From the monthly archives: "March 2004"

Review of In The Year 20XX, originally published in Punk Planet issue #60, March / April 2004.  Written by Tim Kuehl.

Memories of sitting at home in the basement for hours playing Mega Man and Zelda come rushing back after hearing these songs. The first, “Wily’s Castle,” is an instrumental that I swear could be a video game theme: dramatic, epic keyboards and crunchy distorted guitars. The second and third songs are also instrumentals, but with a slightly different feel to them. The fourth song is a 14-minute rock opera with processed, spacey unrecognizable vocals. This eventually leads to my favorite part of the song, at about eight minutes, where they add an accordion with a trumpet, violin, humming and some cadence-style drums. This explaination is pointless, because to understand how cool this is, you have to hear it. This is highly recommended.

-Tim Kuehl

Originally published in Origivation Magazine volume 3 issue 4, March 2004.  Written by Robin Parry.

It is a Wednesday night and feels about 30 below in Old City.  At the Khyber, in spite of a four-band bill, the “crowd” consists of employees, band members, those screwing the band members and me.  I am one moment from pulling a Houdini escape act when I glance, empathetically, at the overly exposed stage area and see 8 men appear before a crimson backdrop.  It was not the towering Oscar Wilde like accordion player center stage that glued my feet but instead the hoody cloaked figure sitting on the edge of the stage with a milk crate filled with light effects and finger triggers.  His “play station” was soon to become the master control of a “mystery science theatre” stage sideshow for a band named Chromelodeon.

Suddenly, out of the fridged stillness, like thunder from the Holy Mountain of God, Chromelodeon tore apart the garments of the evening’s common threads with a velvet sword.  Want a visual?  Think Ed Wood.  Campy strobes and frenetic pulsing spots tapped out as in divine trance by a mental whirling dervish with a box.  Opening with a 20-minute song named, appropriately, Adventures in a Haunted House, Chromelodeon created a frighteningly dark, yet comforting dance of divinity.  At it would have been a divine comedy indeed was the music anything less than breathtaking.  But breathtaking it was.  The air was soon filled with harmonic convergence and divergence, microtonal chutes and ladders that guided you on the 43 tone trip to the spheres.  This was hard and gothic in nature.  You could not help but get lost in your own thematic interpretation of the tales being spun by this music.  The multitude of harmonies was more like the sounds from an orchestra than a club band. This was rock opera.  The majesty of the compositions combined with the campy humor of the visual presentation was more than inspired.

Chromelodeon is named after one of the instruments created by Harry Partch.  “We collectively decided on the name and this project itself about 2 years ago, with much respect to the inventor and the instruments conventional use juxtaposed with its creative retooling. The chromelodeon itself is hard to come by (or create), and though we’ve considered acquiring one, its practical use in such a large sized band is somewhat limited, haha.” Say’s one Chromelodeon member who chooses to remain nameless.  The chromelodeon is a keyboard capable of creating four part harmonies with just one key.  Some present day avante artists are known to create chromelodeons by rigging two accordions to achieve the 43 tones per octave.  This band, through use of an accordion, several keyboards, theremin, violins, and guitars appear to create the magic as a unit.  I fear that this band may often get lumped into the “jam band” category though they truly transcend this and most other musical genres. They have been described as “epic” or “soundtrack rock” but still they are more.  My best comparison would be to opera.   This music is intellectual and demands participation from its audience.  I want to study the language with which it was written so as to better appreciate it.

I tried to get the band to give me some information about themselves and this is all I got from my conversation from the nameless one:

“As far as information about us goes, we like to keep relatively mysterious in a humble sense. I appreciate you grasping the fact we desire people to pay attention to the music, and not the musicians themselves, the irony of which for an 8 piece band without vocals is heavy indeed. We all more or less met in a south jersey arcade in the late 80s, and eclectic tastes congealed after many years practicing together.”  

Chromelodeon is, more specifically, Denny Barron, David Chapman, Vinnie Corda, Dino Lionetti, Chris Singer, Ryan Soloby, Danny Tarng, and Eddy Tsang.  They are currently performing shows from Boston to NYC supporting their current CD, “In the Year 20XX”.  This 4 song, approx. 30 minute CD, will astound all but the Justin Timberlake fans amongst you.  Listening to this CD after seeing this band live I would hope to see them next at the Kimmel Center.  They are this large, this extravagant.  This is high art at its finest.

When their ritual performance was complete and their magic well formed in the stale beer ether of the Khyber, the eight holy men seem to slip back into mortals and exit the stage as if nothing extraordinary had occurred.  But we, the small group of witnesses, walk away profoundly changed.

You can find out little more as well as purchase a copy of their masterpiece CD, “In the Year 20XX” from the Chromelodeon web site at

-Robin Parry

Review of In The Year 20XX, originally published in Clamor Magazine issue #26.  Written by Jason Kucsma.

The wack-ass cover art for this CD doesn’t betray the genius of Chromelodeon’s debut CD (unclear… is this the debut?).  I almost passed it off as a half-assed attempt to endear the CD to the hip-hop and graf culture with its cartoonish caricature raising his fist in the air over a pile of industrial rubbish.  Truth is, this is pure gold.  Chromelodeon is an instrumental powerhouse (with some minimal vocals) that creates epic tracks from rock and new wave roots – creating something that sounds like Godspeed You Black Emperor! facing Mr.Bungle in a Nintendo Gameboy songwriting competition.  This is truly an example of a book that should not be judged by its cover.  I consider myself schooled.
-Jason Kucsma

Originally published in Aiding and Abetting #251 in March 2004.  

Damn, I think this set of reviews might end up being some sort of 70s tribute. In a good way, which isn’t exactly something I ever expected to hear myself saying. Nonetheless, Chromelodeon channels 70s prog cheese excess into four songs of epic grace and power.

Not unlike a sci fi-nerd version of the Fucking Champs, these boys play synth-drenched mini-operas full of martial beats and sweeping melodies. This stuff is so excessive that it comes almost all the way back to the mainstream.

Yeah, the stuff is silly, but I think the eight members of the band know that. They’re just having fun. And that’s why this album soars. There’s no pretension to be fond anywhere. Just a few folks getting as loopy and geeked-out as possible.

So by now you oughta know if Chromelodeon might be your bag. If you dig music made on a grand scale, I haven’t heard better stuff in ages. I haven’t had an album thrill me and make me laugh out loud in sheer bliss in ages. Quite the package.


Thanks to all who came out to the show at Eastern University. It was a good show and we had a good time. Next, there is a review of “in the Year 20XX” in the recent issue of Punk Planet magazine. If you happen to see an issue of it, pick it up and check out the review. Finally, we have a few new shows in the works. Some are posted, some are still being worked out and some are all of the above. Hopefully we’ll have all the information on these shows in the next few days. In the meantime, bare with us once again. That’s all for now.