Imagine your computer used an algorithm to compose Bach-like music but its only real-world reference was the music it has heard you play, and you will understand the essence of Master Boot Record. Baroque refrains mix with chiptunes and heavy guitars in a way that screams loud and proud that it was entirely created with synthesizers. Each track is named after a low level MS DOS program or file that geeks like me will have dealt with in the past (I am looking at you in particular CHKDSK.EXE)
ANSI.SYS picks up from where the last album, Direct Memory Access, left off. Digitised classical music and NWOBHM riffs weave in and out of the chiptunes sound which holds it all together like previous MBR releases. DISPLAY.SYS alternates between demoscene and thrash with some very beautiful moments that sound almost like a baroque cannon. However much of the album feels very formulaic.
The 8:39 track EDIT.COM should have taken a hint from its name. It returns again and again to a harpsichord melody, but the other elements including big guitars and hints of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata feel disparate and sometimes jarring. The harpsichord makes the track sound a bit flat although that may be due to my anti-harpsichord bias.
Overall, this is a fun album that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has moments of grandeur and beauty, but it feels less polished and more rushed than MBR’s previous work. His creative process includes livestreaming to an audience while he is composing, which explains the occasional self-indulgent guitar solo. Your computer could never compose something so unique, however if it were capable of having aspirations, I’m sure it would be aiming to give MBR a run for his money.
(7.5/10 Abi Grahame)