Posts Tagged ‘muzaks’

Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘superchroma’ by crashfaster

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crashfaster. You know them as that rockin’ Bay Area quartet with unforgettable stage presence, and you know that pseudonym through association of high quality releases that do anything but disappoint. Every. Single. Time.

If you recall my last crashfaster album review, which you can read HERE, ‘further’ was an album that emerged from ‘the ashes of discarded technology’ in a thoughtfully composed narrative arc. As a whole, ‘further’ is a metaphor for the never-fleeting feelings of isolation, numbness, and emptiness that one may encounter throughout their life, and is largely an autobiographical commentary by Morgan Tucker, crashfaster, 8bitSF and monobomb records’ frontman. Envisioning an explorer, Tucker remarks that the entirety of ‘further’ is a metaphor of the contemplation of his life and eventual journey to find the truth by ‘casting aside his former life and shedding each layer of his humanity.’

Transpiring from the personal anecdote alluded to throughout the course of ‘further’ is ‘superchroma’, an EP whose energetic presence and masterful evolution from the album prior is one that can’t go far from unnoticed. Released fresh on Bandcamp on July 22, 2014, ‘superchroma’ pays homage to what crashfaster had been, but also sets the stage to what the band WILL become. Despite what such a busy man he is, Morgan was very gracious to answer a couple of questions that I had about the evolution of the band, the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’, influences, and the future of crashfaster—because I love all of you, read on for the interview with the man himself!
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Professor Oakes: Hey Morgan! Thanks again for being able to do this!

Morgan Tucker: No, thank YOU! I really appreciate you interviewing me!

PO: Psh, I do all the easy lifting ;) But seriously, thanks again for taking the time. I know how busy you are with being a father, frontman of crashfaster, 8bitSF and co-founder of monobomb records! You certainly sound like you never take a breather.

Can you tell me a little bit about crashfaster and the significance in the pseudonym?

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llustrations courtesy of Phylissa Li, 2014

MT: crashfaster is meant to infer to both technology (ephemerality) and physicality. I’m fascinated by how much we rely upon technology to feed our souls. I believe we must strip away distractions and excess in both the physical and spiritual realms in order to discover our true nature. crashfaster is a call to action – destroy both your digital and physical selves to reveal the truth that lurks beneath the surface.

PO: I’ve been a fan of yours for years, and I was very excited to see you evolve from a single-person band into a quartet. Can you tell me how the transition from a single act to a full-man band means to you? Are you happy with the sound now that you have extra hands (and friends) on the team? How did you meet one another, anyways?

MT: There are two aspects of working with a band that have had a significant impact on crashfaster. In the studio, songwriting possibilities multiply exponentially. Each one of us has distinct and disparate musical tastes and influences. This has made our sound more rich and varied. In a live setting, there’s a lot more energy on stage to play with and off of. It’s hard to be one guy behind a Gameboy and keep the crowd’s attention. There’s a lot more for people to connect with when there’s four of us thrashing away. crashfaster was always intended to be on the dancey side of things, but something interesting happened when we began writing as a band.

On “further” we each naturally fell into a rock mentality, and the music became more aggressive and a little less beat-oriented. On “superchroma” we’ve pulled the sound back towards something that will make you move. I think we’ve found the right balance in our new material.

As for how crashfaster formed into a four-person band, it happened by chance, mostly. A few years ago I wanted to start stepping up the impact of my live performance, and I thought the single best way to do that was to introduce live percussion. I met Devin through a mutual friend of ours (The Glowing Stars’ Lizzie Cuevas), and we had an instant bond. We both saw eye to eye on where the project could go and shared the determination and work ethic that could make it a reality. A little while later, we got a shot to open for Anamanaguchi, and I wanted the band to sound even bigger.

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The man, the myth… the Ryan Case. Photo by Lester Barrows

I asked Ryan (who was a coworker at the time) if he thought he could learn our songs in a week. He said yes, and he did! We met Keiko at the farewell show for our old singer. The rest is history.

