Look at My Horse, My Horse Is Amazing

This is Dropshot:

This unreleased Transformers triple-changer toy, known as "Dropshot". Photo comes from the book トランスフォーマー ジェネレーション (Transformers Generations).

This unreleased Transformers triple-changer toy, known as “Dropshot”. Photo comes from the book トランスフォーマー ジェネレーション (Transformers Generations).

No toy of Dropshot was ever released, but his prototype was apparently created at around the same time as the other Generation 1 Triple Changers (late 1985-ish), and was somewhat smaller — probably about 10cm tall, as opposed to 15-ish.

The character’s likeness made its way into Transformers Armada and Transformers: Energon comics as a spear-carrier. He dies.

Anyway, why am I talking about this obscure unreleased Transformer? Because he reminds me of this classic piece of internet history:

Dropshot is indeed a horse that turns into a plane.

Reminder: It’s Lawnmower Deth Day!

Today, December the 19th, is the day to buy Kids in America to put it into the Christmas charts. Qualcast Mutilator and his merry chums have decided to donate all the proceeds to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation — a charitable cause that we at AddAltMode can whole-heartedly support.

Ooooooooooh Crikey!

AddAltmode support the campaign to get Lawnmower Deth to #1 in the UK single charts this Christmas.

The Steampunk Yule Ball 2015

If real life had achievements the same way many video games do then last weekend I would definitely have unlocked some good ones! Participate in a massive Steampunk conga line? Check: achievement unlocked! Get up onstage and dance alongside the legendary Professor Elemental? Check: very fun and happy achievement unlocked!

These antics are all courtesy of local alt-rock / steampunk band, The Mysterious Freakshow, who for the past three years have organised annual Yuletide Steampunk extravaganza at Exeter Phoenix. This year’s event took place last Saturday and it was bigger and more enjoyable than ever, lining up an eclectic array of performers (and proving that Steampunk is one of the most enjoyably eclectic of genres), spreading some seasonal cheer (including plenty of yuletide spirit of the alcoholic variety) and of course, offering a wonderful excuse to get really dressed up. There were some wonderful costumes and everyone was welcome from the very finest bustled Victorian ladies, via crazy mad scientist looking-types, to military gentlemen and even a steampunk Mandalorian (none other than our pal Exeter Cosplay).

The evening's programme of entertainment

The evening’s programme of entertainment

Two of my favourite social activities are going to geek conventions (especially when in cosplay) and going to gigs and music festivals. The Steampunk Ball is one of my favourite nights of the year because it feels like the place where these two wonderful things collide. It’s a music event with some really interesting and talented bands performing, but it also has a bit of a nerdy convention feel to it too…

Continue reading

Chiptune Tuesday: Zan-zan-zawa-veia

It’s been a while since the last Chiptune Tuesday, so let’s bring it back in style: with some downright eclectic music from Zan-zan-zawa-veia (Susan Sawyer-Bayer), a legendary/obscure (depends on where you stand within the chiptune scene) artist who has been releasing wilfully bizarre music since at least 2008.

Now, ZZZV’s music is a unique blend of jazz, funk and prog, viewed through the prism of old computer game music. This weird spectrum of influences produces some pretty interesting results. These results are released under a bizarre array of pseudonyms, personas and fursonas including Anna Y. Nyanya, Gnassurus, Krystal Fox, Nu-hu-meila and Liminique. Or maybe these are equally-pseudonymous collaborators? ZZZV is also a member of at least three other bands: Agamemnon, Didactic Sudanese Transplant Waiters and Vargid Police (There might not be any other members of Vargid Police — if there are, discogs.com doesn’t know about them.)

ZZZV plays her cards close to her chest, and by hiding her(?) identity under layers of masks forces the listener to focus on the music, and the psuedonyms themselves, rather than the artist. Of course, I approve entirely of this sort of gesamtkunstwerk. Continue reading

Lawnmower Deth For UK Christmas Number 1

Ooooooooooh Crikey!

AddAltmode enthusiastically support the campaign to get Lawnmower Deth to #1 in the UK single charts this Christmas.

Heads up, internet! Lawnmower Deth, the kings of intentionally-silly thrash metal, have been attracting some attention from the UK’s radio stations of late, which has resulted in a campaign for fans to get their classic single Kids In America (a cover of the Kim Wilde song) to position #1 in the UK singles chart for Christmas.

Adding to this already amusing proposition, Qualcast Mutilator and his chums have decided to donate all the proceeds to the Sophie Lancaster Foundation — a charitable group that draws attention to hate crimes, and offers support for the victims.

