Coming out on 10/14/16. C41 – blue shell with black imprints. Pro-dubbed chrome + cassette. 2-sided 3-panel J-card with artwork from Max Allison.
Under the Mukqs moniker, Max Allison has released solo experiments that take his tactics of tape-loop mangling and sample manipulation honed in the trio Good Willsmith to new heights of noise collage abstraction. Walkthrough, his first full length release on Hausu Mountain (following a split release with fellow HausMo co-founder MrDougDoug in 2013) represents another complementary branch of his work: layered synth compositions performed on hardware electronics, inspired by the tones of classic video game music. Recorded live as a single session presented without overdubs, Walkthrough finds Allison winding through a song cycle of day-glo square-wave leads, busy electronic percussion patterns, and washes of low-end drone. Mukqs meshes the emotionally resonant melodies and synthetic timbres of the soundtracks to Super Nintendo RPGs like Chrono Trigger or Earthbound with the strain of organic synth exploration practiced by the likes of Cluster or Emeralds. The equipment Allison used for this session embodies the fusion of these disciplines: a Korg Electribe EMX-1’s monophonic chirps and drum machine thumps, coupled with a cassette tape deck playing back an arrhythmic backdrop of synth swells and looped samples.
For Mukqs and many musicians of his generation, video game soundtracks served as a formative entry point to electronic music at a young age. On more than the level of nostalgia, the genre offers transportive listening experiences rooted in the sheer enjoyment of fine-crafted melodies, cybernetic tonal palettes, and breakneck compositional structures coded with the DNA of Yellow Magic Orchestra, Kraftwerk, and Lee Scratch Perry. Mukqs transplants these tenets into the shell of an ambient synth album cobbled together from dozens of stacked and looped layers of input. “20 Nuyen” juxtaposes the manic intensity of a Mega Man boss battle with the chimes and music-box like tones of a new age meditation. “V on Shenton” fills the stereo spread with a dense oscillator drone, packing on additional blips and coin-like sound effects on the way to an impassioned orchestral climax of preset string tones. On “Fisherman’s Edit,” Mukqs warps the chord progression of a Nobuo Uematsu game composition into the template for a sentimental synth denouement, frosted with swirls of arrhythmic tape-loop bleeps sourced from an old-school Game Boy Camera. Instead of merely bridging the gap between Mukqs‘s musical upbringing and his current experimental practice, Walkthrough reveals that no such gap exists.