Material

Red Tracks

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Before Material went off on its various North African, reggae, dub, ambient, and worldbeat detours in the 1990s, they spent a less heralded period exploring both new-wavey R&B (One Down) and jazzy avant-rock (Memory Serves). And before that, the trio focused on a funk-derived but often dreary sort of music that in some ways pointed the way toward the band's future flashes of brilliance and in other ways described a mood and style that the band was wise to leave behind. Red Tracks includes the complete contents of the band's first two EPs, titled Temporary Music 1 and Temporary Music 2 (both of which had been previously issued on an LP titled simply Temporary Music, and which have since been reissued on CD as Temporary Music 1979-1981). Even in these early recordings you can hear bassist Bill Laswell's years in R&B bands paying off -- his simple but melodically brilliant basslines are a consistent high point, and drummer Fred Maher lays down the meat-and-potatoes groove as only he can. But the faux menace of tracks like "On Sadism" and "White Man" comes across as both annoying and laughable. There are some fine moments here, but this particular slice of Material history will be of interest primarily to Laswell completists.