Meat Beat Manifesto

Storm the Studio R.M.X.S.

When British producer (and Bay Area resident) Jack Dangers' Meat Beat Manifesto project released its seminal debut album, Storm the Studio, in 1989, both politics and dance pop looked bleak. Conservatives ran the political show in both the U.S. and the U.K., and the mind-numbing post-disco thump of house and techno ruled the dance floor. But Storm put said dance floor on notice: Simplistic hedonism was dead. MBM's samples of primordial punk William S. Burroughs' chant to "Storm the studio" upended dance music's "get down" paradigm, and urged listeners to seize the means of production, to create chaos, to do something. The album's noisy yet dead-funky centerpiece, "God O.D.," featured then-vocalist Johnny Stephens shouting vague, alarmist lyrics like "It's genocide, can't you see?/ Genocide in the first degree." But rhetoric aside, Storm blasted the genre rules of the time, boosting hip hop breakbeats, substantive samples, scratch edits, and electro flavor with dub technique and industrial attitude. This year Dangers fittingly commissioned a diverse lineup of beat music's most innovative producers -- including local post-techno producer Jonah Sharp and DJs Spooky and Swamp -- to remix tracks from Storm. The result, Storm the Studio R.M.X.S., reflects how durably the original album's exploratory spirit has withstood electronica's whirlwind history.

With R.M.X.S., Dangers shows that as a densely layered sonic collage powered by an engaging attitude, Storm was almost screaming to be remixed. While genre masters like noise maven Merzbow and dubmeister Twilight Circus bring mixes in line with their specialties, it's the lesser-knowns who illustrate how versatile the '89 material truly was. Norscq traces "God O.D."'s outline with samples of Southeast Asian folk music, while German minimalist Komet calmly edits the dense, slow-rolling "Reanimator" down to its pulsing, electronic core. "Reanimator"'s urgency even withstands the ethereal, emotional distance of a remix by highly intellectual knob-twiddler Scanner. But Dangers' Martian-broadcast mix of his own "Cease to Exist" (with his current recording partner, Ben Stokes) puts the tune -- and Storm the Studio as a whole -- in its proper perspective as an album that should have come out 15 years from now.

 
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