Music

Dark Meat: Truce Opium

Athens, Georgia collective with ties to both Elephant 6 and Lil' Wayne return after three years with a much slimmer lineup and a much more streamlined effort than Universal Indians.


Dark Meat

Truce Opium

Label: Emergency Umbrella
US Release Date: 2009-10-20
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

When Dark Meat released their debut album, Universal Indians, in 2006, they came to my attention mostly for the Elephant 6 connections and massive, Polyphonic Spree-style band formation. Looking back, it's interesting how that format was so popular for a moment. Anyway, in the three-plus years since those sessions, Dark Meat has trimmed itself from a band as deep as 24 heads to a much more economic nine-piece, and it really shows in the tightness of the record. Instruments still come in and out of the mix, with songs like "Flaps" showing a real sense of progression from one member to the next. But there are also more straight-up numbers like "Last of the Frontiersmen", a track that has the modest goal of rocking your face off.

Where Universal Indians was all about free folk chaos, here the instrumental and sequential focus is just much tighter and easier on the ears. Rather than sounding like complete dysfunction, this group anchored by songwriter Jon McHugh moves very fluidly from song to song. It captures their live show just as gloriously as Universal Indians, but avoids much of the frivolities that cornered that album as an artistic curiosity more than an entertaining piece of music.

Dark Meat still require quite a healthy amount of aural elasticity -- how else could one survive the transition from the free jazz flutes of "The Faint Smell of Moss" to the southern rock stomp of "Future Galaxies" (sugar coated with a horror movie brass section) and the extended free jazz via rock 'n' roll excursions of "No One Was Here" and "Song of the New Year"? However, the schizophrenic nature of their last release has been dropped and replaced with a more clear, grounded sense of psych, folk, and rock music, even if that purpose is still rooted in audio chaos. Particularly when it comes to the vocals, which are my main problem with the record. There's too much echo and forced psychedelia going on there, sort of like bands that go lo-fi just for the extra attention.

Dark Meat aren't making music for everyone, but it's fairly obvious they're having a hell of a time doing their own thing. The psychedelia is laid on nice and thick, with influences as diverse as Eastern instrumental music and Krautrock to the MC5, of Montreal and, yes, touring with Lil' Wayne. Fans of music that makes you take a hard look at your own musical values should definitely check this one out because the jazzy, academic discussion is palpable with this one; the brass section in particular, titled the Vomit Lasers, is one worth hearing multiple times. They spice all of these songs up with that little something extra to bring them home. Truce Opium may not be a record that stays in the rotation forever, but it's definitely one that'll have you thinking about it long after you've walked away.

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Prof. Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.