Reviewed by Gabriel Weinstock Source: (Igloo Magazine)
ck Dangers and his Meat Beat Manifesto outfit are often held responsible for the grainy, mechanical (yet musical) late-80's, early to mid-90's phenomenon known as "Industrial Music." Also a contributor to the artistic abortion known as "Big Beat" (the same "Big Beat" heralded in the mid- to late-90's as the form of electronic music that would finally take over America --remember Fatboy Slim? Rockafella Skank anyone?) However, where others sank into cliche and kitche, Dangers has managed to stay above the fray, retaining his musical legitimacy through those troubled times and into the present day with releases on his Tino Corp. label (¡Hello, Friends! is one of my favorite mix-albums of all time, and consists primarily of material recorded by Dangers and his label mate, Ben Stokes), and up to the present, with the release of his new album, Autoimmune.
What separates this new album from the Meat Beat Manifesto classics (Storm The Studio, for example) is primarily context: the "sound" of electronic music has evolved exponentially since the mid-90's industrial-wave, and, had Autoimmune been released then, I think it would eventually achieve similar stature.
However, being a relative nobody, having achieved little in life beyond record reviews such as the one you are now reading, and Jack Dangers being Jack Dangers --the man who helped shape modern dub music (the new album has a distinct Channel One Reinvented charm), I feel great personal pain in qualifying my endorsement with the stipulation that Dangers' sound has not changed significantly since then. Autoimmune is still very much a Meat Beat Manifesto record, for better or for worse.
The man is still a master of the rumbling bass line and the strange sample (the track "Hellfire" begins with birds chirping in the background, processed and mangled to such a degree that it is not at first identifiable as birdsong --it sounds like something far more demonic), and the ragga-toasting on "I Hold the Mic!" is the perfect complement to the warbling bass line: "I'm only 19 years of age.. just a teenager and next year round about this time I'll be a year old-a!" The rhymes compliment the rolling drums perfectly --they cascade over the rhythm.
Still, it is important for an artist to re-invent oneself (constantly), and, while I would not go as far as to say Dangers has rested on his laurels with Autoimmune, do not expect much of a departure from his signature style here.
Having said that, I enjoy (considerably) most of the album. On tracks like "Less," Dangers' mastery of the style he essentially invented (gritty syncopated drum programming, rolling sub-bass lines) is evident while his sonic palette is mostly based around the same aural hues, he employs them like a master charcoal artist. Dangers is arguably the Channel One of my generation --the now late 20 to early 30 year olds who, in their teen years, were introduced to dub through his work.
Autoimmune has a consistently urban, gritty sound. The inclusion of guest rappers on tracks such as "Young Cassius" add a pop element to an album that might otherwise translate into a work geared best towards the live performance --to wit, Dangers and Meat Beat Manifesto are scheduled to perform at the High Line Ballroom here in New York as part of their album-supporting tour on April 26th. I hope to be present given that much of the source material Dangers uses originates from visual mediums ("VHS is the new vinyl" he once said, presumably referring to fodder for sampling) I expect it to be an interesting show. It could be said that Autoimmune, while not a drastic departure from the Meat Beat Manifesto sound, is an album worth owning for that very reason. For those new to Meat Beat Manifesto and Dangers' related output, I would still recommend classics like the aforementioned ¡Hello, Friends! or Dimensional Holofonic Sound's "House of God" --however, Autoimmune stands on its own and is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone familiar with Dangers production talents.
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