On both sides of the pendulum the view of electronic music has swung from the mindsets of pseudo-musicians who think composing is as easy as pushing a few buttons to purists that believe that technology should never be a part of the creative process. These two releases though widely different in their approaches are clear examples that would prove in the end it is really about what the musician brings to the process and not just the technology.
Meat Beat Manifesto
Thirsty Ear Records
The essence of Meat Beat Manifesto is the beat. Pulsating bass and drum tempos drenched in a sea of processed and real sounds. Led by electronics wizard Jack Dangers Off Centre is the Extended Play version of 2004's At the Center with unreleased tracks and also live material from a recent tour. To say that Dangers is your average hip hop DJ is like saying the internet is a typical network. He's been taking the club and dance music to new levels with clever mixing, sampling, and an engineer's mentality.
Dangers is joined by guests flautist Peter Gordon, drummer Dave King, and keyboardist Craig Taborn, and other members of MBM creating sounds that are repetitive yet mesmerizing. On "Postcards" the trancelike syncopation is flowered with lush flute, keyboards, turntable scratches and a host of other effects. The recording gives a taste of the concert experience with two live tracks including "Prime Audio Soup" which was featured in the science fiction blockbuster film The Matrix. Fans of this type of music will more than likely enjoy the additional material but the rule with EP (Extended Play) recordings is to augment the music from a previous recording. So be sure and check out At the Center for the total experience.
Opsvik & Jennings
NCM East Records
The press quotes smartly sums up this creative collaboration - "If you ever wondered what it would sound like if a bassist from the underground jazz scene in Oslo teamed up with a strange guitarist from the sticks in Oklahoma...well, here it is." Bassist Eivind Opsvik has produced two notable recordings Overseas I and Overseas II showing a promising voice in modern jazz. Aaron Jennings has been active in the fertile New York music scene in various bands performing with artists in traditional settings, or laptop musicians creating experimental, free jazz, and other music expressions.
Together their new recording consists of unique compositions that are crafted with a variety of moods and odd sound textures with an emphasis on melody and ambience. The blend of electronics and acoustic music is seamless as the instruments are woven into the layered fabric of each composition. The composition "Thread" makes good use of Jennings' banjo and guitar loops with synthesized sounds and software routines to create a rural yet modern theme.
Like fractal art, the music is mathematical, strange, and beautifully seductive with hypnotic and intricate rhythmic patterns rather than sonic barrages of bass and drum beats. The sampled sounds of everyday life are transformed into lyricism on "Loyal Retainer" mimicking ship horns, creaking doors, water facets, and other strange sounds that are sure to keep the listener guessing. Opsvik incorporates his acoustic bass in some of the loops such as his bow string work on "Adams Hat" behind a slow and metronomic rhythm. Whether it be the toy like syncopation on "Mello Vibro," or the atmospheric and calming "Floyel Fil" the music is interesting, mesmerizing, and always in flux.
Tracks: 1. Wild - (remix) 2. Postcards 3. Maintain Discipline 4. Dummyhead Stereo 5. Shotgun - (live) 6. Prime Audio Soup - (live)
Personnel: Meat Beat Manifesto: Jack Dangers (various instruments, bass flute, bass clarinet, bass guitar); Peter Gordon (flute); Craig Taborn (piano, Hammond B-3 organ); Dave King (drums, percussion); Lynn Farmer (drums); Mark Pistel, Ben Stokes (sampler).
Visit Meat Beat Manifesto on the web.
Tracks: Thread; Aaron's Hat; Double Stop; Still The Tiger Town; Place For My Things; Floyel Fil; Loyal Retainer; Mello Vibro; Cut Up Clocky; Luminosity;
Personnel: Aaron Jennings: electric and acoustic guitars, lapsteel, banjo, samplers, software, vocals, concertina, electronics and more; Eivind Opsvik: upright bass, electric bass, drums, keyboards, theremin, drum machines, pump organ, software, percussion, tape loops and more.
Visit Opsvik & Jennings on the web.