We’ve got an extra special Dark Synth edition of Synthwave Sunday this week as we dive into the futuristic horror that is Microchip Terror. His new album, Illegal Experiments is out now (available at Bandcamp), and it’s unlike anything else the scene has to offer. Never before have I felt like I was in danger while listening to music, but I suppose there is a first time for everything. And yes, that’s a compliment of the highest degree. I’m starved for new experiences and Microchip Terror has delivered the goods.
Illegal Experiments plays out like a schizophrenic fever dream…the machinations of a madman who has diabolical tools at his disposal. It keeps you on edge, keeps you guessing, and keeps getting better and better as it delves deeper into the detritus of cables, wires, and metal scraps. Beyond the general aesthetic that Microchip Terror has established, the music here is so good that it took me a couple of hours to finish the album? Why, you might ask? Because I kept repeating tracks! What he has done sonically on Illegal Experiments is mindblowing…a huge risk, to be sure…but it works. Every song has so many layers to peel back, blistering riffs, hammering bass lines, and blind corners to explore…you’re going to be spending plenty of time in this world he’s created.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the superstar cast of collaborators Microchip Terror worked with on Illegal Experiments. The synth solo contributed to Automated Assassins by Vulta is a face-melter, and it isn’t tacked on or out of place. It flows right into the song just like a collaboration should. Up next you get an off-kilter, glitched out guitar solo from NeoSlave on Terror Bites. It’s crazy progression fits right into the out of control feel of the song. Gridscape provides vocoder vocals (I love vocoder vocals!!!) to Manufactured Existence, adding an other worldly, cybernetic experiments gone wrong feel to the track. Finally you have Protector 101 offering up a remix of the title track that is somehow darker and meaner than the original (I don’t even understand how that’s possible).
Now that we’ve talked about the album, let’s talk to the mad genius behind it!
Thanks for talking to us! For someone coming across your music for the first time, how would you describe Microchip Terror?
Hey James, thanks for having me ! Hmm, probably electronic music inspired by the visuals and soundtracks from Sci-Fi and Horror films with an attempt to sprinkle bits of early Industrial music elements while blending some Heavy/Thrash Metal riffs and melodies emulated by using distorted software synths.
You’ve got new music! Can you tell us about your new album, Illegal Experiments?
“Illegal Experiments” is where I attempt to create a story for the concept of Microchip Terror rather than basing my music on existing films like how I did with my previous EP. I’ve always been obsessed with Re-Animator’s Doctor Herbert West and his insane quest for re-creating life, as well as the concept behind the Japanese Guinea Pig films especially “The Devil’s Experiment” and Charlie Sheen’s favourite (lol) “Flowers Of Flesh & Blood” where humans were subjected to inhumane torture and experimentation. With these film concepts, I decided to make my own version of experimentation on human subjects in my quest to build and improve the recipe for my killer androids muahaha!
On the more musical side of things, I’ve tried to experiment with different sounds this time, while still retaining the dark aggressive vibes, I introduced some melancholic tones, melodies and atmospheres to give the album a better balance.
The trailer for Illegal Experiments has a real Tetsuo: The Iron Man vibe to it! Can you walk us through the “making of” the video?
I’m extremely inspired by Tetsuo, because Shinya Tsukamoto did almost everything by himself and that DIY spirit for me is truly inspiring. So in true DIY fashion, I made the props myself and shot everything using my phone with the help of my amazing wife and then compiled / edited everything on iMovie. It was my first time doing something like this so I don’t have any idea what I was doing but I think it didn’t turn out too bad hehe.
You’ve got some impressive guest musicians on the new record. How did you snag them all?
I was very lucky to get an easy “yes” from these guys when I approached them. I connected with Neoslave on a compilation we were involved with by Scythe Saga Records last year, and at that time I was already a fan of his music especially his unique guitar solos. Same goes for Vulta, when I heard his EP “Nabla I.” I knew I had to borrow some of his speedy power metal-like synth solos on a track. For Gridscape, I enjoyed his debut album “Jacked-In” a lot and his vocoded vocals on “Cybergrid Rocker” kicked so much ass it gave me an idea for a song I was working on. As for Protector 101, it was a huge honour and extremely special one for me because he was one of my biggest influences when I was just starting out to make music for MT. So, I would like to thank all of them for being so gracious to me!
What is your recording set up?
My setup is extremely basic and simple, mostly everything is done on Reaper and free synths like Synth1 and Tyrell N6.
I know that you love metal, classic horror, and science fiction, what would you say influenced your sound the most?
I think all of them are equally influential to my sound, it’s hard to say which one is more. Like for metal it contributes to the aggressive part to my music while sci/fi horror films are responsible for the atmospheres and sometimes the “eerie-ness”. So, they all kinda work hand in hand.
What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been introduced and also searching for new/old music to catch up on these days since I’m always burnt out and drained from music while I was still making this album. Here are some albums I’ve been listening to on repeat recently, not in order –
- The Van Dammage – Neon & Noisy
- Lebrock – Action & Romance
- Vampire Step-Dad – All EPs
- Schwefelgelb – Dahinter Das Gesicht
- Youth Code – Self Titled & Commitment To Complications
- Author & Punisher – MELK EN HONING
- Halsey – Badlands
- Ohota – The Blank Sheet Of A Black Paper
- Sierra – Strange Valley
- Machine Girl – WLFGRL
Any parting words before we go?
Thank you for this interview, James and I hope to attend Echosynthetic Fest someday. Take care!