Politically, this week has been monumental, an amalgamation of nonsensical decisions driving us into dystopian reality. With this in mind, Meatraffle’s 'Bastard Music', although three years in the making, could not have been more timely.
‘The Cyclops,’ its opener, is a metamorphic onslaught. It represents a monster, in this case the rise of nationalistic fascism triggered by capitalism. Entirely relevant, its atmospherical guitar use and prowling, reverberant vocals embody the cruel nature of the system.
It is sometimes hard to define Meatraffle’s sound for it explores numerous genres. If it were a Glastonbury stage, one would place it in a dark corner of the Unfair Ground not too far from Block 9’s NYC Downlow. Less metaphorically, the words ‘politically charged sci-fi’ come to mind. A combination of humorous alt-punk mixing with fusions of discotheque grooves, lo-fi beats and a dash of reggae for good measure.
Meatraffle are part of an ever-growing vocal minority who represent true opposition to government and national institution. ‘London Life’ gives further insight. It illustrates the good and bad of the capital. It praises the benefits of immigration and multiculturalism, two structures which contribute towards the mechanisms of counter culture and true national identity. In spite of this, it traces the detrimental effects of uncapped rents and class cleansing. Yo-yo-ing between the two, the track represents the inner beauty of a city so egocentrically relentless.
If Meatraffle was born in a South London Wetherspoons then Bastard Music came to life at Brixton’s Windmill. It is hard to dissociate the band from contemporaries such as Shame, Warmduscher, and Fat White Family. Delving further, artists such as Pregoblin, Peeping Drexels, and Sleaze come to mind. Brixton, Peckham and New Cross is a fruitful breeding ground for new music.
Here lies a realm where artists ooze with camaraderie as the struggle grows stronger. It all exists in a community which was once the proverbial outposts of a growing London, now acting as a frontline for artistic grist. As honest news journalism grows less pertinent, music acts as a tool to hold those in power accountable. We need this scene now more than ever! It’s not all political with Meatraffle… you didn't think they were that one dimensional did you?
The band are both honest and self-aware. ’N’Drangheta Allotment’ is clinical storytelling at its finest, a Monty Python sketch in sound form. It depicts a Ndrangheta cell operating from an allotment in Norbury. Based on a true story, clever lyricism combines with pulsating bass and psychedelic keys rejoicing in a song as captivating as it is poetic.
‘No Books,’ another humorous offering, was inspired by a John Waters quote. ‘Bird Song’ too, though a hit at misogyny and the detrimentally of toxic masculinity, operates cleverly. It’s a piss-take but has a clear message. It is this what makes Meatraffle relatable. In a time where musicians have to be both tactful and intriguing, the South London formed band are not afraid to fracture the traditional formula in a manner that makes them truly engaging.
However, one must return to ‘Meatraffle On The Moon’ for it is a true album highlight, the finest example of their nonsensical sound. It is a dystopian hit at the future, manoeuvring between paradigms of imagery and fear. It predicts a realm of urban enslavement upon Mars, an image by no means out of place in a 70s sci-fi film. It is hypnotic and brutish, a dreamy ode to the worker in outer-space.
It seems far fetched, and it’s easy to say: who cares? Why not dance to Meatraffle in a biome on Mars! But no, in an age where this may well become reality, it is important to react now and save what we have left. Bastard Music is a project three years in the making.
Perhaps they own a crystal ball for this collection of songs is more relevant now than ever. In times of uncertainty, Meatraffle’s brand teeters upon the surreal, but their down to earth political rhetoric is of upmost necessity.
Words: Charlie Barnes
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