November 2, 2004
US CDx2 Important IMPREC042
Jack Dangers - all instruments
Following the success of Forbidden Planet Explored, Jack's soundtrack for the legendary sci-fi film Forbidden Planet, Jack has brought us a brand new Meat Beat style manifestation and a collection of 10 years worth of his electro-acoustic musique concrete. Loudness Clarifies/Music From Tapelab brings forth both sides of Jack Dangers multi-dimensional audio personality into one single commercial package neatly designed by Almighty. From the distant, careful, experimentalism found in Music From Tapelab to the dance floor oriented Loudness Clarifies we experience Jack as a whole musical entity.
Jack Dangers has increased his musical output in recent years, spitting out a string of records under his own name, Meat Beat Manifesto, and Tino Corp, pushing his style into heretofore unheard directions. With Loundness Clarifies, Dangers essentially bridges the gap between the comfortable, groove-oriented material that everyone associates with Meat Beat Manifesto, and his more experimental, offbeat tendencies when working without the expectations of the "Meat Beat brand." Of course, Meat Beat records have always had a touch of the obscure and absurd in them, but after listening to the last few albums and comparing them to the early work, some of the daring experimentation seemed to be missing in favor of tighter grooves. Here, Dangers seems to be going for the logical connection between the grooves and beats for which he is so well known, and the studio antics and manipulation of sound that is close to his heart. Loudness Clarifies plays more with distortion and strange frequencies than anything heard from Jack in a long time. The beats are crunchy electro wiggles, breaks-overdriven and run along with a warbly bass that at times consumes them. Dangers' typical analog synth fascination is in full effect, but the tones are all slightly detuned, bent, filtered, or otherwise molested into something a bit darker and less accessible than might be expected. This is not to say that the record is a full-on excursion into DSP-noodle-land. In fact, far from it, the album sounds more akin to the kind of records Dangers was making over a decade ago as it's full of the warm hum of tubes and transistors and tapeloops whizzing by. Not Breathing's Dave Wright plays the flange on the opening track (the first time I've ever seen flange credited as a performance) and bass on another, while The Bass Kittens' Jon Drukman has a go with some crispy fried electro rhythms on "Super Hit 9" that give the album some of its best and weirdest moments. As if a new and style-stretching release from Dangers wasn't enough, the package also includes some of Dangers' electro-acoustic and found-sound collage work entitled Electronic Music From Tapelab. Fans of Dangers' work won't be surprised by the weird, disembodied voices and radio static and analog squiggles that poke out from the speakers in this collection of ten studio tracks recorded for film, radio, and television, but they may not be overwhelmed by the disc either. As music concrÍte records go, it is an impeccible studio effort and showcases Dangers' uncanny use of space and ability to isolate the best parts of sounds. However, as music written for film, radio, and TV, it tends to lack a narrative center that might be provided by visuals or some other accompanying context. Take the audio accompaniment and sound design out of its narrative environment, and it tends to be hit or miss based on the quality of the sounds alone. This is, of course, the point of such a record, but like looking through the portfolio of your favorite designer, there are going to be pieces that grab you, moments that speak to you, and others that are easily skipped. Electronic Music From Tapelab is a fun sound design experience, but I'm not liable to spin it as frequently as its more structured, song-based younger brother. Important packages both discs in a nice cardboard double pack, and taken as a whole, it's impossible not to like. - Matthew Jeanes, Brainwashed
What Steve Reich and John Cage did with electronics and musique concrète in the 20th century, Jack Dangers is deftly handling in the 21st. Loudness Clarifies/Electronic Music From Tapelab is his sophomore double-set for ¡mportant!, featuring guests David Wright (Code Indigo, Callisto) and Jon Drukman (Bass Kittens, The Ultraviolet Catastrophe). Dangers gets dancey first with Meat Beat Manifesto-esque boombity-boom beats-and-breaks on disc one, and electro-noodly on the next, with nifty goodies from his Marin Tapelab studio. His hero is the ultra-rare (as in one left) 600-lb. EMS Synthi 100 and its awesome bloops and bleeps. Dangers' dual sounds endure masterfully! - Stacy Meyn, XLR8R