This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
The debut album, Astro, from Lucas Cimiano, under the alias Fuzz Chamber, is a dark, EBM-influenced record soaked in ’80s nostalgia. Cimiano, who originally hails from Paris, cites horror films as a massive influence on his musical style. “The horror movie genre has defined me since childhood,” Cimiano said. “I want to write music that evokes similar emotions as my favorite horror movies.”
And evoke he has. The record, though a bit brief in duration, is filled to the brim with minor chord after minor chord and diminished chord dread.
The first track, aptly named “Terror,” chugs forth with a heavy, steady kick drum over dark synth pads and acid-inspired arpeggiations. Ending on a suspenseful note, the first track bleeds right into the next, “Tension.” “Tension” changes up the rhythm a bit, rather than the chugging on-the-beat kick, Fuzz Chamber switches it up with syncopated drums and adds some sweeping effects and a little 8-bit flavor into the mix. The result is a track that sounds like that blood rave scene in the film Blade turned into a video game.
The bassline of “Tension” carries right over into the next song, “Strike.” Initially sounding a little too similar, Fuzz Chamber quickly introduces a melody that almost sounds Eastern European in its use of double harmonics. Evoking artists like Daniel Avery in the bass line and Gessaffelstein in the steady repetition of the melody, Fuzz Chamber builds upon each layer in a tightly controlled manner. No layer is too chaotic or overwhelming, and Fuzz Chamber skillfully utilities a more simplistic compositional approach to creating songs that draw the listener’s focus to each part, rather than creating a cacophony of sensory overload.
Padded synths start “R.R.A,” sounding almost vampiric in their spooky tenor. A gentle, marbling melody enters over the pads, and gradually a modulating, sawing bass swells underneath, building steadily. Fuzz Chamber introduces layer after layer, ever so slowly but still pulling, not dragging the song along. Suddenly everything cuts out, leaving just a lone clap. The song returns to the spooky melody at the beginning for just a brief moment before abruptly ending.
“Lorem” is a brief track, less than a minute long, filled with wet modulation that sounds like an alien ship landing. The sounds swell in volume right into the next song, “Astro.” This song is positively dripping with ’80s nostalgia due to the sci-fi styled synths coloring this track from start to finish. Cimiano cites ’80s horror films he owned on VHS as a large inspiration for this album, and coincidentally the first song that popped into my mind upon the first listen of this particular song was Com Truise’s “VHS Sex.”
“Transmission” ends the album, a glitchy and slow gothic jam with a rippling bassline and crushed drums. Pads whoosh through, creating a slow and ethereal outro to an album that felt too short but was nonetheless well-crafted.
After having been in multiple bands in Paris, the isolation of the pandemic pushed Cimiano to start his own musical project and try to capture the intensity of the current moment. The film, The Shining explores a similar theme of isolation, and Cimiano cites Kubrick’s film as hugely influential to his work — in fact, the artist was partly lured to Denver because of the Stanley Hotel. In a way, the album, Astro parallels the film inspired by the Stephen King novel in that both are products of cabin fever and isolation, and both explore transfixing horrors that feel almost dreamlike — or nightmarish, depending on how you see it.