Music: Inside Dark Meat

(Editor's Note: Molly Kenney conducted an interview via electronic mail with Jim McHugh of Dark Meat during the research for this story.)

by Molly Kenney

A neo-psychedelic band with nearly 20 members would catch anyone’s attention. But the sounds of Dark Meat scream, jump around, throw things, and smack you upside the head just to make sure you’re listening. You can’t miss their album, Universal Indians.

Universal Indians was originally released in 2006 by Cloud Recordings/Orange Twist Music, but it was re-released this year by Vice Records.

Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the band takes the inspiration of fellow Athens natives Elephant 6 and kicks it up a few hundred notches. Dark Meat member Jim McHugh says, “Our music rolls thusly: we are expansive psychedelic rednecks playing blissed-out, bad punk-rock versions of Sufi Devotional Song alongside, underneath and overtop a badly drug-addled marching band that shamelessly harbors an evil proclivity toward Sun Ra-style fuckups.” He cites as the band’s influences The Stooges, The Boredoms, Pandit Pran Nath, Neil Young, Albert Ayler, The Po Po, Anne Briggs and The Velvet Underground, along with jazz musician Archie Shepp.

Think that musical palate sounds eclectic and crowded? Try the Dark Meat stage. McHugh, Ben Clack, Emily Armond, Alexis Daglis, Kris Deason, Forrest Leffer, Jason Robira, Aaron Jollay, Jahan Zeb Malik, Dylan Angell, Sarah J. Ursrey, Page Campbell, Claire Campbell, Heather McIntosh, Nick Canada, Jeff Tobias, Molly Thornton. Nate Deyonker, Charlie Estes, Becky Noble, BP Helium, Tim Schreiber, Curtis Vorda, and Lizzy Hindman-Harvey (though members come in and out of the band collective) play twin guitar, bass, double-drumset, cello, piccolo, a full horn section, amplified fiddle, instantaneously live-mixed tape loops, glockenspiel, and other miscellaneous sound-makers. Throw some tribal throat-singing into this chaotic experimental soup, and you’ve got yourself what the band calls “a mushroom cloud of silly-string, slung booze and amp-static” in which “the audience is joyfully annihilated.”

One listen to Universal Indians, and the album’s theme — “Life’s a Shit Sandwich: Eat it or Starve!” says McHugh — is abundantly clear. Tracks range from the cacophonous (“There Is A Retard On Acid Holding A Hammer To Your Brain”) to the eerie (“Birdson + Footsteps, Flute, Horn”) and even to the catchy (“Well Fuck You Then”). By the time the final track ends, expect to feel the hangover-like mess Universal Indians has made of your brain.

Dark Meat’s music may be a raucous parade to some and an explosion of atonality to others. But all would agree that this band’s originality and sheer weirdness demands a trip through Universal Indians.

(Promotional photo of Dark Meat courtesy of Vice Records. The band will continue its North American tour with a performance Oct. 29 in Athens, GA. To see Dark Meat jamming during a performance in Athens, please check below.)

Dark Meat at the Morton Theater in Athens

Editor's Note: This post is the last piece by Molly Kenney for iVoryTowerz. We wish her luck in her other endeavors. Molly is one of the original writers who formed this blog writing collective. Her views have contributed greatly to the blog's character. We wish her well. She will be missed.

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