I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions per se, but I typically greet January with some sense of optimism, even if deep down in my cynical core I know that it’s bullshit. This year, although I didn’t make a specific resolution, I made a small promise to challenge myself a little more. This isn’t the “New Year, NEW ME,” nonsense. I don’t want to change myself; I want to challenge myself. Maybe I can focus a little harder, act with more purpose,and generally just have a little more walk and less talk, as they say. It’s not a big, life-changing promise. I want to spend 2017 reading more challenging books, watching more engaging films,digging deeper into weirder and newer music, and maybe calling my local congressman to tell him to stop being such a wimp. New year, same me, but maybe trying a little harder.
With that, I went on a short tag diving journey on the good ol’ Bandcamp, trying to find some more goodies from a genre that this here Toilet has made me more fond of over the past year: synthwave. As a guitar player, I’ve always stuck to guitar-centric bands, be they metal, hard rock, blues, or anything really. However, the past year on the Toilet has made me a fan of bands like GUNSHIP, Waveshaper, and PERTURBATOR. With that, I told myself that I should do a little more digging and find some more bands of this style that I enjoy and share them with you all. That said, I present to you an artist worthy of greater recognition and that should hopefully entertain many Toileteers: MASTER BOOT RECORD.
MASTER BOOT RECORD (referred to as MBR going forward because 2017 Rusty still lazy af) is what appears to be an instrumental solo project from an Italian electronic musician. It’s done entirely with a synthesizer, but don’t stop reading here because you assume you’re not going to like that. I tagged this post metal for a reason. MBR is synthy, but it makes that synth heavy. While other synthwave acts, such as the aforementioned GUNSHIP, focus on funkier rhythms and are largely influenced by John Carpenter soundtracks and bands like Tangerine Dream, MBR is a dirtier, more metallic experience. Many songs make use of distorted basslines and some even have programmed double-bass rhythms, making some tracks thrashier and others more industrial. As a result, I found myself headbanging to quite a few tracks.
Another distinct feature that makes MBR feel metal is the fact that it contains some shreddy keyboard lines. All four albums that appear on Bandcamp, which were all released during September of 2016, feature some killer keyboard riffs. Sometimes it is on faster, thrashier tracks, other times on ones with slower chord changes that, were it not for the dark sounding bassy-distortion, could almost pass for power metal due to the neoclassical shred influences. There really are a lot of genres in play here. “BAYAREA.BMP” is a great example. Don’t worry, the title doesn’t disappoint; it is thrashy.
The other aspect that I really enjoy is the overall aesthetic, including the album art and song titles. MBR, whose Bandcamp email identifies as “Victor,” put a lot of work into the retro style, modeling the whole project as computer coding that I, an Apple pleb and stupid millennial, wouldn’t have understood had I not asked the Google. Thus, the whole thing gives me a cyberpunk vibe, being darker and grittier than many of the other bands I’ve seen use the synthwave genre tag. Interestingly, I found MBR not by browsing the cyberpunk or synthwave subreddits but actually the one for “outrun,” something that isn’t so much a music genre as it is, like cyberpunk, an overall aesthetic (albeit one that I think I understand slightly less).
Regardless, I hope you’ll give MBR a shot if you’re not strictly anti-synth. It’s definitely a change of pace from the usual retrowave that we’ve heard recently. It’s a trend that I’m not entirely sick of yet, be it in music, film and television, or even video games. Some might write it off as just nostalgia boner bullshit, but I really do think it’s more than that. I think it’s interesting and, perhaps even fun and enjoyable if we allow it, that we’re seeing a lot of artists and entertainers seek inspiration from the time period that gave rise to home computers, video games, and otherwise rapid development in various forms of telecommunication. It’s an interesting exploration, and I’m pretty glad it’s given me a chance to check out some music that I don’t typically enjoy. If you want some more MBR jams, here’s a final one for ya:
If you like MASTER BOOT RECORD, be sure to throw ’em a like on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and most importantly Bandcamp, where you can grab all four albums for just over $4 (or precisely €4 if you’re a Euro-Commie bastard). Even if you just wishlist one of the albums, as I initially did, you get an email offering you a free download of a bunch of covers of old video game themes, titled WAREZ. It features DOOM, so it’s fucking cool. YEP!!