PO: Wow! What a history and inspiring happenstance. While I certainly love the sound of old crashfaster, I love the direction you all have been going in now that there’s four of you. However, I especially LOVE the direction you went in this EP, and it has to be one of my favorite crashfaster releases. With that said, can you tell me a little about the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’ as a whole?

MT: “Superchroma” was meant to be more of an evolution than a departure. We wanted to both pay homage to what crashfaster had been, but at the same time set the stage for everything that we could become. Our musical influences are deep and varied, and I want the band to reflect that moving forward.

Working at Different Fur with Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson opened our eyes to new workflows and songwriting possibilities. As soon as we finished up “further”, I was ready to get back in there and do it all over again, but this time we’d be armed with new ideas that the studio experience had spurred. “Further” was very much a protracted labor of love…from concept to completion, the project was in development for more than two years. While this allowed us time to refine lyrics, hidden meanings and aesthetic synchronicity, it didn’t let us experiment much while recording. The album was more or less what we came into the studio with. It was only afterward that we realized how much this held us back.

On “superchroma”, we decided to come in sans preconceived notions. We had about 20 rough sketches of songs that Patrick immediately whittled down to 10. From there, we started messing around with each of them until we found the voice the track. We knew we had 10 days from start to finish, and the goal was to get as much done as possible, while reserving the right to chuck things out that just weren’t working. This process was incredibly freeing, and allowed for many happy accidents, serendipitous guest appearances and just more…fun. I think that really comes through in the recording.

PO: Now that we’re talking about production and the gift of group collaboration, what hardware and software do you use?

MT: crashfaster uses a Gameboy loaded with LSDJ, a Gameboy mGB (midi), a NES with midiNES, a SIDstation, sammichSID, a Commodore64 with MSSIAH, Plogue Chipsounds 707, 808, 909, VP330, a Juno 106 & Ableton Live.

PO: Such sweet, sweet tunes for my ears. This hard and software you use—do you have any formal training as a musician? The rest of the band?

MT: I don’t have any formal training as a musician. However, I went to art school for Audio Production. I worked on Foley/SFX/Sound design for several indie films before I started crashfaster. Devin is classically trained and the most experienced musician in the group. The rest of us are pretty much self-taught.

PO: If you could categorize crashfaster’s genre and place a finger on what the band sounds like, what would it be?

MT: Electronic/Industrial/Synth/Rock. Or something.

PO: I’d say that’s pretty accurate! No reason to have to straddle one genre! What would you say influences you all? Music? Movies?

MT: I’d say the biggest influences on our sound are probably Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, ELO, Afghan Whigs and Neil Young (specifically the “Trans” album). We are big fans of horror movies and anime, and I think you can definitely feel that in our music.

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crashfaster performing ‘GO!’ live at the DNA Lounge, 6/22/14. Photo courtesy of Lester Barrows

PO: Oh, definitely! I feel like “GO!” is straight out of an actual anime—IT’S PERFECT and incredibly energizing! Would you say you have a favorite track on ‘superchroma’?

MT: It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single favorite, because I’m really happy with how the entire thing came out. But if I had to pick, it’d probably be “lost”, because I think we were able to pull off the emotional intent of the lyrics in a way that hits me every time.

PO: I’m curious of the conception of the album name. Does it signify anything in particular?

MT: We were playing with these visual concepts that were heavily inspired by early 90’s rave/cyberpunk culture and anime, and we wanted the music to *feel* colorful. When we were coming up with names for the album, we tried to find something that felt as hyper-kinetic as what was in our heads. Thusly…superchroma!

PO: This colorful and kinetic mood… it’s totally off the spectrum than that of its precursor ‘further’. Would you say the birth of your child had any affect on this newest album and your artistic vision as a whole?

