386 DX: the best of

(from http://www.spiderbytes.com/ambientrance/386-tbo.htm)

Classic Rock's Biggest Smash Hits!! The Clash! The Doors! The Sex Pistols! Hendrix! Lennon! and more... gone digital.

File under "Novelty", but 386 DX's the best of makes for some seriously quirky fun. "CyberPunk Rock" ensues when old-school PC hard/software cranks out midi-tunes with speech-synthesis "vocals". Wacky, weird and yet surprisingly sweet.

In the hands of operator alexei shulgin, these renditions are quite straightforward, albeit in plinky, crisp computertones. The "lead singer" has some unique inflections (and pronunciations) but isn't nearly as monotoned as I'd have expected. Tinkling notes are immediately recognizable as california dreaming which opens this collection. Squeaky clean midichords rock out Stones-style as jumpin' jack flash (1:57) warbles nasally. The most "recent" of the transmogrified rockers, smells like teen spirit sounds like an overwound musicbox cranking out some robo-Cobain.

I won't give away all the tracks "covered" here; it's a hoot to play "Name That Tune" as they occur, though Eric Clapton's layla (4:43) (the "newer" version) closes the disc on a soft down-tempo mood.

A cute, clever (and appropriately low-budget) .mpg video of california dreaming (with an intro promising that "nothing human is going to disturb your perception of the music") is a CD-extra for all QuickTime-capable computers. PC-people get another bonus; the disc apparently contains the software (and additional 386 DX stuff) to make their own tunes! Online, there's a 386 DX homepage with concert photos and more... (really makes me wonder about his/its groupies...)

I know... it's only rock 'n' roll, but (when 386 DX renders the best of the classics into 1s and 0s) I like it! It ain't ambient, but it's uniquely catchy so that's gotta count for something! [...]

by David J Opdyke