Meat Beat Manifesto :: RUOK? (:/ Run Recordings/Skor)

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Release Date :: October 15th, 2002

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RUOK?, the follow-up full-length recording by Jack Dangers, the man with the master-plan is scheduled to be released on Lakeshore Records’ sub-label, :/Run Recordings and Skor Records (domestic vinyl release). After having already released 6 albums beginning with 1989’s seminal Storm the Studio thru to 1998’s Actual Sounds + Voices, RUOK? is the highly anticipated album covering a lot of sonic-territory. Spanning thru collective electrical currents, lo-end basslines and mind-bending tweaks, MBM have not lost their magnetic formula of beat-driven & sample-laden tracks on RUOK?, but what seems to be missing is the lyrical element of Jack Dangers voice, which many fans may have become accustomed to expect. Nonetheless, the following review should give you some insight on RUOK?. MBM’s musical and historical past has brought them much praise, attention and respect since day one. And rightfully so, they’ve also been the underdog for bands such as Chemical Brothers, Future Sound of London, and Prodigy to name a few.

As a “Visionary, Forefather, & Innovator” (press-sheet quote), Jack Dangers has been cultivating Meat Beat Manifesto’s sound-sculptures for almost 15 years beginning with the highly regarded Storm the Studio (1989) and Armed Audio Warfare (1990) releases that pinned MBM into the industrial arena on Wax Trax Records. This Chicago (USA) based label with a catalog mainly containing industrial influenced/based artists such as Front 242, KMFDM, Revolting Cocks, EBN, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and others lumped MBM with the industrial genre outfit. While MBM has always carved a unique groove around the darker/political sounds especially on 1992’s Satyricon (Mute), Jack Dangers’ musical-influences has never locked itself into one set format or style. Precisely maneuvering obscure samples through loops of odd tweaks, magnetic rhythms tied to the signature basslines, MBM has always been a collaborative effort and cultivated by main-man Jack Dangers.

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Recycling sound is one of MBM’s strong points, and with tracks like “What Does it All Mean”, you definitely get a good feel of the recycling effects that Jack Dangers manages to subtly tie into every release. “Set Me Free”, “Give Your Body It’s Freedom”, “Society is a drag..” and a few other samples are run through a vocoder and spread-out throughout this funky track, a collaborative piece with scratching brought to you by San Francisco’s Z-Trip. “Horn Of Jerico” offers up some interesting beat-driven atmospherics with Alex Patterson of The Orb. Its attractive bassline is signature to MBM’s past but significantly a part of MBM’s future. With invisible scratching and wandering melodies, “Horn Of Jerico” will fast become a track gaining significant rotation. Another highlight on RUOK? includes the highly percussive “Hankerchief Head” with incredible scratches, ultra-wide basslines and the rather interesting linguistics discussion intro.

Using one of 29 made (worldwide), the EMS Synthi 100 was utilized in the creation of RUOK?. Jack’s musical sculptures are represented by the use of this 650lb monster-synth, and represents yet another creative and unique facet of MBM’s palette of obscure frequencies. Not to elaborate too much on the EMS Synthi 100, but some credit should be associated with this Synth that also created sound effects for a myriad of TV programs, including Doctor Who.
Consequently the programming possibilities are enormous with a huge number of modules being able to be connected in
any convoluted manner possible thanks to the pin matrix
patch-bay –the sounds are gorgeous and often very strange.
The Synthi 100 was originally based on three VCS3s, and grew from there to encompass 12 oscillators and associated filters, envelopes, etc. Having personally had the opportunity to see this machine and see Jack adjust and rearrange some of the patches, it’s pretty incredible to feel the attractive yet warm analog feel this machine produces.

RUOK? maneuvers its way into experimentally focused tracks such as the “Yuri” introduction tune –flexing a crisp bassline and a syncopated beat throughout this futuristic electro-acoustic experimentation. Similarly, “No Echo In Space” (which could be considered as a remix of “Echo In Space” featured on the recently released mini-LP Variaciones Espectrales on 303 image 3 Instinct Records). On “No Echo in Space”, a punchy bass-beat is dropped at sub-sonic levels and a cacophony of beats interact and collide into each other producing a totally experimentally driven side of Jack Dangers’ musical genius. “Retrograde” maintains an infinite amount of atmospheric/drifting sonic-tweaks that could have been generated on the Synthi EMS 100.. possible? While each MBM release always highlights peculiar/obscure samples, RUOK? contains a couple tracks that are based on this formula but doesn’t devote a full albums worth to this process. “Intermission” contains what could possibly be an early 70’s/80’s Radio-DJ host discussing his pending program and “..news of import broadcast throughout the night..” and “..infinitesimal wisp of smoke our lives really are..” including other vocal-oddities while an organ chimes its way thru. On a similar path, “Happiness Supreme” focuses on a conversation between a dysfunctional couple cussing at each other throughout this 2-minute excursion closing off with the vocoded “RUOK?” lyric and reggae influenced samples statically crossed in and out of this tune chiming the lyrics “Happiness Supreme”. “Supersoul” includes drenching basslines a heavy drumming wrapped around the “Supersoul” vocal-sample that flows into a head-bobbing/funky piece of musical ingenuity. With every MBM album, a standout track makes its way subliminally and/or consequently into the subconscious and “Dynamite Fresh” is one such track. With its fast(er) paced drumming and high-energy bass, the lovely tweaks and casually massaged flute plays a significant role in making RUOK? a success. “Spinning Round” follows a similar approach with its slowed down and broken beats and “Into the darkness” sample/loop.Of course, we’re going to leave the comments about the 3″ Bonus-CD to an absolute minimum to increase the suspense of what is contained within! (Tracklist located at bottom, however)

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RUOK? manages to extract MBM’s darker more experimentally driven landscapes while cultivating futuristic musical creations. With credits to The Orb and Z-Trip, RUOK? brings enlightening musical patterns of experimental scratching, breaks, broken-beats and a (more) minimal approach for MBM standards creating a field of electro-organic sounds. A bonus 3″ CD is also lined up, as well as a domestic vinyl release on Skor Records. Rumors of a video for one of ‘s tracks is underway as well, making the overall anticipation factor that much more exciting. Set your receivers, and be refreshed!

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Tracklist :: RUOK? CD (:/ Run Recordings)

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  • 01 Yuri
  • 02 Spinning Round
  • 03 Horn Of Jerico
  • 04 What Does it All Mean
  • 05 No Words Necessary
  • 06 Intermission
  • 07 Supersoul
  • 08 Hankerchief Head
  • 09 No Echo In Space
  • 10 Dynamite Fresh
  • 11 Retrograde
  • 12 Happiness Supreme

    Tracklist :: Free Piece Suite 3″ CD (:/ Run Recordings)

  • 01 Fromage
  • 02 Untitled x 2
  • 03 Radio Atlantis

    + Tape Music video by Ben Stokes.

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    Tracklist :: 2LP (Skor Records)

    Side A

  • a1 Yuri
  • a2 Spinning Round

    Side B

  • b1 What Does It All Mean?
  • b2 Handkerchief Head

    Side C

  • c1 Supersoul
  • c2 No Echo In Space

    Side D

  • d1 Retrograde
  • d2 Horn Of Jerico

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  • ((( Buy it at Insound )))

    Links ::

  • :/Run Recordings CD Release
  • Skor Records Vinyl Release
  • MBM Official Site
  • TinoCorp
  • MBM Historical Archive
  • Synth Museum
  • The Orb
  • Z-Trip
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