MT: Yes! The idea for “further” was something that preceded my child, and I had been suffering from a loss of purpose and feeling in my every day life, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find happiness. The construct allowed me to explore the concepts of duty, destiny, assimilation, isolation and self-destruction both lyrically and sonically. Once my daughter was born, I was overcome by a new feeling…not one of numbness, but a crushing awareness of time. I feel, now more than ever, that time escapes me at a pace that I find…unsettling. After all, my biggest fear in life is that I will have regrets (would’ve, should’ve, could’ve), and now I am extremely conscious of the fact that I don’t have forever to do all of the things I want to do while I’m here.

PO: Would you say there’s an overall theme of ‘superchroma’?

MT: Looseness. Ultimately, I wanted this album to act as a “mix cd that you’d have on in your car as you drove around at night in San Francisco.” This lighter construct allowed me to explore more varied types of music…things that I’ve been a fan of but never really found a way to make work within the context of crashfaster.

On this EP, we’ve got everything from a funky synth-pop tune to a faux anime theme song to an industrial club banger. Though the styles are seemingly unrelated, with the help of Patrick Brown, we were able to tie them together aurally in a way that works surprisingly well.

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‘superchroma’ by crashfaster. Album artwork by Phylissa Li, 2014.

PO: Now that your album is wrapped and now live, what does the future hold for crashfaster? Tour? What does it mean to you since you were the founding vision?

MT: More music, and more shows! Through crashfaster and 8bitSF, we’ve built up the community in the Bay Area to the point that I believe it’s one of the most vibrant and diverse scenes in the US. We recently joined forces with LA artists who formed 8bitLA, and we’re working together as sister organizations to bridge the physical divide in California chipmusic.

As far as crashfaster, we’re going on tour with Everything Goes Cold in late August, which will take us from San Francisco to Chicago. After that, we’re hitting the East Coast to play 8static Festival in Philly in October.

PO: I’m looking forward to your Los Angeles stop. You never disappoint! Just thinking about touring the country and doing what you love sounds so incredible. With that said, before we depart, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

MT: Oh, absolutely! Be humble. Be persistent. If you’re in it for the music, you’ve got to be prepared for the long haul. Destroy all excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t do things…make do with what you have.

PO: Excellent! Thank you so much for providing those nuggets of advice—I’m sure our readers can relate. Anyways, that just about wraps it up for our interview. Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon!

MT: Absolutely! Take care.
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That’s all for this (special) edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! Don’t forget to check out crashfaster’s music, and follow 8bitSF on ALL THE THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA for future events. Also, if you have some time, be sure to check out the series of music videos for ‘GO!’, ‘goodbye‘, ‘hi‘, ‘lost‘, ‘photograph’, and ‘tonight‘ created by Gabriel Roland, 8bitSF’s resident visualist and mastermind behind Noukon Films.

Until next time! Professor Oakes signing off!

crashfaster
Website Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

8bitSF
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Monobomb Records
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Shop 

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Quenching the Forge: Homemade Fruit Juice Wine

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‘Tis the season ChipWIN Nation.  The season of warm evenings, flowers in full bloom, and evenings spent in lawn chairs watching beautiful sunsets with a cold drink in your hand.

SummerChillageThat cold drink is all the more refreshing if a reasonable amount of your own effort has gone into constructing it, but serious home brewing takes serious effort.  If you’ve got the spare cash for starter equipment, and the patience and fortitude good four hour day in front of a hot stove, then check out the resources in the link section below.
If you’re as lazy as I turned out to be, then prep your speakers and continue on noble ChipWINner!

As always, before you begin, set the mood in your kitchen for creation.  I highly recommend suspended FORCE’s mid-April release, GARDENIAN.  The perky melody that is going on in most of these tracks pairs nicely with the bright and fizzy drank you’ll hopefully get out of this recipe.