December the 19th is LD-day, i.e. December the 19th is the day to buy Kids in America to put it into the Christmas charts, so we will definitely be re-familiarising ourselves with this crazy-ass legend of British thrash on that day. Whereas the thrash metal scene across the pond took themselves completely seriously, British bands like Lawnmower Deth and Metal Duck weren’t afraid to have a laugh, which imparted some very important lessons on a young AddAltModeB.

Lawnmower Deth released some cracking albums back in the day, so it's great to see them get a little bit of positive media attention, even if it's two decades later than I'd like.

Lawnmower Deth released some cracking albums back in the day, so it’s great to see them get a little bit of positive media attention, even if it’s two decades later than I’d like.

Awesome music video: The Speed of Light

Hi Internet! Regular readers will know that here at AddAltMode we like video games and heavy metal. This means that the video for “Speed of Light” from this year’s new Iron Maiden Album The Book of Souls is extremely relevant to our interests:

Wow! First impression: this video is pretty fun. The way it begins with nostalgic nods to the old-school and works its way up in sophistication to the present day, whilst staying engaged with the same broad themes, is actually a great metaphor for Iron Maiden’s musical career.

Secondly, the video is amazingly dense with in-jokes and references for Iron Maiden fans. I had a merry old chuckle at dozens: I spotted visual references to the covers of the albums Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast, Powerslave, Live After DeathNo Prayer For the Dying, and A Matter of Life and Death. There are posters advertising Trooper beer in the city, and the names of band-members in the high-score the arcade machine lists. I’m sure there are plenty more that attentive viewers can find.

And she's got no feelings, they died long ago. Don't she care who she let in?

And what’s the betting that this lass’s name is Charlotte?

So yeah, this video is pretty awesome, especially if you’re already a fan of Iron Maiden. Not an Iron Maiden fan? *Sneers* Get out, we don’t need your kind here.

Halloween Soundtracks: The Vision Bleak

Part of AddAltMode's Creepy Countdown series

Part of AddAltMode’s Creepy Countdown series

So, Hallowe’en draws nearer and our Creepy Countdown continues. Today I’ll be discussing soundtrack choices for this spookiest time of the year, and oh there are so many to choose from! It’s a well known cliché that the Devil has all the best tunes and this is a great time of year to put that to the test. The soundtrack to Hallowe’en can run anywhere from the old classics like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” or Bobby “Boris” Pickett & The Crypt Kickers’ “Monster Mash” through The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack (always a good choice) right through to horror-inspired rockers like Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie or even the much missed Type O Negative who have numerous Hallowe’en themed songs (RIP Pete Steele).  But today I’m going to enthuse about a band you perhaps may not have heard of. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you symphonic German horror metallers The Vision Bleak.

vision bleak

The archaic structure of the band’s name together with their ornate logo should immediately clue you in to their interest in horror, and not just any horror but the epic grandeur of old school creepy tropes: candlelit journeys by horse and carriage through dark, sprawling forests, highway men and mysterious strangers. As I commented recently in my review of Dan Simmons’ faux-Victorian novel, Drood, there’s something particularly atmospheric about spooky tales set in the past. The Vision Bleak are a band who understand this and manage to bring an 18th/19th century classic Gothic sensibility to their music even while rocking out with modern electric instruments and drawing on a much wider range of overall influences: from dark fairy tales of werewolves, witches and headless horsemen right through to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and the films of John Carpenter…

Continue reading

Chiptune Tuesday: Capture the Sun and Ovid’s Withering

Hi! Welcome to Chiptune Tuesday! Today I’m going to tell you about a couple of bands who’ve released chiptune versions of their own non-chiptune albums, and why you should care.

I was reading the rather awesome Bandcamp Buried Treasure feature on MetalInjection.net, which is all about good-but-cheap underground metal albums on Bandcamp (no surprises there), when I came across post-rock act Capture the Sun. I noticed whilst listening to their delightful debut album that there was a link in the corner to a free chiptune version of that album

Album artwork for Capture the Sun chiptune version.

I could’ve predicted the album artwork without too much work, but that doesn’t make it any less good.

Continue reading

Chiptune Tuesday: 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer

8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer are chiptune artists; actually, to be fair, 8 Bit Weapon is Seth & Michelle Sternberger, and ComputeHer is Michelle’s solo project, so it makes sense to talk about the two “bands” together. The previous two Chiptune Tuesdays I wrote about bands who add chiptunes to other types of music, so I thought it was tie to give a purely chiptune act some love.

Straightforward though 8 Bit Weapon’s music might be, it’s far from boring. They work with a variety (in their own words, “an arsenal”) of classic video game consoles and vintage computers as instruments.  Whilst they stay true to their chiptune aesthetic, they don’t appear to be too purist to use emulators and synths when it gets the result they want. Continue reading