Homebrew | MUSIC: Homebrew | Indy Week


Did you have a fondness for the little tunes/noises that accompany ancient video games like Centipede, Asteroids, Ms. Pacman or any late '70s/early '80s Atari marvels? Then Champaign, Ill.'s Mathlete--power nerds to the nth power--will have you in their pocket (next to the calculator and mechanical pencil). Telstar Parthenon, Mathlete's debut album, is 20 exuberantly low-fi fizzy little bursts of 4-track Casiocore pop that sound like they were executed with a Casio Rapman and a garageful of semi-functioning old Korg and Roland synths (with the occasional rhythm guitar bit). Two-boy army Mike Downey (Wolfie) and pal Dan Marsden tour their early '80s sonic landscape in Gary Numan's prototypical electro-car, stopping to party down at the "Geekout" ("everyone to the geekout!") while synths burp, whoosh and pop in the background. As Downey explains in his bio, "telstar one" is his bedroom, while Marsden's "suburban garage" is the "Parthenon" (the two work independently, then pool their sonic experiments), hence the album title. All the drum parts are primitive programmed beats. There's no low end to speak of (a lot of the sounds are in that bug-zapper sort of frequency), and Downey's nasally vocals sound like they're run through a phase-shifter. Mathlete, bold members of the synth militia, have captured the wonder and fun of their New Wave forefathers in this truly retro, catchy album. Power nerds, take heart.

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