Meat Beat Manifesto

Meat Beat Manifesto Biography

Pick a genre, any genre, and chances are good that Meat Beat Manifesto's Jack Dangers has left his mark on it. Dangers was paving the way for trip-hop, breakbeat and drum 'n' bass back before any of those terms had even been invented, and in the two decades since he's managed to stay ahead of the experimental electronic curve with an ever-evolving style that's taken him to the outer limits of ambient dub, industrial noise and dark, minimalist breaks. He's also stretched the standards of live performance for electronic-based music, working with his Tino Corp partner Ben Stokes to incorporate live video sampling into MBM's shows. And along the way he's remixed everyone from Public Enemy to David Bowie to Nine Inch Nails.

Now add jazz to Dangers' long list of musical terrains explored. Part of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, a set of jazz-based albums featuring unlikely teams of musicians, At the Center sees keyboardist Craig Taborn, Bad Plus skinsman Dave King and flautist Peter Gordon joining Dangers under the Meat Beat Manifesto name. The resulting tracks are some of Dangers' most surprising work in years, and not just because he frequently turns up playing the bass clarinet and bass flute.

ARTISTdirect asked Dangers about this latest project and what else is new in the world of Meat Beat Manifesto.

What inspired you to make a record like At the Center? It seems like a pretty new direction for you.

It's part of the Blue Series on Thirsty Ear. They take artists from different genres and pair them with famous jazz artists. I have always been interested in jazz, but jazz with a twist. I like to think of it as genre bending.

How would you describe this music? Does a term like "acid jazz" come close or does that make you cringe?

It makes me cringe because it is pretty far away from that. Again, I like the idea of genre bending. Everyone always tries to categorize my music to make it easier to file in record stores, but they still don't know where I fit. I like that.

Had you known how to play the bass clarinet all along and we just didn't know?

I started out in the '80s on soprano saxophone, until it got stolen on tour. I picked up the bass clarinet in '94 mainly because of Bennie Maupin, who I worked with. Now, I have moved on to the bass flute. I have actually played some type of woodwind on all my albums. I played a soprano sax on Storm the Studio, but I put it through a noise gate and triggered it with a synthesizer.

You just wrapped up a tour. How'd it go?

It was great because I got to show people what Ben Stokes and I have been doing with video sampling. We have been mostly playing in the Bay Area where everyone knows Tino Corp and our warped sense of humor, it was nice to show that to other people and expand the reach.

This was your first North American tour in seven years. Why the long wait?

I have been busy with so many projects, there was never any time. Seriously, it didn't seem like seven years.

What's your new favorite toy in the studio?

Well, I think most people already know this, but the Synthi 100. I can't get away from that one.

What's your favorite thing about living in the Bay Area?

I like it because this is where they filmed Nash Bridges.

What's the weirdest thing you were ever asked to remix?

Remixing different types of feedback for Merzbow.

You've been doing this for nearly 20 years now. What advice would you give to a young producer/recording artist who wants to have a long career in this business?

Don't sign any contracts under Belgian law.

Meat Beat Manifesto's new album, At the Center, is available now in the ARTISTdirect Store.

Meat Beat Manifesto All Music Guide Biography

Beginning in 1987 as an experimental/industrial duo inspired by the cut-and-paste attitudes of hip-hop and dub, Meat Beat Manifesto increasingly became a vehicle for its frontman, Jack Dangers, to explore the emerging electronics of techno, trip-hop, and jungle. Though the group was initially pegged as an industrial act (simply appearing on Wax Trax! was enough to do the trick), its approach to studio recordings influenced many in the new electronica community during the 1990s, even while Dangers remained a superb producer working in much the same way. Born John Corrigan in 1967 in Swindon, England, Dangers played with Jonny Stephens in the pop band Perennial Divide in the mid-'80s. The two formed Meat Beat Manifesto in 1987 initially as a side project, and released the singles "I Got the Fear" and "Strap Down" that year. The dense, danceable material surprised many critics used to the duo's previous work, and the singles received good reviews. Dangers and Stephens left Perennial Divide by 1988 and recorded an album that same year -- using a touring group of up to 13 members for occasional live shows. The tapes were damaged in a fire, so the two recorded Storm the Studio a year later. Just as dense and sample-heavy as the first singles, Storm the Studio included four songs but added three remixes of each -- no need to explain the title -- encompassing high-energy dub, hip-hop, and noise rock. With an American deal through Wax Trax!, Meat Beat Manifesto became known in the U.S. as an industrial band, though Dangers and Stephens felt themselves pigeonholed. The duo moved to the San Francisco area soon after, and formed a rough political collective with the members of Consolidated and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. (Jack Dangers and Consolidated's Mark Pistel co-produced early Disposable Heroes material.) Meat Beat Manifesto, meanwhile, continued their audio terrorism with 99%, a 1990 album that added some jazzy rhythms to the collage of noise. That same year, Wax Trax! recycled the remaining tapes from the aborted first album and released them as Armed Audio Warfare. When Dangers and Stephens signed away from Wax Trax! to the major label Elektra in 1992, the duo finally shook the industrial tag that had stuck with them previously. Instead, the media christened the follow-up, Satyricon, a techno album, due to both the duo's tour of the U.S. with Orbital and Ultramarine and the album's groove-heavy update of old synth groups such as Depeche Mode. Dangers' early material began to be name-checked as at least a partial motivation for the trip-hop and drum'n'bass movement, due to the studio mechanics inherent in the music. The late-'90s full-lengths Subliminal Sandwich and Actual Sounds + Voices increased Dangers' devotion to the experimental side of electronica, though his first Meat Beat Manifesto LP of the new millennium (RUOK?) was a more Spartan affair. Dangers moved Meat Beat Manifesto to the Thirsty Ear label in 2005. His first release on the label, At the Center, became part of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, a series of recordings that explored new avenues of jazz. Keyboardist Craig Taborn, Bad Plus drummer Dave King, and flutist Peter Gordon joined Dangers on the album, which was followed three years later by Autoimmune on Metropolis Records. Dangers has also contributed to the Tino's Breaks series of records released on the Tino Corp. label he co-owns with Ben Stokes (aka DHS), and he has released several solo albums, including 2001's Hello Friends!, 2002's Variaciones Espectrales, and 2004's Forbidden Planet Explored. ~ John Bush, Rovi


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