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Friday, June 28, 2013

Material - One Down

Name: Material
Album: One Down
Year: 1982
Style: No Wave, Electronic, R&B, Dance, Funk
Similar Bands: Ebn Ozn, Parliment, Bootsy Collins, Chic, Daft Punk, M/A/R/R/S
"One-Word" Review: Industrielectro R&B
Based Out Of: New York
Label: Elektra/Asylum, Nonesuch, Celluloid
 One Down - Cover & Record
One Down - Back & Record
One Down (1982)
  1. Take A Chance 4:30
  2. I'm The One 5:25
  3. Time Out 4:51
  4. Let Me Have it All 5:23/
  5. Come Down 4:42
  6. Holding On 4:39
  7. Memories 3:59
  8. Don't Lose Control 4:19
Album Rating (1-10): 7.5

Members & Other bands:
Martin Bisi - Producer / Engineer / Recording
Robert Musso - Engineer / Recording
Michael Beinhorn - Prophet-5, Oberheim OBXa, DSX sequencer, Roland TR-808 drum machine, Roland vocoder, tapes, percussion (Herbie Hancock)
Bill Laswell - Man Sting Ray bass, Fender Precision bass, effects (Iggy Pop, Daevid Allen, New york Gong, Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock, Last Exit, Praxis)
Whitney Houston - Vox
Nona Hendryx - Vox (Labelle, Del-Capris, The Ordettes, Bluebelles, Talking Heads, Dusty Springfield)
BJ Nelson - Vox
R. Bernard Fowler - Vox (Total Eclipse, Peech Boys, Rolling Stones, Tackhead, Bad Dog, Nicklebag, Little Axe, IMF's)
Thi-Linh Le – vox
Noris Night – vox
Jean Karakos – vox, Executive Producer
Nile Rodgers – guitar (Chic, New York City, The Boys)
Fred Frith – guitar (Henry Cow,  Art Bears, Massacre, Skeleton Crew,
Nicky Skopelitis – guitar
Nicky Marrero - Timbals, Bells, Drums
Ronnie Drayton – guitar
J.T. Lewis – drums
Yogi Horton – drums
Tony Thompson – drums
Fred Maher – drums
Daniel Ponce – bongos
Oliver Lake – tenor and alto saxophone
Archie Shepp – tenor saxophone
Raymond Jones – Yamaha CP-70 B electronic grand piano
Robin Danar - Asst Engineer
Dominick Maita - Asst Engineer
Mike Krowiak - Asst Engineer
Howie Weinberg - Mastering
Roger Trilling - Administration
Michael Beinhorn - Painting
Paula Scher - Art Direction

Unknownness: I’ve never heard of this band, but looking at their dollar bill with holes in it being a political statement against their name, Material, seems like they are a sarcastic punk band with a message of anti-government. Add in the sparse art design and album name One Down, all signs point to this being something interesting, political drivin and somewhat anarchist…but wait… who is this name on the back…Whitney Houston…?

Album Review: This is a very big album, as in, the people involved had already been very active in pop music, and/or they went on to be hugely prolific in nearly every musical genre. Just the collaborations from singers on the record is enough to marvel at the degrees and connections to mega-popular acts like Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Duran Duran, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Hole, PiL, Madonna to just begin naming a few.
“Take A Chance” begins with an industrial sounding intro, reminding me of the Christian Lunch album I reviewed recently. But then the vocals begin, and it feels like the next evolutionary step of Disco. Like after the apocalypse and destruction, Disco continues to go in an industrialized world, with vocoded vocals in the background, and one powerful female vocal reminding me of the Pointer Sisters. In the instrumental, an out-of-tune electric guitar squeals, taking the discordant forefront. The underlying bass line is dark and funky and parallels the backing repetitive chorus.
“I'm The One” starts off with lazer blasts and a very space-like disco beat. It gets down and funky pretty quick, as it struts along with an electro-dance rhythm. The song is consistent in the dance driving tempo, restarting itself without any downtime. The electric guitar toward the end hovers between actual instrumentation and sounding like it is a keyboard effect. The song echos to a fade out, as it repeats the chorus over and over.
“Time Out” has what sounds like a chaotic guitar freakout in the beginning, changes to something that feels like a later-day Oingo Boingo happy, upbeat synth hook, and then reaches unique new wave heights with a totally vocoded verse (reminding me of Chromeo). Part Disco, part power pop in the verse-chorus bridge, and all robotic, this sounds like the producers vision of the future of music. And it sounds like it could have filled a barroom or club in an 80’s film that is set in the future. It has soaring guitars, bouncy slap bass, a steady mid-paced drive-marching beat, and it is all brought together with the catchy as hell (but extremely dated) synth. The Daft Punk or maybe Kraftwerk like computerized vocals are the big draw of the song. The building and delivery smoothness of the chorus phrasing of “something in the air….tonight” (I think that’s the lyric anyway) makes the whole song worth it, and reminds me of a Hail Social melody.
“Let Me Have it All” is a cover from Sly & The Family Stone’s Fresh (from 1973). It enters with clunky, odd timed synth sound effects. The song is funky, but it feels under produced to a point where it comes off as boring, despite the array of effects that accompany the staggered melody. And the whole song never really evolves it out of the rut it started out in.

“Come Down” is a nice and smooth R&B song with a bit of disco production in the strumming guitar and vocal melodies. The song has a contagious energy to it that never disappears. The end transitions from disco to jazz with the aid of some strong trumpet work.
“Holding On” was written with Brian Eno and starts out feeling simple and industrial. It picks up a funky bass and guitar beat, reminding me of the Talking Heads. And the robotic vocals are brought back as back up to a powerful female vocal. I like how the song transitions from a complex vocal melody to a stripped down, minimal instrumental break, and then back to the catchy and powerful R&B chorus.
“Memories” is a Hugh Hopper/ Soft Machine cover, and apparently one of the first ever recorded songs to have Whitney Houston as the lead. It is a somber piano ballad, and features Archie Shepp on the sax complementing Houston with an equally somber and depressed melody meant for dark alleys and windy, bleak streets. Houston already possessed the soaring vocals that she becomes famous for a few years later, ending the song with one held note
“Don't Lose Control” brings the robotic vocals back as well as space ship sound effect, creating the dated effect that seems to hold to a specifc niched cult of future-space-hip-hop, perhaps popularized by M/A/R/R/S “Pump Up The Volume.” This song is not that fast paced and ADD influenced. It is slower, and driving, but very methodical. It featured warped speaking samples in a language that sounds like Russian. And the album fades out with the robotic vocals repeating their propaganda like vocals.

Stand Out Track: Time Out

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