Threepenny Thursday – The Best of Alex Mauer

26 Sep

I have to finally cop to this one. I’m not embarrassed or anything, but this man’s music has been doggedly clinging to the top of my Most-Played Tracks Ever List for a very long time. Acknowledgment must finally be made! Alex Mauer manufactures glistening, deadly earworms in the glow of an 8-bit laboratory, and they’ve taken over my brain!

alexmauer

Gaze upon his beanie/fro combo and DESPAIR

He’s a chiptune artist – which is a musician who synthesizes electronic music through the sound chips of “vintage computers, video game consoles, and arcade machines” – and his particular brand of aural alchemy is truly magical.

For me, and for anyone from my generation, this stuff is nostalgic to an extreme. Sure, hearing the Super Mario Bros. theme might remind you vaguely of your childhood, but the pure digital sound itself, without the melodies you recognize and remember, works more subtly. Alex Mauer’s songs sound like the themes I remember from Zelda and StarTropics and Contra, but are actually spectacularly well-composed original pieces that were never part of any game. I guess that kind of opaque sense-memory is more potent of a brain toxin for me, because it triggers memories that are crazy detailed.

But, even if you’re somehow not me (a baffling question at any approach), and this music doesn’t unlock a deeply emotional connection to the sparkling ether of your past, don’t worry. If you enjoy songs that are smart, memorable, and realize-you’re-still-humming-it-four-days-later catchy, then Alex Mauer’s your man. Listen I know I get ass-kissy but either I’m this guy’s exact ideal audience, or there really is something more than meets the ear going on here. I’ve linked and detailed some choice bleeps and bloops below for your delectation.

“OJ Finds The Real Killers”

Best track title of all time? Yes?

This song absolutely rips. It’s like a training montage from an NES game that takes place on the moon. I get notes of giant robots, low-flying stunt aircraft, and slow-mo shots of a bat cracking into a baseball. It was used as the score for an episode of PATV, where the salty rogues of Penny Arcade faced off in a climactic ping-pong battle with their bitter rivals, the villainous developers from Bungie Software. And if you don’t think ping-pong can be epic: you’re wrong.

“The Bear”

Richly melodic and as heartwarming as a gulp of hot cider on crisp autumn evening. I think I would have pictured a giant scruffy kodiak lumbering around in the forest even if this track hadn’t been called “The Bear”. Dat plodding beat.

“Snipes”

Mauer is incredibly prolific, and when you listen to more of his work you notice that crackly percussion, strange time signatures, and complex melodic layering become commonplace. This song is a perfect example of that style, which seems to be his bread and butter. I found this track to be more of an acquired taste, but it’ll sneak up on ya. You’ll wake up humming it in a fortnight and go “What the hell is that?”

Classic Mauer.

“Tickle Bee”

Again this guy with the incredible aptitude for track titling! I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more adorable thing in my life. It’s snuggly and tickly and fuzzy. The chorus climbs and falls like a feather trailing up and down your spine; I dare you not to giggle. It’s the bridge section that I really dig, though, with peanut-buttery bass and a honey-glazed melody.

“Blast Gaiden”

Bar none, my favourite. I don’t know what it is about this song, but it’s burrowed into me. Like a botfly, only way less horrifying and much more soothing, euphoric, and transportive. So, nothing like a botfly actually.

Every element of this song connects with me: the wavering throb of the bass, the soft syncopated rhythm, and the way the melody and bass line sway together and intersect for a gorgeous moment at the chorus before parting again. Seriously, I could go on inventing unctuous metaphors for this song all day. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s stolen my heart. I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life that I won’t love this track.

*

I give the music of Alex Mauer the most enthusiastic 5 out of 5 Jeff Goldblums possible. If you enjoy well-crafted digital music, and especially if you’ve ever played a video game, you might just be a hero with an 8-bit heart, even if you don’t know it. And I just revealed it to you.

That’ll be 45 bucks.

5 jeffs

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