Meat Beat Manifesto / Not Breathing Venue, Vancouver BC February 4
Published Feb 06, 2011David Wright's experimental project Not Breathing was an inspired choice to open for Jack Dangers and his Meat Beat Manifesto. Wright has been in the electronic music game almost as long as Dangers, getting the ball rolling in the late '80s and releasing full-lengths from the mid-'90s on, with his style progressing from more ambient-based circuit-bending noise to incredibly bass-heavy yet minimal sounds. With a touring partner live-mixing and adding effects, and a dude warping bizarre and disturbing visuals in the background, Not Breathing presented walls of distortion and synthetic melodies over dub-laced beats so massive that an unknowing patron could not be blamed for thinking the headliner got on early.
Humbly taking the stage, Jack Dangers and touring associate Ben Stokes laid down a lengthy set of massive beats and synchronized videos. Dangers performed select knob-twiddling and Stokes hit some MIDI pads with drumsticks while the pair took turns sampling DVDs, offsetting the mirror-image screens while injecting timely pop-culture references (slices of cult-classic films, network news, etc.). Anyone familiar with Meat Beat Manifesto would have been especially pleased by this set, which culled classic tracks from across their 23-year-deep catalogue.
Objectively, the pair's performance wasn't very dynamic, with Stokes's MIDI effects set at a barely perceptible volume in the mix, and much of Dangers's work limited to vague tweaks hidden beneath washes of lower frequencies. And while this wasn't a show to win over new followers, it became easy to see why the MBM project has remained one of electronic music's best-kept secrets.
Getting to hear the savvy skills that put Meat Beat at the forefront of trip-hop, dubstep, drum and bass, and dozens of other genres past, present and future channelled through an obscene sound system at the highest possible volume is an essential experience in the life of any electronic music enthusiast.