 1981 * AMS 8194 USD $1.25 (0 bids)
18h
(FU369) Material Project, Resistance - 2007 DJ CD (FU369) Material Project, Resistance - 2007 DJ CD USD $3.77 Buy It Now 18h
MATERIAL ISSUE - INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW CD, 1991 Mercury, VG+/VG+ MATERIAL ISSUE - INTERNATIONAL POP OVERTHROW CD, 1991 Mercury, VG+/VG+ USD $1.99 Buy It Now 19h
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Vinyl Record Album GEORGE HARRISON LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (85)51 Vinyl Record Album GEORGE HARRISON LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD (85)51 USD $7.56 (7 bids)
19h
LP 10 LP 10" UK 1982 NM Daevid Allen With New York Gong aka Material‎– Jungle Windo(w) USD $19.95 Buy It Now 19h
George Harrison Living In The Material World Record SMAS-3410 George Harrison Living In The Material World Record SMAS-3410 USD $30.00 Buy It Now 19h
Martini Bros. - Material Love - Raw Elements - 1998 #414953 Martini Bros. - Material Love - Raw Elements - 1998 #414953 USD $6.29 Buy It Now 20h
THE MIGHTY FLYERS: Radioactive Material USA ’81 Private Blues Vinyl LP NM- Wax THE MIGHTY FLYERS: Radioactive Material USA ’81 Private Blues Vinyl LP NM- Wax USD $14.00 Buy It Now 20h
New York Gong - About Time CD Spalax SEALED Daevid Allen Bill Laswell Material New York Gong - About Time CD Spalax SEALED Daevid Allen Bill Laswell Material USD $15.00 Buy It Now 20h
Old Material 1984-1986 by Spirit of the West (Cassette, Sep-1995, Stony Plain... Old Material 1984-1986 by Spirit of the West (Cassette, Sep-1995, Stony Plain... USD $3.25 Buy It Now 20h
POOR GENETIC MATERIAL Island Noises 2 CD SET POOR GENETIC MATERIAL Island Noises 2 CD SET USD $5.00 Buy It Now 21h
George Harrison George Harrison "Living In Material World" Apple SMAS3410 "Give Me Love, etc" NM USD $16.00 Buy It Now 21h
JIMMY CLIFF. MATERIAL WORLD. SUNPOWER  JA 7 JIMMY CLIFF. MATERIAL WORLD. SUNPOWER JA 7". EX!! USD $9.99 (0 bids)
21h
MADONNA  Material Girl & Pretender 7 MADONNA Material Girl & Pretender 7" 45 rpm record NEW + juke box title strip USD $15.81 Buy It Now 21h
BLUE HEAVEN Explicit Material ISLAND NM- Sample BLUE HEAVEN Explicit Material ISLAND NM- Sample USD $9.90 Buy It Now 21h
George Harrison - Living In The Material World -  Record   EX G+ George Harrison - Living In The Material World - Record EX G+ USD $5.98 Buy It Now 22h
MADONNA Material Girl (Club Mix EP) JAPAN CD WPCP-5063 1992 OBI MADONNA Material Girl (Club Mix EP) JAPAN CD WPCP-5063 1992 OBI USD $124.66 Buy It Now 22h
PROMO WHITE LABEL / BLUE IN HEAVEN - EXPLICIT MATERIAL PROMO WHITE LABEL / BLUE IN HEAVEN - EXPLICIT MATERIAL USD $59.99 Buy It Now 22h
Rudy Ray Moore This Ain't No White Christmas! CD 2001 Reissue w/Extra Material Rudy Ray Moore This Ain't No White Christmas! CD 2001 Reissue w/Extra Material USD $17.99 Buy It Now 22h
MATERIAL ISSUE Japan 1991 NM CD+Obi INTERNATINAL POP OVERTHROW MATERIAL ISSUE Japan 1991 NM CD+Obi INTERNATINAL POP OVERTHROW USD $39.99 Buy It Now 22h
Madonna Material Girl 2 Cut Maxi Single 20304-0 12 Madonna Material Girl 2 Cut Maxi Single 20304-0 12" Vintage PROMO Vinyl Record USD $5.00 (0 bids)
22h
Pearl Jam Jeremy Maxi CD SinglePreviously Unreleased Material Austria Vintage Pearl Jam Jeremy Maxi CD SinglePreviously Unreleased Material Austria Vintage USD $19.99 Buy It Now 22h
MADONNA VINYL 45 MATERIAL GIRL B/W ANGEL NEW UNPLAYED MADONNA VINYL 45 MATERIAL GIRL B/W ANGEL NEW UNPLAYED USD $7.50 Buy It Now 22h
Material Control, Glassjaw, Audio CD, New, FREE & Fast Delivery Material Control, Glassjaw, Audio CD, New, FREE & Fast Delivery USD $16.52 Buy It Now 23h
Madonna - Material Girl - Sire Records W-9083 VG+ Condition Madonna - Material Girl - Sire Records W-9083 VG+ Condition USD $3.72 Buy It Now 23h
PAPER LACE British glam rock Billy Don't Be Chicago Bits Of Material CD PAPER LACE British glam rock Billy Don't Be Chicago Bits Of Material CD USD $4.99 (1 bids)
23h
HANK MOBLEY - A Slice Of The Top ~ BLUE NOTE 995 [M] *1966 material* - HANK MOBLEY - A Slice Of The Top ~ BLUE NOTE 995 [M] *1966 material* - USD $85.00 Buy It Now 23h
VARIOUS: Louisiana Southern Soul LP Sealed (UK, Lanor material) Soul VARIOUS: Louisiana Southern Soul LP Sealed (UK, Lanor material) Soul USD $40.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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Vintage Album - George Harrison - Living In a Material World 1973 EMI on Capital Vintage Album - George Harrison - Living In a Material World 1973 EMI on Capital USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
MASABUMI KIKUCHI Raw Material #1 JAPAN CD ALCB-3172 1997 MASABUMI KIKUCHI Raw Material #1 JAPAN CD ALCB-3172 1997 USD $31.85 Buy It Now 1 day
George Harrison George Harrison "...Material World & All Things 1&2" 3-8 Track Tapes, SEALED! USD $29.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Sire 7-29083 Madonna - Material Girl/Pretender 1985 7 Sire 7-29083 Madonna - Material Girl/Pretender 1985 7" 45 RPM USD $19.97 Buy It Now 1 day
Kacey Musgraves-Pageant Material (UK IMPORT) CD NEW Kacey Musgraves-Pageant Material (UK IMPORT) CD NEW USD $8.25 Buy It Now 1 day
MATERIAL - Secret Life - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** MATERIAL - Secret Life - CD - **BRAND NEW/STILL SEALED** USD $27.95 Buy It Now 1 day
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MATERIAL Discography

