Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Wednesday, 15 February 2023

The Non-Writer • Material Interviews

Michael Beinhorn Interview 

Jan 26, 2022

multi-platinum music producer gets started in NY Gong, Zu Band, Material 

If you’re a fan of NY No Wave Downtown music circa 1980, you probably know that Michael Beinhorn was a member of the band Material. If you’re in the music biz, you probably know him as the multi-platinum music producer of hit records by Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson, Hole, Red Hot Chili Peppers, KoRn, Ozzy, with worldwide sales of more than 45 million albums, and a 1998 Grammy nomination for Producer of the Year. It was my pleasure to talk with Michael about how he got his start.


Young Michal Beinhorn


Fred Maher Interview

Feb 14, 2022

Once again it is my great pleasure to continue the interview series with Fred Maher. He started playing the drums as a kid, and was still only 14 when he met Bill Laswell and joined the newly forming Zu Band. Fred tells us how that happened, and how Zu Band would become Material.


Young Fred Maher











Bill Laswell Interview 

March2. 2022

It was a pleasure to talk with Bill Laswell about his early days in NYC. You will hear about some of the key people he would meet then — some by intention, and some by chance.

Young Bill Laswell









Bill Laswell Research Institute: Vol I & II


The Bill Laswell Research Institute was coined by a group of like-minded record heads based in Philadelphia. We gather regularly and listen to records in a Hi-Fi listening room under the moniker Health Connection. Time and time again, someone in the crew would bring something mind blowing to a listening session and Bill Laswell’s name would pop up in the credits. This inevitably led to unraveling minds and eye-opening conversations, followed by more worm-hole like research where we realized the true prolificness, scope and breadth of one man’s body of work. It’s truly astonishing how Laswell collided with vastly divergent musicians and genres while somehow still representing complementary musical spheres. We know we were late to a party that super fans have been having for years, but we’re just happy to be at the party.

While pulling together tracks to compile a mix that we felt would best represent Bill’s work, we realized it was going to take multiple volumes due to the sheer magnitude of his output. As such, we decided to compile the mixes based on two 15 year blocks.


Volume One: 1980-1995
01. Material – Reduction [Red Records, 1981] 
02. Herbie Hancock – Rough [Columbia, 1983]
03. Nona Hendryx – Transformation [RCA, 1983]
04. BeSide – Change The Beat (French Rap) [Celluloid, 1982]
05. Bill Laswell – Work Song [Elektra Musician, 1983]
06. Genji Sawai – 1969 (The Real) [Agharta, 1984]
07. Material – Bustin’ Out [Ze Records, 1981]
08. Lenny White – My Turn To Love You (Dub Version) [Elektra, 1983]
09. Kip Hanrahan – This Night Comes Out Of Both Of Us [American Clavé, 1981]
10. Haruomi Hosono – Spinning Spirits [Mercury, 1995]
11. Laurie Anderson – Gravity’s Angel [Warner Bros. Records, 1984]
12. Bill Laswell – Lost Roads [Virgin, 1988]
13. Deadline – Boat Peoples [Celluloid, 1985]
14. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes (Special Mix) [Geffen Records, 1986]
15. Public Image Limited – Rise (Instrumental) [Virgin, 1986]
16. Material – Cosmic Slop [Axiom, 1991]
17. Hector Zazou – I’ll Strangle You [Crammed Discs, 1992]
18. Blind Light – Our Completion [Alida, 1994]
19. Monday Michiru – Is This How It Feels [Kitty Records, 1994]
20. Aiyb Dieng – Boka Devotion [P-Vine Records, 1995]
21. Ginger Baker – Under The Black Skies [Axiom, 1990]
22. Automaton – The Terran Invasion Of Alpha Centauri Year 2794 [Strata, 1994]
23. Transonic – Flow Cycle [Fax +49-69/450464, 1995]
24. Cypher 7 – Ladder Of Lights [Strata, 1994]
25. Bill Laswell – Ruins [Axiom, 1994]



