From the yearly archives: "2006"

Feature and review originally published in Amplifier issue #52, January-February 2006.  Written by Brian Baker.

Chromelodeon

Those of us who came of age in the 1970s (and have the gray hair and memory lapses as proof) would never have bet the rent that progressive rook would experience a resurgence and reinvention in the new millennium. Once you’ve ingested monkey tranquilizers and gone coma at a Yes concert during “Bales of Psychotropic Doldrums” or whatever the hell they called that drivel, the sheen sort of peels off the genre.
Thankfully, there’s a new generation creating music that swells and soars with the same visceral energy that the best prog had to offer in the ’70s. A good many Of them, particularly Philadelphia’s Chromelodeon, are creating this new symphonic rock without the benefit (or onus) of being influenced by the genre’s forefathers. “We’re more of an epic instrumental thing,” says Chromeiodeon synthesist Ryan Soloby between teaching assignments in audio production as a graduate student at Temple University.
“We’re all obsessed with video games and that’s what really influences us. We didn’t set out to do video game music, but its almost inevitable.”
Chromelodeon began when its members were high school students, but the octet’s roots go back further. “It’s a classic case of almost growing up together,” says Soloby. It helps with the dynamics, because we’re unbelievably used to each other. There’s not really any surprises.”
Although the band’s members have been friends for over a decade in some cases, Chromelodeon came together under its current banner about four years ago, after testing material under a different name, and then doing a demo as Chromelodeon in 2001. Two years ago, the band released its compelling debut EP, In the Year 20XX, and they’ve recently followed up with Heart of Sawdust, a more streamlined execution of their musical vision. “The first one had vocoders and theremins and all kinds of stuff on it,” says Soloby.
Although any number of sonic parallels could be drawn with Chromelodeon (including Yes, King Crimson, Kansas, and Curved Air), Soloby’s credit to video soundtracks remains steadfast; the band has recorded an unreleased front-to-back cover of the Ninia Garden II music bed and Chromelodeon has been able to tour nationally through monetary sponsorship offered by the underground gaming/recording community. “We don’t have a huge national following, but everywhere we go there are always a couple of kids who have been waiting to see us for the longest time,” says Soloby.
For Heart of Sawdust, Chromelodeon stripped away as much excess as possible in an effort to approximate the band’s visceral projected-lights-and-video stage presentation.
“We also went for a slightly more live feel as opposed to a track-by-track layering. The way we recorded 20XX, with over-dubbing and overlaying, gave it this prog feel and that’s not what we really were going for. Heart of Sawdust has a more orchestral feel. People see us live, then head for the merchandise. The feedback we get is that they love it, but they love our live show more – which is a compliment, because so many times groups can’t play what they played on the album because of Autotune and overdubbing.”
In a similarly reductionist attempt to distance itself from the often imagery-dense prog perspective, the only titles that have been assigned to the songs on Heart of Sawdust are their corresponding track numbers, “One” through “Six.” “That came about because the songs were written before any context was applied to them,” says Soloby. “We felt like giving them titles after the fact wouldn’t do them any justice.”
As an instrumental outfit, Chromelodeon also deftly avoids the prog trap of having a showy singer performing bad conceptual poetry tarted up with overly dramatic music. It’s a pitfall of whitch the band is all too aware. “We’re trying to avoid that singular musician aspect,” says Soloby. “It’s always a part of a whole, not separated.”

Heart of Sawdust Review

On their 2004 debut, In the Year 20XX, Philly octet Chromelodeon showed themselves to be brilliant students of prog rock, extracting the passion and restraint and excising the overarching dramatics and unnecessary bombast of the form. With their sophomore release, Heart of Sawdust, Chromelodeon wisely follows suit with another succinct disc of orchestral rock delights. Once again eschewing the need for conceptually grandiose lyrics (epic storytelling is how most prog bands of the ’70s eventually disappeared up their own asses), the music is left to do its work. The band fills every available space with a virtual symphony of electronics and the standard paraphernalia of classic rock without the accompanying cliches. The songs on Heart of Sawdust avoid any implied meaning that could be found in actual titles, and are instead named numerically from “One” to “Six”. It’s a daring gambit, but in this vacuum of association, the soaring music is free to swirl around the listener’s conscious mind without the baggage of specious sword-and-sorcery contextualism to distract from the enjoyment of the music in its purest form. If the thought of prog rock leaves you cold, give Chromelodeon a fair shake; you’ll be surprised at just how punk their prog can get.

Written by justincharlesharlan, published on crapfilter.net on January 11 2006.