MATERIAL albums / top albums

MATERIAL Memory Serves album cover 3.52 | 3 ratings
Memory Serves
Eclectic Fusion 1981
MATERIAL One Down album cover 3.25 | 2 ratings
One Down
Jazz Related RnB 1982
MATERIAL Red Tracks album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Red Tracks
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1985
MATERIAL Seven Souls album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Seven Souls
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1989
MATERIAL The Third Power album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Third Power
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1991
MATERIAL Hallucination Engine album cover 4.41 | 4 ratings
Hallucination Engine
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1994
MATERIAL Material With William S. Burroughs ‎: The Road To The Western Lands album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Material With William S. Burroughs ‎: The Road To The Western Lands
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1998
MATERIAL Intonarumori album cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Intonarumori
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1999
MATERIAL Access Beginnings album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Access Beginnings
Jazz Related RnB 2018

MATERIAL EPs & splits

MATERIAL Temporary Music 1 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Temporary Music 1
Jazz Related Rock 1979
MATERIAL Ciquri / Detached album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Ciquri / Detached
Jazz Related Rock 1981
MATERIAL Reduction / A.O.A. album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Reduction / A.O.A.
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1981
MATERIAL American Songs album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
American Songs
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1981
MATERIAL Temporary Music 2 album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Temporary Music 2
Jazz Related Rock 1981
MATERIAL I'm The One (Dance Versions) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
I'm The One (Dance Versions)
Jazz Related RnB 1982
MATERIAL Time Out album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Time Out
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1983
MATERIAL For A Few Dollars More album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
For A Few Dollars More
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1983
MATERIAL Playin' With Fire album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Playin' With Fire
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1991
MATERIAL Reality album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Reality
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1991
MATERIAL Mantra album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Mantra
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1993
MATERIAL Axiom Ambient - Lost In The Translation album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Axiom Ambient - Lost In The Translation
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1994
MATERIAL Eternal Drift album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Eternal Drift
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1994

