August 14, 2013

Max Bell made it to level 3. 

If there’s a planet suspended in the funkmosphere between Dam-Funk and Gaslamp Killer, that’s where  you’ll find Jason Taylor, A.K.A. Computer Jay. The Echo Park-based producer turned mad robotic synth scientist has been doing his thing in the L.A. beat scene for years. He’s played keyboard for Dam-Funk’s group Master Blazter, and collaborated with Gaslamp Killer on “Holy Mt. Washington,” one of the best tracks on Killer’s stellar 2012 LP Breakthrough. In addition to the above, Jay also created the Moogodore 2600 keyboard (part Commodore 64, part Moog, part Atari 2600), a “rapping, talking supercomputer.” A machine that’s best seen rather than talked about or imagined, I’ve pasted a pic below the jump for posterity and all “computer producers.”

In any case, Computer Jay’s output, while good, has been fairly sparse over the years. But that’s all changing with his EP tetralogy Savage Planet Discotheque on indie-label Pugilista Trading Co. Vol.1 of the four part series dropped in July of 2012, and there’s also an SPD online video game you can play here. The former is a fairly dark — thus titles like “Noise From the Cemetery” and “The Dead Ends Dead End” — assemblage of drums, snyths, lasers, and hard drums. The latter is a fun, yet surprisingly challenging retro arcade game that involves throwing records at aliens. Maybe its a metaphor. The title cut, “Savage Planet Discotheque,” complements the game like Luigi does Mario, or something.

Yesterday, Jay dropped Vol 2. Two tracks longer than the first EP, Vol. 2 merits the expansion. It’s both a more accessible listen than its predecessor, as well as a more fully-realized product. There’s a sense of cohesiveness throughout Vol 2. Though there are different shades and tones, they blend rather than standing in contrast. It’s not entirely communicable, but there’s a seemingly visceral element to this project.

“Analog Catastrophe” features battle rapping from what can only be the Moogodore 2600 (or Jay). This is the sound of what you’d get if you crossed Darth Vader and Jonwayne. Not all is intelligible, but the commanding weight of the bass in the voice of the Moogodore registers all the same.

“Black Heart Silver Spine” hits about as hard as anything Jay’s ever done. His time spent working with Dam-Funk is clear here, as some of the drums, claps, and synths sound much like those from Dam’s Toeachizown. Still, Jay manages to tweak them all enough to where the track doesn’t feel derivative.

Apart from the bass-warbling Gaslamp Killer collabo “SunDial MeltDow,” “Destination Destiny” is my favorite song for the moment. Much more emotive than any of the others, the simple, subtle melody remains a constant throughout as deep synths slither and drums echo. Really, it sounds like a lone walk through the Tron universe.

The same emotive quality of “Destination Destiny” also belongs to “Hardships.” Orfeo’s cooing is eerie, yet soothing. If Twin Peaks were remade on some other planet in the future, this would have to be the theme song.

Overall, Vol 2 of Computer Jay’s Savage Planet Discotheque bodes extremely well the next installment. The trippy video for “Hardships” — think shrooms, Joshua Tree, and your synth and/or omnichord with legs — is below the jump. You’ll also find Jay’s fantastic Moog mix. Never mess with a man and his Moog.

Moogodore 2600 Keyboard 

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