Jack Dangers, the lead character behind Meat Beat Manifesto,
has provoked the underground electronic scene since the early eighties.
His most recent project, Answers Come In Dreams, is his 13th
studio album, a minimalistic tribute to a newer era of electronic
music - dub step. Dangers is not the new kid on the block, and it
is endearing to see such a revered figure take a stab at what the
"young people" are doing. Dreams is a collection
of contradictions, of yin-and-yang, of questions and answers, of REM
and NREM sleep. During the album's eleven tracks, industrial drum
breaks are cushioned by ambient and lucid soundscapes that feel, well,
dream-like. The effect is mesmerizing.
The album opener, "Luminol," sifts back and forth while
a simple, repeated bass line descends. "Quietus" charms
its audience as the phrase "Sometimes I wonder why \ Sometimes
I wonder why \ Sometimes I wonder why" repeats. In "Please"
a dense percussion pattern is stretched over six minutes. As a self-proclaimed
minimalistic, it is evident that Dangers has not digressed from this
position with Answers Come In Dreams. "I don't feel like
this is a new direction. It's just an extension of my sound - maybe
it's more minimal than previous records." And that's unfortunate.
For an artist who has been making music for two decades, Answers
Come In Dreams sounds premature - like a giddy teenager booting
up Ableton for the first time. What makes minimalism artistically
stable, particularity as a musical style, is its ability to redirect
the listener's attention to nuances. Generally such music is based
upon several repetitive structures that are modified slowly, but noticeably
over time. Dangers starts with these repetitive structures but gets
overzealous with the loop button, rarely adding anything new to the
arrangement or altering the tonal or rhythmic qualities of each track's
preexisting structure. The sound "design" in Dreams is
conventional and static, with most of the timbre elements remaining
consistent through the tracks. Without these dynamics or even additive
elements aside from these select, repeated bars of music, Answers
Come In Dreams is still water.
The album's only interesting track "# Zero," is dominated
by a synthesized non-western melody that is reminiscent of early acid
tracks. Yet, analogous with the rest of the album, the rash repetitions
of the arpeggiated blops quickly become bland. The plane never left
the hanger and it seems that Dangers is struggling to find the start
key. Perhaps Dreams will be a foundation for a solid follow-up,
one that will synthesize his latest approach with his earlier work.
But until such a time, Dangers is still working with the raw materials
- he has yet to do the cooking.
- Parker Tichko
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