The Meme Friends Anthology Vol 1

The Meme Friends Anthology Vol 1
(Self-Released 2014)

Though 4chan's /mu/ board is notorious for heated and often hostile debate concerning the depth and legitimacy of whatever "post-avant jazzcore" band is burning up the the blogosphere, the community has come together to create a project that's entirely its own: The Meme Friends. Over the past few weeks, user CtrAltDel has curated three compilation albums completely crowdsourced by fellow /mu/tants. His process is efficient and fun; the first step in creating a Meme Friends album is to give it a title and to name its ten songs. They're chosen based on a lottery system. For example, a reply to the thread numbered 47890833 (the number increases by one each time someone posts on /mu/) would become the third song's title. Then, a poll is taken to choose cover artwork, which is always culled from the pulpy pages of Archie Comics. 10 musicians are then given the chance to record a track that fits with the album's predetermined theme, but they must do so in an extremely short amount of time. This assembly line system of music creation evokes Warhol's screenprints of Pete Rose and Campell's Soup Cans. The Meme Friends are 2014's answer to pop art, an improved answer to the generic cookie-cutter electronica and drone that make up much of soundcloud and bandcamp.

There are times when your daily mundanity is interrupted by something so absurd that it can only be explained by a parallel universe, or a "glitch in the matrix" of some sort. I was walking home from the bookstore today, when, (I'm not kidding you here!), I passed a middle-aged man in what sort of looked like a pilgrim costume being ferried down the street in a 70's convertible stretch limo. In the front seat were a bodyguard and chauffeur; his vanity license plate read "MAFIA". I was confounded, how could this have been real? Who could this man, escorted around like some third world dictator, be? My theory: he's an inter-dimensional meme deity sent to earth to deliver the new Meme Friends album to us. The surrealist and rather anachronistic nature of this morning's encounter certainly matches the vibe of the project's most recent compilation, Meme Disco Is Now a Genre and You Can't Do Anything About It. The album is just slightly unsettling. I'm not saying it's abstract beyond recognition. In fact, it's perhaps overly vivid. I'm assuming that none of the artists creating "meme disco" grew up during the 70s. It's perhaps false nostalgia, romanticized disco as we imagine it to be. Made manifest, these imagined vibes are off-kilter and vaguely unsettling, creating an atmosphere that would make David Lynch proud. Not to say that the music isn't rad. "Nice Meme >:)" shuffles along on one of the slinkiest bass lines I've ever heard, breathing out vaporous pockets of synthesized sound, a single vocal snippet is sampled, grainy and warbly as if emitted from an old VHS tape: "Let's go to the sunshine / Let's go to the bay". "We Know What Happened To Impostor Jones" is a live recording of a lo-fi keyboard jam; its performer laces piano solos atop canned drum beats. An astute listener can hear his hands shuffle to press various buttons on his instrument. Despite the rawness of the recording, the track hits hard. Chords bounce off the rubbery rhythms, and the occasional mistake in recording adds to the song's soul. A few novelty tracks add a bit of spice to the mix. "Oh Sh*t I'm Dancing It" weaves a disco instrumental with the vocal track from Death Grips' "Takyon", while "Go To Bed John K" floats in a loose, improvisational bubble, chugging along in a prog-rock groove. It's the most varied and accessible installment of the Meme Friends trilogy, and a great entry point for anyone new to the project.

The middle child of the trilogy is Q: Are We Not Memes? It's classified as the project's "summercore" record, heralding the beginning of the season. It begins with "Claiming This", a noisy electronic track that juxtaposes a creamy keyboard melody against grating industrial whirrs and growls. It sets the tone for the album: it's breezy, beaded with sweat and bleached by the sun reflecting off the sand, but it also contains rather sinister elements as well. "My Bucket Has A Hole In It" repeats its playful, kindergarten synth riff for 2 minutes before devolving into a throbbing breakdown, stomping menacingly as dissonant steel drums clank out a groove. "Diarrhea Is Fun", I have to say, is the most original cut of the bunch, a heavily reverberated emo take on Animal Collective's Sung Tongs (an album which, sadly, I mention in every review). The compilation is complete with "I Don't See It", which reminds me of one of those Warp Records tracks you hear in the background of [Adult Swim] bumpers. It's the most album's most polished track, rounding out the Meme Friends' most unified effort. Its predecessor, the band's self-titled debut, heavily drone influenced, and has a sort of satirical vibe at times. It opens, ironically, with "Claiming Track 2", a spacey ambient tune that samples Papa Roach's "Last Resort", which I find hilarious. The album flows very nicely; it's heavily drone-influenced, and could function as an alternate soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 10 minute epic, "Big Guy", is perhaps the greatest track in the Meme Friends' discography, and, honestly, one of the best of the year, its percussive keyboards slicing through flaky ambience. Overall, the release is the hardest of the three to get into, but perhaps the most satisfying.

Listen to "Meme Disco" below, and visit thememefriends.bandcamp.com for more!