Retro-videogame nerds, don't get too excited. Friday's guest act at The Vagabond has nothing to do with the mostly forgotten Nineties Nintendo game, but rather has appropriated the moniker, à la Crystal Castles, to broadcast a fascination with retro bleeps and bloops. The multicolor, eight-bit-style graphics festooning Panic Bomber's various web presences should give a clue as to where the project's influences lie: in the golden era of electro, acid funk, and anything that involved a vocoder. What's impressive, though, is that Richard Haig, the brains behind the motherboard, doesn't get mired in all-too-easy Daft Punk rip-offs. Rather, his sound is surprisingly lush, smoother and more melodic than the current crop of electro-house-producers-come-lately. There's a real musicality, even a pop undercurrent, to the six tracks on Panic Bomber's debut demo, Calling in Threats. So it's no surprise, then, to learn via Haig's "treatise" on his MySpace page (www.myspace.com/panicbomber) that he's a former, um, organic musician who has taken on this new mantle as some kind of act of defiance. "I have played in live bands in Miami where the band has gotten cut off early at a show because the DJ is scheduled to 'play,'" he complains in his mission statement. Fair enough. So as an act of protest, he has become a "live" dance music act that performs in the DJ booth. Well, whatever. Part of the fun will be monitoring how much of his synthetic sound Haig can reproduce on the fly.
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