After touring ‘Alice’ the second Meatbodies record in 2017, head honcho Chad Ubovich hit the wall. After being a stalwart in the 2010s West Coast rock scene that included being part of Mikal Cronin’s backing band, along with stints with Ty Segall and Fuzz, not to mention his own Meatbodies project, Ubovich was burnt out. The mercurial talent reflects on this time with the following rumination “I’d been touring for eight year’s straight with all these bands, and just couldn’t do it anymore. There was also a feeling in the air that everything was changing, politically. Things didn’t feel right, and I went down a dark path.”
With the Californian artist on the brink, Ubovich took some time to get sober and to recuperate from the relentlessness of life. 2019 saw our protagonist begin to work on new Meatbodies material again with drummer Dylan Fujioka, only for this record to be put on ice due to Covid-19 sweeping the globe. With this batch of new music on hold, Ubovich began rummaging through old demos and bedroom recordings from 2018. After some reworking, these rough ‘n’ ready morsels would eventually manifest as ‘333’, the third LP to come under the Meatbodies moniker. These songs chart Ubovich’s journey through substance-fuelled hell to clear-eyed sobriety, as the artist observes the new socio-political landscape that unfurled in-front of him.
For someone who’s documenting their battles with drugs and alcohol, while signalling to a world contorted by the rise of the far-right, fake news, bigotry and everything else unwelcome in modern society, it’s perhaps no surprise that ‘333’ kicks off in a whirl of distorted riffs and a fuzzy, nasty stomp. As if to mimic the notion of being trapped in a destructive downward spiral, the song is enveloped by a drunken perpetual fug. Ubovich’s slurred vocals, just about discernible over the monolithic din, illustrate a man who’s teetering on the end of collapse “nothing is living/nothing is real” and “reach for the stars/reach for the sun/reach for the trigger/reach for the gun” typify the artist’s fragile mental state. Elsewhere on ‘333’ gnarled riffs are combined with psych-rock freak-outs and a wooziness that depicts Ubovich’s transition from rock-bottom to clean and sober. ‘Hybrid Feelings’, which is found towards the end of the LP, is a loose lollop through hazy soundwaves and shimmying rhythms. While a couple of tracks prior, ‘Cancer’ roars and grinds with a menacing demeanour, one fuelled by discordant walls of guitar and a steady drum stomp. A mystical cloud enrobes ‘Let Go (333)’, as shakers and an acoustic guitar saddle up next to some quirky percussion that sounds like someone slapping a wet fish! Ubovich’s woozy, boyish vocals murmur the paranoid lines “these eyes/these hidden lies/come through” like a man still trying to figure out his own headspace and the environment around him. Then there’s the lo-fi electronics merged with scuzzy undertones found on ‘Eye Eraser’s hypnotic instrumental interlude; it’s kind of jammed and buoyed up a ubiquitous beat that sounds like big drops of water landing in a bucket. You really can’t fault Ubovich’s lust for experimentation and you’d hope it was this creative outlet that helped him rehabilitate after he hit the wall.
Sometimes, at your lowest ebb salvation can present itself in many forms; for Ubovich, ‘333’ was the guiding hand needed on his road to recovery.
Order 333 by Meatbodies HERE
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