Meat Beat Manifesto - Drum Test

Meat Beat Manifesto "Helter Skelter" @The Regent Nov. 11, 2017

Its tenth album, Autoimmune, pushes musical boundaries further than it has before, creating a masterpiece of dubstep and electronica.

Sunday, 21 January Self-described as resembling "an MC Escher optical illusion that spirals around and around and never seems to end," Impossible Star feels like a deep and hallucinatory plunge into a dance club in a dread-filled, dystopian near-future.

Everything I would expect from a new Meat Beat album is certainly present vocoders, cool samples, infectious grooves, deep bass, vintage synths, etc. While Dangers has historically always been near the vanguard of fresh evolutions in dance and electronic music, this album is perversely backward-looking in a way, seamlessly synthesizing the best of MBM's previous directions into something fresh like a post-industrial magpie.

As a result, Impossible Star does not feel like a definitive and unavoidably ephemeral representation of electronic music in so much as it feel like something much more ageless, prophetic, and deliciously warped. Flexidisc The brooding and claustrophobic opening piece, "ONE," is not a particularly representative glimpse of what is to come stylistically, yet it is perfect for establishing the disorienting and unnerving mood of the album: It feels like reality itself is evaporating into a deeply alienating and lonely dream.

The following "Bass Playa" does not dispel that feeling of inhumanity and isolation much, but the sickly and skittering jazz-inflected groove that kicks in at least signals that the album has begun in earnest.

It is not until the next piece "We Are Surrounded" , however, that it becomes clear that Dangers has some truly inspired new material to share. I hate to compare Dangers to anyone, but "Surrounded" unavoidably calls to mind the thrill of classic Aphex Twin, as it mingles a wonderfully erratic, jabbering, and squiggling synth motif with a propulsive groove and a queasily uncomfortable progression of blurred chords.

It instantly became my favorite song on the album, as the sputtering derangement of the synth "melody" is wonderfully unsettling, unpredictable, and visceral. Eventually, the groove collapses into an outro that sounds like a confused and gibbering computer alone in an abandoned control room.

That outro illustrates the evocative and unusual sequencing that pervades Impossible Star, as it is strewn with a handful of dazzling and elaborate set pieces separated by interludes of bleak atmosphere or interrupted by distorted rogue transmissions.

As much as I love some of the beats and hooks, however, the true brilliance of Impossible Star lies in Dangers' skill as a producer, as he seamlessly juxtaposes textures and motifs to weave something that is both bracingly physical and a bit of an unreal mindfuck.

Hallucinatory and disorienting textures and motifs are a bit of an obsession with me, but this album hits a sickly, feverish and vaguely curdled tone that I rarely encounter. Also, that lingering sense of disquiet and wrongness is rarely the focal point, instead existing as an omnipresent background haze to the sharply realized and dynamic grooves and vocoder hooks that consume the foreground.

It is a delicate balancing act and Dangers handles it masterfully. Also, aside from the more nuanced and detailed touches, there are some wonderfully overt feats of visionary sound design to be found as well. Naturally, the vibrantly squelching and jabbering synth hook of "We Are Surrounded" is one such highlight, but there are plenty of others.

I especially enjoyed the brutally grinding high-hats that hit during the crescendo of "Unique Boutique," as well as the relentlessly scraping, crunching heaviness of the beat in "Nereus Rov. It sounds like a grotesque parody of a motorik groove, like some sort of futurist Neu! Again, however, something is slightly off, like a phrase that has been translated and re-translated across several languages. Or like a song that has been covered so much that it has lost its connection to the original piece in fact, it sounds like Wire tried to mimic the sultry and languorous pop of Sade…and then a precocious robot tried to mimic that.

Meat Beat Manifesto has announced a new record. “Impossible Star”...

Dangers has appropriately achieved something with Impossible Star that should seemingly not be possible: There is a depth and complexity at play that is quite compelling, yet it does not interfere all that much with the forward momentum of the beats. At its core, Star feels like a very crisp, precise, and expert trip through the last several decades of beat-driven electronic music that is competing with intermittent swells of loud ambient music or sound art happening in a neighboring room.

Rather than sounding chaotic or messy, however, it sounds artfully disorienting—like it is meant to be there, but is just out of phase or slightly out of tune. As much as I enjoy such details and moments, the larger reward of Impossible Star is only revealed when it is contemplated as a whole, as Dangers has woven quite a rich and evocative world: As such, Impossible Star is more than a collection of strong new songs:

Meat Beat Manifesto has announced a new record. “Impossible Star”...
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Sunday, 21 January Self-described as resembling "an MC Escher optical illusion that spirals around and around and never seems to end," Impossible Star feels like a deep and hallucinatory plunge into a dance club in a dread-filled, dystopian near-future.

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