Microchip Terror: The VHS Box Edition

Not to sound like any more of an old man than I already am, considering I probably did enough of that in my last post, but you know what I also miss? Video Rental Stores! I can still recall a time, back in the early-to-mid 1990’s, when there were no less than half a dozen of them in my immediate area; and I’m not just talking Blockbuster! These were mostly small, privately owned, and of the Mom & Pop variety; yet they were no slouches when it came to their selection and presentation! One of them had a popcorn machine, another had a mini theater, and one had a massive wall of wrestling tapes. It was a magical time.

While there were certainly a lot of pros and cons associated with video rental stores, which led to their eventual downfall in the late-1990’s and early 2000’s thanks to the rise of Netflix and others, I do yearn for their return at times. Yes, it’s most certainly easier to just peruse a streaming service in your own home, where you don’t have to worry about something being out of stock, but at the same time there’s been a feeling lost in translation in terms of no longer having something physical to inspect. I mean, when I think back to my days of meandering through the shelves at my local video rental stores, I often recall admiring each and every section but mostly the horror and sci-fi sections.

Which, in so many words, is why I enjoy the “VHS Box Edition” of Microchip Terror’s debut full-length album, “Illegal Experiments.” It reminded me of those days when I would relish the thrill of the hunt in discovering a new release. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Neocities

twoneocitiesI was born in the mid-1980’s, and therefore I spent most of my early years in the 1990’s, so there’s always been this weird sense of belonging to the “proto-millennials” as I can still vividly remember a time before the internet and when computer technology became ever so commonplace. As some examples, I went from using a standalone Apple II in elementary school to using an internet-ready iMac by high school. I used payphones to call collect and was then amazed when I first saw a portable phone. I experienced the last glory days of arcades, and their downfall, as 2D graphics on home consoles using cartridges gave way to 3D powerhouses which harnessed the potential of CD based media. There was truly a sense of living in a time of great progress and promise back then, when sweeping changes in technology brought with it such an optimistic outlook for the future ahead.

Twirl,” by Alpha Chrome Yayo, is an album which not only encapsulates those feelings but gives off an aura not unlike one might imagine from a genie in a lamp; potent magic which was somehow bottled has now been unleashed. While Alpha Chrome Yayo wrote some wonderful linear notes about the album, and what all it meant to him, I nonetheless felt compelled to write some of my own… Continue reading

Growing Up in Lovecraft Country

Horror, true gut-wrenching and soul-crushing horror, is the absolute absence of hope and safety. As I mused in a previous article, about the unnatural ambiance of synthetic horror, this often takes the form of the unknown and unfamiliar. However, and perhaps somewhat ironically, it’s often when we feel at our safest that we’re actually at our most vulnerable and therefore more susceptible to the horrific consequences of our follies. After all, there’s a reason as to why the most successful experiences in horror are those which tend to cut the closest to home.

That is partly why, to this day, the opening sequence to Tales from the Darkside continues to haunt me; the idyllic countryside of dirt roads, covered bridges, rivers, and woods reminds me so much of where I grew up. It was my first taste, at a very young age, that something so beautiful and serene in the light could turn so sinister and menacing at night. Combine those haunting visuals with that mental anguish, then pepper in a creepy narration with equally freaky music, and you’ve got the recipe for something which scarred me for life as a child growing up in New England. I never again looked at the world the same… Continue reading

“Matter” by Paladin

a3496307663_10The original release of “Matter” was one of the first modern synth-based albums that I came across and I’ve been hooked ever since. While this re-release is a bit of a remix in comparison, I still love it all the same if not more so as Paladin can do no wrong to my ears. There’s just an overall uniqueness to their approach that’s unlike anything else out there. I simply cannot put into words what that is exactly other than it’s as if a wizard’s magic has transported you to another space in time.

“RE:MIXED [The Save Rooms]” by Mono Memory

a2941814801_16This album is like coming across an old memory card which contains save data for a familiar game that you’re excited to play again, to which you immediately continue from where you left off, but now through the hindsight of a modern lens. It’s all quite familiar, and yet so very different, as Mono Memory proves with every track that they’re the master of unlocking the past through their unique remixes. If you want to see S.T.A.R.S. than Mono Memory will give them to you. This is an S-Rank album.

“The Sun Also Sets” by Vampire Step-Dad

a3876597256_10“The Sun Also Sets” may not contain the usual fang-in-cheek pageantry which most of Vampire Step-Dad’s recent releases have been known for utilizing, in terms of an opening sitcom-like sketch and/or a centralized theme, but it still has some serious melodic bite regardless. Which is to say that, while you won’t find many blood pumping guitar-laden tracks on this album, the synth-fueled melancholy melodies on here are plentiful and reaffirm Vampire Step-Dad as an accomplished maestro of emotions.

“Wave Motion” by Purple Goldfish

a2286691341_10Part chiptune, part synthwave, and a whole lot of heart; that’s how I choose to best describe “Wave Motion” by Purple Goldfish.

While mostly known for being one half of Big Lich, the chiptune and darksynth inspired instrumental power metal duo, this album is certainly on the lighter side in comparison to that although there are still some somber moments intertwined.

That said, this album is an excellent showcase of not only Purple Goldfish’s solo abilities but a wonderful album in its own right.

“Grangeweird” by Alpha Chrome Yayo and Danny Madigan

a4206924274_10“Grangeweird” is like ducking into a pub to get out of the rain, warming yourself up next to a fire with drink in hand, only to end up being enthralled by two bards within telling tall tales of local legends and suburban superstitions.

While Alpha Chrome Yayo and Danny Madigan are both amazing artists on their own, there’s just something truly magical about their musical chemistry which happens whenever they brew up a tune together. And what an eldritch concoction of hygge this one is indeed!

“Bone Apple Tea” by The Warhorse

a4120519210_10The Warhorse is one of the most unique acts in the synthwave scene, even if they skate the edge of the mold for not being “80’s enough,” and I truly do admire them for just doing their own thing without worrying what anyone else thinks about them in turn.

“Bone Apple Tea,” in many ways, is an anthem to that belief and a call to arms to embrace your uniqueness. Most importantly it’s about shattering those glass ceilings, subverting expectations, and not giving a fuck… that’s The (Bone Apple) Tea.