Review Summary: Dark and eerie Trip-Hop from one of the originators.Meat Beat Manifesto
are one of the leaders of original Trip-Hop oriented Electronica. These guys have been around since the late 80’s churning out funky Trip-Hop beats combined with warped samples and twisted sounds, and this double album is their defining moment. It contains some of the best compositions that this one man band has ever written before or after. Some of you may recognize the band name even though you don’t remember ever hearing any of their music. Jack Dangers (the man behind MBM) is often asked to remix other people’s work, re-working artists from Nine Inch Nails
. If that isn’t where you recognize the name, then it is probably from the movie The Matrix
where he contributed a song to the first film.
Anyway, despite whether you’ve heard them or not, if you like good Trip-Hop then you owe it to yourself to track this down. The discs on this album follow two totally different structures. Disc one is easily the better of the two and it finds Jack Dangers moving away from creating compositions that are blatantly electronic, and instead begins to give his songs a more organic feel. This is accomplished through the occasional use of beats that sound more live, as well as using more real instruments and not just sampling everything or recreating its sound through keyboards. On this album he also stepped up the eerie atmosphere that he had occasionally toyed with on previous albums, making sure that all the samples, sounds and melodies reinforce the creepy feeling that permeates throughout the album.
The songs on the first disc can most basically be divided into two separate categories, the weird ones that have no real vocals and simply rely on unsettling samples, ominous sounds, and great Trip-Hop beats and the ones that do basically the same thing but also contain actual vocals. Often times the vocals on this album have gone through some type of processing in order to allow them to fit in with the strange and eerie nature of the songs, and are mostly spoken in a rhythmic manner (but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that he is rapping).
A good example of the first type would be the song “She’s Unreal” which has a very deep bass thump, a Hip-Hop beat, some record scratching, and dark sounds that float in and out of the song. Over the strange music are voice samples that are repeated throughout the song. The first one is that of a girl whispering the words “Give me love so that I can kill” and also “Love Me”. The second voice sample is that of Jack Dangers repeating the words “She’s Unreal” and “You’re Unusual” at various intervals of the song. When it is all combined it truly is a creepy song that does a good job of maintaining that atmosphere.
A great example of the second type of song found on this album would be through “Asbestos Lead Asbestos”. It has more eerie voice samples, a chill Trip-Hop beat, ominous synth lines, and Jack Dangers delivering some rhythmic vocals which don’t seem to make very much sense, but somehow still manages to convey that same strange vibe. Overall, there seems to be more of the first type of song then of the second type, but when the songs are as detailed and memorable as these are, the fact that a lot of them have no real vocals isn’t really an issue.
Unfortunately the quality present on the first disc doesn’t totally carry over to the second disc. Earlier in the review it was mentioned that this album found Jack Dangers moving towards a more organic sound, and it seems as if he included this second disc in case people didn’t like the change. This disc is totally electronic-based Trip-Hop and Electronica with no vocals and very little in the way of memorable parts. Mostly it’s a collection of sounds and beeps placed over different beats. It’s fairly boring to listen to, but its lack of quality isn’t too big of an issue since it’s only one of the two discs available.
If you’ve been into Trip-Hop for a while then I’m sure that the name Meat Beat Manifesto is already a familiar one for you. If it isn’t then you owe it to yourself to look into tracking this album down. For those that may not be as familiar with the genre, then this album may not be the best place to start as it is fairly dark and strange (unless you like that sort of thing). Either way, Meat Beat Manifesto released their defining album with Subliminal Sandwich”
, an album that many look back on as a classic in the genre. I can’t go so far as to agree with them due to the dive in quality on the second disc, but it’s still good enough to deserve a rating that is close to classic.