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Material - Hallucination Engine CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.40 | 25 ratings

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4 stars Another adventurous multi-tradition fusion attempt pulled together by Bill Laswell under his Material moniker, and this one is a good one. In fact, this is one of the more successful fusions of Middle Eastern/Indian traditions with Bill's own penchant for raw urban jazz funk. Though the production is great, there are a few questionable sound engineering choices and there are some under-developed or unfinished feeling compositions, but overall this is a delightful collection of funk-infused World Music fusion from top notch musicians. 1. "Black Light" (7:33) a soprano sax-led pop jazz tune that reminds me of a funked up song from smooth jazz operators, Spiro Gyra. (8/10)

2. "Mantra" (8:44) opens with lots of spacey percussives and sound effects before developing into a Persian horn led tabla-rock song. (9/10)

3. "Ruins" (8:54) another awesome cross-mix of Middle Eastern sounds and with funky metro-pop grooves capped by the awesome violin play of Shankar. The song drags on a bit with the slow, stepped down, atmospheric middle section while retaining an edgy chord and melody structure. Could be an amazing soundtrack piece. (8.5/10)

4. "Eternal Drift" (7:35) opens with some nice atmospherics before guitar arpeggio establish a cool chord progression on which to build the song?but first more sacred/folk ethnic voicings. The actual song that settles in the third minute is faster paced, more bass- and sax-driven than anticipated, but the contributions of the myriad other musicians is awesome. The only flaw is I wished it would settle into one of the many lines and themes offered?especially the grooving ones. (9/10)

5. "Words of Advice" (3:58) William S. Burroughs speaking over a nice jazzy urban groove. Not sure of the value of William's rather cynical advice. (8/10)

6. "Cucumber Slumber" (7:30) contains a great Tony-Levin-like funky jazz bass with didgeridoo and table base. Nice rhythm guitar parts while other percussionists, Bill's bass, Wayne Shorter, and Bernie Worrell play off each other. Could almost be a modern Weather Report song. (9/10)

7. "The Hidden Garden / Naima" (13:00) orchestrated with an Indian foundation before it gets into some serious funky rock'n'roll territory. Stellar fusion! The bass stands out but the ensemble of Indian musicians here are so welcome! The final several minutes are slowed down atmospheric and gorgeous. (10/10)

8. "Shadows of Paradise" (9:45) a tabla-based jam set up to showcase Shankar's virtuosity on the 10-string electric violin. Bass, guitars, and lineup of percussionists do an awesome job in support but it's really Shankar's show (even though he's mixed a little back in the mix. (9/10)

A great urban jazz-meets-Asian/World fusion album that deserves more attention. Laswell and crew could've done better, gotten more structured "finished" compositions, but I'm not sure they could have gotten any better performances from the non-American performers.

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive music.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |


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