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Mirby’s Mishmash: 8bitSF 5th Anniversary Show with ANAMANAGUCHI

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Anamanaguchi. To some, that would mean nothing, but to the crowd at the 8BitSF show last Sunday, it was enough to create a line around the block to get in. I’ve been to many shows at DNA Lounge here in San Francisco, both in the big room and the space above, but never have I see what amounted to a solid mass of people, all jamming out to the sweet sweet tunes being played on-stage. This was easily the biggest crowd I have ever seen in that space, so much that I had some trouble finding a place to watch it all. Of course, this was 8bitSF’s 5th anniversary show, which also marked 5 years since Anamanaguchi played their first show in San Francisco.

OMFG 5 Years indeed!

OMFG 5 Years indeed!

Since then 8bitSF has grown tremendously, to the point of having monthly shows complete with open mic every third Thursday of the month, featuring artists from around the scene such as virt, Danimal Cannon, Dj CUTMAN, Mega Ran and Metroid Metal, to name a few. And, as such, there was no better event to be my very first Anamanaguchi show. Since I’ve never had the pleasure to catch them live, I still need help with titles from time to time, but rest assured that I’m not completely clueless about the songs themselves. I can also tell you how the show felt, the atmosphere, the feeling, and the massive levels of hype and energy present at the scene. But that’ll have to wait, because there were other acts that performed too. Kicking the night off was crashfaster, debuting their new album ‘superchroma‘, which releases next month. ‘superchroma’ covers a broad spectrum of feelings, ranging from joy to anger to bliss and everything in between. A highlight of this fresh batch of music was the self-proclaimed attempt at writing an anime theme song. A rather successful attempt, I might add, because it was very well executed and the audience was quite into it by shouting GO! at the appropriate times. This was a perfect example of the high-energy style crashfaster has going these days, and the rest of the album followed suit, even if the energy was utilized in different ways fitting the varying styles of each song. After the stupendously superb superchroma section stopped, crashfaster finished their set with ‘collapse‘ from their last album, ‘further‘, and topped that off with the always-popular ‘time‘ from their first album, ‘disconnect‘.

During their new song GO! As evidenced by the word on the screen.

During their new song GO! As evidenced by the screen.

After a short break between sets as is the norm, Una took the stage. This was her first ever show in America, and it was quite a memorable debut performance here. The crowd had swelled between sets, and every person in it was obviously enjoying her happy and bubbly style. She also had fantastic stage presence, utilizing every inch to her advantage. Admittedly, I didn’t have the best view of her set, but even from my less-than-ideal vantage point the high levels of energy were quite infectious. Overall, it was a quite solid set, and came to an end rather quickly… It was a full set, but it was so good and so engaging that it felt rather short.

Una using the stage to her advantage as a captivated crowd looks on.

Una using the stage to her advantage as a captivated crowd looks on.

Even if I wasn’t interested in Anamanaguchi at all, this show would’ve changed my mind instantly. I found my way atop a subwoofer in the corner, and had a view of the whole stage. And I’m glad I did, because that was one of the best shows I’ve been to in some time. Lots of people were into it, lots of people were crowdsurfing, it was insanely fun. There was even a guy in a flying squirrel suit crowdsurfing; I guess that’s as close as he was going to get to flying. He did that several times, and I hadn’t really seen a show where crowdsurfing was actively encouraged. I even got in for a bit of crowdsurfing during what was seeming to be their last song, and it was rather exhilirating. As the crowd chanted one more song (or five more songs) after this, the request was granted. The drummer, Luke, came down after the chanting to buy time for the rest of the band to take a short break and, after a failed attempt at a joke, the show was back on for two final songs. It was a rather amazing experience, I must say, and I can’t wait for the next one I get to see.

Anamanaguchi in the midst of Meow as a giant cat surveys the area

Anamanaguchi in the midst of Meow as a giant kitten surveys the area.

After that, some 8bitLA folks (including our very own Professor Oakes) came on-stage to throw giant inflatable bananas to the crowd. Because that is the logical follow-up to a great Anamanaguchi set, apparently. Grimecraft also DJed for the remainder of the night, playing a great set including selections from his release, PokÉP. As usual, he was very engaging, talking to the crowd and generating hype in those who remained. All in all, it was a fantastic show, and definitely made me want to follow up on Anamanaguchi. Until next time, rock on!

