MATERIAL – Memory Serves (1981)

Review by: Ed Luo
Album assigned by: Mark Maria Ahsmann

So this was a wonderfully weird, groovy album. Material is basically one of the many vehicles for the great jazz bassist Bill Laswell and some other jazzy jazz friends of his, Michael Beihorn on synths and occasional pleasant vocals and Fred Maher on drums and percussion. There’s also some guest musicians as well, most notably the late, greater than great guitar maniac Sonny Sharrock and the avant-out-the-ass guitarist/violinist Fred Frith. The music of Memory Serves can basically be called a very wigged-out take on jazz-funk. Playful, funky basslines and jazzy, funky drumming and guitar playing is juxtaposed with all sort of weirdo sound effects throughout, sometimes for weirdo, nigh-nightmarish effect (“Metal Test”, “Silent Land”), but mostly to make things goofy and engaging throughout (the occasional ass-kicking Sharrock guitar playing helps as well). Oh, and there’s a bonus track on recent editions of the album, a really, really goofy electro take on Morricone’s theme for For a Few Dollars More, probably to end the album on a lighter note after “Silent Land”.