When it comes to pitches, Belfast based producer Alpha Chrome Yayo sure knows what he’s doing. In the press release he sent to our site, he noted many influences which I could not ignore. Sisters of Mercy, The Cure, the films of Lucio Fulci and David Cronenberg – all very promising and right up my alley.
Genre wise, Malediction Boulevard happily falls under several labels. Dark synth, retrowave and synthwave are all valid. But beyond the 80s inspired synths, beats and melodies, there is so much more going on here. Which is astonishing because there are only three tracks on the thing.
The title track provides a blistering introduction to one of ACY’s greatest strengths – he can really shred. The fretwork on Malediction Boulevard is epic. Guitars aren’t common in synthwave, by virtue of it being generally defined by tight, precise (almost pixel perfect) electronics. Here ACY shows the potential of adding something looser, wilder and more organic to the mix.
‘Organic’ is an important word to keep in mind. On the EP’s Bandcamp page, ACY includes a quote from one of Cronenberg’s best movies, The Fly:
I’m an insect who dreamt he was a man, and loved it. But now the dream is over…and the insect is awake.
The words of doomed scientist Seth Brundle reflect not just the inspiration behind, but also the feel of “Insektpolitik.”
Despite the absence of lyrics, ACY manages to conjure images of hives overrun with furiously occupied drones. The pace is unrelenting, and as the tones rise, you get the sense of a swarm emerging from crevices and shadows. “Insektpolitik” is so strange and unique, and I actually remain stunned by how well it works.
So…we need to talk about The Sopranos. Apologies for the swerve. The last track on Malediction Boulevard is “To Kevin Finnerty And Beyond.” It’s a reference to the 67th episode of the legendary series; “Join The Club.” Finnerty is an alternate identity attached to Tony while he’s in a coma. There’s obviously far too much to unpack here (though I can recommend this fantastic article about it), but I’ll try my best to tie this all together.
Essentially Finnerty is part of a subconscious intervention. A way for Tony to explore, and potentially resolve, the conflicting parts of his personality. Facing consequences plays into this too. So – to drag things screaming back to the song – I think the importance of subconscious forces is at the core of what ACY is doing.
Malediction Boulevard hinges on symbolism, fears and confrontation. A ‘malediction’ is a magical word or phrase intended to curse or cause harm. ACY ’s references, quotes and titles (his words) deliberately prime you for, and enhance, each songs deeper and darker facets. It’s an incredibly shrewd artistic approach, and combined with how damn entertaining this EP is; it reflects what a vital and exciting artist Alpha Chrome Yayo is.
Malediction Boulevard EP is released on April 26th 2019.
You can find Alpha Chrome Yayo here: