Material, Secret Life

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The marriage of many Manhattan scenes, Material mixed experimental jazz, club and world music, punk and others. Odder still, the group's nucleus spawned two superstar producer/multi-instrumentalists: Bill Laswell, whose collaboration with Herbie Hancock yielded the hip-hop milestone "Rockit," and Michael Beinhorn, who went on to produce Hole, Korn and Marilyn Manson.

Secret Life collects early Material singles and EPs recorded between 1979 and 1981, when Laswell, Beinhorn and drummer Fred Maher together with guests like peerless guitarist Robert Quine grounded their proclivities toward strange noises and odd juxtapositions in fundamental dance grooves that split the difference between disco and rock. The result suggests what those beloved Talking Heads and Public Image, Ltd. albums might've sounded like had they been played by jazz fusionists. Even when flirting with sequencers on the title track, Material flaunts its considerable chops, and when they let loose on "White Man," they lead the way to where today's jam bands simply cannot follow.