Even though Bill Laswell was already immersed in numerous projects since the end of the '70s, including leading his loose ensemble Material, he didn't release a solo record until 1983, and BASELINES was quite a strange album. On the one hand, there's "Upright Man," one of the most infectious grooves Laswell has ever conceived, boasting ace bass playing and a weird taped sermon as sort-of lead vocals. Then there's "Work Song," which is funky and catchy and features Phillip Wilson's somewhat off-beat drumming (pun intended). The other tracks are more experimental, weird, and don't catch on as well -- although they all reward repeated listening, for at first the listener might get lost between Ronald Shannon Jackson's irate drumming, Michael Beinhorn's acid-drenched synths and snippets of tapes and shortwave, the stuttering horns of George Lewis and Ralph Carney, the undescribable contributions of Fred Frith, and the vocalisms and percussion (rhythmic and non-rhythmic) David Moss provides. It's an interesting record, but it's not essential listening, and beginners or fans of Laswell's less avant-garde music won't get much out of this. If the somewhat comparable MEMORY SERVES by Material left you craving more, you might want to give this album a try.




This review was written for the All-Music Guide on November 28, 1998.

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Christian Genzel

Christian Genzel arbeitet als freier Autor und Filmschaffender. Sein erster Spielfilm DIE MUSE, ein Psychothriller mit Thomas Limpinsel und Henriette Müller, handelte von einem Schriftsteller, der eine junge Frau entführt, weil er sie als Inspiration für sein Buch braucht. Außerdem drehte Genzel mehrere Kurzfilme, darunter SCHLAFLOS, eine 40-minütige Liebeserklärung an die Musik mit Maximilian Simonischek und Stefan Murr. Derzeit entwickelt er seinen zweiten Spielfilm BROT UND SPIELE, eine Komödie mit Thomas Limpinsel, Götz Otto und Steffen Wink über alte Kindsköpfe und noch ältere Computerspiele.

Christian Genzel schreibt außerdem in den Bereichen Film, TV und Musik, unter anderem für GMX und den All-Music Guide. Außerdem hält er Vorträge zu Filmthemen und kuratierte 2014 an der Universität Salzburg eine Filmreihe zum Thema "Erster Weltkrieg".

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