Record of the day: Material, "Hallucination engine"

Record of the day: Material, “Hallucination engine”

Hallucination Engine (Cd Axiom/Island 74321181902)

The main characteristic of Material is to be a virtual group, born and lived solely within the confines of the recording studio, composed of a continuously variable and flexible number of musicians coordinated by the tireless mind of producer Bill Laswell, one of the absolute protagonists of musical life New York underground, excellent bassist and collaborator of a plethora of artists from Laurie Anderson to Herbie Hancock and Bootsy Collins.
Names that constitute the cream of the recording scene of the last decades have passed through Material, from Brian Eno to Wayne Shorter, from Sly Dunbar to Nile Rodgers; musicians from different cultures such as Shankar, Carlinhos Brown, Zakir Hussein, Trilok Gurtu and Aiyb Dieng contributed to the project but the voice of the writer William Burroughs could also be heard.

The character of the music also varies from record to record, moving from funk/dub to atmospheres more influenced by ethnic music, always inserted in a mixed-race context saturated with musical stimuli that may even be opposite to each other, experimental but permeated by dance and soul nuances. Laswell's musical sensitivity has an antenna that receives signals from all over the world and mixes them in a boiling high-density composite, where Nicky Skopelitis' guitars coexist with the melodies of the Egyptian flute Ney and Jeff Bova's distorted synthesizers.

A minestrone? No, rather an elixir with a thousand scents that sometimes stun a little but leave a penetrating trail in their wake
passage through often dark atmospheres, where the notes of Laswell's electric bass draw the contours of a panorama with abysmal depths. Compared to previous works, Hallucination Engine pushes the accelerator even further along the slope that leads towards the East; from the first notes of the initial “Black Light” intoxicating and hypnotic rhythms leave no respite, amplified by the visionary mixing of Oz Fritz and Robert Musso which expands and distorts every single instrumental detail.

The more immediate dimension of albums like “One Down” and “The Third Power” is abandoned in favor of a hallucinated instrumental dimension, a map indicating a thousand directions at the same time confidently deciphered by Captain Laswell, en route towards ever new musical shores.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.