Microchip Terror’s Self-Titled EP Breaks the Cybernetic Mold [Review]

Singapore is not a country one would suspect to have excellent synthwave as a main export, although it seems that Microchip Terror is making a hard effort to change this in his recently released self-titled EP.

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Microchip Terror album art by Dave Adeth

Within the first 30 seconds of “Targeted for Termination”, it is apparent that this artist knows exactly what they are doing. A short intro gives way to a grooving beat speckled with synths that increase in complexity throughout the song. There is a feeling of inspiration from EDM throughout the song, without sacrificing the darkwave and synthwave elements, but increasing the dance-ability, for lack of a better term, of the track. This continues, the song’s complexity not lost in overproduction or muddled in the mix. This combination results in a climax of dissonant beats that add stress to the mix, evening out in relief, returning to the dance style beat and ending. This song is like avoiding the authorities in a packed nightclub, or perhaps, avoiding termination in a packed nightclub. The nods to Cameron and the original Terminator are apparent with the vibe of Tech Noir oozing through the entire song. The next track, “Relentless Bug Hunt” is standard, but very good, synthwave fare, and is the weakest point on the album by far. It feels a bit uninspired and by the book, especially since it follows such an outstanding opening song. Nothing really stands out in the production, clean and polished as it is, so much so that I cannot really remember much of the song itself. Note that this is not an expressly bad song, not at all, this is a very passable (if not good) song, it just falls flat as a middle child, stuck in between two excellent tracks that overshadow this one completely. “Cyber Tyrants” is another exemplary example of synthwave: a driving beat providing the heart for this synth fueled song, a complex mix of drums and bass- including a very unique segment in which the drums are changed to sound like a very metallic crash, enhancing the already building tension that the song builds from the very start. The shining star in this track comes at the very end. The climax of this song comes in the form of a heavy metal inspired guitar solo provided by Electric Dragon, and is perfectly placed and sublimely executed. Honestly, I was forced into a mental double-take of sorts, as this was wholly unexpected but immensely welcome, the screaming solo making me feel as if I were driving to parts unknown down a dark highway, pursued by forces unknown but malevolent. Truly this is a fantastic song.

Microchip Terror is a fairly young artist, but their mastery of complexity and genre fusion is readily apparent, and their ability to make elaborate beats and merge these with driving and exciting synth are a sign that Microchip Terror is more than ready to sit at the big boys’ table, and I am extremely excited to hear more from them. With a bit more polish, and a continuation of the fusion of styles, Microchip Terror will be a force to be reckoned with.

Microchip Terror’s EP is available on Bandcamp through digital formats and for cassette. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook for updates on the Singapore producer’s work.

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