Exposé Online banner

Material — Hallucination Engine
(Axiom 315-518 351-2, 1994, CD)

by Dan Baught, Published 1994-10-01

Hallucination Engine Cover art

Bill Laswell has been the driving force of Material for about ten years now. Heavily involved in the NYC scene, Laswell has become a highly respected producer; on Hallucination Engine, beats and breaks abound and the production is seamless, but Laswell breaks no new ground. This is disappointing too, considering the vast number of world class musicians on the album. Unfortunately, the music takes no real chances, and the synth parts are relegated to sparse arpeggios and textures. Keyboard players should find this a dismal listening experience, not one synth solo! There are some engaging moments however, supplied most notably by Wayne Shorter's saxophones, Laswell's intense bass, and the violin of Shankar. On the first track, "Black Light," Shorter blows the melody line with the authority and grace that endeared him to so many Weather Report fans, while the percussion percolates over Laswell's bass lines. The breaks are tight, with Shorter supplying some classic modal solos. The end result is a highly accessible (a.ka. danceable) crossover of jazz and hip-hop, dub, and world music. Shankar’s provocative violin melodies conjure up visions of exotic Indian landscapes, especially an the last track "Shadows of Paradise." Laswell, Shankar, and Nicky Skopelitis shine on this track. Shankar's eastern scales contrast Skopelitis' West African tinged guitar melodies, while Laswell grooves mightily, allowing for some inspired jamming by all three. Tracks two through seven are fairly generic Laswell dubs which totally groove, and each tune has redeeming moments when guest musicians interject their ethnic elements into the mix. Laswell cops some 70s bass lines (personal favorites ?) from Billy Cobham's "Red Baron" on "Words of Advice." Weather Report's "Cucumber Slumber" is sampled and rearranged, yet oddly enough Wayne Shorter does not play on this tune. This kind of assemblage lacks the urgency, iconoclasm, and spontaneity of the previous Material and Golden Palominos music, however if you want to study polished audio production techniques, definitely check out Hallucination Engine. If you are a diehard progressive snob, avoid this one. If you don't own any Material, but want to check it out, start with Memory Serves.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 5, 1994 releases

Related artist(s): Zakir Hussein, Brian Patrick Carroll (Buckethead / Death Cube K), Bill Laswell, Praxis, Trilok Gurtu, L. Shankar, Material

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Keef Hartley Band - The Time Is Near & Overdog – Upon his split from his high profile job with John Mayall, drummer Keef Hartley had his sights set on making his own group in the English blues rock boom. Both of these recordings are from 1970 with...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues