Agitated Atmosphere: Dark Meat – Truce Opium

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to shed a bit of light and share a bit of information on the up and coming sounds of artists such as Dark Meat.

The enormous Athens, Georgia collective known as Dark Meat were set to take the United States by storm in the midst of 2008. Vice had reissued the group’s proper debut, Universal Indians, and plans were made for the near 20-person group to take America by storm while preparing an album for the hipster doofus label/magazine/vanity project. Of course, you’re staring at Truce Opium, Dark Meat’s follow-up — not on Vice but Emergency Umbrella. The band’s trimmed to a lean 9 members and despite many side ventures (Sweet Teeth, Gay Africa, etc.), Truce Opium is all the better for the turmoil and change-over.

Listen to “The Faint Smell of Moss”:

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Dark Meat borrows from the best the old world and new world has to offer. Truce Opium is rich with uninhibited jams, frenzied climaxes, and over-the-top instrumentation. The songs have no set trajectory, often settling into a sound in between relative footholds such as ‘folk’, ‘rock’, ‘jam’, and ‘experimental’. Through all of these stream-of-conscious tracks, Dark Meat somehow makes the repetitious and volatile collisions work. The group isn’t afraid to take a chance — or to take no chance at all. They’ll gladly offer up a 10-minute orgy of spastic horns, guitars, and percussion (“No One Was There”) and unapologetically follow it up with a 4-minute straight-up chaser of classic rock (“When the Shelter Came”). Theirs is a synergy of extremes, and while little of that revolves around hardcore experimentation, Dark Meat is able to place themselves and the audience in a different frame of mind. If all you’ve ever known of classic rock as been Jimmy Page solos, Pete Townshend windmills, and Keith Moon drum fills, Truce Opium will invigorate your dusty senses. In the face of convention stands Dark Meat and we should all be proud that label politics and relentless touring hasn’t dulled the spirit or diminished the shine for what is still Athens’ next great discovery.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist who also runs the webzine, Electronic Voice Phenomenon. He writes the Monday News Mash-Up for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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