Quark Lepton, Beachcop (self-released)
Find It: quarklepton.bandcamp.com
Beachcop, the new album by Quark Lepton (AKA Columbia’s Steve Nuzum), sounds like the music that the main characters of a 1990s 8-bit video game would make in their spare time, when they weren’t trying to collect rings or save princesses. Across 13 songs, Nuzum — who wrote, performed and recorded the album all on his own — takes cheesy outmoded synth sounds, tinny programmed beats and, occasionally, actual guitars, and creates weird, endearing electronic indie pop.
Some of the music is positively cinematic. The title track sounds like it could’ve been the opening theme for an animated Western film where all the cowboys are robots, with a burbling low-end synth line, an echoing Duane Eddy-style guitar solo and a sparse, skeletal beat. “Gazing At Waves” is an effective exercise in ambient-tinged balladry, perfect for watching ocean waves crash on the shore, or at least for watching that happen on TV. “The Commissioner” is a sinister, heavy mood music piece, with an ominous guitar riff and a squiggly main keyboard line that ascends and descends on a seemingly automatic loop throughout the song.
Some of the songs on Beachcop resemble some of the soundtrack work that Moby did for movies like Heat in the late-’90s and early-2000s, and that raises the interesting notion that what we’re listening to might be a soundtrack. The title track is actually subtitled “(Main Title)” and the last song on the album, “Farewell, Beachcop” adds “(End Titles)” to the name.
Is it possible that this is some sort of soundtrack to a nonexistent robot-police drama flick that exists only in Quark Lepton’s mind? Because it sure does sound that way in places. Even if that’s the case, though, Beachcop is an effective piece of music without visual accompaniment. The throwback charm and the obvious musical know-how on display significantly outweigh the kitsch factor, and the outdated-sounding instruments and general weirdness are actually a lot of fun.