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POP MUSIC REVIEWS

Hard-Edged Industrial Sounds From Meat Beat Manifesto

September 30, 1996|STEVE HOCHMAN

Two compelling extremes of the techno music world--with two seemingly opposed visions--were showcased Friday at the Hollywood American Legion Hall. Headlining band Meat Beat Manifesto offered hard-edged industrial sounds with images of modern dystopian horrors, while opener Loop Guru presented trippy global fusion with a sunny, utopian one-world message.

Drums proved to be the link. On record, Meat Beat has over the course of a decade evolved from dark Anglo-hip-hop to the crafty sound manipulations of main man Jack Dangers, as heard on the new double CD "Subliminal Sandwich." Live, though, the heart was the rich drumming of Lynn Farmer, ornamented by Dangers, guitar-sax player John Wilson and keyboardist Mike Powell with distorted, ghostly sounds--a challenging yet enticing performance.

With three of its five members playing percussion, colorful English group Loop Guru added new textures to the joyous collages of its recent album, "Amrita." Islamic wails, Hindi chants and countless other cultural bits set to buoyant polyrhythms made a blend reminiscent of both Euro-hippie legends Gong and Can and contemporary world music eclecticists Dead Can Dance--a more immediate but no less impressive display.

Both acts brought the same reactions: nonstop dancing, maintained between acts by New York-based DJ Spooky. In this cultural realm, bleak paranoia and optimistic idealism are yin and yang, equally essential and equally embraced--as long as the beat's strong.

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