Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Game Over For Lazerpunk!

By Jeremy Olson

Get rude, crude and in a first person shooter mood with Lazerpunk!'s debut release Game Over.

I have to be honest this release is one I was specifically watching out for as Lazerpunk's style is very original and reminds me of a lot of classic video games which hold a special place in my heart.  Especially fast action first person shooters and intense fighters such as the original Unreal Tournament and Killer Instinct, both of which I still play to this day. But after a few listens I'm even more excited as to me it offers a deeper message of how easily reality and fantasy tends to be blurred in the views of not only today's younger generations, but scarily enough many in my own which are quickly approaching mid life.

The LP starts out fittingly enough the title track which sets the mood and gets things flowing quickly. A crowd of teen voices not unlike what you would hear in a junior high cafeteria (obviously dying  to get the hell out of school)  gives way to crunchy kicks and arp'ed bass lines which drives it from beginning to until, well, 'Game Over'!

The number two track I feel is a good choice for flow of the album, which is 'Protector's of the Universe'. Big, industrial drums and soft pad like churns give way to vocoders and sounds of video game power ups and big beefy kicks. Not quite as intense as 'Game Over', but more structurally sound, which levels the playing field between the two and fits in nicely.

'Death of a Hero' is perhaps the most generally (and I say this loosely) accessible track on the album, it begins with a familiar pulsating bass line, but soon pours into soaring  melodic chord progressions that really stand out, making this my favorite of the album. You can almost sense the urgency in Optimus Prime's voice in the beginning which adds a very nice touch.

'Retro Future Disco' is like a cross between Castlevania and a well timed trip (interpret that how you see fit) to the old, closed down "Option" club in my home town.  This one puts me right back into place where the people with the coolest colored hair were also obviously the coolest people in the world. Simon Belmont and that hot chick at the club with the purple hair and mesh shirt that I could never talk to would be proud.

Next up is 'The Devil' which I would consider the "vocal track" of the album. I personally feel  is important to include vocals on at least a track or two on any modern release. It's nice to see an artist take a chance and in this case it definitely works quite excellently.

'Night of Terror' starts off with some classic 80's synth cheese brass but quickly levitates into a huge beast. The driving rhythm and bombed out effects are counter-parted nicely with well placed creepy vocal sampling. This all builds out to a fantastic finish that is no-holds-barred chaotic, yet well thought out.

Another surprise to Game Over is 'King of the Wasteland' which rocks a hip hop style beat before pausing for a bit so a couple of punks can vocalize their distorted dreams. I'd have to say I have a whole new view on the film Bellflower when put into this context. Nice sub bass and a classic 80s synth riff finish out this rocker superbly.

'3 AM' is well.. something I would either want to, or not want to listen to at 3 am..if that makes sense. Heavy percussion and more vocal cuts get this thing rolling into a twisted up nightmare and then is combined with chip-bit like synths;  very reminiscent to me as something off an obscure 80's Skinny Puppy B -side.

The finale, 'Secret of Saturn', is certainly worthy as a finale track and really wraps up the album well as it pulls bits and pieces from all the previous tracks and rolls together as a dance type track that I would, personally, love to hear in a club.

Lazerpunk's style reminds me of all the great video games I've encountered in my life and takes me right back to those experiences as if I was living them again. Whether it's running a flag in UT Instagib, or getting wiped by Lady Vox in the original Everquest, it puts me right there. Moreover, there's a certain attitude throughout the album that you just can't fake and could even be interpreted as a warning sign of just how easy it can be to confuse fiction with actuality. In fact, when you downright think about, most of what is pushed on the general populace from the powers that be is based entirely off of fantasy, lies, or dreams, rather than what is what is actually going around us.

Werkstatt Recordings presents Lazerpunk's Game Over album on their Bandcamp page here and it's  available for purchase in digital formats as well as limited edition physical runs on CD and cassette. In short, If you are (or ever were) into any sort of gaming, and would like to explore similar and expanded sounds to all of those classic soundtracks with the added bonus of pondering underlying themes deeper than you might have before, this is definitely the album for you and it comes very highly recommended from Synthetix.FM.

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