Posts Tagged ‘prince’

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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Guest Review w/Glenntai: Chiptunes = #SrsBsns… Damn it, there goes the Internet…

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Hey everybody, Glenntai here again with another round of hype and opinions loosely based on minor credibility and experience passing off as expertise album review!  This time, we’re going to a subject very relevant to most of the internet forum subcultures as a dedication to the shenanigans of old and respectively new… or for those familiar with the term, old/newfa… arts. DAMN IT, those terms are just too offensive to innocent people.  I can’t say it.  We should be more careful of the words we use these days.  After all, this is going on the internet, and the internet is…

a1582250240_2…Serious business.

Chiptunes = #SrsBsns (Serious Business) is a 22-track compilation comprised half of veterans and half of newcomers to the compilation series dedicating songs to a meme of their choice.  That was the only guideline aside from no direct covers (an exception being made for one song in particular… you can most likely guess which one.)

We know you’ve been asking for every artist’s information, so we made sure to add all of their links to each specific song’s info section.  If you dig the jam, you can…

  • Click on the track name on the bandcamp page!
  • Click on the lyrics/info link for each song to keep it all on the same page!
  • Google it if you’re too lazy to click links yet somehow not lazy enough to google it!  <3

Now enough of my rambling, let’s get onto some reviews and opinions on each track!

Glenntai – FUUUUUUUUUUUU (Apple Day Surprise)
The smooth, alternating jazz chords at the beginning with the monologue seemed appropriately cheesy for a compilation based on memes.  What he then brought was something completely different than what we would expect from this fan of funk and swing beats…  he broke out his first attempt at chip thrash.  wait wait wait, this is about Glenntai?

FUCK GLENNTAI.  -11/10 “BEST INTRO EVER BUT #FUCKGLENNDUBOIS .”  – IGN

He gets the award for the only two references to SomethingAwful made throughout this album, though.

coda – PLS GO FAST
A highly-respected musical machine in his own right, as well as a veteran musician from the *chan pre-popularity-peak era (as well as the originator of the 8bit cover of Chocolate Rain… youtube it, you’ll thank him later;)  Coda hardly needs an introduction to people who have known him from his soundtracks or some of the finer pieces now stored within the /f/ archive.

If you haven’t, be introduced to his very tempo and syncopation-shifting FM track based off of primarily Sonic-series instruments in only OpenMPT (and as he specifically states in the info section, “No VSTis.”  Purists rejoice!)  With elements of anything from funk to ragtime and your average four-bar EDM track, coda has proven almost timelessly that he can deliver even some of the hottest jams.

YZYX – I nyaned for hours ( ‘ w’)‼
YZYX has somehow managed to take the monotonous, almost droning earworm associated with Nyancat and made it actually listenable.  Nyancat has been a tried, true and tired meme for a few years, and there are plenty of covers that take it towards an EDM route (ahem, guilty as charged, your honor;) but YZYX has offered enough variation to the song to make a tiring and repetitive track into something danceable, not repetitive in nature and playable in clubs that play more than Avicci’s “Levels” eight times in a row and try to bank their money off feigned-nerd clubber culture.

Here Between You and Me – Forever Alone
HBYM has rhythm expected from the early 2000’s-era pop rock bands and made a song exceptionally fitting to both the mood and spirit of the Forever Alone meme.  Plenty of us can relate to the feelings (not necessarily the tales) within the lyrics while feeling the encompassing NES pulse channels’ vibrato and pitch slides that make one reminiscent of older Anamanaguchi tracks.

Theory of N – Bow Chippa Wow Wow
This electronic slow jazz with two-step percussion by Theory of N will keep you nodding your head the whole way through, especially with that deep square channel bass.  It almost sounds like it could be a solid original track until you realize that it shares the same key as Careless Whisper and Sunstroke Project’s Run Away (sigh, yes, the epic sax guy song,) leading into some humorously well-timed licks of the famous sax solos.
Fun fake facts:  89% of people don’t recognize Run Away is Moldova’s only publicly-recognized hit.  99% of the people that did don’t know its originating country is Moldova.  However, 100% of the people surveyed could see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I’m predicting 100% of you will also thoroughly enjoy this track.

