MASTER BOOT RECORD
Press blurb boldly boasts, “There are few truly unique musical artists, but the music made by Master Boot Record arguably exists in a category of its own.” And the sole Italian man behind this supposedly unique venture explains himself that it consists of, “chiptune, demoscene & video game music, thrash/death metal and some black metal as well as classical and symphonic patterns and progressive structures”. Hmmm… sounds a little like the same approach as his labelmate Igorrr. On paper, at least, anyway. While there are similarities between the two, particularly in MBR’s Baroque-styled passages, and fusion between metal and some of the electronica on offer, Igorrr’s musical palette is way more diverse. And where they drastically differ is that MBR claims, “everything is programmed and done with synthesizers”… so, presumably, the guitars are emulated rather than real. As is everything else. And the other major difference is that MBR is a purely instrumental project, as opposed to the colourful range of vocalisations in Igorrr’s music. Perhaps think of it like this - Igorrr is more your David Lynch of diverse musical insanity, whereas MBR is your accessible Hollywood alternative. And that's no criticism of either artist, as I love Igorrr's deranged musical shenanigans to bits, and am quite taken with MBR's bit-coded compositions… to a degree.
With a tracklist that looks like a whole load of Windows system files and executable routines, it’ll no doubt have instant appeal for everyone’s inner IT geek. And the listening experience provides a window into this guy's evident create flair at effectively fusing metal with geeky electronica and beyond, with 8-bit and 16-bit noises abound, and often delivered with a heavy neo-classical bias. So much so, this, at times, sounds exactly what Yngwie Malmsteen would create if he gave up fretboard shred and exercised his neo-classical obsession in the form of video game music homage. In actuality, through listening to ‘Floppy Disk Overdrive’, that’s both as bad and as good as it sounds.
Does it all generally work and hold together, though? Any criticisms? Definitely. Of the music? No. Of the listening experience? Well, just over the midway point, it all becomes a little too much for one sitting. One sitting, that is, if the album's been my primary focus. After a few tracks, I’ve consistently found my concentration waning. As such, it starts working better as background music. Is it because the earlier tracks are stronger than the later ones? Not at all. I've listened to the album in reverse (chronologically rather than looking for hidden, demonic messages), and it's had the same affect on me. I guess it could partly be because the novelty value this has starts wearing a little thin. And let’s not kid ourselves here - this is an album steeped in novelty value. But I think it's also a little bit due to the fact that, stylistically, and after so many inhumanly fast, beepy neo-classical runs, it all starts to get a little samey. There's depth and skill here, for sure, but it ultimately lacks diversity. And, at times, it invokes the wrong kind of images in my head - particularly parts of FDSK.EXE, which reminded me emphatically of Alan Partridge sat in his car, air drumming, while Lynn attends to her mum's grave (“You're in a remarkably cheerful mood considering it's the first anniversary of your mother's death”). Similar sort of vibe, I guess.
All in all, despite not holding my full attention for an entire play through at any point, I’m sure ‘Floppy Disk Overdrive’ will find a large audience amongst those who like metal, gaming and a bit of IT geekdom. Interestingly, MBR has US and European tour plans, with a lineup that’ll also feature a live drummer and guitarist. Could be interesting. Could be fucking terrible. And I predict those two conflicting reactions will be how people digest this irrefutably divisive album.
FLOPPY DISK OVERDRIVE
Review by Mark Holmes
20th March 2020
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...this, at times, sounds exactly what Yngwie Malmsteen would create if he gave up fretboard shred and exercised his neo-classical obsession in the form of video game music homage. In actuality, through listening to ‘Floppy Disk Overdrive’, that’s both as bad and as good as it sounds."