Kris Keyser

In how I’ve ended up writing this blog post, this has been a real different experience in terms of anything I write about. Probably about as vague as a sentence as I’ve ever put to document on my site, but hear me out. I mean this in two senses. The first is my working environment at the time of writing. Something that has blossomed and grown significantly mainly from the confines of my own bedroom, has been bought back to its very humble beginnings at my university’s library. Origins colliding with the future if it were. Leading to the second sense I’m talking about: culture clash. My main passions in life revolve entirely around music and video games and the fusion of the two resulted in the birth of chiptune, a genre of which I’m almost ashamed to say I’ve invested very little time in, since its inception in what seems like a lifetime ago. College honestly feels like it was that long ago to me. A lot has changed in that time. So like a proverbial mole, I’m burying deeper into the mass of soundcard-generated marvels ripped from the arcades of 1985. One of the stand out maestros on my traversal is New York’s Kris Keyser, a gentleman whom when not composing rousing 8-bit symphonies of destruction, has his digits on electronic festivals, software and unsurprisingly soundtracks. The thing that strikes me most about his music is just how endlessly energetic it is, a sugar rush of chirps and bleeps all pieced together in a revolving corridor of vibrant tints and hues. The best example of this that lurches forth from Keyser’s 2013 self-titled EP, his most recent output committed to digital distribution is Batsly Labs. While giving an honourable nod to Only, a soundscape invoking a giant mechanoid’s final stand against the oncoming onslaught of missiles aimed at the Earth, it’s the happy-go-lucky retro rampage of what can be described as Godzilla taking a leisurely stroll through a densely populated city, that implants its colourful melodies most memorably. You start with low-pitched bloops and warm pitch-bends of single notes, building up the tension much like opening credits of a side-scrolling fistfight, before you drop your change into the coin-op slot and childhood innocence all comes flooding back, punctuated by a pulsing bass drum and bright computerised chirps. Quite the wall of distortion is interwoven between the lovingly recreated melody, emphasising that inner degree of fury that compliments the cheerful demeanour so well, as a result of corrupted audio or carefully engineered detail I’m not entirely sure. But the experience is paced just as well as any arcade narrative has ever been. As any enjoyable but brief romp, the journey translates through different landscapes and climates, changing tempo to match that progression to the next stage, all leading to that satisfying ending and calmly winding down to the credits. The real childlike delight of revisiting the past to bring music into the present day, especially how I resonate with video games making up a huge portion of my childhood to bring pleasure to my aural channels as I write this, is a truly underrated art form, and one that feels like I’ve really under-appreciated. Kris Keyser sits as a shining jewel amongst a treasure chest of sterling producers making a charming collection of tunes, harking back to that time of purity and artistic integrity in your craft.

Anything that Kris Keyser has ever created can be located on his Bandcamp page on a pay-whatever-you-feel basis, though I do heartily encourage a small fee for his work definitely. Otherwise, his music can be purchased from most respectable music retailers. Else wise, anything and everything you could want to know about the guy can be found on his personal website.

Go hug him on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/kriskeyser/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/kris_keyser

And if you really want to, you can go hug me on social media, or subscribe to this blog, entirely up to you:

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bIg toBacCo CoMpaNY – Ripples

It’s that time once more ladies and gentlemen. A time for giving and sharing between one and all. What’s that? Christmas? Heavens no. You’ll have to wait the same as everyone else til the end of the month. No, I’m referring to another instalment of the gifts given to the internet from your friendly bIg toBacCo coMpaNY. The name is purely for show though, if this is your first encounter with this quirky but ultimately hard-slamming five-piece from Cincinnati. They won’t be distributing cigarettes to your doorstep in this century. Instead what they have chosen to peddle, and especially in their third release from their up-coming debut album, is a re-imagined version of Ripples, once wandering the world on an earlier EP. From previous cuts, we’ve seen glimpses of nu-metal juggernauts System of A Down and Slipknot, the incredible versatility of vocal style switches and even some mellower, contemplative passages, to diversify their impressive musical prowess from straight out decimation. Ripples expands upon that melodic personality seen in last track D.B. recalling further Eastern flavours once curated by System Of A Down in Spiders and Aerials respectively. Although surely not an intentional homage, the comparison is meant in nothing but flattery. The fretwork seems a little quicker than System however, but still captures that wonderful intoxicating essence from the melodies woven together. Peace soon dissipates, the powerful instrumental engine, as come to expect from these gentlemen, launching out of the haze like an ambush predator and begins pursuit of any startled onlookers. The full crushing might of the band is in full effect, yet for the first time thus far, guided by mostly clean vocals. The contrast works though. While you can feel throat muscles strained in the concentrated projection of vocals, the organised chaos fortifying it not only adds an urgency to the words spoken, but makes them feel far more legitimate. The subject matter certainly seems more philosophical, more spiritual than we’ve seen before, with the chorus echoing that sentiment. Numerous voices unite in incantation with the hammer-shots of the drums’ kick pedal easing off, while still allowing the guitars to reduce structures to rubble behind it all. It only sits as another alternative form of attack in their steadily growing arsenal. Some triumphant growls do escape from their imposed restraints, warmly welcomed into the atmosphere and all without them being abrasive in the slightest. One last moment near the song’s climax does introduce one last surprise. Very much in a hardcore vein, the band pulls out the equivalent of a handcannon and with each strum of the guitar, unloads slug after slug with no aim but complete carnage to the surrounding area. My apologies if this analogy seems a little topical, insensitive even, but bIg toBacCo coMpaNY’s tremendous firepower can be hard to quantify when total destruction in all shapes and sizes is what these guys do best. Though we continue to learn more of the increasing depth to their musicality, melodies and lyrics, fine-tuning and balancing this with their already established, bone-crunching barrages is becoming more of a mouth-watering prospect upon each release. Christmas hasn’t come early, but you can bet on these guys making an excellent stocking filler for jaded metal fans.

