REVIEW: Meg Lee Chin - "Piece and Love"

By Marcus Pan

Chain Border

Piece and LoveOne of the more exciting releases I've received as of late, Meg Lee Chin is a surprise breaking aggressively and heavily into the hard techno electronic scene. It's hard to peg her down somewhere - she's been around the world beginning her younger years as an Airforce brat and this seems to have produced in her an eclectic style and personality from the bombardment of various cultures. She auditioned once for Garbage, toured with Pigface and at one time fronted a hardcore all-girl troupe called Crunch. She's got an almost mysterious background both in and out of music - only adding to her appeal to me of course. Recently canceling a tour due to immigration troubles, Chin is planning one this summer with the classic troupe My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult. At the time of this writing, that tour should have just ended, the last dating being August 5th in Detroit.

Piece and Love was released on Invisible Records in 1999. Her debut solo album, it is a hard techno, trip-hop and electronic mix. Meg's masterful at complicated rhythm and wraps up all her work in sublime techno riffs, heavy breakthrough percussion and injects into it both soft and high-hard vocal work. It's truly refreshing. Currently on my favorites list, Piece and Love is a remarkable body of work. Helping her with some of the guitar and percussion you'll find Steve Crittall, Martin Atkins, Lee Fraser among others. Martin Atkins also does a wonderful job with the mixing for most tracks.

Opening with Thing, immediately you are thrust into a beat-laden, guitar-riff driven track with amazing rhythms and complicated arrangement. A powerful sound but remaining well defined throughout, Thing shakes you out of your stasis to prepare you for the funk, trip-hop and increasingly complicating arrangements that occur throughout the rest of Piece and Love.

Heavy Scene is one of the highlight tracks here. Everything but mixing performed by Meg, Heavy Scene is virtually indescribable. Again, complicated yet clean, funky yet heavy, excellent guitar work, amazing rhythmic movements. Synthetics fill in space between other instruments, carrying you from movement to movement with speed and precision. I am consistently amazed by the fact that everything you hear is Meg and only Meg.

Meg Lee ChinMoving on to Nutopia, an eclectic collection of piano, guitar whines and spoken word vocals. Meg's lyrics are witty, ironic and refreshing, paradoxes of modern life and pairing up words and statements of clashing definition. Drum beats later are riveting and punctuating. Some of my favorite lines: "Flashing memberships to clubs so exclusive that nobody belongs," Her alliteration work further in the song are poetic yet surreal. A statement of modern life is Nutopia, with concentration on the hypocritical, spitting the word "utopia" like it was rotten to the taste. And the scenes of the "nutty utopia" i.e. Nutopia that she brings forth here are quite rotten indeed.

Slowing it down a bit. Track five, Swallowing You, begins with an acoustic sound. Just past 1:10 in the track it breaks into a noise-laden chorus. But the synth-noise used is still controlled under the manipulations of Meg. The final track, the Subgenius Mix of this song, adds keys and programming by Martin King. Keeping the acoustic feel, toning the rhythm down so vocals and acoustic guitars take the lead, King removes the noise areas to give us a cleaner, more serene version of Swallowing You. I can't say whether either of the two tracks are better than the other - instead they're like complimenting versions of the song for different sets of moods. Indeed, I've liked either or moreso than the other on given days.

So we'll stop here. There's still plenty for you to discover on Piece and Love that I haven't covered in detail. The heavy handed and cleanly laid basslines and swirly vocals of Sweat. Sweet Thing which opens with the line, "I got drugged into going out," and then proceeds to drag you unwittingly along with it. And more.

Meg Lee Chin's work is new, exciting and refreshing. A hard combination of techno, trance, electronic, trip-hop and only Meg knows what else, it is truly a remarkable body of work and I am seriously looking forward to hearing more of what Meg Lee Chin can do in the future. With a debut this remarkable and such mastering of complicated rhythms and musical arrangements, I'm happy to say that this is one of the first debut releases I've heard with such a remarkable level of refinement and skill.

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