MATERIAL live albums

MATERIAL Live In Japan album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live In Japan
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1993
MATERIAL Live From Soundscape album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Live From Soundscape
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1994

MATERIAL demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

MATERIAL re-issues & compilations

MATERIAL Temporary Music Compilation album cover 2.50 | 2 ratings
Temporary Music Compilation
Jazz Related Rock 1980
MATERIAL Secret Life album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Secret Life
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1986
MATERIAL Temporary Music (1979-81) album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Temporary Music (1979-81)
Jazz Related Rock 1992
MATERIAL The Best Of album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Best Of
Dub/Ska/Reggae 1998
MATERIAL Reacted album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Reacted
Eclectic Fusion 2018

MATERIAL singles (0)

MATERIAL movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

MATERIAL Reviews

MATERIAL Memory Serves

Album · 1981 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Crawling out of the sludge of NYC's post-punk no wave scene, Material starts to show a lot more sophistication on this, their first full length album after three slightly primitive EPs. Band leader Bill Laswell seems more than eager to start leaving behind his less ambitious band mates as he starts to bring on guests from the 'real' jazz world. Some of the top names from New York's early 80s avant-garde jazz scene are here including Henry Threadgill, Fred Frith, Sonny Sharrock and Billy Bang. Likewise, Laswell doesn't waste any time utilizing his new part-time band mates to take his music into territories he couldn't explore with Material's original three piece lineup. In particular Bill reveals for the first time his deep attachment to the mid-70s music of Miles Davis. For a long time the public had acted as if Miles had dropped off the planet after recording Bitches Brew. Much credit is due to Laswell and other 80s punk/jazzers for recognizing the value of Miles' excursions into avant-garde psychedelic rock and for incorporating Miles' innovations into their music. In particular, the song 'Dissapearing' sounds like an outright Miles tribute with the first part of the song coming from 'Agharta', and the second half from 'On the Corner'. Elsewhere throughout this album Material seems to have a lot of fun ripping through a variety of styles in a way that hadn't been heard in the world of jazz fusion in a long while. In the early 80's mainstream fusion had become terribly mundane and safe and was not much more than background music for yuppie diners. NYC bands such as Material and others with avant-garde and post-punk backgrounds were bringing a new life and spunk, as well as an irreverent sense of humor to jazz fusion. A couple songs on here are almost a mix of avant-garde funk and goofy hillbilly music, something that would have been unheard of in the overly sophisticated world of mainstream fusion post late-70s.

There is some 'material' on here that is less than inspiring. Laswell and his gang still felt obligated to throw on one kind of punky funk number with vocals that are less than professional, as well as a number of noisy experimental cuts that drag on a little too long. In some of the more experimental numbers you can definitely hear Fred Frith's influence via his work with Laswell in Massacre.

This album was a huge breath of fresh air and a bold punky slap in the face of mundane overly slick jazz fusion in the early 80s. I don't know if all that translates these days, but it still has some fun songs, and fun isn't a word you hear associated with jazz fusion too often.

MATERIAL Temporary Music Compilation

Boxset / Compilation · 1980 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
So this is where it all begins for Bill Laswell. Although in a few short years he would be rubbing elbows on a regular basis with greats like Herbie Hancock, Bernie Worrell and Ginger Baker, this first Material album (a combination of their first two EPs) finds Laswell working within the humbling confines of a three member group (counting himself even) and no massive V.I.P guest list. Material, at this point, was still part of that early 80s 'No New York' jazz/funk influenced post punk scene that also brought us Lydia Lunch, James White and the Blacks, Defunkt and various offshoots from Ornette's Prime Time band, and those punky roots show. Although the expected Laswell influences from funk, avant-garde, jazz, and techno are here, on this first Material album everything is still filtered through a harsh punk ascetic that matched their surroundings at the time. Although kind of dated and obscure by today's standards, I still find a lot of music on here to be kind of 'fun'. Side B opens with the albums two best songs, both feature driving punk- funk/techno rhythms topped with pseudo Frippesque melodies from guitarist Michael Beinhorn. Both of these two tracks remind me of Fripp's post-punk/exotica instrumental group, League of Gentlemen. I've always thought that Fripp's gentlemanly band was influenced by the early 80s NYC artsy post-punk scene, so here is your classic cross- influence? ..maybe. Side B closes with 'Secret Life', a virtual Kraftwerk clone, but a very good one.

