Meat Beat Manifesto - Biography



By David Downs

 

Highly influential electronic music producer Jack Dangers and his outfit Meat Beat Manifesto started in 1987 in Swindon, UK, the hometown of new wave band XTC. The band began as an experimental side project for pop musician Dangers and partner Jonny Stephens -- focusing on what would be labeled industrial music for its gritty, mechanical sound and use of odd samples. But over the course of the band's enormous recording career, the basic aim of Meat Beat Manifesto hewed less to an established electronic music genre and more to a way of thinking that rejected whatever the music industry was purportedly calling “music” that day. MBM started with a slew of debut singles including “God O.D.” collected on Armed Audio Warfare (1989-Wax Trax!) followed by 99% (1990-Mute) and major label techno hit Satyricon (1992-Elektra) with stand-out tracks “Mindstream” and “Son of Sam”. Dangers moved to San Francisco and ditched partner Stephens, releasing Version Galore (1995-Play It Again) and Subliminal Sandwich (1996-Play It Again Sam) with singles “Nuclear Bomb” and “Original Fire.” Actual Sounds + Voices (1998-Nothing) signified a high water mark, as Meat Beat Manifesto's drum and bass techno hit “Prime Audio Soup” appeared on the platinum-selling soundtrack to Academy Award-winning blockbuster film The Matrix. The spare RUOK? (2002-:\ run), as well as remix albums Storm the Studio R.M.X.S. (2003-Tino Corp) and ...In Dub (2004-:/run) preceded jazzy fusion experiment At the Center (2005-Thirsty Ear) and more touring, followed by the well-received Autoimmune (2008-Metropolis). Dangers still producers, records, remixes and performs-- among the top producers of the era who's own favorite works include: "God O.D.", "Strap Down", "Psyche Out", "Helter Skelter", "Radio Babylon", "Edge of No Control" and "It's The Music". Dangers has never been a commercial leader and Actual Sounds + Voices hit a rare number forty-one on the Heatseekers chart while Autoimmune managed a respectable number twenty-three on the Top Electronic Albums chart. 1991's “Psyche Out” became a Hot Dance Music/Club Play number seven and “Acid Again” also charted.

 

Jack Dangers was born John Corrigan in 1967 in Swindon, England, and played with Jonny Stephens in pop band Perennial Divide in the '80s. The two formed Meat Beat Manifesto in 1987 as a side project to explore the sample-heavy techniques of Hip Hop and dub. They released the singles "I Got the Fear" and "Strap Down" as well as “Suck Hard” “God O.D.” and “Dog Star Man”-- mostly aggressive, dance-club bangers. Dangers and Stephens quit Perennial Divide in 1988 to record an MBM album while touring with up to thirteen members, but in 1989 the recordings were damaged in a fire.

 

Four-track mini-album Storm the Studio (1989-WaxTrax!) featured high-energy dub, Hip Hop, and noise rock and continued their experimentation wit 99%, adding jazz rhythms to their noisey amalgams Singles “Helter Skelter” “Psyche-Out” and “Radio Babylon” found new listeners on both sides of the Pond. Wax Trax! also released Armed Audio Warfare combining what was left of the fire tapes. The band's live show was legendary – an intensely aural and visual experience with dancers and costumes, video clips, live instruments, sequencers and DJing. Nine Inch Nails hosted their debut national tour in 1990. Dangers and Stephens signed to major label Elektra in 1992, releasing the popular Satyricon (1992-Elektra) just as MBM was getting widespread credit for helping spread early electronic music like garage and jungle. Stephens was credited with guitars, synthesizers and sampler work, with both men claiming production credit and here the band sound-checks the Orb, the Chemical Brothers, Orbital, and Nine Inch Nails. In 1994, Dangers moved from England to San Francisco, and Stephens was out of the band. Version Galore (1995-Play It Again Sam) preceded the home-recorded double album Subliminal Sandwich (1996-Nothing), with this album appearing on Trent Reznor's Nothing Records. In 1997, Dangers recruited drummer Lynn Farmer and guitarist Jon Wilson, releasing Actual Sounds + Voices (1998-Nothing), yielding possibly MBM most recognized track “Prime Audio Soup”. Marilyn Manson, the Propellerheads and Ministry all made appearances in the $460 million-grossing film which and the soundtrack went gold then platinum in 1999. “Prime Audio Soup” plays as the main characters hack into a computer program and Dangers' synthetic bass line beats like an in utero heart throb as the lyrics chant “set me free” over moaning, blips, bloops, guitar hooks and Farmer's stutter-step percussion. Little-known RUOK? (2002-:\ run) featured turntablist Z-Trip and The Orb's Alex Paterson while remix album Storm the Studio R.M.X.S. (2003-Tino Corp.) kicked off Danger's side projects with the group, generating the memorable track “Horn of Jerico”.

 

...In Dub (2004-:/run) remixed RUOK? and in 2005 Dangers took Meat Beat Manifesto to the Thirsty Ear label. At the Center (2005-Thirsty Ear) was part of Thirsty Ear's Blue Series, exploring post-jazz with keyboardist Craig Taborn, Bad Plus drummer Dave King, and flutist Peter Gordon joining Dangers on the album. It's groovy, funky, improvisational and sometimes atmospheric – displaying the veteran production skills of Dangers. MBM toured American for the first time in seven years in 2005, then going to Europe and Japan in early 2006, immortalized in on-line CD Live '05 (Tino), and Travelogue Live '05 on DVD (2006-MVD).

 

Autoimmune (2008-Metropolis Records) is a double CD featuring vocals from Jack, Oakland'?s Azeem, Mr. C and Daddy Sandy and a guest appearance from Z-Trip. The subsequent tour as Meat Beat Manifesto, hit the East and West coast. 2010 saw the band's latest release, titled Answers Come In Dreams.

 

Dangers' career has many facets and he's remixed Nine Inch Nails, Public Enemy, David Bowie, Orbital, David Byrne, Bush, Depeche Mode, Tower of Power, The Bee Gees and DJ Spooky & Dave Lombardo (Slayer). Dangers also contributes Tino's Breaks – seven records released on the Tino Corp. label he co-owns with Ben Stokes (aka DHS). Danger's solo albums, include 2001's Hello Friends! (2001-Shadow), Variaciones Espectrales (2002-Instinct), and Forbidden Planet Explored (2004-Important).

 

It is important to note that Dangers has always made intriguing and intimidating music whether it's labeled industrial, techno, trance, acid jazz, or any other label created to cover groundbreaking concoctions of beats samples, atmospherics and experimentation. He'd logically be more well-known if he'd hewed to a more mainstream line, but his fearless, uncompromising experimentation has won his something more permanent than RIAA-certified gold records Grammy's – artistic respect.

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