Volume Two: 1996-2010
01. Gigi – Kahn [Palm Pictures, 2003]
02. Sacred System – Black Lotus [Wicklow, 1998]
03. Ryukyu Underground – Koi No Michikusa (Bill Lasswell Remix) [High Note Records, 2005]
04. Bill Laswell & Style Scott – Brooklyn Dub Syndicate [WordSound, 1997]
05. Maghrebika With Bill Laswell – From Mecca To Najar [Barraka El Farnatshi, 2006]
06. Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell – Alam Dub [Axiom, 2001]
07. Activities Of Dust – Written In Nowhere [Adluna Records, 2008]
08. Shin.e – Interwoven [Ion, 2007]
09. Bill Laswell – Cut Virus [Sub Rosa, 2004]
10. Bill Laswell – Dystopia [ROIR, 2004]
11. Bob Marley & The Wailers – Exodus (Bill Laswell’s Dub) [Axiom, 1997]
12. Outland – An Intelligent Force [Fax +49-69/450464, 1997]
13. Havana Mood – Ai El Vaiven De Mi Carreta Dub [APC, 1997]
14. Bill Laswell – Habana Transmission #3 / Shango Sound Scan [Wicklow, 1999]
15. Fanu & Bill Laswell – Transfer Code [Karlrecords, 2008]
16. Miles Davis – Black Satin (Bill Laswell Remix) [Columbia, 1997]
17. Gigi – Salam [Palm Pictures, 2006]
18. Sacred System – Thunupa [ROIR, 1997]
19. Equations of Eternity – 5th Element [WordSound, 1996]
20. Bill Laswell – Beyond The Zero [ROIR, 2000]
21. Possession – Shadow Crossing [Sub Meta, 1996]
22. Haruomi Hosono & Bill Laswell – Jeephead Shamen [Baidis, 1996]
23. Pharoah Sanders & Graham Haynes – Morning Tala [Evolver, 2003]
24.Mark Nauseef, Kudsi Erguner, Markus Stockhausen & Bill Laswell – Suspension [Metastation, 2008]
25. Divination – Reflection [Meta Records, 1998]


Aquarium Drunkard

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

DAVID SYLVIAN • Brilliant Trees • Berlin Sessions



Brilliant Trees sessions • Berlin • 1983 • raw camera footage

This raw footage shot on, what’s now seen as a primitive camera but which was a top of the line consumer product at the time, a massive, unwieldily object, was documented by Yuka Fujii. I’ve put the material together in the order it was recorded to give a very general idea of the process of development. It’s been my practice to work closely with each individual musician since my earliest days with the band in an attempt to get the best results. I’ve always maintained the band prepared me for working with others, gave me the confidence to work with my peers, the ‘newcomers' in the room all being older than myself (25). At this point in time Ryuichi’s english was very rudimentary (this was to change radically within the next ten years or so) so we had to communicate as economically as possible, or rather, 95% of the exchange was purely musical. Yuka and Peter Barakan would step in when greater explication was needed. Holger’s english remained consistent throughout the years i knew him. Again, subtleties could be lost so the dialogue was relatively basic. These sessions in Berlin were my first step in creating what would become 'Brilliant trees' and my initial move away from the structure of the band. It was one of the happiest recording experiences I can recall while signed with a major label. Because of the success of having everyone meet in Berlin, a city native to no one involved, it felt like an adventure. People arrived with a spirit of openness and receptivity. I went on to repeat this process with albums such as 'Secrets of the Beehive', 'Rain Tree Crow', and 'The First Day' among others.

I've left a lot of Jon’s conversation in as it's of interest. In one section he’s explaining the nature of raga and how he came to it by working with renowned Indian singer/teacher Pandit Pran Nath. He was also intimating that, as 'Brilliant Trees' asked that he play in the western tradition, ‘steps’ as he describes it, he didn’t see how his performance could be incorporated into the title track. I persevered. He returned to his hotel room that evening to work on it and, overnight, came up with something so beautiful and complimentary to the piece, that moved away from raga (outside of the coda), and gave us one of the rare, if not unique recordings, of Jon playing in the western tradition.

Besides the limited nature of my vocabulary, the paired down nature of our exchanges for the reasons given above, my only regret is that I didn’t use Holger’s guitar solo on ‘Red Guitar’. At the time I felt it a little lightweight compared to the mix Steve Nye was prepping. I would now mix it quite differently pushing the drums way back (from the mid 70s through the 80s drums were often foregrounded, a trend I wasn’t fond of. I fought for a change of approach on ‘Beehive' and that’s about the time when things began to resemble how I’d initially imagined the material. There are always exceptions of course, ‘weathered wall', ‘Before the Bullfight’ are just two examples). I loved Holger dearly and wish I’d immortalised his solo in some capacity. If it still exists on multitrack all is not lost.

I came away from Berlin with an incomplete album and preceded to write a few remaining pieces to complement the best of what I had. 'The Ink in the Well’, ‘Nostalgia' and ‘Backwaters' were added, 'Blue of Noon', an alternate version of ‘Forbidden Colours', and a new track composed with Ryuichi were, with the exception of the latter, to find a home elsewhere. 'Blue of Noon' was originally a vocal piece but I felt this version didn’t hold together and, in any case, was out of place in the context of the album. Virgin released a working rough mix of the track as the B-side of a single.

I hope the mutual respect and good humour of everyone involved comes across along with their seriousness and committed nature to the material. Rarely has this proved otherwise for me. In this respect I feel very fortunate. From this session I made lifelong friends, a trend that was to continue for many years to come.

david sylvian july 2021

This House Believes Woke Culture Has Gone Too Far




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