BONUS! Ultra-rare photo of me crowdsurfing!

8bitSF
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter

crashfaster
Homepage | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Una
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Anamanaguchi
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud  | Tumblr

Grimecraft
Homepage | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud Vol.2 logo (250x250 png)

Prying Questions With Danny Pryor – Welcome To Warp Zone: PAX EAST 2014

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In the past, I have helped write a couple FAQs when dealing with different levels and bosses, but once you have become a seasoned player, you might be looking for a more tailored experience. There are many methods for achieving this, from button combinations  to sound test codes, but my personal recommendation is finding the closest warp zone to you and navigating through the mayhem! My recent adventure led me to the realm of PAX EAST, located in world Boston-MA. Although I kept a detailed log of all my encounters in this mysterious yet familiar land, sadly I only collected 3 OUT OF 20 pages, which detail some of my exploits.

Diary Entry Resident Evil

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOURNAL ENTRY #1

Boston 8 Bit has collected some of the finest artists for both the Jamspace and Chip Stage as they have done in the past, and the talent here is insurmountable! Sam Mulligan started off the day playing some of his famous hits and then OMG! SHARK PARTY! I didn’t think I would make it through until The World Is Square told me to “let go” and a fight broke out between myself and the flying shark boss. I managed to defeat it with my remaining flame rounds and a quick visit to what I like to call Knife City a.k.a. circling around it and swiping my combat blade. Note to self: Save more ammo.

System Shock 2

 

 

 

 

 

JOURNAL ENTRY # 2

It seems like a chipstorm has been running wild on the 2nd floor for what seems like forever. I managed to pick up some audio feed of them through geekbeatradio and I could already tell that they were ready to play it loud. I rushed through the crowds of assorted women and men, hoping I could resolve the issue before it got out of hand. I could see the creation of something spectacular happening, a vortex of red pixel dust spewing forth from the primordial booze. I knew my ace in the hole was to explain everything in depth in this audio log. This is where you can go to save yourself  ***STATIC*** ROOM 207 ***STATIC*** DEVOURED!!!! THE CAPTAIN IS DEAD AND SO ARE WE!!!!

 

We Know

 

 

 

 

 

 

JOURNAL ENTRY #3

I have finally arrived outside the city, at a location only known as Comicazi. Here I met the honorable Bifflecup, composer extraordinaire. My companions Astro Logic and Best Defense arrive with me, each of us carrying the sacred songs of our ancestors. We know we must all perform, each at a different time, in order to complete the quest and send the dragons/demons/evil things back from whence they came. Surrounded by ancient books and artifacts of days of old, I hope to find the courage to display my strength as I begin to slowly make my way towards fulfilling my destiny. I am nervous as I stand among everyone and I hope that…oh I’m sorry… They want me to stop writing now and play the songs. Nope…Nope…Seems a bit too late now…Demons everywhere…Stupid journal.

Hmmm…well then… I should probably get more than three journal entries next time. It’s those collectible achievements…I swear you can NEVER get them all in one go. You have to play the same game like 20 times in some cases.

Wellllpppp… GUESS I SHOULD HIT PAX EAST AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!

ChipWIN-tern Spotlight: ‘bug spray (never give up),’ by Space Boyfriend

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[Warning: This article contains block quotes and fancy words. If you are unsure how to process these, please find your nearest English major friend and sob at them until they help you.]

YO WHAT UP.

