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It’s now more than thirty years since Meat Beat Manifesto released their first studio LP, but the crew of Jack Dangers et al show no signs of slowing down. The band’s latest album Opaque Couche certainly isn’t the work of a group who have any intentions of settling for anything.
The compositional fearlessness and penchant for out-there electronics that have long been cornerstones of the MBM sound is alive and well on Opaque Couche. Entries such as ‘C/2015 V2’ and ‘CarrierFrq’ contain combustible synths akin to early Throbbing Gristle. ‘[Ear-Lips]’ is a similarly playful bit of industrialism, its dubby textures and spliced-up almost-vocals recalling Brian Eno & David Byrne’s My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts. Indeed, Byrne and Eno’s seminal LP makes its presence felt throughout the tracklist due to the prevalence of spoken word samples and MBM’s penchant for fourth-world grooves.
The more club-centric sounds of techno and jungle, so often fruitful hunting ground for MBM, are explored here once again. ‘Pin Drop’ and ‘Critical Soul Vibrations’ are airless, sub-anchored breakbeat experiments that have as much This Heat in them as they do Skanna. Elsewhere ‘Present For Sally’ combines a squirming acid bassline with more industrial mischief-making. However, the record ends on a beat-free note - Opaque Couche closes out with the wind-tunnel drone ‘Wandering Soul # 11’.
To paraphrase two great men - Meat Beats are the best, Opaque Couche all the time.