Meat Beat Manifesto At the Center

Electronic artists who "go jazz” ought to strike fear into the hearts of their fans. Spring Heel Jack have gone out of their way to distance themselves from their wildly creative break beat past to create staid electronic free improv that has always been less than the sum of its parts. Jack Dangers suffers from the same disease here. While Meat Beat's remixes for Thirsty Ear have been generally quite good, and Dangers’ production of the DJ Spooky/Dave Lombardo disaster was one of its few redeeming features, he just can’t cut it with a full-on jazz release. At best, this harkens back to the second MC 900 Foot Jesus album with its Miles-ian feel and noir atmosphere. One can’t fault his collaborators: keyboardist Craig Taborn, who's endlessly multi-tracked on piano, synth and organ, and Dave King (of the Bad Plus) lays down some tasty and shifting breaks. However, there is absolutely no melodic or harmonic movement whatsoever and the few hooky elements on flute and bass clarinet never go anywhere. There’s just no drive to this disc, it simply meanders. King and Taborn play well enough, but there is no urgency to the arrangements to focus them. As expected, the production is great — shimmering and well balanced throughout all frequencies — but cannot redeem the lack of content. Better luck next time, Jack. (Thirsty Ear)