ALBUM REVIEW: Meat Beat Manifesto “Opaque Couche”

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO "Opaque Couche" album cover

MEAT BEAT MANIFESTO “Opaque Couche” album cover

32 years into a groundbreaking career Electro pioneers Meat Beat Manifesto (MBM) are back with their 12th studio album Opaque Couche, a tongue in cheek reference for what is supposedly the ugliest hue in the Pantone Color book.

Opaque Couche finds MBM reaching back to their roots while pushing their patented blend of blips, bleeps and heavy dub rhythms forward into exciting new soundscapes. According to MBM main-man Jack Dangers he chose the title Opaque Couche because it is neither black nor white but a shade somewhere in-between. Perhaps a perfect bit of symbolism for the divided times the world is facing at this moment?

Whatever its meaning Opaque Couche is prime time MBM product and a worthy addition to their sparkling catalog of releases. “Unduction” begins things with some spooky samples setting an ominous tone, a voice recites in a monotone in the background and a brief 90 seconds later second track “Pin Drop” kicks in and you suddenly have that patented MBM sound that only they can deliver.

Meat Beat Manifesto press photo

Meat Beat Manifesto press photo

Maybe it’s because Dangers builds his soundscapes on a bed of samples instead of using drum machines, maybe it’s because they can effortlessly marry heavy Jamaican dub bass lines with electronics or maybe it’s because he is such a visionary talent. No one else has ever really been able to duplicate the MBM sound. Nobody delivers this particular blend of electronica like Dangers does.

And so Opaque Couche (clocking in at around 60 minutes) is a double LP’s worth of vintage MBM which although it may be presented in a rather drab outer package is absolutely slamming when pumping out of a pair of speakers. The album delivers on all fronts offering listeners both ambient soundscapes and thundering dancefloor shakers.

Opaque Couche is their second album release following an eight-year hiatus (brought about partly because Dangers moved his studio to a different Bay area location) and it’s great to report MBM are back sounding fresh and reenergized. The band is hitting the road for some live dates and if possible, you’ll want to catch them touring on this album. Here’s hoping we get plenty more from MBM in the coming years.