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“Impossible Star” and the Ever-Evolving World of Meat Beat Manifesto

by Ben Hudgins

Be sure to check out Ben’s own foray into harsh noise and dark ambient by listening to his Endless Landscapes of Decay project here.

“It’s in my brain now.”

Any long-term industrial/IDM devotee knows those words, the undeniable riff that follows, and the subsequent thunderous drumbeats. In the dark world of four-on-the-floor rivethead stomp, Meat Beat Manifesto’s “Helter Skelter” was unafraid to bring that blessed syncopation. This was my gateway drug into the mind of Jack Dangers, and I’ve been an enthusiastic fan ever since.

I won’t deny that Dangers & Co. have had some missteps here and there (though blessedly few), and I’m lukewarm about some of their releases. Impossible Star is emphatically not one of those records. In fact, I’d cite it as one of the strongest in the canon. One of the things I most admire about Mr. Dangers is his willingness to experiment and evolve, and Impossible Star illustrates this progression in every way.

Everything that I love about Meat Beat is here:  Mid-tempo breakbeats, a couple of heavy stompers, etc., all wrapped in elegant soundscapes full of off-kilter melodies that somehow manage to work perfectly. There are even some dubstep elements here, though done in Dangers’ unique fashion; no trite, run-of-the-mill wobblers, thank you very much. His ghostly vocals appear sporadically as well, accompanied by tastefully vocoded chorusing.

Jack Dangers | Credit: Peter Ellenby

The record also includes two tracks (“Nocebo” and “Lurker”) that were originally released on limited-edition 10” vinyl back in 2015 by the Skam/Kasm label. The latter track is an extended version of the original, stretching it out an additional ten-and-a-half minutes. This is a very good thing, as “Lurker” was undoubtedly the standout track on the 10” and vies for that position here.

This is an exceptionally warm record, with fat, soft pads throughout, with every track imbued with a spacey, pronounced analog feel. There are some darker moments (such as the aforementioned “Lurker” and the scratchy soundscapes of “Liquidators” and “Rejector”), but even these contain some of that same sense of whimsy. This is definitely not the raw, aggressive Jack Dangers from the Armed Audio Warfare days. This is a fully matured musician who has completely mastered his instruments and his sound. There’s no one else like Meat Beat Manifesto and I’m infinitely glad of that.