I mean, uh, hello, dear readers, and welcome to another word action-packed edition of the ChipWIN-tern Spotlight, this time about the release of Space Boyfriend‘s ‘bug spray (never give up)!’ For those of you who’ve been keeping up at home, you may recall my review/interview/other-prefix-added-onto-view last year, and in said article, Jami mentioned that they were redoing ‘Bug Spray’, one of the first Space Boyfriend albums. But first, before everything could be finished for the rerelease, there was one other important thing to take care of…

FREQUENCY! I know all of you either went to Frequency 3.0, or at the very least read Leah’s breakdown shakedown on the event. The above video is Space Boyfriend’s set therein, and though I know it won’t compare to having been there in person, you can at least pretend you were there, like I am. Many thanks to ZOOM LENS for capturing that video, and for the folks at 8BitLA and The Smell for letting people record things. I remembered that Frequency 2.0 had been a really big thing for Space Boyfriend, both as a person and as an artist, so I decided to ask about the experience. Said Jami:

[Frequency 2.0] was in fact the most important event of last year, that really set the stage for the year that followed, in that I met all of my now-best friends there and ever since. It filled us with this energy to make something out of our inspirations together and work harder than we ever have. So playing Frequency 3.0 was really monumental to me, in that I was then able to do my best to share the energy that I got from 2.0 to everyone else, to hopefully inspire some other group of friends in a similar way, and to sort of ~return that inspiration to the world~ in some way. It felt a lot like I was taking the next step, with all of my friends who played beside me.

Space Boyfriend

On the official Space Boyfriend website, Jami goes into the reasons for redoing Bug Spray. In that breakdown, though, Jami mentioned that they felt as though the emotions evoked by the album had changed. And it IS quite an emotional album – you get everything from disgustingly saccharine happiness with ‘Cutie Cake’ to some extreme screams sprinkled throughout. But when I asked Jami why they felt the emotions had changed, they said:

I didn’t actively decide to change the feeling in (never give up), it’s just something that came about as I decided to do it. When I originally set out to rerelease the record last year, I was very concerned about it keeping the same message, having the same feelings. But as I rerecorded and began mastering everything, what came together was a very different piece than before, and something about that made me very proud. I mention that the original Bug Spray wasn’t exactly for me but for someone else, but that I was able to sort of reappropriate those messages for myself and hope for them to apply for everyone and inspire them, to make the record about recovery and hope instead of desperation as it originally was, felt very poignant. It’s a more strong message, I feel, and one that I think is very personal to me and my own growth from the person that released the original Bug Spray as well.

bug spray (never give up) artwork by Jami Carignan, with touchups by Meishi Smile

bug spray (never give up) artwork by Jami Carignan, with touchups by Meishi Smile

For those of you who have been following Space Boyfriend for a while, you’ll know that ‘(never give up)’ is an enhanced remake of the original album, clocking in at 19 tracks instead of the original’s 13. I recognized ‘Cutie Cake’ from an earlier release, and asked Jami what the reasoning was for blending in tracks not originally found on ‘Bug Spray.’ The response was:

There are actually plenty of tracks from previous releases, but in more complete form. Up until (never give up), there was a certain rushed sense of incompletion to everything I did. A lot of my releases were out of being a bit too antsy, and weren’t really done. But as time went on, I realized that all of those songs I wrote around that time sort of fit into the original Bug Spray “narrative” in a way that made that story way more complete too. It was about fleshing (never give up) out, not only as a collection of basically my entire body of work up until now, but also as a collection of all the feelings and experiences I’ve had who made me who I am now.

I also inquired as to why Jami went with ZOOM LENS as their outlet of choice for the album. I, being an East Coast peasant, had never heard of the ZOOM LENS crew. Thankfully, Jami was more than willing to elucidate.

“bug spray (never give up)”’s release on ZOOM LENS sort of coincides with Frequency 2.0 and meeting all of those friends for the first time. ZOOM LENS is a label that centers around the aesthetic of “looking deeper into something”, past what something might seem to be on the surface and more on what those things make you feel and why they make you feel that way. I’ve always been the kind of person to be introspective and even the original ‘Bug Spray’, I always felt, had more of a meaning to it than what it seemed on the surface. I think with that being ZOOM LENS’ specialty, it made sense when talking to MEISHI SMILE last year that ‘(never give up)’ would complement ZOOM LENS’ message wonderfully, and vice versa. It was a good fit.

