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Gold Medal Famous - Album Review: Activity

19 Jun 2017 // A review by Peter-James Dries

There was this gig in Palmy once. Well there have been a few, but the one I mean was Gold Medal Famous and Mucus Kids. It was last year I think. I had planned to go but life got in the way. That and crippling social anxiety.

A friend went, well someone who I’d got talking to after they saw the Rob Thorne album on my desk, which I was reviewing at the time. They highly recommended Gold Medal Famous, but I was going through a dark patch, my office at the time being a porticom, and my job being selling parking to Hospital patients and staff alike. I was more drawn to the chaos of Mucus Kids.

Maybe I should have listened to them; this friend and Gold Medal Famous. Then perhaps it wouldn’t have been such a shock when I listened to their new album, Activity.

I only say shock because considering the recommender, I imagined the recommendees to be more… Hipster, which is to say folk, with accordions and the like. Well... they are pretty Hipster, in a way. But in my minds eye I wasn’t expecting a song from a tortured electric typewriter, layered with an unpunctuated list of mundane actions. Wait… Did she just say “throw a cactus”?

Where do consoles go when they die? Do rotting Ataris dream of electric sheeple? Is there a circle of hell reserved for corrupted Super Nintendos? I can’t promise Gold Medal Famous can answer any of those questions, but Activity is the perfect soundtrack to such absurdist musings that arise on an early morning trek from Brooklyn to the Hospital.

I’ve spoken before about my misinterpretation of Industrial being music made with machinery. Activity is like my interpretation of Industrial at a software level. I refrain from using Nerd-Pop, despite it being an apt description, because that term holds connotations and references in my mind to the Nerd-Hop segues in that 80’s film series Revenge of the Nerds.

Maybe it’s better to refer to this style of harnessed chaos as Dork-pop, and I mean that in the most affectionate of ways. Like “omg. You made a song about buying a house!? You’re such a dork, Tiffany! lol”

It’s Retro-Futurism viewed through the lens of a 28.8k modem. Esoteric, sure, but also so so accessible, and so catchy. Doomed to never be a homeowner myself, I find We Bought A House on repeat in my head. My fingers tapping to the beat of electronic decay waltz, Valse des Grumeaux.

It’s not enjoyable as music in any traditional sense, but there’s something about this album that does it for me. Maybe because I listened to MIDI in my teens, because my computer couldn’t handle MP3s. Maybe because Chip Tunes were a thing in my mid-twenties peer group for a while. Maybe because even the cool kids are dorks sometimes, reformed Goths like myself even more so. Our partners probably thought we were dorks rocking out to the sounds of the Sega Master System on the car stereo, circling the Palmy Square like all the cool kids do.

My first exposure to this kind of archaic electronica was on the family Commodore 64, which we still used when everyone else had a Pentium II. We had this collection of 5¼ Floppies, those big ones that were actually floppy, unlike the 3½s. Among the classics, like California Games and Dynasty Warriors, there was this disk which had the sole purpose of loading for 10 minutes then playing the Beverley Hills Cop theme, Axel F, made famous in living memory by being the Crazy Frog song. That was my jam. Axel F, never Crazy Frog.

In later years I came across Disasteradio on a CD of underground locals, “borrowed” from a flatmate. Then finally, in the last quarter-decade I casually partook in the 8-bit neolution of the late-YouTube era, jamming to 8-bit remixes of Tool and laughing at clips from movies.

Activity is Avant-Garde, which by nature is different and unusual, definitely a niche market, and to be taken with an open mind and a grain of salt. Maybe that’s the attraction for me. It’s something different and the unusual. Despite my initial shock, I find myself drawn to this album and enjoy it in the same way I enjoy David Firth’s Salad Fingers, or Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared, or Teddy has an Operation. With curiosity, misattributed to me being “weird” or “creepy”

Perturbed by my musings and memories, my rumination and reminiscing? To offer my TL;DR, or equivalent acronym, to appease your diminished of attention span, and offset my characteristic lack of direction and point, Gold Medal Famous’ Activity is unique piece, a counterpoint to and parotic reflection of the vapid mainstream and enjoyable as a piece of anti-pop. A weird and wonderful, yet welcome distraction from the clickity-clack of mechanical keyboards that resonate around this quiet office or anything on the Edge TV.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a back-catalogue to peruse.


About Gold Medal Famous

Gold Medal Famous is a three-piece genre fluid electropop act founded in Wellington in 2008. Known for their captivating live performances, complete with intense audience interaction and comedic stunts, you might love or hate them, but you won’t forget what you’ve seen.

Signed to Auckland indie label Powertool Records, Gold Medal Famous will be releasing their sixth album Activity on May 27 2017.

Gold Medal Famous are prolific recorders with 28 releases available on their own Bandcamp page in addition to their releases on Powertool.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Gold Medal Famous


Year: 2017
Type: Album

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