The Depreciation Guild Revives the Famicom for Free


Super Nintendo and shoegaze. Many of those who are legally considered adults at this point will find those two words to be synonymous with the late ’80s, even if both were too separable to ever cross paths. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears as if a band has managed to incorporate the two together into a stylistic fusion of nostalgic proportions, resulting in an extremely distinctive sound that raises questions of whether or not this whole ’80s revival thing occurring rampantly in fashion and music is really a longstanding niche after all. Whether it is their intention or not, the exceedingly creative two members in The Depreciation Guild are sure to attract a large crowd who favors just that. With prominent aspects of guitar-led shoegaze being fused together with the likes of infectious synth-rock and spacey pop, the duo’s influences are impressive in the form of being chronologically diverse. Their synth use is somewhat reminiscent of power-punkers Ozma, incorporating Nintendo-esque 16-bit synth lines with an array of resounding guitars, most of which can lend its shoegaze influences to a heavy amount of reverb being featured beside a variety of guitar pedals and effects. To be honest, The Depreciation Guild present one of the most singularly distinctive styles I have heard all year.

As if the recently featured The Cyanide Valentine releasing an enjoyable album as a free download was not enough, The Depreciation Guild are doing the exact same thing with the release of their debut album, In Her Gentle Jaws. You can download it for free by clicking on the yellow strip on their web site. Originally consisting of dual songwriters Kurt Feldman and Akira Hashizume, the Brooklyn-based The Depreciation Guild came together in 2005. The duo released Nautilus – a three-song EP accompanied by guitars, samples, and a Famicom 2A03 sound chip – in early 2006 on 8-Bit Peoples. That particular record label lives up to its namesake as well, specializing in artists who primarily focus on “chiptune”-led sound. For those not to keen on retro gaming, “chiptunes” are songs that are solely composed using a game console’s sound chip. This often translated to songs with a very simplistic, MIDI-like, feel that were very reliant on tones. Check out the wiki for a more technical explanation. After Hashizume left the band in May of this year to focus on his academic pursuits, Christoph Hocheim joined almost immediately, lending additional guitars and vocals to Feldman’s ceaselessly entertaining sound. Together, they created and released In Her Gentle Jaws, just uploaded last Wednesday.

(Image by Nathan Meunier)

If you are wondering where the bass, percussion, and synths are derived from on the newest album, look no further than the Famicom. Yes, much of it is the work of a machine that the band picked up on eBay. “We think the Famicom is definitely the most talented member of our band,” Feldman joked in a feature on PopMatters. Though some may prefer the natural aspects of musicianship, keep in mind that all of their songs are programmed and written with total originality. And, you know, sometimes lugging a bass, a synthesizer, and an entire drum set can become a hassle, especially for veteran gamers. Because of Hocheim’s desirable skills as a guitarist, The Depreciation Guild’s most recent sound is much more guitar-involved than their earlier, more synth-guided material. The irresistibly infectious “Butterfly Kisses” is a perfect showcasing of this, with heavily reverbed vocals gliding seamlessly over variously implemented guitars and “chiptune” synths. Though the synths make their presence well known during the explosive chorus, the heavily distorted guitar remains prominent throughout. “Sky Ghosts” is similarly produced, being an onslaught of heavy guitars during the verse that are uplifted by serene synths serving as an atmospheric pad during the edgy chorus. Even though his instrumental approach remains consistent, Feldman’s soaring vocals are prominently incorporated. His melodies are diverse and always enriching, a trait that makes In Her Gentle Jaws worth the listen, free or not.

In addition to the more rock-oriented tracks in the vein of “Butterfly Kisses”, “Sky Ghosts”, and “Darklooming”, enjoyable tracks like instrumentals ‘Water Window” and “Heavy Eyes” are more melodic and subdued in instrumental content. They both provide for a more relaxing atmosphere with crisper guitars and more delicate arrangements of synths, providing a nice change in tempo and delivery in contrast to the other, more intensely composed tracks in the beginning of the album. Since The Depreciation Guild are releasing such a fantastic album for free, if you enjoy it like I do, I recommend that you either attend one of their shows (next one is in New York on 12/20), buy one of their snazzy t-shirts ($11), or even a pin ($2) would do some justice. I just feel obligated to show my thanks in some form whenever an artist releases such exceptional material for free. Plain and simple, you have no excuse not to give In Her Gentle Jaws at least one chance. For fans of shoegaze and synth-rock, I can nearly guarantee that you will not regret it.


The Depreciation Guild – Butterfly Kisses



The Depreciation Guild – Sky Ghosts



The Depreciation Guild – Heavy Eyes



Download In Her Gentle Jaws for Free (76MB, .ZIP)>>>

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Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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