Meat Beat Manifesto
There are some artists that you simply know what you're going to get when you pop the CD in your player, and although there isn't a real excitement about hearing something innovatively new, there's something that still manages to be slightly exciting about knowing that the artist is simply going to get it done. It's sort of like admiring the guy who goes to work every day and does his job just slightly better than everyone else, but isn't glamorous or flashy about doing it, and there's a simple beauty in that routine and efficiency.
Jack Dangers has been creating and releasing music under the name Meat Beat Manifesto for a long time now (right about 15 years, if you can believe it), and while I haven't followed him as closely as I used to, I was still somewhat excited to get my hands on his newest effort. Although he hasn't changed up his style much over the years, he's also managed to remain pretty darn consistent. During a middle-section run that included Satyricon and the great double-CD release of Subliminal Sandwich, he released what is probably his best work to date. Although his early releases of Storm The Studio and 99% were fairly groundbreaking, it wasn't until those middle albums where he found his stride, mixing huge beats with moments of measured ambience, even releasing some great vocal and lyrical turns. Although his last full-length release, Actual Sounds And Voices, was off a couple steps, it still held a lot of promise.
Unfortunately, it seems that Dangers seems to have lost a lot of what made those middle albums so great with the release of RUOK. I should have probably guessed, with the sample-ready title, but this disc is mainly about throwing out a whole load of huge beats, and not a whole lot else. The disc opens with "Yüri" and slaps things off with a tweaked-out mid-range beat that belches out several different layers of noise over the top, while some playful organs add notes here and there. It sounds like a slightly less clinical version of something that Monolake might release, and it bumps right into the bassline-heavy thump of "Spinning Round." "Horn Of Jericho" again pulls familiar sounds from the MBM cataloge of sounds and styles, but also injects an almost maniacal sense of humour (possibly due to the collaboration with Alex Patterson of the Orb and Lynn Farmer).
Elsewhere, the album continues at a fairly steady pace. "Supersoul" and "Hankerchief Head" both lead off with odd samples before breaking into things (a smash-all distorted beat and a cranked-up hi-hat scratch-fest respectively), while "No Echo In Space" takes one of the only detours for the album with a distorted acid clanger. Halfway through the album, there's a slight break with the aptly-titled "Intermission" (which sounds like it was culled from the archives of an old lounge lead-in), but the remainder of the record is pretty darn slamming. As a fan, I'm disappointed that the release doesn't experiment nearly as much as several of his old work. There aren't any vocal tracks on the album at all, and while the beats and programming are done well, much of it simply seems like slight variations on tracks that he's already done. It's not an absolutely horrible album, but coming from Dangers, it's kind of a letdown.