Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bend Me, Shape Me #9: Subliminal Sandwich

Once the volume control is set, do not readjust.
Do not readjust.

As pivotal to the shaping of my taste for funk as The Sound of Funk Vol. 4 was, so the Volume series of compilations was to my taste for beats-driven electronic music.

Volumes 1 and 2 are touchstones on my way here fo' sho.

Volume One CD + bound mini-magazine came out in 1991 on U.K.-based World's End Ltd. In-the-thick-of-it acts like Consolidated and The Orb were there, as were the well-established New Order and Nitzer Ebb, but the standout track on this outstanding comp was "Love Mad" by Meat Beat Manifesto.

If you leave, take me with you.
I want you, I need you.

"They can design future worlds."

I first heard MBM in SP's room in college. He was never afraid to play risky tracks late night in a co-ed situation (rarer than thou'd think), and I always loved it when he played "Drop" from the 1992 MBM album Satyricon. It would either clear the room, or send it into a state, and either way I was there agitating for more volume.

The same is true on a much larger scale with Subliminal Sandwich from 1996, the definitive intersection of all the best parts of MBM.

Listening to Subliminal Sandwich is like tuning into a pirate radio station for a fictional universe, or at least a fictional music scene- the album is so stylistically diverse and daring it's amazing that only one band is behind it all. This is also a rare example of a double album NOT being too much of a good thing. Dancefloor-oriented Side 1 is definitely the more traditional "album side" in terms of track sequencing, but the looser, spacier, more experimental Side 2 is just as essential as the "now, let's go thataway" counterbalance: deep left-field, aggressive ambient (until you get to track 4 "United Nations E. T. C." which rounds back to an even freakier dance-floor style... this is the song that would be playing at midnight on a Saturday if I had my own club.)

Very weird, very exciting stuff. FORBIDDEN PLANET-style space effects, echo chamber dub sensations and angry but mindful lyrics.

MBM deliver unbelievable interplay between their music and visuals when they play live.

It’s a crime,
it’s so sublime.

For me the definitive track is "She’s Unreal":

Give me love,
so that I can kill.
Love me.
Love me.

The buzzing drums coming back in after the sound-collage interlude is an epic break, and the turntable solo in “What’s Your Name?” is one of the best ever. Hyperbole is warranted here, trust me. A helluvan achievement for an operation propelled for over two decades by one guy, Mr. Jack Dangers.

See I believe in the noble, aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing
and I hope someday I’ll be in a position when I can do even less.

That sentiment, great sample though it is, has very little to do with the incredibly prolific Dangers. This is hard, circuit-driven industrial funk, there for you when yer ready and willing... if this kind of talk turns you on, that is.

**If you're new to the site, the goal of the Bend Me, Shape Me series can be found here.**


ben said...

the jaw harp has never sounded as good as it does on "Cancer." ridiculously heavy beats, strange and funky samples and a general evil overtone.......love it!

Mr. Word Player said...

you're right ben, i completely forgot to mention how EVIL this record is... but in a GOOD way, yes?

ben said...

evil in the best possible way imaginable. dark would probably be a better adjective.....no, on second thought, evil is about right. also, "future worlds" needs a mention. that track has made it on more of my mix tapes than any other track i can think of. perfect little sample at the end of that track for a mix.
"remember: do not readjust, do not readjust."

Anonymous said...

I bleed Meat Beat...have been listening to them since about 1989.

Where is that line: I believe in the aristocractic art... from? Obviously a soundbite from a movie or something.

I desperately want to get my life to the state where I'm waking up everyday to do nothing...but where is that from?

Mr. Word Player said...

I couldn't easily find where the actual audio sample is from, but the words themselves are a paraphrase from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray". here's the quote:

"The son, who had been his father’s secretary, had resigned along with his chief, somewhat foolishly as was thought at the time, and on succeeding some months later to the title, had set himself to the serious study of the great aristocratic art of doing absolutely nothing."