As a founding member of the internationally renowned Paper Rad art collective, US-based electronic producer / multimedia artist Jacob Ciocci has developed a reputation as a creative powerhouse in his own right over the last decade or so, having been responsible for a prolific stream of videos, comics, internet art, and paintings for everything from DIY house parties to respected art galleries like NYC’s MOMA. During the same period, he’s also maintained a steady presence amongst the US’s indie rave scene doing solo performances as ROTFLOL, and this self-explanatory-titled collection on Audio Dregs acts as a ‘best of’ of sorts, trawling back through ten years worth of cassettes, videos, animations, self-made CDRs and live recordings for its 24 tracks. In this case, Ciocci’s musical aesthetic certainly parallels the psychedelic eighties bent of his visual work, with the tracks here being composed in ASCII, before being recorded in realtime using vintage Casio keyboards and budget electronics. That said, it’s amazing just how much diversity and depth he’s able to wring out of his pallette and gamecore-centred sounds here.
If opening track ‘Lost Inside The Stress Boxes, The Movie’ calls to mind some of the synth segues from the early eighties BBC series ‘Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ with its swirling arpeggios setting the atmosphere shortly before venturing down into dub styles that are about as ‘smoky’ as you can get with 8 bits, ‘Ghost Forest Night Rave’ ventures further towards dark electro-tech, with growling distorted bass swells rolling against bleepy Nintendo synth stabs and razor-sharp, syncopated rhythms. Elsewhere, there’s a brief moment of Vangelis goes C64 synth ambience with ‘Wish U Were Here’, before ‘Gifs Vs Sprites’ sees juddering hiphop rhythms getting knocked offcentre amidst a carnival rush of cartoony keyboards and lo-fi video game noises. There’s also what sounds like a chopped and screwed extreme reworking of Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ that sends the original vocal through tortuous levels of digital processing, sending it scraping against eerily cheesy New Age synth settings, as well as a slew of live tracks that hint at the chaos of ROTFLOL in action as synths roar and howl against Ciocci’s yelped vocal shout-outs, calling to mind Suicide on a more brightly-hued gamecore tip at points. There’s certainly a lot to take in one dose here, with this collection acting more as a sprawling ‘vault’ of ROTFLOL’s backcatalogue, and the accompanying ’2 Blessed 2 B Stressed’ DVD included here provides the perfect visual partner here, as well as an excellent introduction to Ciocci’s video artworks. Just don’t be surprised if you’re left with a headache like you used to get from playing too many C64 games afterwards.