Recently, Philadelphia based Nintendo-rock octet, Chromelodeon decided to create an alterego to release their arrangements of music from video game classics. To the average listener, one may think their original music was composed for video games in the first place, and whether or not this may be true, Chromelodeon came to a point where they decided their original music and their covers needed separate identities, this article focusing on their new creation Sprite Slowdown. My only concern in choosing them for an “Under the radar” piece was whether or not they were signed, because I knew they had recently done some work with local label, Bloodlink Records. They reassured me in choosing them:

We’re in a gray area. Still working with Bloodlink on the ongoing press we’re getting for albums through them, but we have no further agreements on projects. In fact, we just finished a new DIY album on our own we’ve very happy with…

We begin with a few questions for the band…

CF: Who is Sprite Slowdown, meaning who is in the band and who plays what? In what way are you related to the band Chromelodeon? Side project?

SS: Its a mirror image of Chromelodeon: same players, but different concept.
We’re trying to differenciate between our original material and video game arrangements. We’ve got four albums, two from each area.

CF: Name a few unsigned bands that you think should be featured in upcoming editions of “Under the radar”.

SS: Harris! I think we still owe them after all we’ve put them through the past couple years, all the more reason to prove their good intentions overall. Very rarely do we sense that type of sincerity and devotion they show, while also making great music. [They were featured in Someone sign these guys” and will undoubted be featured here soon.]

CF: What was the best show you’ve ever played and/or favorite band you’ve played with?

SS: This is a toss up… we played before Yo La Tengo at Culture Shock Fest, in front of a couple thousand. We had a movie theater sized screen behind us with all our video game visuals projected onto it, it was incredible. But, the other best overall show had to be our 3rd US tour homecoming show, headlining the First Unitarian Church here in Philly. Our friends The Minibosses came back on stage to do a dual-band encore, it was ridiculous but epic. The crowd was close to sold out, and there’s still some audio/video bootlegs floating around the internet somewhere…. [The Minibosses are also AWESOME! Readers need to check them out at minibosses.com.]

CF: Besides music, what else are you interested in?

SS: Would video games sound redundant? Video games, yes.

[PAUSE]

Before I unpause and go back to the interview, I’d like to conclude with a few words about Sprite Slowdown. I have worked with both the boys of Chromelodeon/Sprite Slowdown on several occassions and have seen them countless times. In both instances, their live performance is epic. Most recently, I did a show with them as SS in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I was very impressed by their wide array of video game covers. Who knew that the them from Echo the Dolphin 2 could sound so damn good? Make a point to visit their web page: www.chromelodeon.com.

[UNPAUSE]

CF: I hear that as a band you enjoy drinking (Sparks). Is this true?

To the question above, there only response was this:

CF: Kiss up to the writer of this column. Who was the coolest promoter you’ve ever worked with?

SS: Of all the ground we’ve covered, we look forward most to hitting Denver, Colorado. Josh from Monkeymania Warehouse always takes care of us, the shows are consistently amazing. He’s also from the band Friends Forever, a 3 piece that tours guerilla style by playing shows outside of venues literally within their open van, while shooting fireworks at the audience. Also,
“sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!”. [Sound like a great guy, but you missed the point, this question was STRICTLY for my ego, I was an awesome promoter guys… C’MON!]

CF: We here at The Filter, pride ourselves on covering important breaking world events, with that in mind what do you think of the news that Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards are getting divorced?

SS: Weird Al’s portrayal of Rambo in “UHF” totally beats out Sheen’s impersonation in “Hot Shots”. [Agreed]

CF: And finally, if you were trying to sell your band in 10 words or less, what would you say?

SS: Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.

[GAME OVER]

Thanks for reading, and remember to email me at crapfilterpress@gmail.com with the subject “Under the radar” if you are interested in being featured.

At long last, our new album has been released! SPRITE SLOWDOWN represents the other side of Chromelodeon… our video game side project, specifically. Ryan and Dino have personally recorded the project from start to finish, and we’re taking the album and live material to our favorite national video game convention this weekend in VA…MAGFEST! Otherwise, our cd release show is next week, with more shows following soon. Thanks to all for your patience. Check out some preview tracks, as well as an online feature.

