12th studio album from legendary producer Jack Dangers aka Meat Beat Manifesto, named after the colour reportedly named as the ugliest in the world. Opaque Couché, released just a year after comeback album Impossible Star, sees MBM in the same kind of iconoclastic mood that established their reputation over three decades ago.
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Meat Beat Manifesto named their new album after what is reportedly the ugliest colour, Pantone 448C - or ‘opaque couché’ as it's known. Selected for use on cigarette packs in Australia recently, for those unaware it’s a kind of khaki brown with green undertones. "The drab hue of greenish brown has drawn endless comparisons to baby poop" it says here. Urgh.
‘Opaque Couché’, however, is absolutely brilliant. It takes in sparse jungle, minimal DnB, IDM, manipulated vocal samples, and of course, gut-worrying bass. It’s like ‘Selected Ambient Works’ seen through a different, perhaps slightly clearer lens. There are moments that unsettle and moments that calm. The best example of this is on sixth track ‘Bolinas’ which opens with some soothing, easy-listening pads and even an acoustic guitar but then transforming quite immediately into a fractured, noisy IDM piece, before melding these two elements in twain to create something unsettlingly calming.
I suppose the best track is the album centerpiece ‘Pin Drop’ which is just superb, and one of the best electronic pieces I’ve heard all year. It opens with this strange treated vocal polyphony before entering into magnificently restrained jungle beat backed by muted bass with a garage feel. This track, for all its digital madness, feels somehow natural which is a very hard thing to do indeed.
This record reminds me of all kinds of good stuff. I’m getting flavours of Aphex, Royksopp, Vulvaland-era Mouse on Mars, and Boards of Canada. I was unaware of the Meat Beat Manifesto before hearing this album but ‘Opaque Couche’, the album, has convinced me to investigate other colours on his palette.
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