Jonwayne fires off track from Alpha Pup debut, ‘Bowser,’ connects Low End Theory with Super Mario Bros.


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

Last week, local producer Shlohmo described Jonwayne‘s debut as ‘intelligent castle music.’ The joke was clear, but the truth in jest even more crystalline.

Like so many of his peers who practically get their bills delivered to Lincoln Heights’ Airliner, Wayne’s beats draw from the ‘Intelligent Dance Music’ of Warp Records fixtures Boards of Canada, Squarepusher and Aphex Twin. Melding the smoke-scarred dizziness of IDM with faded 16-bit video-game melodies, producers such as Dibia$e and Wayne have reconfigured the soundtracks of their youth with impressive results.


The trend isn’t merely local. English producers Joker (‘Tron’) and Ikonika (‘Sahara Michael’) have emerged as analogues creating synthetic 21st century symphonies for animated warfare. For this, Koji Kondo (the composer behind the Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda soundtracks) deserves as much credit as J Dilla or Richard D. James.

With Wayne’s Alpha Pup debut, ‘Bowser, he makes his homage obvious. Taking its title from the spike-braceleted villain of the Super Mario series, Wayne even titles a song ‘Mario Is Missing.’ The creative debt might be too on the nose for some, but there’s no denying Wayne’s raw gifts. A fixture at the Low End Theory before he was old enough to drink, the husky cannonball-voiced producer-rapper has been steadily earning a rep over the last two years.

Accordingly, ‘Bowser’ comes highly anticipated among the rapidly expanding community (see the lines that snake around Broadway every Wednesday night). Hewing to an almost all-instrumental sample-free bent, Wayne splashes woozy synthesizer against tense tiptoeing drums. His goal is to conjure the pressure-wracked moments that preceded childhood video game victories -- the heart palpitations that ensued when you finally reached the boss level, the soaring euphoria when you dispatched a giant animated Koopa that had an unnatural fixation for trapping princesses.

Today, Pop & Hiss premieres ‘Dreamland,’ an ethereal, high-altitude beat full of loopy atmosphere and little oxygen. The sort of thing you’d expect to hear while flying as Tanooki Mario or more opiated flights of fancy.

Download: (Pop & Hiss Premiere)
MP3: Jonwayne -- ‘Dreamland’

-- Jeff Weiss