It goes deeper than that as well; ZOOM LENS is a netlabel that takes inspiration from Japanese netlabel as well as idol culture. A lot of us grew up inspired by Japanese music and anime and the like, and not feeling as if we really belonged to anything because of it. ZOOM LENS explores the ideas of loneliness and disconnect in a similar way that I feel Space Boyfriend does, but in different ways that compliment each other. I feel as if Space Boyfriend contributes an optimism to those feelings, and a reassurance that even if you feel disconnected, you’re never really alone and you always belong. Growing up a fan of idols and idol music really affects Space Boyfriend; my performance but also the feelings and motivations behind my work as well, and that is something that ZOOM LENS was very receptive to. Everyone on the label has their own deeper views of these themes and I feel very proud to contribute to that in such a way.

So now, after all of that, we are FINALLY ready to get to the album! You guys ready for this? Click play above and let your brains melt.

‘(never give up)’ is more than just an enhanced remake, though it certainly is that – all of the tracks have been touched up, and I entirely believe Jami when they say that these are the true and complete versions of the songs. There is a polish here which wasn’t quite there with ‘Bug Spray’ – it could just be better audio mastering, or mastering the craft, but I tend to believe, referring to earlier, that Jami did this in their own time, instead of rushing it to get it out. It feels full, and I don’t just mean that in terms of the album’s length.

It’s more than just a goofball with a Game Boy and a kazoo making music (though, of course, that is exactly who Jami is, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise). With the added tracks, the album is much more balanced between vocal tracks and instrumental ones. The vocal tracks progress the story – the story of two lovers traipsing around the cosmos, only to have their love fall apart – but the instrumental tracks provide atmosphere, and such GOOD atmosphere. They make me feel like I really am in space – parts of a track will be so empty, just low noise with some wooshing, and then all of a sudden there’s movement, like you’re in a space ship and out of the void you blaze past a galaxy.

I compared ‘Bug Spray’ to Russian literature once – in that it’s depressing, but in a hopeful way. I think what might be a better analogy for ‘(never give up)’ is, of all things, ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ Bear with me for a moment – both works start out high energy and hopeful, full of young love. As time progresses, the story of both shift to a darker place – somewhere where, no matter what Huey Lewis might say about it, the power of love isn’t enough to overcome the obstacles presented to the protagonists. And so the story goes, progressing deeper and deeper – things become more and more hopeless. Characters leave. And so here you are, left at the end with the final song: the final song is one of sadness, of longing, but most of all, a hope that hasn’t died despite all the horrible things that the characters have been through. After all of that – they still hold on to hope, as they move on with their lives to try to put themselves back together.

And on THAT cheery note, I conclude this edition of the Spotlight! Now go have a watermelon party or something, you dopes.

Space Boyfriend links:
Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

ZOOM LENS links
Website | RELEASES | MEISHI SMILE 

 

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Sladerfluous: ‘Distant Reality’ by Shirobon

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You have to hear this album.

Press play below to fall in love with this powerful foray into 80s electronica, ‘Distant Reality’ by Shirobon.

Distant Reality by Shirobon

Released to the masses on Bandcamp February 4th, 2014, Shirobon’s ‘Distant Reality’ is a compact, delicious delve into cyberpunk that infuses you with flowing 80s-inspired synth, weighty bass lines and thoughtful lyrics.

The improvisational nature of the tracks in ‘Distant Reality’ do so much more than simply keep you guessing, they weave inspired transitions together with tell-tale 80s synth to set a mysterious cyberpunk mood that will make you wonder the results of your Voight-Kampff test.

‘Distant Reality’ is a set of 5 killer tracks that waste no time getting down into an 80s groove, embracing it with every single note. This is not a gimmick tacked onto a hacked-together string of ideas, the precision of execution and respect for the era come through loud and clear.

