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Meat Beat Manifesto – Impossible Star

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There I was in a double decker wingtube to Malaysia and I think to myself I should catch up with the Brainwashed podcast shouldn’t I? On it goes, and what do you know, John thingy’s guest for the episode is Jack Dangers, talking about his new album with my beloved Meat Beat Manifesto, ‘Impossible Star’.

Of course I buy it soon as, don’t I?

I’ve loved MBM since I visited a friend at college and she taped 99% for me, plus some other stuff including Nitzer Ebb (the Essex Front 242) and Front 242 (the Aarschot Nitzer Ebb). Don’t know what happened to her – I seem to recall she became a cop? Whatevs.

This is a solid MBM album, with many familiar textures and features, so I thought I’d present this review in the form of a matrix, so that readers can get directly to the bits they need. I’ve been working too hard.

Track
bpm / duration
Instruments /
Atmos
Album Role /
Discography /
Callback
Vocals
Bass
Drums
ONE
n/a / 02:40
swaying weird, looping movie atmospheric opener

can’t think of one

Vocals: Muffled speech samples Bass: none really Drums: none here either
Bass Playa
91 / 02:43
meow meow meow ahhhh here it is

Funny Feeling / Let’s Have Fun

Vocals: Muffled speech samples
Bass: dododododo
Drums: chugga chugga chugga
We Are Surrounded
115 / 06:00
juddering squelch, strums,
radio tuning
step it up a notch

Mad Bomber / The Woods

Vocals: Muffled speech samples,
Vocoder,
Accents
Bass: In the background
Drums: “Being Boiled”
Unique Boutique
124 & 68 / 03:02
pulses and tones previous album refresher

‘Lonely Soldier’

Vocals: Muffled speech samples
Bass: death rays
Drums: slow plod with skittering as is the style,
crashing cymbals
Nocebo
120 / 05:31
touch of the acids quirky sidestep

‘Placebo’

Vocals: Vocoder
Bass: chattering up and down
Drums: rimshotsssss
Impossible Star
106 / 03:54
jazzy chords title track, duh

‘Let’s Have Fun’ again? it is a fave of mine, but i’m not obsessed

Vocals: Muffled speech samples,
Ooooooooooo,
vocoder
Bass: In the background, relies more on the beefy drums
Drums: frantic snares
Lurker
114 / 14:52
plinky tones,
bouncy twoinks,
floaty yays
the long one

‘The Utterer’?
Also reminds me of ‘Let’s Have Fun’ a bit

Vocals: Distant simian choir
Bass: tab of acid
Drums: sparse taps with crunchy rattle
T.M.I.
73 / 05:16
jazzy chords, crackly vinyle, floaty tones jazzy one

Stuff off of  ‘At The Center’

Vocals: Vocoder,
Jack
Bass: dubby straight
Drums: muffled simple loop
Liquidators
n/a / 02:59
crackly vinyl
radio tuning
atmospheric middle

bits of ‘Electric People’

Vocals: Non-english,
Muffled speech samples
Bass: n/a
Drums: n/a
Nereus Rov
97 / 03:31
reverb bleeps, echoey peeps, tweeks we continue

can’t think of one

Vocals: n/a
Bass: low enough not to care
Drums: crashing loop
Synthesizer Teste
122 / 04:40
echoey bleeps,
tweeks
radio tuning
playing with his toys

sample from FSOL PNG?

Vocals: Vocoder,
it’s a test of course
Bass: bloop
Drums: Being Boiled’ again
Rejector
n/a / 03:04
roaring rumble,
whoosh,
voices,
tones
atmospheric ender

can’t think of one

Vocals: nothing coherent
Bass: none just the rushes
Drums: n/a
The Darkness
140 / 05:42
plinky tones,
bouncy twoinks,
tweeks,
voices
big finish

‘Spinning Round’

Vocals: Reverby exclamations
Bass: deep bubbles
Drums: 4/4 give it some more

More of the studio wizardry you’ve come to expect. The interview on the podcast made JD sound so cute and nerdy, he was just talking about what the ideas for the noises were.

I am electro, and I can dig the music, kids.

Buy it.

I did.

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Some Kind Of Illness: Some Kind Of Illness

Some_Kind_Of_Illness

This one goes back to August last year, but I’m not apologising. I’ve done enough apologising, dammit. It’s another one of those albums with people singing on it, so as I did with Debs, I’ll attempt to dig down into the tundra and bring up some core samples of reactive emotion.

Processed chords, acoustic strumming, and resonant strings combine with the vocals on ‘The Test of Time’ to create an opener that wouldn’t be out of place on an Ian McCulloch solo project.

Kindness is a risk indeed, but the sampled voice on the short-but-sweet sketch ‘Angel Breakdown’ doesn’t decide whether to stick with it or not. The gentle atmospherics of this track convinced me to go for it, though.

Album standout ‘Stars’ has a bit of the Richard Hawleys about it. Again, simple guitar, simple rhythm, simple lyrics, and that background atmospheric stuff that just gets me right there.

I have to admit I thought there were some pitch-shifted vocals in ‘Maple Leaf ft Daisy Davies’. Then I remembered I’m a Dad now, and decided it was actually quite cute.

