Dark Meat "Freedom Ritual"

Dark Meat "Freedom Ritual"
There is almost always strength in numbers, but double digits in rock bands isn’t always a brilliant idea. Look where it got the Polyphonic Spree after one album? So many mouths to feed, so many asses to sit, so many heads butting creatively… However, something tells me Athens, GA’s Dark Meat are a different beast entirely though.

First up is that revolting name of theirs. So many thoughts running through my head, but no matter how gross it gets, be it from food or, er, otherwise, I can’t help but love it. It’s such a commanding name that instantly grabs you and tells you something outrageous is gonna strike. No wonder they ended up on Vice.

True story: Dark Meat are a 17-person collective that live on "a 100-acre sustainable-living eco-village, where members farm, do bio-diesel conversion and host shows at their amphitheatre.” (What is it with big bands giving off that creepy cult vibe?) Members have moonlighted in Elf Power, Of Montreal, We Versus Shark, the Instruments and, hmm, Gnarls Barkley. Their debut album, Universal Indians (a pretty spectacular title if you give it a couple seconds), originally came out on Orange Twin, the label founded by Elf Power’s Laura Carter, and on April 8, Vice will reissue the disc to a much wider audience with three bonus tracks.

Heavy-duty buzz is swarming the collective, and it’s all currently concentrated right now in Austin, as South By Southwest begins. (Shameless plug: Dark Meat are playing the Exclaim!/Outside Music/CBC Radio 3 SXSW Showcase at 5:20 on Saturday, March 15 at Saxon Pub.) It’s all for good reason too, as Dark Meat defy the gimmicks (yes, somehow the music is louder than the cult-y hippy communal thing they’ve got going on) and radiate warm, deafening vibes of peace, love and fucking losing your mind.

"Freedom Ritual” is pretty repellent at first. That lone vocal kicking it off isn’t far from Vashti Bunyan swallowing a bug, though in context, it feels pretty right considering Dark Meat’s righteous attitude towards letting shit fly. As soon as other traces of life come in and those lazer guided guitars enter the mix, everything (a Mark Arm voice, multiple drum kits, bass, horns, gospel choir, y’know, everything!) crash lands into place, purging a mighty ocean of psychedelia too cool to drop lazy ’60s comparisons to. Those horns, man, they’re killer, especially when they align for a free jazz tremor at the mid-point; it’s some breathtaking chaos that never feels pretentious or unnecessary, especially when it picks right up, back into the verse like it was all a mini daydream. This is pretty mind-blowing stuff, and the best part is that it’s not even the best track on Universal Indians (Personally, I dig "Three Eyes Open”).

Dark Meat "Freedom Ritual”