122

Meat Beat Manifesto: At the Center

Paul Olson By

Sign in to view read count
Meat Beat Manifesto: At the Center Meat Beat Manifesto, aka Jack Dangers, has been working in electronic music since the late 1980s; his recordings on labels like Wax Trax! and Sweatbox seemed to capture the zeitgeist of the club sound of the era, while retaining an innate musicality and playfulness that some of his peers lacked. At the Center is the latest salvo from Thirsty Ear's Blue Series and, as is the series' wont, blends jazz with Dangers' electronic/club sound. Flautist Peter Gordon, keyboardist Craig Taborn, and Bad Plus drummer Dave King—label mainstays all—add their contributions to Dangers' multiinstrumentalism and production, and the results are fascinating.

While At the Center is as jazzily abstract in its way as, say, Taborn's Junk Magic or Matthew Shipp's Harmony and Abyss, it's still grounded in club beats and studio murk, not interactive jazz. A listener hearing the adamant, smacking hip-hop snare of "Flute Thang or "Blind might wonder why a real drummer was even used when the drums are this looped and rigid. But there's a human being playing those parts—at least initially, before Dangers starts cutting them up—and that animal warmth gives them a resonance that mere drum programming couldn't.

"Flute Thang might be the name of the second song, but much of the album's a flute thang, really; Gordon's prominent throughout the CD. The star instrument of the album, though, is the studio. Taborn's keys and Gordon's flute rise from dense, reverb-heavy mixes over King's persistent, static drum parts and Dangers' pocket bass, then recede back into the gooey stew of delay and studio ambience. Songs like "The Water Margin and "Wild have Danger's droning, purple bass clarinet in the mix—and its distinctive sound, Taborn's chiming Fender Rhodes, and the overall chromaticism of the music strongly recall Miles Davis' Bitches Brew.

"Murtita Cycles has a dub feel with effected but live-sounding snare and cymbal work from King—the CD's jazziest drumming—and wobbly, echoey grand piano from Taborn. The whole song is built on a repetitive left-hand piano vamp and has a simultaneous flute/piano phrase that sounds utterly vocal. There's a spookiness here, and lots of the reverby ambience that feels simultaneously expansive and unnervingly claustrophobic—both qualities typical of the CD as a whole.

"Want Ads One and "Want Ads Two have Beat writer Kenneth Rexroth reading want ads aloud (from a 1957 recording) over—on the former—Dangers' acoustic bass and King's looped kit and percussion, and—on the latter—rhythmless musique concrète and Taborn's melancholy Fender Rhodes. Rexroth's nasal delivery underlines the surreal horror of some of the ads ("I offer permanent space in a tomb... never used ) and the minimal accompaniment provides a less cluttered atmosphere between club-groovers like "United Nations Etc. Etc. or "Shotgun!

Not that those two songs' overall brittleness wouldn't send many clubgoers to the bar for an anxiety-assuaging vodka or three. Jazz lovers, too, might be nonplussed by the static, layered, studio-built quality of the music. But both camps should keep listening.


Track Listing: 1. Wild 2. Flute Thang 3. Murita Cycles 4. Want Ads One 5. Blind 6. Musica Classica 7. Bohemian Grove 8. United Nations Etc. Etc. 9. Want Ads Two 10. The Water Margin 11. Shotgun! (Blast to the Brain) 12. Granulation 1

Personnel: Jack Dangers: bass, bass clarinet, bass flute, everything else; Peter Gordon: flute; Dave King: drums, percussion; Craig Taborn: Steinway grand piano, Fender Rhodes, Clavinet, Hammond B-3

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings | Style: Electronica


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Hark The Herald" CD/LP/Track Review Hark The Herald
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "TriAngular Bent" CD/LP/Track Review TriAngular Bent
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions" CD/LP/Track Review Early Wayne: Explorations of Classic Wayne Shorter Compositions
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017
Read "Sign of the Crow" CD/LP/Track Review Sign of the Crow
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Everything's Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Everything's Beautiful
by Asher Wolf
Published: July 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!