Meat Beat Manifesto
Melody and rhythm and tunes you can dance to are fine, but we also need music that makes you think and maybe argue about it over a clove ciggy and a craft brew. Meat Beat Manifesto makes a great topic; they came out of quaint Swindon, UK in the post-punk days and embarked on a journey through electronic music of all sorts. This collection of over a dozen songs appears to me to be what jazz ought to be in this post-electronic age. There are melodies here, but complex ones that don’t click at first listen. The beat is electronic and dry; a drum machine programed in C++ likely lies at its heart. Echoes and reverb deepen the sound, making it warmer, keeping it approachable yet formal. Tracks don’t often tie to their titles: “Lurker” offers an electronic jungle beat; it’s almost Arthur Lyman transposed to the 21st century. Opener “ONE” starts out so low key you almost don’t think there’s sound there. But there is, is a slowly glowing electronic Theremin throb from a cheap 1950’s Sci-Fi. “Unique Boutique” again starts with a single phrase of voice, then heads off into the smoke machine, leaving us wishing to window shop in a mall where all the shops are empty. Vocals are doled out with a medicine dropper, and the whole experience of listing to “Impossible Star” needs a post-show discussion to complete the experience.