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Godís gift
Why Notwist love Allstonís Boy in Static
BY DAVID DAY

Perhaps the most-imported Boston electronic album of the year belongs to the mostly unheralded 23-year-old Alex Chen, a/k/a BOY IN STATIC, who plays this Sunday in the MFAís Remis Auditorium. Heíll be performing, as he has already in Europe and will be across the US, as the opening act for 13 & GOD, the beat project featuring the principal members of German indietronica gods Notwist and indie-hip-hop pioneers Themselves. The pairing of Boy in Static and 13 & God is no coincidence. Less than two years ago, Chen sent out a home-recorded demo to a few labels, including the German imprint Alien Transistor, which is run by Notwist brothers Marcus and Micha Acher. "A few months later I was buying tickets on-line for a Notwist show at the Middle East when they e-mailed me," Chen writes from his Allston home. They met at that show, and another meeting on the same tour led to the conception of 13 & God. Last November, Alien Transistor released Boy in Staticís debut album, Newborn, and Chenís group has become 13 & Godís de facto opening act around the world. Itís been an odd juxtaposition: even as Boy in Staticís album was still hard to find in his home town, Chen was waking up not knowing which country he was in. "The shouts of ĎBravo!í in between songs were a nice reminder that we were in Italy."

Like Notwist, Boy in Static combine rock with electronic production ó drum machines, effects, post-productions tweaks ó to produce spectral pop. The groups even have a similar singing style, favoring hazy coos and broken-hearted melodies. Newborn is reflective of how it was assembled. "Itís nice to be able to roll out of bed on a freezing winter day and record without ever leaving the house," Chen says. "I recorded the album alone in my apartment. Sometimes in the middle of the night. That feeling of isolation is an essential thread, weaving itself through the sound on the record."

Although there is now a Boy in Static live band, there wasnít one when the album came out, and Chen turned to the Internet to promote the record internationally ó a now common path for a new breed of talented songwriters who are also technologically savvy. In lieu of a video, for instance, Chen created a Web-based animation piece for the albumís first song (see http://www.bellyfull.tv/), and it multiplied through the blogosphere. "I started using computers very young, so incorporating them into the music seemed completely natural. I have many small musical instruments in my apartment. The laptop fits right in: mini air organ, xylophone, viola, micro korg synth, toy piano, and a laptop." Itís all so darling, isnít it?

Boston-based über-underground Web host and megasite BRAINWASHED.COM has gone through a considerable redesign. Its new blog-like interface is easier to use and much easier to update, and the radio feed is a breeze to access. And with RSS and XLM feeds, the Brainwashees of the world can be instantly updated on avant-garde tunes and news of musical weirdos. Most exciting, they can also contribute reviews and stories on their own. WZBC DJ and B-washed Web master/guru JON WHITNEY can now relax a bit and enjoy the community that he built practically from the ground up. "I donít want to be Ďin control,í " he writes, "I'd rather be the one who made the playground for the kids to play in." . . . The parties thrown by Turntables on the Hudson have been setting NYC on fire for seven years now, and Tuesday one-half of the DJ duo NICKODEMUS is at Middlesex Lounge. Expect a lite, breezy style of funk jams Latinized and samba-fied for the dance floor, and wear your best party dress . . .That BEDROOM ROCKERS book, with 12 DJs from Boston and four other cities, gets a release party on Saturday from 2 to 6 pm at the Adidas store in Harvard Square. The sound system features the super-booty stylings of XLR8R editor STAR EYES and Bostonís own funk specialist PJ GREY.

You can find David Day behind the decks Thursdays at Middlesex Lounge and Fridays at Enormous Room. He can be reached at circuits@squar3.com.


Issue Date: September 16 - 22, 2005
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