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Meat Beat Manifesto – [Live]

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Saturday, 19 April 2008

Entering Slim's and seeing a stage full of synthesizers, sequencers, laptops and robotic cameras, I became very excited. After my metal youth, I discovered and fell in love with electronic music, and although I was much more into industrial, noise and "power electronics," I had—and still do have—a soft spot for ANY music that involves the twiddling of knobs. Having lost touch with Meat Beat Manifesto and what Jack Dangers and his crew have been doing since the Subliminal Sandwich album, I was looking forward to finally seeing them live again and getting caught up.

First up this evening was Dub Gabriel & Bomb S.F., featuring Yosi Fine, Apostle and Process Rebel. Not really being into Dub, Dubset or Turntablism, I wasn't sure what to expect, but this collaboration of talent really impressed me from the beginning. Starting out as a three piece with Yosi Fine laying down the bass while a masked Bomb S.F. used everything from a Powerbook to turntable to a Virus T1 Synth to a baby doll head wired for sound to drop their dark, driving and hypnotic beats, the three of them created a very bass heavy yet at the same time very layered sound. Rapper Apostle finally made his way onto the stage and immediately tried to provoke the way too mellow crowd to dance. Although he was telling them to "Dance Like No One Is Watching," it seemed to have little—if any—effect on the crowd, and the four people on stage definitely had the most energy of anyone in the building. His intelligent raps and wordplay fit in quite nicely with the rest of the sound, and although I usually cringe at all things even remotely sounding like Hip-Hop, I really enjoyed Apostle's contribution to the overall sound. After witnessing this set I have a new respect for this form of music, and am looking forward to checking it out again.

Judging from the amount of electronics still on stage, and having never have heard of Raz Mesinai's Badawi before, I was quite surprised when Raz walked onto stage with a chair, sat down, opened his laptop and started very peacefully creating layers and layers of sound alchemy. Starting out very dark and ambient, his soundscapes really reminded me of acts like Sweden's Deutsch Nepal and San Francisco's own Mandible Chatter, both of whom I had seen live many years ago. As his set continued to take shape, many more types of sounds became apparent, from Middle Eastern to Trance, Dub and Electronica. By the time everything fully evolved, Mesinai had created an amazing blend of all the styles, and it was really hard to believe that one person could create so much sound. Although some people in the crowd seemed to be bored watching one man on his laptop and tweaking knobs, I was really into it, and quite enjoyed what he created.

Hitting the stage for what would be over a two hour set, Meat Beat Manifesto put on quite simply one of the most aurally and visually stimulating shows I have seen in a very long time. While leader and ringmaster for the evening Jack Dangers provided the backbone of beats for the set, Consolidated founder Mark Pistel handled everything else electronic, and together the two of them recreated Meat Beat classics such as "Radio Babylon," "Helter Skelter" and "No Purpose No Design." Although they did stay true to the recorded versions, all tracks almost seemed to be recreated on the fly tonight, as they all had new little elements to them that made them sound fresh and updated. Adding to my theory was drummer Lynn Farmer, who, playing an an actual kit, gave every song an organic feel, especially noted on "Dogstar Man" and "It's The Music." His drumming flowed quite nicely into the electronic sounds created by Dangers and Pistel, and together the three of them created layers and layers of sound. New tracks of the just released Autoimmune including "Hellfire," "Children Of Planet Earth" and "Young Cassius" also sound amazing, and although are they more on the Dubset tip than anything previously released, they still have the frantic Meat Beat Manifesto sound.

As great as Dangers, Pistel and Farmer were, it was Ben Stokes who made this show for me. He handled all the visuals tonight, and the triggering system he was using was able to provide the video the split second Dangers played the sample to cover it. It was truly quite an amazing process, and the video—rather than add to the music—was part of the music. There were so many images coming at me that it was really hard to keep track of them all, but if I had to pick standouts they would include footage of Richard Simmons, Heavens Gate leader Marshall Herff Applewhite, Jr., and the infamous head explosion scene from Scanners. With the robotic cameras in action as well, and covering everyone on stage, it all made for some serious sensory overload, and by the time I walked out of Slim's my blood was pumping, my ears were ringing, and my eyes were fluttering. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

For more information:

Meat Beat Manifesto: brainwashed.com/mbm or www.meatbeatmanifesto.com

Badawi: www.razmesinai.com

 

Dub Gabriel & Bomb S.F.: myspace.com/dubgabriel

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