- Luke Awtry
Humans are perpetually using technology to forge new musical frontiers, from adding new holes to flutes and recorders to the artificial intelligence programs of IBM's Watson and Google Magenta's NSynth Super.
Thinking about the music tech trends that have occurred during my lifetime alone is dizzying. I recall the hand-wringing as CDs seemed to be replacing vinyl — funny how that turned out, eh? I remember the debates in pop and hip-hop over AutoTune, as well as Metallica freaking out about Napster. They turned out to be sort of right, folks — sorry, not sorry.
The intersection of music and technology is an ever-evolving relationship, and in the right hands it's really exciting.
Enter Burlington's only trap-metal musician, 6radley. The masked and dreadlocked artist — real name Bradley Yandow — has been prolific the last few years, releasing three EPs and even a Christmas single in 2020. He has taken it up a notch with his forthcoming EP, Boredgames.
While the five-song EP is chock-full of 6radley's blend of nu metal, hip-hop, hard rock and pop, Boredgames is more than meets the eye. The album is also linked to a video game he created, called 6radley the Game, in which the gamer plays as, well, 6radley.
While progressing through the game, "murdering, maiming and burping all the way," 6radly says, players can unlock songs from Boredgames for free. Not only do players score new tracks, but also, the song lyrics themselves direct how to proceed and unlock the next song.
"After I released Blood in the Water last year, I didn't know what to do next," 6radley said by phone. "I was writing, but something felt missing from doing these digital releases. I remembered being a kid and getting a physical copy of a record. You could listen and open up the liner notes or jacket sleeve, and it was all so immersive. I missed that."
The desire to make his next album something more substantial coincided with his discovery of GB Studio, a free, retro game creator that allowed the artist to make games for the old-school Nintendo Game Boy Color handheld gaming system. Though he "just fucked around with it" for a few months at first, he said, one day a revelation hit him.
"I wanted a medium that would connect people to this album more than streaming," he said. "Plus, I loved all those old Game Boy Color games. Pokémon Gold was my first game! So, once I realized I could make my own retro-style game for the EP, I had to do it."
The process wasn't easy. 6radley would often spend days fixing bugs and even working on the project by using a remote desktop connection while on break at his job. He eventually finished the game. The title track, "Boredgames," drops on Friday, October 29, on all streaming services. The entire album will follow sometime in the spring.
But fans can play 6radley the Game now at 6radley.com, and once they complete every level, they can download the entire album, as well as some bonus tracks hidden throughout.
6radley hopes to continue creating video games for his new music with Unreal Engine, another free game development platform, though the process would be much more complex than creating content for a Game Boy. "It would take me easily three times as long to make something in Unreal than it did with GB Studio," 6radley admitted. "But, who knows, maybe I'll have to try it for the sequel, because it would look amazing."
He also plans to perform his material live but acknowledged the challenges of collaborating with other musicians.
"I was in a band called Dead Seas and Better Things," he recalled. "And I was always trying to push those bands out of the comfort zone, which just created more conflict. It was all so exhausting; it just made sense and was so freeing to go it alone. But it would be really cool to put together a band to play this stuff someday."
For now, 6radley is promoting his new single, EP and video game.
As I imagine the video games that other local bands might create, it would be a crime if Rough Francis didn't make a skateboarding one, right?
- Courtesy Of Luke Awtry Photography
- Vapors of Morphine at Radio Bean
I did a double take recently when I saw that Vapors of Morphine were playing at Radio Bean. So over the weekend I turned back the clock and took a proper nostalgia trip.
For those of us who spent time trying desperately to look cool in the '90s, Morphine's music was essential. In the time of the alt-rock gods and guitar-driven, angst-ridden songs, Morphine — with Mark Sandman's laid-back, cooler-than-anyone-you-know vocals and Dana Colley's signature baritone sax — hit like nothing else. The entire energy at a party would change the minute someone put Cure for Pain on. Heads started bobbing, and a room full of 20-year-old assholes suddenly felt very, very cool.
The one and only live Morphine show I saw was on the old H.O.R.D.E. tour in 1997. I had sat through an excruciating set by a jam/reggae act that I would later buy weed from. I knew things were turning around when the tie-dyed shirts disappeared and several people dressed all in black, pensively smoking cigarettes, surrounded me.
Morphine hit the stage moments later, and I recall it seeming odd to see them in the daylight. But, goddamn, did they own that show. Even the hacky sack crowd seemed a little let down when Blues Traveler took the stage afterward.
It was with these memories in my mind that I headed to Radio Bean last Friday night. About a block away from the club, I heard Colley's sax echoing down North Winooski Avenue, and I had the weirdest inclination to turn around and head home. I chalked it up to the crushing ennui of modern life and kept walking.
Only at the club did I recognize that feeling for what it was: nostalgia, floating like a balloon in my head. The present was a needle, pushing into the balloon. The pop happened within minutes.
To be clear, Vapors of Morphine sounded pretty damn good. Singer and bassist/guitarist Jeremy Lyons did a capable, if not impossible, job of filling in for Sandman, who died in 1999 after suffering a heart attack onstage. The band tore into Morphine's catalog with relish, and the decent-size crowd at the Bean was engaged.
I was cold, though, detached and feeling weirdly out of place. The sensation was similar to when I saw the Meat Puppets at Higher Ground some years ago. It was the feeling of stumbling into someone else's high school reunion.
Looking around, I could see I was the lone party pooper, so I decided to take my mopey energy out of there. As I was leaving the club feeling slightly confused, a friend from college was standing outside, nodding his head to the blasts of Colley's sax. As our eyes met, my friend grinned and said, "Hey, Phil Lesh is at Nectar's tonight! Are you going?"
Behind him, a girl loudly exclaimed, "What fucking year is it, anyway?" and I nodded so hard my neck hurt.
I'll never begrudge someone for wanting to hear their favorite tunes, and I'm certainly capable of nosediving into my old music passions. (I bought Genesis tickets, for fuck's sake!) Sometimes, though, you just can't go home, so to speak. I think I'll hold on to my Morphine memories and just be content with that.
- File: Luke Awtry
- Omega Jade
Burlington rapper and comedian Omega Jade relaunches the Rhyme and Unreason showcase this Saturday, October 23, at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe. Sponsored by the Alchemist Brewery, the event is a unique fusion of hip-hop and comedy.
Jade originally hosted Rhyme and Unreason as a series at the Light Club Lamp Shop in Burlington, but the pandemic put the event on hold. It's coming back at a bigger venue with multiple comedians and MCs. After each comedian finishes their set, a rapper will take the stage and reinterpret the jokes in freestyle verse.
Tickets are $25 in person, but the event will also be livestreamed for $10. Visit sprucepeakarts.org for tickets and more information.
Nectar's holds the Burlington Record Fair this Sunday, October 24, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event, now in its fifth year, features thousands of records from vendors all across the Northeast. For those hungry for some sweet crate scores, you can buy an early bird ticket for $5 to get first dibs on the records. After noon, admission is free. There will also be live DJ sets throughout the day.