Impressive vocals across the album truly add to the atmosphere including Shirobon himself lending his own robotic vocals to “Regain Control”, “Perfect Machine” and “City Patrol (Stage B)”. “Immune”, however, introduces you to the world Shirobon has created with the unexpected and absolutely alluring vocals of Camden Cox. The weight of the lyrics equal the depth of the bass lines, and the result is beyond immersive.

‘Distant Reality’ tows melodies through inspired funk and synth elements with a directed, yet unpredictable approach to its composition: each change and volley into each new element during a given track on ‘Distant Reality’ feels like the most appropriate direction to shift into, but you simply don’t see it coming. Polished, experimental, and focused, ‘Distant Reality’ is a refreshing exploration of tone and theme in a sea of heartless electronica that deserves your £3 investment.

Shirobon was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his experiences building ‘Distant Reality’, and that interview continues below:
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PixelRecall: Camden Cox’s vocals on “Immune” are gripping. How did the opportunity to work with her come about?

Shirobon: Thanks! I have actually known Camden Cox for quite some time. She also did vocals some time ago on my song “Running My Head“. She is a very talented vocalist! I have also produced a group of songs for her which will be released throughout the year!

PixelRecall: Where did you draw inspiration for your lyrics across the album?

Shirobon: These days I like to look up a lot of imagery before starting work on songs. I wanted to go for a Cyberpunk/Futuristic feel while keeping cool and introducing chiptune elements (More of the c64/Sega style) so naturally the lyrics reflect on that.

PixelRecall: The songs on ‘Distant Reality’, most notably with “Cyber Party”, have an engaging, almost improvisational feel to them. What is your creative process like when composing your music?

Shirobon: Well, when I work on a song I like to consider it jamming with myself (or in the case of “Cyber Party” with Radix!). So I would usually come up with some drums or a melody idea and then just jam over them. If it starts to sound good then I hit the record button and take it from there!

PixelRecall: Are you performing the vocals on “Regain Control”?

Shirobon: Yes, I’m a sucker for robotic vocals and love to use my voice when I can! (Also, it’s my voice on “Perfect Machine” and “City Patrol (Stage B)”.

PixelRecall: Did you have a “eureka” moment during the creation of the album you may not have expected to have?

Shirobon: I was having some trouble with “City Patrol (Stage B)” and couldn’t get it to feel good. It started off as a guitar/electro disco number. Before I gave up I thought I would make some changes and plugged in my modular synth and made some chip sounds, from there everything fell into place!

PixelRecall: Do you have a favourite memory from your experiences performing live?

Shirobon: I have had a lot of really fun times performing live and the crowds are always pretty intense, but i think one that stands out the most is when I had a large wall of death and saw this massive dude drop kick a girl in the face! But thankfully she was fine!

PixelRecall: Do you have any shows coming up?

Shirobon: I have a few! Playing at Nintendoom in Belgium which will be a lot of fun. I have quite a few coming up around Europe but i have yet to announce those…

PixelRecall: Any advice for aspiring chiptune artists?

Shirobon: Do it because you love it, not because you wanna make it (big). Popularity in the scene comes and goes but the artists that people love are the ones who have always loved to make (music) and not felt to give it up.

PixelRecall: What was your main goal when you set out to create Distant Reality, and do you feel like you accomplished it?

Shirobon: I just wanted to make something a little different from the generic releases that are out there at the moment, and not to try and jump on a trend and make some kind of bass music! I reckon I did a good job!

PixelRecall: Any final thoughts or news you’d like to share with the Chiptunes = WIN community?

Shirobon: Back Tracking and Distant Reality I consider to be warm up releases to show people what my sounds is like now. With them released I’m going to start work on an album! Still planning what sort of songs I want on it but it’s gonna be a journey that crosses over the sounds of chiptune and synthesizers!
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Big thanks to Shirobon for taking time out for the interview!

Now go grab your copy of ‘Distant Reality’ on Bandcamp right now before the next time you hang with your friends so that when they’re like, “Have you heard of Shirobon?” you can be like, “Know him? I have Distant Reality on repeat!”

Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love

Shirobon
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