Master Boot Record, “Floppy Disk Overdrive”
By Andrew Parks · March 27, 2020 Merch for this release:
2 x Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD),

Floppy Disk Overdrive, the latest album from computer-obsessed, metal-chiptune composer Master Boot Record, feels like a soup-to-nuts reboot of the seven records that came before it. The game play is similar—a highly melodic head-on collision between heavy metal hooks and neoclassical nods—but the execution is on another level entirely. From the lock-step licks and go-for-broke opening gambit of “ANSI.SYS” to the multi-colored movements and spastic final stages of “HIMEM.SYS,” it’s like the difference between 8-bit pixels and an 8K Xbox.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that MBR’s lone programmer isn’t an opportunistic hack leaning on a slick piece of generative software. He’s a proper musician who took piano lessons as a kid, and switched over to singing and guitar-slaying once he discovered the more extreme corners of metal’s underground scene. Decades of developing a distinct style alongside a deep, undying love of computers led to this: a blinding symphony of scorched earth songs that are as much Slayer as they are Stravinsky—in spirit, at least. Restless pieces like “EDIT.COM” and “RAMDRIVE.SYS” refuse to sit still, cramming an album’s worth of ideas into eight winding minutes.

There’s no point in trying to keep track of all the time changes; like any game worth beating, it’s better to let Floppy Disk Overdrive wash over you, with its allusions to everything from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette soundtrack (probably the only place you’ll find piano-led opuses and string-laced concertos slotted alongside Squarepusher and Aphex Twin) to metallic speedrun music. Hell, the beginning of “DBLSPACE.EXE” even sounds a little like Danzig. At the end of Floppy Disk Overdrive, only one question remains: Play again? Well, yeah.

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