Hailing from Swindon, Wiltshire, England, electronic pioneers, Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM) are back with their 12th studio album entitled Opaque Couche. The prolific producers Jack Dangers and Johnny Stephens have been merging genres since the late 80s. From big beat and break beat to house and jazz, this album becomes a culmination of styles. Demonstrating their skillfully crafted production, the sixteen-song album is a journey of intense hear throbbing syncopations that unwind through a plethora of ambience. MBM maintain their status of legends in Electronic Dance Music scene, for they have influenced the novelty bands to come in the 90s: The Chemical Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, and The Prodigy.
It is no secret that Dangers is an innovative producer. Collaborating with several well-known artist: David Bowie, Depeche Mode, The Orb, to name a few. He is also known for his Grammy nomination in 2016 of Tower of Power’s song “What is Hip?” Dangers has had a nonstop career and released an abundance of content that should be acknowledge by all music fans, especially electronic-heads.
Unlike most artist, MBM begin with an ominous track entitled “Unintroduction.” Forming a demented space for their piercing high cut-off synth peaks and dreary vocal sample that has a shock effect on listeners. Immediately, the dream-like room is taken over by the heavy drop of the spastic break beat in “Pin-Drop.” The drive of the drums will get your head banging as one starts to notice the subtle panning effects that are taking place in the background. From the bass drum to snare-rolls, the instantaneous shifts from one speaker to another can subjectively mark this song as one of the strongest.
Both Dangers and Stephens are notorious for pushing boundaries. It is in their nature to transform something simple and beautiful to something complicated and chaotic. Their dark overtones are swallowed whole as they eat your earbuds in “Ear Lips.” Layered with 90s industrial sounds, a voice-like scratch melody mumbles over into the next track. With intensity, MBM keeps it raw and eerie – the perfect way to depict the dark-side of Techno.
“Bolinas” will take you into the future of big beat. The slow-soothing drums are cohesive to the soft minimalism as it unfolds a room of big dreams and whimsical sways. Pushing further into the great unknown, the transformation from break beat to hip hop merge in the next song: “Forced to Lie.” Embodying a rendition of a 90s New York vibe, the downtempo drag with a jazzy feel fills up the room as the evil vocal sample. The different shapes and sounds assist MBM to fine-tunes each part of their multi-production arrangement, so they can illustrate a mosaic of artwork.
Since the late 80s, MBM was one of the first to uncover to the versatility of techno. Making sure that the underground warehouse scene had a gloomy industrial darkness, just as much as a beautiful earth-bending atmospheric waves. Opaque Couche is a perfect balance between the good and the evil of electronica. What really glues these separate forces together is the uniqueness of the overall drumbeats. Whether they consist of being in forefront or hanging out in the back, the beats are consistently engaging. Dangers and Stephens are distinctive that they have an intuitive understanding of original sound and production. Inevitably, the dynamic-duo opens up the discussion of where electronic music is and where it should go. For that reason, those who have had the privilege to listen to these pioneers understand why they continue to inspire future producers.