SingkongBalado – IDOUBLEDAREU
SingkongBalado starts off softer with a vocal sampling and duty-cycling arps providing a melody to soft chords right before SingkongBalado went full-force aboard the glitch/grime train to deliver a heavy, tension-focused track; appropriate for the meme.  One could even imagine a dramatic scene, suspense building as you await the reaction to someone being double-dared.

Professor Shyguy – Helix Prophecy
Any fan of Clipstream (</shamelessplug>) might be familiar with this fantastic artist’s performances both on our web series and at our live showcase at MAGFest, leaving those uninitiated to Professor Shyguy’s golden voice and expertise on the simple pop song (as well as more complicated, not-as-pop songs) to enjoy this fantastic song giving tribute to Lord Helix and the prophecies within.

Maxo – Top Doge
Such Maxo.  So doge.  Much top.  Wow.

On top of using chip elements to comprise the majority of the song, Maxo incorporated a similarly avant-garde and equally-painstaking practice of the K.K. Slider soundfont.  In fact, the incorporation of K.K. genuinely puts the meme theme to the song, which is an otherwise light and bouncy, staccato-filled happy jam.

James Landino – lol, Chiptunes
A delightful reference to the only thing that people remember from YTMND except for its constant ripping-off of /gif/, James Landino brought Running in the 90’s back to life by keeping the Running in the 90’s rhythm and incorporating lyrics to replace the verse melody, returning to a simple and pure Running in the 90’s chorus.  Although short, it was a fantastic moment to reminisce to times I almost received speeding tickets to this song.

Urizen  – Ask Not for Whom the Jimmies Rustle (They Rustle for Thee)
When originally approached, it was expected that one member of Urizen was to do a track.  Then I was presented with this track with the entire band portraying the dramatic tale of a valiant hero’s quest to prevent his Jimmies from rustling.  The entire track is very reminiscent of a NES era action game, but the part I feel that really takes off in the song is once the rest of the band starts accompanying in lyrics, then immediately everything drops into the trollapalooza known as Guile’s Theme.

Rustle in peace, little jimmies.  4/1/2014 – 4/1/2014.  There was no need to be upset.

Also, on a personal note, thanks for the free remaining handle of whiskey at NatsuCon, Urizen.  If we cross paths again I’ll try to return the favor.  I still don’t know why they scheduled me after you guys.  <3

An0va – President Hoodie’s Theme
If you need an introduction to one of Philadelphia’s finest and busiest in the American chiptune scene, go find any of his tracks and prepare to feel silly for being left in the dark.

This track is a delightful little ditty depicting the light-hearted, adventurous follies of a mid-1900’s cartoon character opening tune.  A notable difference is that, unlike the rest of the tracks, an0va specifically recorded his track to be at a lower quality.  In addition, this track has no specific meme referenced to it, unless you count Hoodie’s typing language to be a walking meme in itself.  I could almost imagine Hoodie himself replacing everyone in Steam Boat Willie, if it weren’t for the immediate anxiety of the idea of having more than one of that crazy man around in this world.

Watashimo – tfw no gf
For those of you who knew watashimo under his previous alias, shanebro, you’re in for a wild ride through the inner-workings of LSDJ.  A two-channel chorused pulse echo leads the introduction and takes a step back to let the wav channel take lead, interchanging at different points.  The song overall brings a reflective, sometimes nearly sad and nearly dreamy atmosphere, as if one was lost in thought absorbed over their own loneliness.

1000 Needles – Lost Lobos
When I was told this was about Insanity Wolf, I had no idea what to expect.  Fortunately for all, 1000 Needles doesn’t disappoint.  Period.  I was pleasantly surprised by a lyrical verse encompassed by heavy guitars and noise that almost felt like it could keep you from being able to concentrate if you let it.   The lyrics were humorous in nature by asking about Insanity Wolf’s child-stage history as if he was being evaluated.

K.O.M.H. – Y U NO PLAY 128 BPM
Kitty on My Head is a great example of playing with typical electronic music forms and putting them where he sees fit, all while maintaining a smooth transition from one to the other.  This is a track filled with deep bass kicks and an infectious sliding WAV channel bass while the two pulse channels compete for which is the catchier melody. Once again a solid track from KOMH!

