Album Review by Mark Bayross
Meat Beat Manifesto’s Jack Dangers has been frying brains since the release of his band’s debut album STORM THE STUDIO back in 1989. Released on Wax Trax! at the height of the Ministry / RevCo-led Chicago industrial sound, it saw MBM unleashing samples, beats and quaking bass in a similar fashion to other pioneers of urban sonic decay like fellow dystopian Brits Cabaret Voltaire.
Something approaching a mainstream sound developed around the early nineties, with the dancey SATYRICON album and the much-sampled RADIO BABYLON was perhaps the closest thing Meat Beat Manifesto could call a hit, but later albums like SUBLIMINAL SANDWICH and ACTUAL SOUNDS AND VOICES added elements of jazz and dub to their eclectic brew.
Now essentially a solo project, Dangers has taken this freeform sound a stage further with 2002’s RUOK? Album and last year’s industrial-overhaul remix album of STORM THE STUDIO. Now it’s the turn of RUOK? to get the remix treatment, but this time there’s a difference.
For a start, this is a dub treatment – where the studio itself becomes an instrument – so rather than making cosmetic changes, the original tracks are stripped down, messed with and radically extended. As a result, the tracks bear very little resemblance to their forebears. Songs like SPINNING ROUND and RETROGRADE are “re-imagined” by Dangers, in some cases taking the merest trace of the original and taking it into a whole new area. Even the INTERMISSION track from the original album reappears as an entirely new track.
In addition, Dangers has co-opted DJ Collage to add some old skool toasting into the mix, re-injecting the Jamaican dub roots that originally inspired this 21 st century futurist reggae. But the biggest innovation of all is that this album is also available as a DVD, with 5.1 surround sound and visuals crafted in conjunction with DJ Shadow. Suffice to say, these are the ideal conditions under which to give yourself up to Meat Beat Manifesto’s mind-melting psychedelia.
Admittedly this release is really something for the fans. There’s a degree of sameness that didn’t affect RUOK?, and some might find the lack of an actual tune a bit of a barrier, but those who are happy to lose themselves in a otherworldly fog of beats and dazzling effects will have their senses stimulated.