[Zombies] The Stranger/Seattle article...
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Thu Jun 9 16:27:20 EDT 2005
A fellow IDM-list member posted this..
In this week's feature article of The Stranger:
Jack of All Trades
Synthesizing Meat Beat Manifesto
by Dave Segal
You can boil down Jack Dangers's musical stance to the title of an old Kinks
song: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else." For 17 years, his band Meat Beat
Manifesto have been adding galvanizing facets to electronic music's arsenal,
and inspiring hordes of producers along the way. The only constant in Meat
Beat Manifesto's long career has been an insatiable quest for fresh rhythms
and mind-altering textures. Meat Beat Manifesto began in Swindon, England,
while Dangers's previous band, Perennial Divide, were winding down. MBM's
aptly titled Armed Audio Warfare debut LP was slated to come out in 1988,
but the masters were damaged in a fire. MBM rewrote and re-recorded some of
these tracks for Storm the Studio, and later an altered version of AAW saw
official release on Wax Trax! Both records established MBM as progenitors of
a brutal form of electronic music that blends extreme elements of
industrial, hiphop, sampladelia, and noise.
Dangers brought a supercharged, chaotic musique-concrete aesthetic to
electronica, a style marked by information overload and emergency-room
adrenaline, which in turn influenced genres like drum 'n' bass and Big Beat.
Remarkably, Storm and Warfare attracted a large underground fan base.
Similarly remarkable is that Dangers's well of enthusiasm and creativity for
music hasn't run dry nearly 20 years into his career. "I've come up with
this process," Dangers says, "which has taken me that long to get into
shape, where I can actually do music the way I want to do it-quickly and
with 100-percent inspiration. It's basically experience. The more you
practice at something, the better you get. Along the way, you can lose
inspiration, but it hasn't really happened to me. I love music more now than
I did 20 years ago."
Based in San Francisco for a decade, Dangers flaunts his restless creative
energy on MBM's latest release, At the Center. The disc is part of Thirsty
Ear's Blue Series, which links electronic musicians with jazz
instrumentalists. On At the Center, Thirsty Ear prez Peter Gordon chips in
with flute, with Bad Plus drummer Dave King and inventive keyboardist Craig
Taborn also contributing. As Dangers notes, MBM's jazz influences surface as
early as 1990's "Hello
Teenage America"; further, Herbie Hancock collaborators Bennie Maupin and
Pat Gleeson contributed to 1998's Actual Sounds + Voices. At the Center
allows Dangers to flex his flute, clarinet, and compositional chops within
an avant-garde jazz context, and he rises to his elite pickup band's lofty
level. "I've always liked the improvisational aspect of jazz and the fact
that it doesn't come with lyrics and vocals that tend to date tracks,"
Dangers says. "Like dub, it's open-ended." At the Center is yet one more
rewarding deviation in a career abounding with surprising tangents. "I like
doing things in music which aren't of the norm," Dangers understates. "When
people started sounding like the stuff I had done, the last thing I'm gonna
do is go along with that. And that's infuriating to record labels. It's my
in-built self-destruct mechanism that kicks in [laughs]. That's why [my
music] has never been commercially viable. I've got too many styles. For
some people, it's just too confusing. Even in electronic music, a lot of
people [are one-dimensional]. I just can't do that. I've gotta find other
avenues of making it sound different." And look different, too. "In a live
environment, we're doing a lot of video manipulation with audio/visual
sampling along the lines of Emergency Broadcast Network," Dangers says.
"That's still a new area that hasn't been well-traveled. There are a couple
of new devices, like the DVJ, where you can manipulate DVDs in real time.
It's the same principle [as Pioneer's CDJ], but you're scratching visuals."
An inveterate analog-synth aficionado, Dangers owns a rare EMS Synthi 100,
which he's played along with a showing of legendary sci-fi flick Forbidden
Planet. (Important released this on CD-credited to Jack Dangers-revealing
another side to his talents.) "It's got 7,200 inputs on it. You can get
sounds out of it like nothing else in the world." Even at this late date,
Dangers' motives remain altruistic. "The reason I got into music was because
bands inspired me-mainly Cabaret Voltaire and Kraftwerk. If I can do that
for someone, then I've achieved what I wanted to do. My problem is, what do
I do next?" Hard to predict, but whatever Dangers works on, it'll be
distinctive-and emulated by other musicians.
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