Sam Mulligan – The Coolest Story Bro
Sam Mulligan’s delightfully bouncy chip rock has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, but you can hear the polished results of his efforts in this song about a story that went nowhere.  The sarcasm may have been lost on him, but his use of other popularized ironic phrases weren’t lost on me nor did they ever lose their charm coming from Boston’s resident Nerd Rock expert.

Shyabeetus – Chiptune Poop
I don’t care what anybody says, Shyabeetus is Philadelphia’s LSDJ WAV channel wizard, and if anyone tries to prove him wrong they’ll be smote by the barrage of custom kit instruments he has put into his tribute to the popular concept Youtube Poop.

Whether you’re all about Japanese Ronald McDonald, Pingas, Spaghetti, Gentlemen, Octagons or countless other YTP references, Shyabeetus has managed to put them all in there and manipulate each sound as if you were watching the video directly on youtube, itself.

Together We Are Robots – Pools Closed
A subject closely tied to several good memories of mine, Together We Are Robots manages to take the Habbo Hotel Raids and depict the story of many men’s struggles against MOD-Cleo and her band of (allegedly) racist moderators preventing their enjoyment of the pool, and later on protest due to the high levels of AIDS.

The use of a raspy voice to go along with guitar, wav channel bass, arp pulse chords and a highly effective hybrid between wav sample kits and the noise channel produce a very clean third wave ska element. The track itself is one of the few attempts of Chip Ska that have been made publicly available, period.  I certainly wouldn’t mind more of this existing, friends, let’s get on this.

8BitJin – Click Here!
I only wonder what this could be, employing the tactic of click-baiting to reveal– DAMN IT.  RICKROLLED AGAIN.

The evolution of the Duckroll, the Rickroll consisted of clicking a youtube link that promised one thing and then led you to the music video of Rick Astley’s pop hit “Never Gonna Give you Up.”  This was highly over-popularized after it became not funny, as with every example the mass media has pretended to be “hip” with the “new crazy fads.”  However, 8BitJin uses a wah lead that really takes precedence over the remainder of the track, much akin to how Rick Astley’s voice became a bigger focus of the song back in the 80’s.  Very well-done cover, would click there again!

DJ McGranaman – Don’t Say His Name!
DJ McGranaman has made a hauntingly catchy track out of the famous Freakazoid skit, managing to incorporate custom cricket noises and the noise channel to introduce the track with a deeply syncopated hip-hop rhythm.  While this occurs, the melody slowly evolves into an ominous overshadowing of the dire consequences should you utter his name.  The end is sure to remind you of a childhood nightmare, and it felt so uncomfortably good.

Michael Zucker – Unstoppable
The one thing I can say, without a doubt, is that Michael Zucker has channeled the spirit of a T-Rex with grabby-claws and put it into music.  May it have mercy on your flesh-snack of a body once it finds you.

Extent of the Ham – You Spin Me Around
Extent of the Ham (Jam) most certainly gets the award for the most challenging topic to spin a song from.   Using VOPMex to bring in the tonal synths and a very funky bass line, it’s easy to get the feeling of an 80’s era pop song that was intentionally created to be too “weird” for audiences to follow.  Regardless, Extent of the Ham did a fantastic job singing the stressed pleas of the misunderstood spider.  However I will admit, much like the spider, I misunderstood the lyrics of the chorus for the first listen-through.  At first I thought he was singing about Meatspin.

I’m incredibly glad I didn’t have to write about an ode to Meatspin.  Thank you, Extent of the H/Jam.  <3

D&D Sluggers – Slam Jam (of the Year)
D&D Sluggers manages to take a tried-and-true Quad City DJs track and throw into it various references from the secretly-required Guiles Theme to Jam of the Year,  Storm Blooper’s “Somebody Stole All the Icecream!”, another reference to Epic Sax Guy, to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, to Trolololololing until halted by President Hoodie in the “production” booth.

Final Thoughts
This compilation is surprisingly delightful to all of those who would roll their eyes to all the abundant overusage of memes, a fantastic 22-track soundtrack to cause some shenanigans to, and a delight to all of us reliving days when the internet was a simpler (and easily much more offensive) time.  Download it for free off of the Chiptunes = WIN Bandcamp, and make sure you have stairs in your household.

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DAMN IT HOODIE. I DIDN’T ADD THIS PICTURE. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.