Meatraffle – Hi Fi Classics
Louder Than War’s Roxy Gillespie reviews the new opus from Meatraffle.
The lead track from the forthcoming album ‘Hi-fi Classics’ is as anarchic as the band producing it. Refusing to be categorised, the band bring a plethora of influences to the musical feast, and a sizeable dollop of them find their way into ‘Oppenheimer’. The track begins with a suitably moody bass line, a portent of things to come, as the brass section ramp up the doom. The fast, repetitive crescendo of vocals that makes up the frenzied chorus takes you by surprise, then the music slumps back to the brooding bass and brass until the vocals assault you again. The vocals have a slightly discordant cult appeal and the paired-down rhythms are enlivened by the brass section. It’s a fitting introduction to the rest of the album, which has a down-at-heel dub and drum machine allure.
‘The Wickerman’ is as sinister as the title suggests, the lyrics nailing down the band’s political intentions. The song has a droning quality that gets under your skin and the delivery is superb. The lyrics on many of the tracks have an unusual or surreal quality finding inspiration in the dreams of aphids and the qualities of outstanding hi fi, but the political messages and social commentary are never far from the surface.
The music often moves into free-fall jazz, with the brass section of the band contributing to the feel of ordered chaos in some of the interludes, but other musical forms also find their way onto the album. ‘Aurora’ has an underlying Jamaican feel, with the dub sound effect making its mark, and ‘The Horseshoe’ has a cool 60’s vibe with an especially funky little intro. The warped love song to both Rosaria, Za Za Sapien’s wife, and hi fi itself, ‘Madam Hi Fi’ is perfect in its messy dub craziness.
The bonus live track ‘Follow Dog’ brings to mind early Hawkwind in places, helping to make it one of the many stand-out tracks on ‘Hi Fi Classics’. ‘Nice Young Couple’ uses repetition to full effect, the order of the lyrics rising in a brutal crescendo sharply contrasting with the unfocused jazz feel of the musical interludes.
‘Hi Fi Classics’ as a whole is an interesting mix and a true representation of the fresh sounds available to those willing to stray from the indie fold. The album shows what can be achieved by striding out and producing music that takes from so many influences and genres, melding them together to form a very special body of work.
All words by Roxy Gillespie. More writing on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive. She tweets as @RoxyG100.