Setlist:

  1. Zillion [6:03]
  2. Sonic & Knuckles [2:25]
  3. Balloon Kid [3:33]
  4. Ashtar [2:02]
  5. Finale [3:04]
  6. U.N. Squadron [4:52]
  7. Ecco The Dolphin 2 [2:02]
  8. Wanderers From Ys [4:20]
  9. Doom [5:57]
  10. Voder [5:29]

Audio:

Video:

Youtube:

Concert Photos:

Candid Photos:

Setlist:

  1. Zillion [5:37]
  2. Sonic & Knuckles [1:58]
  3. Balloon Kid [3:11]
  4. Ninja Gaiden 2 [2:02]
  5. Ninja Gaiden 2 [2:34]
  6. UN Sqaudron [4:37]
  7. Echo the Dolphin 2 [1:57]
  8. Wanderers From Ys [2:59]
  9. Doom [4:25]

Notes: An audience recording was shared on Dimeadozen shortly after the show, but a copy has not surfaced.

Setlist:

  1. Tuneup [2:42]
  2. Triangular [8:01]
  3. [unknown song] Take 1 [4:43]
  4. [unknown song] parts runthrough [7:23]
  5. [unknown song] Take 2 [4:43]
  6. [unknown song] Take 3 [3:18]
  7. [unknown song] Take 4 [o:40]
  8. [unknown song] Take 5 [2:08]
  9. [unknown song] Take 6 [1:21]
  10. [unknown song] Take 7 [1:17]
  11. [unknown song] Take 8 [2:19]

Audio:

Photos:

Originally published on alternative-scene.blogspot.com on February 19, 2006.

Remember the golden 80/90’s videogame age where game music was all about electronic pop/rock sounds? Where whole instrumental tracks could fit a midi? Well, Chromelodeon is one of the bands that brough us some of the music we heard on Ninja Gaiden II, Megaman and Transformers. Sprite Slowdown, a side project from some former members of Chromelodeon, brough us tunes from Ecco The Dolphin, Doom or Sonic & Knuckles…
 
Chromelodeon is an eight-piece instrumental rock band from Philadelphia. The instruments used by the band consist of: guitars, bass, drums, synths, accordion and an electric violin. So, you get to hear cool videogame covers with some great instrumentals? You sure do… And gosh, they sound so great! The keyboards accompany guitars so well on their galloping rhythmic horses of slaughter that would make some people freeze. Chromelodeon’s music mixes sarcasm with musical wit to deliver a genuinely crafted book of music. Topping even The Mars Volta in ‘Eloquence is Dead’ from “In The Year 20XX” album in their quest to include as much progressive sensibility as they can into one song, Chromolodeon rage back with a tense rope of swinging guitars and vocals that sound like they are modulated by the same instruments used by Britney Spears (yeah, that bitch) and the like. You know, the ones that transform your vocals into certain vowels to create a compressed effect, like Imogen Heap or Daft Punk. Sprite Slowndown is a remastered tribute cover to some videogames, and sure sounds as good as Chromelodeon.
 
 
 
For sure, they are a mark in the experimental indie rock market, something that’s quite easy to hear and mellow enough to stay in your head for a long time! And if you ever have the chance to hear either bands live, don’t waste it! At stage, they’re perfect… Give it a listen, you won’t dislike it.

Review of Heart of Sawdust, originally published in Punk Planet issue #72, March / April 2006.  Written by Chris Burkhalter.

I’m told this Philly-based outfit puts on impressive shows, playing music from, and inspired by, video game soundtracks. Whether or not they cite The Legend of Zelda as a defining influence, 1970s progressive rock seems a more useful point of reference. Consisting of eight showy virtuosos of such instruments as violin, Theremin, and accordion (guitars too), Chromelodeon plays for the duration of the album’s thirty minutes something not unlike the giant, cataclysmic finale of a particularly heavy King Crimson workout. Highly operatic and surprisingly witty, these guys don’t sound a thing like any other working band that I know. 

Setlist:

  1. Zillion (soundcheck) [0:28]
  2. Voder [5:56]
  3. Polygon Sun [3:48]
  4. Aluminum [5:53]
  5. Triangular [7:28]
  6. One [4:35]
  7. Five [5:45]
  8. Six [3:45]
  9. Sonic & Knuckles [2:04]
  10. Balloon Kid [2:39]
  11. Doom [5:18]
  12. U.N. Squadron [4:56]

Video:

Youtube:

Flyers:

Photos:

Things have somehow become incredibly busy for us, in the best of ways possible. We’re juggling talks with a couple labels, preparing new material, finalizing our 4th US tour, and slated as a special guest at this year’s A-KON (one of the country’s biggest annual anime convention). We also received some great interviews and reviews in national press lately (Amplifier Magazine & Punk Planet), and updated some mailorder info and a new press-release in the contact area. Take a look!

