Classic Album Review

Machine Girl Traverses a Synthetic Heaven with “SUPER FREQ”

Machine Girl’s latest EP is a perfect blend of frenetic beats and ultramodern digital rhythms. “SUPER FREQ” channels Machine Girl’s classic anime-infused breakcore stylstics with an uncanny twist.

Produced for FREQ Records, the EP stands as a pesudo-soundtrack for “FREQ,” a new manga project by Nicola Kazimir and Dai Sato. Written by Sato, acclaimed for his screenwriting work on “Ergo Proxy,” “Cowboy Bebop,” “Samurai Champloo” and numerous others, “FREQ” takes place in a universe governed by sound.

Finished Manga panel from FREQ Volume #0, illustrated by Good News For Bad Guys

According to the official “FREQ” Kickstarter, “The setting of Freq’s lore unfolds in a futuristic realm where the influence of sound frequencies governs all aspects of life. In this world, everything from traffic, AR visuals to warfare and of course music is orchestrated through the manipulation/extraction of sound frequencies [sic].”

Synthetic Heaven

Consisting of three tracks and with a total runtime of around 10 minutes, “SUPER FREQ” is fast-paced, energetic and futuristic. Though lacking in the stylistic complexity seen in earlier releases like “Wlfgrl” or “U-Void Synthesizer,” the EP is wholly solid.

While “SUPER FREQ” lacks the digital hardcore influence that underscores much of Machine Girl’s work, the EP’s “cleaner” vocal quality allows for Stephenson’s incisive lyricism to really shine through.

The EP’s first track, “Black Glass,” puts an esoteric spin on the digital age. The plight of the chronically online and technologically oversaturated becomes a “black mass,” with the human soul endlessly reflected as “shadows” across an endless expanse of “black glass.”

Crawl into the cave before it’s gone

Before the future turns to aches

Before your blood turns into plastic

“Black Glass,” Machine Girl

There certainly is no dearth of sci-fi futurist dystopias in media: decades-away worlds plated in chrome and illuminated in vivid technicolor. However, as Machine Girl suggests, the sci-fi dystopia is already upon us: our blood is inexorably laced with forever chemicals and our lives are consumed by synthetic stimulation.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Despite the song’s prescient message, it’s consistently upbeat. In fact, the whole EP maintains a sort of cavalier jubilation throughout. The next track, “Dance in the Fire,” is a techno-laced dance anthem. The third, “Big Time Freq,” a chipper instrumental.

Of the three tracks on “SUPER FREQ,” this one excited me the least. Compared to the mysterious “Black Glass” and the manic “Dance in the Fire,” “Big Time Freq” is…kind of bland.

There’s nothing particularly striking about this track, and it lacks the hypnotic frenzy of other Machine Girl instrumentals. My younger brother aptly described it as “video game idling music.”

Final Thoughts

While “SUPER FREQ” certainly doesn’t take away from Machine Girl’s artistic credibility, it admittedly falls short of its predecessors. The EP is fun and danceable, but it’s only “Black Glass” that really strikes me as iconically Machine Girlesque.

After nearly two years since Machine Girl’s last release, a soundtrack for the platform shooter “Neon White,” it’s fair to say that I hope the duo returns to producing the more involved and experimental LPs that have come to define the breakcore genre.

By J

J is a DJ at WKNC and a staunch enjoyer of dark and moody music.