The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Indietronic’

Panda Steps In Chocolate And Falls Into The Future

Posted by C. Cue on October 17, 2008

Hearing(or reading) the term “Panda Steps In Chocolate” usually leads one to think of a word that starts with P and rhymes with “Boo.” What you won’t think of is something dealing with music. Well, that’s exactly what it is. PSIC is a musical outlet for the young Christian M. Filardo. And, this review is about the EP titled Papers from this youngster made in his basement in Arizona.

Being that it’s under eighteen (18) minutes long, it’s not like you’ll have to strap yourself in and get ready for a lengthy journey. Housing only seven (7) tracks shows that most of these tracks rest easily under the three (3) minute mark. “Rainbows” would have to be the best track of the EP. It’s not that it’s full of layering or intricate and elaborate details. It’s not that the lyrics attack at key parts that pulls at certain strings inside of you. What it is is a simple, silly and playful tune. It’s free of any congested emotions or any required heavy thinking. With Christian whispering along to himself sing the line “Rainbows come from my eyes” repeatedly, it adds to the airy sensation of just being. It’s done catchy enough for it to get stuck in your head and piss off your classmates, co-workers or loved ones with the reiteration of the lyrics.

On “The Plane Flew By,” I can’t help but get the feeling of Tom DeLonge’s silly lyrics when he was in Blink-182 when Christian is singing on the track. The tone is similar, also. Not EXACT, but similar. The thing about this track is it’s hidden potential. With some guitar work and additional instrumentation/layering, there’s a chance that you’d end up hearing this played on you local pop rock station. Easily, out of all the songs, this one holds the title as the one that can become something dynamic when retooled and added upon.

There are a few missteps on the EP, though. The song “Cap-A-Pie” tends to run like a children’s electronic toy keyboard from the early 90’s musically. It’s understandable that the release isn’t supposed to be something superly serious. You learn that just from seeing the moniker of the release. Still, you’d want him to just explore a little more into the playfulness or, even, spend a bit more consideration for the structuring of the musical portion of the release. Another step that he stutters on is the opening song “Costume.” The loss comes in for the fact that it’s a tad hard to distinguish what he’s saying when he’s talking. I understand the dramatic echoed voice effect, but his words end up getting lost in a blender of noise and singing vocals. The song “Sign Language” teeters, for me. I enjoy the lyrics, and the dramatic building, but I just kept urging him to go a little bit further with sound creativity. He has it in him, and I just want him to go the distance and let it out. If it makes a mess, then clean up the mess afterwards.

“Porcupine” has perhaps the best drum track of all the songs. The simple Indie Rock drumming keeps your head nodding well enough. The synth bass is a bit too loud and drowns out some of the other portions of the song. Turning that down would’ve greatly improved the song, but it’s still a nice song. In truth, the thing that pulls me into the song the most is the weird noise that sounds somewhere between a crystal glass being tapped and a bicycle bell being rung chiming along throughout the beat.

All in all, being only 17 years old, Mr. Filardo has a lot of room to grow and explore. Being that he does have such tremendous potential, you can only expect him to grow from here. Surely, if he does continue his musical endeavors, you’ll definitely be hearing this guy’s name being chirpered around in musical conversations a few years down the line. Be it under this moniker, a new one, or even in a full own band.



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Friend John Would Like To Be Your Digital Neighbor

Posted by C. Cue on August 9, 2008

So, I was offered, again, the chance to review an unsigned talent. If you remember my review on the artist known as PSY/OPSogist, then you should know that I’m always eager for new raw music . . . as long as it’s good. So, with the chance to be able to review someone who might end up big in his respected field before the explosion happens to come about, I just had to take it. The artist goes by the moniker Friend John and his album is titled Version For Maddie. With something as kind and honest as that name, I was almost expecting to hear folk/acoustic music being played in my ears. What I got was something entirely different.

When I turned on the first song(“Different Dreams”), I was treated to something that I could only closest compare to Dntel work. Which was funny, because after turning it on, I saw that John went ahead and remixed “Dumb Luck” by Dntel. A fitting tribute, I thought. As the introduction to the 16 track album, I thought “Different Dreams” wasn’t too overbearing or attacking. It was so laid back and low, that I thought my volume had broken somehow. Then, dear old John attacked me with a spark of loudness. Letting me know that my volume wasn’t damaged, nor was the entire album going to be filled with a lot of low sounding pieces.

On “Blueberry Box,” John threw out the funk. It wasn’t anything to rival the likes of Justice or Daft Punk, but it was a good display of his flexibility. Sounding like a groovy/jazzy stage from the good old days of 16 bit gaming(you know the stage that you played on and never tried to beat it as fast as you could because the music was nice?), but at exactly 1:07 in the song, he turned it up a notch. Adding more layers, extra static rhythm attacks, and even going so far as to having a little digital solo performed in there. Afterwards, going to a revamped version of the original sound of the song.

When “Meanings” comes around, you’re tempted to ask if John is going to go by the moniker John Figurine in the next 12 seconds. The intelligence in his production is very close to those who are very much so professionals in the field that he’s playing around in. But, whatever you had set-up in your mind to prepare yourself for what’s next will be fooled by the track “Elephant.” It becomes hard to believe that John created it by just using his PC and probably only a MIDI keyboard. The song sounds like it belongs in some very futuristic pimp scene; equipped with a giant planet hopping Caddy & fur-lined Captain Kirk space suit. John uses his hip-hop/rap & funk influences on this piece, along with his silliness for video game love. In my opinion, it’s the best song on the entire piece.

A low point would be the song “Out of Here.” Not that the song is bad, it’s just that when the main portion of the song is playing, the sound is so low that it’s hard to properly make out and get into what’s going on. It’s kind of alienating to the listener to what could have potentially been a very dynamic track. Another small nitpick is that some songs are really great, but end under the 3 minute mark. Leaving you with a taste of just 45 seconds more of the grooviness.

On tracks like “Slow Jam,” “Ravens” and “Chapter One” you see him go into the world of Chiptune music. And on tracks like “Passive People” and “Meanings” he dwells on the European style of IDM music production. In “Meanings,” he borders between Dubstep and Glitch music. Friend John shows that he can cover a wide array of styles within the electronic musical world. Even, his remix work for the Indietronic icon Dntel shows him doing some really dynamic stuff. Using Figurine’s own liking for the, what my friend calls, ” Yoshi Island thumps” combined with the spacestation sound effects from, what sounds like, some random Sonic game. The beat is very subtle, yet diversely layered. There’s even parts that sound like a door creaking open in fast forward. He does so much to this little track, yet all the things he does still makes it all seem very minimal. That’s the mark of someone who’s coming into themselves with their artform.

As a first under this actual style, Friend John makes a nice impression as a new neighbor in your musical neighborhood. And, as he continues to develop and builds on what he has already established, you should be sure that he’ll soon renovate his home to make it that much more digitally illustrious. Highlights are: Elephant, Meaning, Multicolor dub and Dumb Luck [Remix of Dntel].

Friend John Version For Maddie

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