Saturday, July 05, 2008

I'd Buy Anything By...Meat Beat Manifesto

When I worked at CKMS -- have you noticed how many of these musical anecdotes start this way? -- Eli McIlveen insisted that I watch a series of music videos by E.B.N. I was instantly hooked on the band, but since they only ever released one full album I was desperate for more. The E.B.N. album had been heavily produced and modified by a guy named "Jack Dangers," so I started looking in his direction.

Holy cow! Jack Dangers was (and is) the driving force behind "Meat Beat Manifesto," a twenty-plus year music project that has embraced ambient, trance, breakbeat, experimental, industrial, rap, and jazz. There's an odd mysteriousness about Danger's need to constantly remix and rerecord his songs, lending a continuity between different versions and a desire to "hear them all." The debut MBM release, in fact, was a double-album consisting of four songs, each drastically modified over and over and over...

His style is meticulous and lockstep, but mixed with layers of organic "messiness," preventing it from sounding sterile. He may not be the best singer in the world but he tends to compliment the slightly shoddy nature nicely. Here, for instance, is a live 2007 performance of one of their oldest songs ("God O.D."), done in their current style: loose, informal, surprisingly sweet.

MBM is perfect "do your work" makes your body move but doesn't much distract your brain. It is not, however, easy to dance to, for some reason that I've never quite understood...maybe the tempo is slightly the wrong speed or the syncopation a bit wonky.

Dangers regularly contributes to the work of others, usually as producer, remixer, or collaborator. One of his more curious collaborations is the substantially unreal "Tino Corp" collective, producing albums of "beats" that are both sampleable and fun to listen to; Dangers is most effective when it comes to constructing his rhythms so this is a natural forum for him.

Albums to buy? Try "Storm the Studio" for the old-style industrial MBM, "Subliminal Sandwich" for the experimental fan-favourite, or the recent "At the Center" for the truly funky jazz. Albums to avoid: "Satyricon," an unpleasant detour into pop that went horribly, horribly wrong. For fans only: the "Tino Corp" albums, which are deliberately sparse.


Eli McIlveen said...

Yeah! Hardly anything but rhythm on that second track, but I could listen to it all day.

I really must get back to composing, now that we've cleaned out the massive wall of stuff that was the upstairs studio/office...

Muffy St. Bernard said...

You might enjoy the Tino albums, which are pretty much all like that clip...all rhythm with occasional sparse accents. Good stuff!

Weren't you recording a new Flickershow album awhile back?