THE GOTHSICLES – NESferatu
(2006 Sonic Mainline)
It might be easy to mistake this recording for a serious artistic work by a gothic band, but take a closer look at the CD cover. The album is entitled NESferatu; that’s uppercase NES, as in Nintendo Entertainment System. And the vampire on the cover is not wearing any ordinary glove. No, that’s a Nintendo Power Glove, for those who remember them, and he looks like he’s pissed about losing a game of Castlevania. Singer DarkNES and his live bandmate EYG are geeks of the highest order, and this CD is one of the few examples of dark electronic comedy out there.
The music is paint-by-numbers home-computer electro, but that doesn’t matter; you don’t need to have an appreciation for any genre of music to enjoy the geekery within, as the real treasure here is their goofy sense of humor. The first track kicks off with DarkNES cramming about ten thousand words into twelve seconds and then making the observation “I can tell that you, that you shop at Hot Topic / ‘Cause you look sorta skater punk rock and kinda sorta gothic”. In the song “Triple Shot” they wonder how cool it would be if in the old arcade game Galaga one could join three ships together instead of just two, something a great many humans have pondered since the early 1980s. Like any true Nintendo addict, they are well aware of the Konami Code that one could enter to easily beat every game that company created, and they have a song here in tribute to that hallowed sequence of controller commands.
Several moments on the disc are typical of a Mel Brooks movie in which the camera occasionally films another camera. Track nine, entitled “Better Versions By Other People,” is a short ditty that informs everyone of the obvious fact that the next several songs are remixes by other artists (Madison bands Stochastic Theory and Caustic, Battery Cage from California, and Epsilon Minus from Canada). Hoping to get it spun at dance clubs, their song “Mix This Song Into Assemblage 23’s ‘Maps of Reality’” explains step by step exactly how a DJ can do so.
After a couple of short tracks that mash up some familiar Nintendo blips and bleeps, there are a few hidden live tracks. “Platform Game” is one of them, a very short tune but a favorite at their shows where the chorus is simply them shouting “THAT’S BULLSHIT, I JUMPED!” It is indeed a universal scream that has been furiously bellowed by everyone who has ever played that type of game, and it’s proof that all one needs is to have handled a joystick or owned a game console at some point in their life to dig the Gothsicles. Which is good for them, as there are many more geeks than there are goths. The band has mailed a copy of NESferatu to Dr. Demento, and although the vocals are hard to discern in some parts, perhaps the good Doctor will see fit to have them join Art Paul Schlosser on his playlists for even more Wisconsin representation.