Chrome Sparks’ “My <3"
“My <3 is a mile-marker for the age of dubstep, chillwave, and sample-based music. It slightly graces the region of bedroom synthpop but doesn’t prominently feature the hypnagogic qualities of DIY electronica." - Grafton TannerGrafton Tanner
out of 10
July 17, 2011
I first met Jeremy Malvin at the 40 Watt. He currently resides as drummer for the synthpop band Stepdad, and they we’re playing with a few local bands I’ve seen before. As a percussionist, I focused most of my attention on Jeremy’s tasteful drumming and expertise. It was obvious he knew his stuff. He mentioned his project, Chrome Sparks, and I knew I had to check it out. I was not disappointed.
Chrome Sparks’ My <3 is seven tracks of jolting dreamwave electronics. Drum loops skitter underneath smooth as silk synths that climb and fall spastically. Opener “Doubt, No” represents the best of what Chrome Sparks has to offer. It is schizoid electro pop that never stays in one place. And then there are the vocal manipulations that are present here as well as the other tracks. Multiple voices swirl and transform, quenching every last organic quality. The distorted vocals shift from John Maus to James Blake to Tyondai Braxton. Deep, dark baritones. High-pitched mice squeals. The voice is no longer from the human. It has been separated from the real and joins the synths and beats that hum and spazz beneath.
The rest of the record showcases Malvin’s percussive skill and knack for crafting quaking rhythms. “<3 and Soul” mixes beautiful mallet runs with electronic drums and creamy brass leads. The synths are alluring and palatable, yet the chopped and screwed vocals darken the sound with their alien murmurs and squeals. “Show You My Way” boasts a solid bongo loop with ebullient arpeggios, and “All There Is” is a dreamy, shimmering piece with tinkling glockenspiel. The record does hit a few low moments such as “Soul and <3” and the closer “This Revenge is Calm.” “Soul and <3” is less of a remix and more of a reimagining of the previous track “<3 and Soul” and never really stands out when the record is given a listen through from beginning to end.
My <3 is a mile-marker for the age of dubstep, chillwave, and sample-based music. It slightly graces the region of bedroom synthpop but doesn’t prominently feature the hypnagogic qualities of DIY electronica. Chrome Sparks is difficult to classify in that it straddles the past and present of electronically based music. However, the manipulated vocals lend the project a modern feel. With pitch-shifters, AutoTune, and vocoders, the human voice can become the machine. Chrome Sparks have created a record that eliminates the organic in favor of the machine and manages to not lose any musicality in the process.