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:

https://www.facebook.com/IAmTheSoundshark/?fref=ts
https://twitter.com/The_Soundshark

 

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Netherlands

This band gave me an idea recently, although that could potentially go the wrong way depending on political correctness. A game you could play is, given a country, you have to establish what music that country would sound like. Some are easy, Brazil, India and Mexico for instance have sounds they live and breath because they are originators of that style. Some countries, perhaps not quite on the map you would struggle with. San Marino may just be the sound of shrugging shoulders or clapping politely. A country very much established however that could be perceived as difficult to identify could be the Netherlands, but thankfully Timo Ellis and his two partners in crime hailing from New York City may put that debate to an end. Dragging around a longsword sharpened by staggering amounts of fuzz, moods are constantly intense, much like a serial killer in the dark of night, either on the prowl or attacking depending on the pace. Whilst you can assume there is a unchanging danger in their music, how exactly to describe it is somewhat misleading. They are pseudo-sludge in guitar tone that sometimes reaches noise rock levels of distortion, but sing with a classical rock band showmanship, with pacing that can reach punk speeds. Tabitha from 2013’s Silicon Vapor being an example of those speeds, comparable to weaponised destruction derby and you’re behind the wheel, whilst what could be deciphered as free-form poetry or phrases pulled from a hat are yelled from atop a mountain. The thing that strikes me about vocalist Timo Ellis is how soulful his delivery can be at times, which edges them out against so many other heavy pretenders. So, that debate hasn’t actually been resolved as Netherlands are every much a square peg in a round hole, which just about fits if you jam it hard enough. Or maybe that is the point. Brimming with styles and sensibilities that keep them a very much original experience, Netherlands are an odd breed to classify, but they produce a sound that is equal parts threatening as it is to endearing and exciting. In the context of the musical country game, that answer is good enough for me.

Silicon Vapor and 2012’s Fantasmatic can be purchased from their Bandcamp page for a small fee. or from Netherlands’ website in CD, vinyl or digital format, along with several t-shirts and the such too.

https://www.facebook.com/netherlandsband?fref=ts

Access To Arasaka

Some artists leave you hanging on what could’ve been, if they’d just persevered a little longer. Seeming absent since 2013 and on the brink of seeping into mainstream acceptance, Access To Arasaka was an atmospheric electronic project of New York producer Robert Lioy, that combined dark, brooding soundscapes with glitch and IDM elements that could score a dystopian future with absolute ease. While his later works are murkier of sorts, Jody from his debut album Oppidan has somewhat of an element of purity, hard to explain within the context of electronic music. Whilst swirling through a smog of beautiful harmonics, programming spasms and contorts before picking up into an acid thrash-style breakbeat pace and settling at a wave of synthetic chatter between machines. Whilst not as ‘organic sounding’ as some electronic music produced out there, Access To Arasaka nails an emotional depth that it’s difficult to pinpoint, and earned him much respect from the electronic community in the process. Hopefully he’ll resurface one day, but his music has surely reinforced his prowess as an incredible producer.

The track featured, Jody, can be downloaded for free right here. 2012’s Geosnychron, 2011’s Orbitus, 2010’s void(); and 2009’s Oppidan can all be purchased via Tympanik Audio’s Bandcamp page, or physically and digitally via most respectable music retailers.

https://www.facebook.com/accesstoarasaka?fref=ts