‘The Light’ compares a receding taillight (on a bike? motorbike?) to the inspiration that you’re seeking. Perhaps the person leaving is what you need? This song actually gets quite heavy on the strumming, with a subtly disconcerting coda.

A sampled TV or radio gives a cosy Sunday feeling to ‘And Live’, but the guitar and backing occupy a much larger space than your living room. Expand your horizons? Or at least go for a nice walk in the refreshing drizzle, made better by the thought of coming home to tea and this album again.

Strings and strums on ‘You Have To Laugh’, with a gentle piano phrase, meander through this interstitial, leading into ‘My Shadow In The Maze’, which could be talking about a pastoral leafy labyrinth, or the dark twists and turns of trying to figure out how you feel. Then straight in with the atmospherics (they know how to get me), the guitar more distant than ever, ‘Rush To Wait’ is another compelling instrumental I could leave on loop.

Rain on the roof and processed piano accompanies the guitar on the album closer ‘Fool Man Runaway’. Guest vocals from Caoilfhionn Rose answer the lead vocals, and a tender piano phrase rounds it off.

Losing your shadow, now you’re seeing stars, then I talk to my best friend, and I finally made it out. A beautiful album, and they’ve had a few releases since it came out, so go and catch up, just at your own sweet pace.

matthewpetty

Kieran Mahon: Mirrors Lenses Echoes Projections

Mirrors Lenses Echoes Projections - Kieran Mahon

BBO has featured Kieran Mahon’s work before, the cosmos-themed ‘Space Is The Place’ EP. This newest EP is three tracks of eyes-closed-warm-bath-of-sound ambient electronic texture that envelopes, guides and inspires.

The warm tone chord that opens ‘Mirrors’ is joined by arpeggiated phrases and resonate pulses. The chords intensify, becoming more triumphant, and introduce an echoing voice sample on the edge of intelligibility. Then all fades away, except for the opening chord.

‘Measured Motion’ has the scattered drops of sound and insistent bass, mutating into scintillating shower before a repeating synth phrase loops and wouldn’t seem out of place in eine Europaische café on a long train journey. I love this one.

A slow swell of phasing chords, looping mid bass tone phrases, and a periodic deep bass tone build up the layers of ‘Everything is Forever Running and Returning’, illustrating the point. Then a resonant distance appears with a processed voice, all the time with the simple drone acting like the strata or foundation for the whole piece. Then as the parts disseminate, a simple bass beat draws the EP to a close.

Mahon is prolific and generous. All his release are available on Bandcamp, and you can name your price. Go there and name something generous in return.

As a set of pieces to listen, think, distract, occupy and sooth, this EP is pretty great. Very effective, and one to return to. As Kieran says on the site,

It is highly recommended to be listened to with headphones.

I hope you enjoy it.

I did, and I did.

matthewpetty

Raime: Tooth

Tooth by Raime

Arriving on my birthday this year, on the Blackest Ever Black label, this slab of rhythmic electroacousticity brings to mind the more atmospheric side of Plastikman, and the imaginary band from the comic strip Achewood, The Tenmen, if that’s valid. And if it’s not? Come at me.

All the pieces use a Reinheitsgebot of  bass, percussion, single-note guitar and atmospherics. It’s a deceptively simple formula that manages to be very evocative of what this world seems to be headed headlong toward.

Opener ‘Coax’ kicks straight in with a throb and bark, swoon and twang. The bass manages to slide around enough to almost lessen the tension you feel is coming. Almost. ‘Dead Heat’ picks up the groove and walks down the straight road towards the horizon a little with it. Acoustic guitar tuning practice, a nice shimmy of percussion, and dog and child answering each other.

The animalistic cries return in ‘Hold Your Line’, but this time things are a little more urgent. Strings weave amongst the scuttle of drums and the beat of the bass, and the guitar line continues, in an attempt to hold the line against whatever is approaching. Will it succeed? Judging by the (only slightly) more upbeat ‘Front Running’ you might think it had. But then the strings and howls return, and the crunch of boots echo through the abandoned streets, marching back to the gunfire in the distance.

‘Dialling In, Falling Out’ brings the paranoia to the fore, as a regular expedition outside the bunker into the grey dusk turns into a stealthy cat-and-mouse game. Things seem much more calm on ‘Glassed’, and you might be forgiven for letting your guard down. The bass is at your side, and the guitar returns to an earlier refrain, along with the choir and strings.

Taps and scrapes herald a drone melody on ‘Cold Cain’, and I’m reminded of the days spent in the cellar with the Parsons under the cylinder, awaiting our fate. Then the guitar, more driven than the earlier student plucks, comes to encourage action.

Finally, ‘Stammer’ recapitulates all we’ve learned. If we remember our training, we will survive out there. The guitar is still urgent, the animals are back, the abstract drum gestures punctuate.

Apart from a few moments that could get you wiggling in a weaker moment, this album made this reviewer sit very still. It’s a fine line between an album being a “listener” and a “backgrounder”. Depending on your mood, this could function as both.

Not a party album. Grab the fancy vinyl now, or download from Bandcamp.

matthewpetty

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