Another Great Review for Variable Undefined

Posted on January 24th, 2020

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 10:44 PM

Nerdazine has also reviewed my latest Nerdcore album, and while they’re not saying it’s perfect, they also compared my work to a lot of great artists whose I enjoy, and so I’m feeling pretty good about it. Read it over yourself, and be sure to keep up with Nerdazine on Twitter too.

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First Review For Variable Undefined

Posted on January 21st, 2020

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 10:05 AM

(Long time friend & some time collaborator) Steven Kelsey has started a YouTube channel and media critique blog centered around Nerd/fandom culture, specifically the oft under-served music segment of that culture, and it also thankfully eschews the grouchy, “internet shoutman”, hyper-parasocial aesthetic all too many independent critique outlets now employ in favor something more grounded and authentic.

To launch the album review portion of that project, he took on dissecting my latest album Variable Undefined. I think he did an excellent job of breaking down my record, taking time to ask me questions to clarify my intent without robbing every metaphor I bury on the record of it’s mystery. Yes, it helps that he was very receptive to my work here (something I’d imagine our friendship plays into as much as his willingness to listen to try new things,) but on the whole, I hope my listeners don’t just watch and read this review, but also subscribe to his channel. I can tell from how he talks about my record that he absolutely has the chops to critique any media work, and that he’s going to use that insight to really contribute to and grow the discourse around this scene in a way other blogs and channels have yet to fully capitalize on. I’m honored that I could be the first step down that path.

Nerd Music in Judgment Episode 1: Variable Undefined by Ultraklystron

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New Album & A Podcast Conversation

Posted on December 15th, 2019

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 8:49 PM

My final album of the 2010s, Variable Undefined

Also available via: Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal and everywhere in this link.

Not coincidentally, I also just did an interview on MC Lars’ Podcast, which I’ve embedded below but which is also on all major services. I talk about my process, my feelings on being a hobbyist more than a professional regarding music, my reticence towards embracing the modern parasocial path towards a wider audience, on learning to be an art burner the hard way, a little about Nerdcore history, too much about anime and on my admiration for all the people who found a better lane to blend otaku culture and rap culture than I did. Please, take a moment to listen to it when you have a chance, and be sure to subscribe to MC Lars’ podcast and patreon:

PS: Here’s my final instrumental album of the 2010s, which I forgot to blog about the wide release of. It’s called Guttersnipe’s Grimoire and it’s pure Drum n’ Bass:

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Evangelion, FranXX & Near Misses.

Posted on July 7th, 2019

Filed under: Reviews — Karl Olson @ 11:14 PM

So, I’ve run into an unexpected side-effect of the renewed Evangelion discourse: kind of reconsidering Darling In The FranXX. I still think Franxx is quite problematic in how and what it tried to say; however, through one narrow angle, I can see better what it meant to reference/respond to in Eva but fumbled at best. Two of the big ongoing themes in Eva are the folly of man in chasing self-perfection to the point of losing essential humanity via exploitation of the young, and the value of continuing to live despite the massive pain of ego-distance that existence can incur. Those messages resurface in other Gainax works – obsessions with hyper-perfection are always folly when that gets in the way of embracing yourself for who you are at this phase of your life. It’s the same for Shinji, Noata, Sasshi & even Nadia, while their villains share that toxic obsession with their idea of perfection with different manifestations.

Which brings me to FranXX. Ultimately, it stands as a rejection of transhumanism as post-scarcity technological immortality when it also sacrifices (very traditional) relationships, the future of the youth & the Earth’s ecosystem as we know it. Missteps aside for a moment, it is trying to lift from if not comment on Eva: to save humanity, embrace flawed existence over the obsession with perfection. Where FranXX loses it, is that it heavily implies throughout its run that valid human existence has a very narrow definition. FranXX fails to get that the exploitation of youth Eva alludes to can include the narrow definition of validity that FranXX elevates at every turn, and that such narrow definitions of validity are in ways their own toxic obsession with perfection. This is to say, FranXX’s over-specific meditation on and response to Eva misses a key point that Eva, most other Gainax bildungsromans and most derivative works thereof make: it’s not the who, but rather the how of connection that matters. Further still, to make that connection, those works often suggest it requires a kind of self-embrace that often means rejecting some norms and/or letting go of the pursuit of those norms if they result in the destruction of self. FranXX implies the who and so dramatically narrows the how of connection throughout its run, then hurriedly tries to broaden its thesis at the finish line with a couple of wordless montages. Eva didn’t have to try to save it at the end because it never boxed itself in to start with & if anything broadened its scope as much as possible given the focus on a solitary lead character.

Ultimately, this doesn’t save FranXX much for me, and if anything, having a better sense of what it didn’t understand in the work it owes its greatest debt to is kind of a bummer, but at the same time, I better appreciate when other works with Eva in their genealogy manage to get it right even when not made by any of the same staff. The Big O, the FLCL sequels and SSSS.Gridman (to name a few) all got Eva‘s point and iterated on it more effectively than A1 did in FranXX.

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A couple more LPs

Posted on April 20th, 2019

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 12:32 PM

Both instrumental releases, but very different eras of my work.

1. Contemporary Vintage. A Drum n’ Bass LP that I started writing while in the Narita Airport Tully’s Coffee waiting to fly back to Canada, it’s 10 more energetic jams that range from super aggro to almost chill despite never falling below 170bpm. Check it out on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and Youtube:

2. Brobdingnagian Brimborion. Over the years I’ve done a lot of remixes for other artists, and the ones I’ve done for rappers tend to be such dramatic re-imaginings they can stand on their own as instrumentals because I didn’t use anything but the vocals from the original track. Thus, I’ve compiled 29 of those instrumentals spanning a decade and a half of work. Again, check it out on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and YouTube:

PS: You could be listening to one more new release right now plus some forever exclusive content if you subscribe to my Bandcamp. It’s like Patreon but for music, and also annual so less money goes to fees.

PPS: Bonus cover!

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