Originally published in Deek Magazine, Issue 20 (The Brutality Incident) in April 2006. 

It’s a very welcome change to hear a band that doesn’t fit in with most of the synthesizer-driven rock music surfacing lately. Chromelodeon is that band. An 8-piece group that produces heavily prog-based instrumental epics, utilizing everything from keys, accordian, violin, theremin, and vocoders, Chromelodeon could never be mistaken for any dance-punk synthesizer schlock. Heart of Sawdust was released on Bloodlink Records, the same label that has put out releases from indie-wierdos like An Albatross, Milemarker, and Atom & his Package. Chromelodeon may be closest in relation to An Albatross, but are much more given to Rick Wakeman’s 70s prog keyboard work, combined with some of the sinsiter musings of Fantomas for good measure.
The six tracks on this record clock in at almost a half an hour, with each track building and climbing in a very straightforward manner (straightforwardly?). Their songs are not simplistic, but from the start of the first track to the end of track six, Chromelodeon seem to be driving towards the finish line. Or maybe they’re flying on the wings of some fantastic griffon. Whatever it is, I hope they don’t stop.

TIME FOR OUR 4th US TOUR! Keep an eye on the shows page for updated info. Keep checking our reviews for mention in both of Philadelphia’s major newspapers. Many thanks to fan and anime scholar Chris Berdoz for crafting our new image, as you have witnessed on our splash page. Free posters of such will be available at all tour stops. You can follow us on the road on our regular tourjournal at: http://www.livejournal.com/users/chromelodeon

Tracklist:

  1. Red Max [3:56]
  2. Polygon Sun [3:40]
  3. Higgeldy Piggeldy [4:31]
  4. Wackadelly [3:38]
  5. G. A. H.  [3:46]
  6. Aluminum [5:57]
  7. Triangular [6:31]
  8. V. S. [2:35]
  9. Doom [4:24]

Download:

Videos:

Tour Journal:

PHILLY TOUR LAUNCH SHOW!

Thanks to everyone who came out and our friend bands that played… the turnout was really good despite the heavy rain. Apologies that the visuals weren’t up and running yet, but hope the new material was well enjoyed… we will be taking it on the road the whole month and on!

Our tour-temp drummer Pat (aka Bucky) has officially been initiated by fire! Pun intended.

Photos:

Press Coverage:
Originally published on www.philadelphiaweekly.com on May 31 2006. Written by Doug Wallen.
Chromelodeon kick off their fourth cross-country tour during a period of transition. Graduated from local Bloodlink Records and looking for a bigger label, the octopus-armed instrumentalists want to shake the habit of playing old video game music, creating the side project Sprite Slow-down to specialize in that stuff. That means a return to the full-throttle lights-out epics that first got the band’s name out there. Still, they’re not above catering to the geek contingent-the crux of their tour is a performance at the huge anime convention A-KON 17. And when the band is cornered, don’t be surprised if some Ninja Gaiden slips out.

Originally published in Philadelphia City Paper on June 1 2006. Written by A.D. Amorosi.
Philly’s rulers of GameBoy-driven grime, icy cinematic spacejunk and Theremin-stroked chaos won’t be around for awhile. Not because two of its crew just had babies. Rather, Chromelodeon—whose recent Heart of Sawdust is an A.D. household fave—will be touring. Along the way they’ll hit places like A-KON 17, America’s largest anime convention (they’ll play to 15,000+ and lecture regarding fringe media). Chrome-dome Ryan Soloby says, “We’re so well-known in these convention circles. I’m in talks with several others spanning into 2007.”

Tour Journal:
It was great to go back to Alan’s (aka the 1619 House)… we haven’t played there in something like 2 years. Felt like old stomping grounds. Thanks to everyone who has supported our shows and departure this weekend (especially those who brought food… so rad, so rad). Too bad the rain followed us. Lets hope we can escape by heading south (where a mouth’s a mouth). too much. Next time, we promise.

Photos:


Tour Journal:
As everyone should be aware, today was 6-6-6 day… and not coincidentally enough, our van’s mileage literally rolled over to 66666 at a rest stop (we’ll have pictures up sometime, its been tricky to get online). This show turned out to be packed and roaringly drunk… which was a great equation. We ended up meeting none other than Chris Berdoz, creator of our new image and tour poster (the anime group shot). Good times, and the van is getting good mileage (thanks to an expensive pretour tuneup). Happy 666!

Check out some show pics that fan Mr Magfest took below!

Photos: