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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!


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.


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


Wacky Wednesday – “Exposure”

25 Sep

Jared closed the bathroom door.

He regarded his face in the mirror, crinkling his brow, grimacing through closed teeth, pulling down his cheeks. He poked and prodded the flesh. He noted its increased elasticity with no small amount of annoyance; he’d have to put in another resupply request. This one was almost brand new, but was already showing signs of wear. He forced a sigh from his lungs, and made his mouth into a frown.

“Dude, hurry up! I wanna get there, like, tonight!”

Jared increased his vocal volume by two point seven decibels (which he had discovered was an excellent level for making oneself heard without sounding upset or provoking a response), and said “Gimme a fuckin’ minute! Jeez.” He’d have to work quickly – Brad seemed particularly edgy tonight. Perhaps some ceremonial social intoxication and the promise of coitus would alleviate his increased stress levels. Jared reached a finger behind his ear and felt for the tiny flap of skin which hid there, disguised as a dermal imperfection. He seized it between his digits and pulled forward, and his face fell away with a wet sucking sound.

Dropping it into the sink, Jared regarded his true countenance with relief. The fleshy, ape-like features of the human face would always seem vulgar and primitive to him – nothing at all as beautiful or elegant as his own scabrous chitin, fluted nostrils, or lidless ocular pads. It was a shame that this façade was still necessary. Jared could hardly wait for the covert campaign to finish, so that assimilation might begin in earnest. Then, this ridiculous costume would no longer be necessary – and, as an added bonus, he would never again have to imitate that idiotic troglodyte, Brad. The mere thought–

Dude! What’s the holdup, bro? Kelly texted me, like, three minutes ago!”

And there he was, pounding on the bathroom door in a fit of impatience. It was laughable, really, the way these creatures were controlled by their chemistry. Brad was practically coughing in a cloud of his own hormones, and he wasn’t even aware of it. Jared, however, was acutely aware. The stink of Brad’s primal musk was strong enough to gag his olfactoroid slits.

Picturing a screaming Brad strapped to a vivisection table, reminding himself that it would all be worth it, Jared seized a hand towel and hastily mopped his glistening faceplates. Placing the fleshy sack over his face again, he hoped that the cursory absorption would be sufficient; if he secreted any more moisture he risked compromising the mask entirely, and at a human social function, no less.

Jared’s human face frowned into the mirror. It would have to do for now.

He opened the door and almost walked straight into Brad, whose facial features expressed frustration. Jared noted this, fixing his own in what he hoped was a passable representation of defiant readiness. Raising an eyebrow, he made his mouth say, “Waiting on you, bro.”

Brad’s grimace was deeply satisfying. As they exited the dwelling together, Jared felt his spirits lift. This night may yet hold some promise after all.

Tiny Tuesday – “Getaway Bay”

24 Sep

Benny had never ridden a Sea-Doo before.

The sirens blazed at his back. “First time for everything,” he muttered, and jumped off the pier.

As Benny growled through the water of the bay, his body thrumming with adrenaline, he finally understood all the hype. No wonder these things were so popular! He adjusted the duffel slung on his shoulder and reached out behind, his Uzi spitting death in a sizzling spray that cut through the pursuing coast guard boats. God, this thing was fast!

The bay receded. Benny grinned. The sun was shining, the water was cool, and he was free.