Crashfaster - Further

11 songs
37:54 minutes
***** ****


The term electronic rock music has been more abused in the recent past than any other expression to describe hybrid artists that often try unsuccessfully to combine the best of organic and artificial music. That’s why I was initially quite sceptical when I came across Further, the second album by San Francisco based quartet Crashfaster. The fact that the ominous RIYL tag named artists like Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails didn’t make things any easier for me.

But I soon discovered that there was no reason to worry, even though the aforementioned descriptions weren’t that much off the mark. Basically speaking, Crashfaster are the brainchild of Morgan Tucker, who did most of the programming and half of the vocals, and who is furthermore also one half of their record label Monobomb. The rock component comes with the other band members, especially drummer and additional programmer Devin Nixon and guitarist Ryan Case, although Keiko Takamura’s excellent vocal contributions also add a lot to the band’s inescapable charm.

Further starts with the instrumental Launch, which is too long to be considered a mere intro, but also quite different from the remaining material to see it as a regular track. This pure electronic track sets the mood for what is to follow, starting out in a very atmospheric vein, before adding a beat which is constantly accelerating, thus making this a fun science fictional theme. What is instantly striking is Tucker’s love for chiptune music, and it has to be noted that he also uses Nintendo Gameboys as musical instruments, adding to the playfulness of the band’s overall sound. The first real track, Closer, begins with a very raw rhythm, something which is easiest to establish with lo-fi 8-bit electronica. The vocals make heavy use of the vocoder, and are contrasted with the more sensual female vocals. The songwriting is basically pop, but the abrasive nature behind it all which still manages to keep an analogue sense of warmth makes this in my book endlessly more appealing than the majority of the all too often industrially cold sounding electrock bands. Even better is the following Apex, which might take some time getting used to. This track also starts with rather random sounding electronic effects that gradually start making sense in your ears. This time the male vocals are undistorted, and make an incredible duet with the female counterpart. The guitar comes with a rather thin sound, which under normal circumstances would be rather blunt, but in this case it reminds of ancient guitar emulation from Eighties home computers and thus perfectly fits the mood. Another song I want to point out is Pro Tempore which sees Ms Takamura at her personal best, delivering a performance dripping with erotica, all of this in a context of a song that comes with a certain hip hop flair, although the chorus definitely goes into a Nineties crossover direction.

As you can guess, Crashfaster are anything but a one-trick pony, and that is part of what makes Further such an engaging listening experience. That by itself wouldn’t be enough though to make this an unadulterated success. What helps is also that Morgan Tucker is not only a great programmer who constantly conjures the weirdest sounds out of his magical hat, but also a very talented songwriter who comes with musical ideas that always make perfect sense. In the end you will be disappointed that the fun is already over after thirty-eight too short minutes, but you won’t regret any single one of them. Fans of experimental yet catchy electronic rock music with an enchanting Eighties 8-bit Gameboy sound will be delighted, and everybody else is also advised to check out Crashfaster to see that there is much more to electronic rock music than the mainstream wants to make you believe.

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