Well before Dave Tompkins decrypted the DNA of the vocoder, it existed as Los Angeles’ preferred funk steroid. No telling how many times the Troutman’s soundtracked my juvenile declensions. Power 106 played “Computer Love” enough to make me wary of my shoddy Intel 486. Through the tubes Snufflupagusing out of his mouth, Roger was able to turn the talk box into the only instrument to make robots malfunction from an overdose of salt. That, the movie Wall-E, and any full project Wale has released since Mixtape About Nothing.
Virtual Boy are dubiously old enough to sip scotch, hail from Orange County and record for Alpha Pup. They are of the generation who are part android and thus, do not know who to root for the in the battle of Man V. Machine. (The answer, of course, is Xzibitt). Graduates of Chapman, they are an ex-choir boy and a classical guitarist turned onto what was dubstep and is now a collection of adjectives that skeletal Londoners and music writers throw around to avoid any association with Skrillex, the haircut that could.
Next Tuesday, Henry Allen and Preston Walker release their self-titled debut. It is heavy with vocoder or auto-tune or talk-box. I’m no expert at picking apart the tones. “Memory of the Ghost” is the stand-out, using the artificial vox to maximum effect: disorientation and melancholy. The feeling of being so feverishly saturnine that you approximate the inhuman. There is always room in my iron lung for lachrymose automaton funk (it’s a hot new selling sub-genre on iTunes, I assure you). I enjoy this. Also, check the video for “Let’s Go,” co-directed by Steve Nalepa, Chapman University professor, EDM producer, virtual instigator.