Wednesday 14 September 2016

Review: Master Boot Record – 'FIXMBR' / 'C​:​\​>EDIT AUTOEXEC​.​BAT' / 'C​:​\​>EDIT CONFIG​.​SYS'


From the mind of Dope Stars Inc. main man and all-round cyberpunk producer extraordinaire Victor Love, comes a new project in the form of Master Boot Record, a project that delves headlong into synthwave/chiptune instrumentals and blends them with synthesised metal and symphonic orchestration. In typical fashion Love has imbued the project with a conceptual life of it's own with the associated web pages describing it thus:

“I am a 486DX-33Mhz-64mb processing avant-garde chiptune, synthesized heavy metal & classical symphonic music”

Love digs deeper into the cyber in cyberpunk, taking the idea of the sentient machine and blending occult symbols and MS Dos and creating a fitting sound track. It is about as perfecta  marriage of sound and aesthetic as you could hope for. 

'FIXMBR' see's Love explore the chiptune leads and sets them against dark throbbing bass lines and augments them with hard, slow chipped guitars. The result is like the soundtrack to an early 80s dystopian sci-fi horror evoking neo-tokyo in ruins as cybernetic monstrosities controlled by a computer gone mad patrol the streets.

Each track leads from the other nicely with the slow methodical pace of the opening three songs giving way to a more up-beat style with '+1DEhex' and the most overtly metal '+1FEhex' for some variety. But on the whole the album feels almost like chapters to a bigger piece, almost in the classical sense of movements within a symphony.

'C​:​\​>EDIT AUTOEXEC​.​BAT' continues down a similar route however with a more progressive metal flavour running throughout. Songs such as '@ECHO OFF', 'PROMPT $p$g', 'SET PATH=C:\METAL', 'SET PATH=C:\METAL' and 'SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330' sound as brilliant as the are unrepentantly geeky.

The album feels somewhat more fully formed than 'FIXMBR' and more identifiable as metal in its construction and is somewhat more accessible and varied than its predecessor as well. It's almost as if this one, rather than writing chiptune in the style of metal, is more like metal tracks converted to chiptune.

The last of the three releases, 'C​:​\​>EDIT CONFIG​.​SYS', Opens almost with an air of Dope Stars Inc. about it with it's more playful and punky construction on tracks such as 'DEVICE=HIMEM.SYS', 'FILES=666 ', and 'BUFFERS=1770'. While the likes of 'DEVICE=EMM386.EXE' and 'DOS=HIGH, UMB' tap into the previous albums more progressive flavours.

In terms of production this is pretty solid for synthwave/chiptune. Perhaps it is more of the fact that this is taking metal as its basis first and foremost and adhering to that level of orchestration and quality despite the retro analogue construction. Love as usual manages to keep things, no matter how experimental, still somewhat accessible.

Victor Love is on a mission to throw as many curve-balls at the world as he can, and he is doing that exceptionally well at the moment. Between his main concerns and solo side project, he is quickly creating discographies for a raft of new and interesting projects. And this one is quite rewarding, especially if you know MS DOS code and can decode the story thread that runs between each album. There is another album available for pre-order in the form of 'C​:​\​>CHKDSK /F' with currently one track available to hear so there is still a lot more to come from this interesting project.  

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