Continuing backwards from side B, side A opens with some OK harsh punky funk that sounds like Bowie's 'Fame' without the vocals. From there this side descends into mediocrity with an odd Fred Frithish avant-garde funk number followed by two rock numbers with harsh scratchy 'vocals'. Hard to believe that ultra-sophisticated world beats entrepreneur Bill Laswell was once an uncouth 'punk rocker', but side A closer, 'Slow Murder', will be the telling document of that dirty secret for the ages.

This is a great album for Material and Bill Laswell fans to use for tracing the roots of their hero. Here his beginnings as a NYC punk with jazz/funk/dub tastes and caviar schemes are all very clear and fun to listen to. But, if this is all new to you and you are seeking the best that Material has to offer, then check out 1993's 'Hallucination Engine'.

MATERIAL Hallucination Engine

Album · 1994 · Dub/Ska/Reggae
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
js
Although Bill Laswell's work can often sound phoned-in from some massive cookie cutter factory where the latest in hip-hop, world beat and ambient techno get diced and spliced into some trendy name and pre-fab packaging, that's not even remotely the case with this release in 1993 under his band name of Material. Hallucination Engine has plenty of something that is often missing from Laswell projects, memorable melodies. Unlike much of Laswell's other projects, Engine is full of powerful ancient melodies that seem to carry the emotional weight of the centuries. Likewise this album also stands apart from his usual output because it sounds like he spent a lot more time with this one. Although Laswell cuts almost always have that irresistible 'world groove' to them, on this album Bill takes the extra step and care and surrounds those grooves with excellent arrangements full of breaks, alternate melodies and texture change-ups. Side one contains four somewhat similar down tempo tunes that blend together in a deep orchestrated chill symphony that carries the somber feel of an ancient religious ceremony. Each cut favors middle-eastern tinged violin or rustic open-tuned guitar melodies framed by gorgeous electronic textures and drop-beat sections where the always present ambience takes over. The dub tune Ruins in particular has a lengthy ambient section in which beautiful cascading chord sequences drift by in a sentimental look back to the hey day of late 60s progressive rock when modulating string/choir synthesizers ruled the land. This side closes with Shadows of Paradise in which Nicky Skopelis' post-rock styled open guitar textures set the mood and intertwine with Wayne Shorter's classic tenor lines.

Side two opener, Words of Advice, breaks the reverent mood with some great spoken word from the very irreverent William Burroughs. Definitely tongue in cheek, Words has one of those classic old school gangsta grooves like The Soprano's Theme or Ice T's You Played Yourself. Burroughs is the mac daddy here and he's stepped out of the limo to lay down some grim warnings about boy/girl fights, prostitutes and 'religious SOBs' who want your money. Despite the emotional change of pace, this is my favorite cut on the album and is one of those classics that will transcend it's time if it is not forgotten. Laswell follows this changeup with more fun in the form of a Indo-ragga/hip-hop remake of Weather Report's classic Cucumber Slumber.

After this change of pace, the last two cuts on side two return to the deeply reflective and almost sentimental nature of side one to great effect. The fact that Laswell can effectively blend these last two tunes with Coltrane's classic Naima says much for how much emotional weight Bill's music is carrying. I've never heard anyone else make an effective cover of Naima before, much less have the ability to bridge it's stark emotional quality with music of their own making. Once again the ambient music surrounding his take on Naima recalls the early days of sentimental progressive rock keyboard orchestrations.

This is an incredible album and stands far above Bill Laswell's usual paint by number world dub groove whatever. Most of this album is as serious and sobering as a requiem, yet there is that one cut where William Burrough's drops in with a sly wink and some sage advice about prostitutes and flim flam artists. Excellent and very moving album, highly recommended.

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