bIg toBacCo coMpaNY’s album has yet to be titled or have an official release date, but they are slowly releasing track by track every song from that album. This blog will be covering each release as part of a collaboration between myself and the band, so for an in-depth look and news on the development of the music of bIg toBacCo coMpaNY, The Soundshark is your go-to guy. If you haven’t already done so, check out the pieces on D.B. and Doom Shroom┬áto get the full picture so far.

Go let your love flow in their direction:

https://www.facebook.com/bIgtoBacCocoMpaNY/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/bIgtoBacCocoMpa

And if you have any love left in the tank at all, maybe you could give the remainder to me? You’re more than welcome to keep it of course:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

P.S. Womp womp womp womp.

 

The Maras

So the saying goes that there’s supposed to be no one you can rely on more in this world than your family. Some actually find resentment for their own family enough, pouring venom into the statement that you can’t choose your family, twisting the most important support network to you as a person, into nothing but bitter disdain. It must therefore be a fascinating statistic for the amount of families that are able to completely co-exist and co-operate without a hitch amongst one another. Music definitely is an adhesive that bonds people and their interests together, and family is no exception to this rule. After all, it works for King of Leon and they’re all cousins. It did work for the siblings of The Knife, before by their own admission, the creation of music and performing stopped being fun. It does however currently work for brothers Matt and Eric Mara whom after toiling and honing their floorfilling, pop-infected grunge bursts for five years, are finally releasing their works into the wider waking world. The unsuspectingly titled The Maras Go To The Mall! is their first long-player after a steady release of EPs earlier this year, squeezing the trigger hard for a myriad of aggressively charged bullets to the skull of modern rock. While you can claim that a lot of The Maras’ output revels in the sounds of the past, the breadth of those sounds and pure passion for music of decades gone has rejuvenated that spirit and goes as far to even sound brand new again, testament to their brilliance for writing hooks. Certainly from day one of hearing Ray’s Gun, that bass melody has been nothing but persistent in worming into my ear drums and burrowing deep into the pools of wax that lay within. But such is their talent that in just under two and a half minutes, they can pull off a near-perfect grunge-pit punch-up. Think the Pixies in a disco mood and you’re about there. Sound production has weaponised the drum beats so it carries across as a steady stream of bludgeoning projectiles, while the bassline calmly injects itself into your aural channel. Reminiscent of its era, monotone vocals seeped in reverb soon join the fray, still keeping a composed demeanour to the track. Vocals then take an anguished turn for the chorus and its contagious repetition, again keeping the instrumentation in a slightly numbed state, leaving just enough room to tease some tension for good measure. The mesmerising melody picks back up to start the cycle once more, coming back to that outrageously infectious chorus hook before jolting synth stabs take over and the bass slows the pace to a crawl and concludes. This is just one aspect of The Maras’ songwriting capabilities. Songs such as Church of Mad and Red Hair have far more fleshed out synth elements, and Texas Blood Thirst takes their angst to a far higher level. Ray’s Gun balances these both with just simplicity in structure and a killer series of hooks, and really that’s what The Maras excel at, writing bite-size tracks that have absorbed everything good from their respective 80’s record collections and translating it into a formula that hits your memory as hard as it does your eardrums. A true treasure awaiting discovery. Maybe that’s what the real value of family is..

The Maras Go The Mall!, single Muddy Susan and EP Welcome To Wax Beach are all available from their Bandcamp┬ápage for a very reasonable fee. Physical copies of The Maras Go The Mall were recently made available too on Bandcamp, so I’d recommend investing in a copy of that. The album is a real sleeper hit waiting to happen, that’s for damn sure.

Write them a love note of some description:

https://www.facebook.com/Themarasbrothers/?ref=hl
https://twitter.com/TheMarasBand

I am also welcoming of love notes too, but that’s entirely your choice:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark