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Review of Heart of Sawdust, originally published in Punk Planet issue #72, March / April 2006.  Written by Chris Burkhalter.

I’m told this Philly-based outfit puts on impressive shows, playing music from, and inspired by, video game soundtracks. Whether or not they cite The Legend of Zelda as a defining influence, 1970s progressive rock seems a more useful point of reference. Consisting of eight showy virtuosos of such instruments as violin, Theremin, and accordion (guitars too), Chromelodeon plays for the duration of the album’s thirty minutes something not unlike the giant, cataclysmic finale of a particularly heavy King Crimson workout. Highly operatic and surprisingly witty, these guys don’t sound a thing like any other working band that I know. 

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Originally published in Deek Magazine, Issue 20 (The Brutality Incident) in April 2006. 

It’s a very welcome change to hear a band that doesn’t fit in with most of the synthesizer-driven rock music surfacing lately. Chromelodeon is that band. An 8-piece group that produces heavily prog-based instrumental epics, utilizing everything from keys, accordian, violin, theremin, and vocoders, Chromelodeon could never be mistaken for any dance-punk synthesizer schlock. Heart of Sawdust was released on Bloodlink Records, the same label that has put out releases from indie-wierdos like An Albatross, Milemarker, and Atom & his Package. Chromelodeon may be closest in relation to An Albatross, but are much more given to Rick Wakeman’s 70s prog keyboard work, combined with some of the sinsiter musings of Fantomas for good measure.
The six tracks on this record clock in at almost a half an hour, with each track building and climbing in a very straightforward manner (straightforwardly?). Their songs are not simplistic, but from the start of the first track to the end of track six, Chromelodeon seem to be driving towards the finish line. Or maybe they’re flying on the wings of some fantastic griffon. Whatever it is, I hope they don’t stop.

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Tour Journal:


Thanks to everyone who came out and our friend bands that played… the turnout was really good despite the heavy rain. Apologies that the visuals weren’t up and running yet, but hope the new material was well enjoyed… we will be taking it on the road the whole month and on!

Our tour-temp drummer Pat (aka Bucky) has officially been initiated by fire! Pun intended.


Press Coverage:
Originally published on on May 31 2006. Written by Doug Wallen.
Chromelodeon kick off their fourth cross-country tour during a period of transition. Graduated from local Bloodlink Records and looking for a bigger label, the octopus-armed instrumentalists want to shake the habit of playing old video game music, creating the side project Sprite Slow-down to specialize in that stuff. That means a return to the full-throttle lights-out epics that first got the band’s name out there. Still, they’re not above catering to the geek contingent-the crux of their tour is a performance at the huge anime convention A-KON 17. And when the band is cornered, don’t be surprised if some Ninja Gaiden slips out.

Originally published in Philadelphia City Paper on June 1 2006. Written by A.D. Amorosi.
Philly’s rulers of GameBoy-driven grime, icy cinematic spacejunk and Theremin-stroked chaos won’t be around for awhile. Not because two of its crew just had babies. Rather, Chromelodeon—whose recent Heart of Sawdust is an A.D. household fave—will be touring. Along the way they’ll hit places like A-KON 17, America’s largest anime convention (they’ll play to 15,000+ and lecture regarding fringe media). Chrome-dome Ryan Soloby says, “We’re so well-known in these convention circles. I’m in talks with several others spanning into 2007.”

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Press Coverage:

Originally published on on August 23 2006. Written by Jennifer Kelly.
It’s arcade night at the Church. Philly’s Chromelodeon will take the joystick early on, going for a new high score with their multi-instrumental, Game-Boy-enhanced brand of overstuffed spazz punk. But the smart money’s on Spencer Seim of Hella’s new(ish) project the Advantage, which play classic video game themes like Super Mario Brothers 2 and Mega Man 2 on the standard rock lineup of two guitars, bass and drums. French Toast, as far as we know, have no video game songs, and as such are the odd band out.

Originally published on on August 25 2006. Written by Jim Genzano.
Music in Video Games, and Video Games in Music


If you read Phillyist regularly (and if not, why not?), you’re probably already aware that we’re partial to both music and video games, so when the two come packaged together, we get rather excited. And that’s just what’s happening at a couple of upcoming shows at First Unitarian.

First up on Sunday night is the Advantage/French Toast/Chromelodeon show. French Toast has nothing to do with video games as far as we know, but they do have Jerry Busher of Fugazi, which is pretty cool. The Advantage, on the other hand, are a straight-up Nintendo cover band who play great versions of the themes from Megaman 2, Contra, Metroid, Super Mario Bros. 2, Blaster Master, and…well, we could go on, but it would take a while; according to the R5 site, the band’s ambition is to record every Nintendo game song ever. For those of you scoffing at the idea of playing Nintendo music, listen to some of the samples on The Advantage and R5 sites. Some of that music is actually really fantastic, and sounds even better when you play it super-loud on guitars and drums.

But after you’ve covered the classics, what then? Chromelodeon takes it to the next level with original music inspired by video games. They have eight people in their band, one of them on accordion, and their live show is apparently quite a spectacle, including visual accompaniment via a hacked Game Boy. Awesome! The music, if it matters, is epic instrumental fantasy metal with a great atmosphere to it.

And the video game fun doesn’t end Sunday night. The following Tuesday, Final Fantasy is coming to the church! Yes, the name was inspired by the famous series of role-playing video games, but the music not so much; it’s actually got a quirky, orchestral, Sufjan Stevens-type of sound to it. Still, the lyrics are quite geeky enough, with some serious fantasy and sci-fi flavoring – “The Chronicles of Sarnia” talks of water gods and nymphs, while “Arctic Circle” repeatedly warns us, “shields up, shields up.” Did we mention that one of the main purposes of Final Fantasy’s latest album, He Poos Clouds, was to “attempt to modernize each of the eight D&D schools of magic?”

Final Fantasy’s sound is just as dramatic and epic as Chromelodeon’s – perhaps even more so – but with more of a pop vibe. Oh, and if you’re still not excited about Final Fantasy, you should know that it’s composed pretty much entirely of Owen Pallett, the guy who plays violin for awesome indie band Arcade Fire. The first show sold out, so R5 added another one later that night. Rock!


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Originally published on Philadelphia City Paper on November 10 2006.  Written by A.D. Amorosi.
Kicking up Sawdust with avant-garde rockers Chromelodeon.

Philadelphia octet Chromelodeon manipulates its sound as if fiddling with an old-school joystick. It’s a music fraught with twitching and twirling, blipping and barking, theremin-fueled juking and blissing out within glacial cinematic space-capades. There is also, of course, a touch of kitsch in a chaos-driven orchestra named after instrument inventor Harry Partch’s quirky reed organ (hence the Sprite Slowdown offshoot, which dedicates itself to video game soundtracks). Either way Chromelodeon is a group that utilizes violins and accordions with the same ardor as guitars. But this band — best heard live, great on Bloodlink label CDs In the Year 20XX and the new Heart of Sawdust — is cluttered, clustered and hard, with little comparison to much else within avant-garde circles. One of its hairiest synth players (under the guise of anonymity and group expression) sat us down to tell us that the Chromelodeon sound is as hopped-up as he is on Sparks.

City Paper: What’s the biggest difference between 20XX and Sawdust?

Chromelodon: For Sawdust, we had a cohesive agenda. There was a soundtrack we wanted to present that had evolved from months of hard work and two U.S. tours as a trial run of the finished material. 20XX came at an early stage for the band — we had good songs in mind, but they just didn’t connect.

CP:How does the idea of Partch’s chromelodeon suit you guys?

C: A little-known fact is that Harry Partch was a big part-time bum, which applies to most of our group. Of course, he also had his personal take on how music should sound and honest to hell didn’t really care how other people interpreted or adapted his musical inventions.

CP: What’re the three most inspirational film soundtracks to the band’s way of thinking?

C: Cat People, Suspiria and Once Upon a Time in the West. They all have a particular emphasis in them, and are epic enough to stand alone. They tell a full story without words. Same thing with video games like the Ninja Gaiden series, the Megaman series and the Sonic the Hedgehog series. There are many games in each, but they all maintain a continuous feel.

CP: I hear the show on the 11th is a set of exclusively video-game covers. What game are you most into covering live?

C: We’ve had so many ideas for video-game arrangements we kind of had to form a side project for it [Sprite Slowdown]. We do a couple of rare performances per year. It’s very fun. Most of us respect the game Chrono Trigger to the extent we would never even consider covering it! But, the game Tetris is continually a huge focus of arguments and gambling, and additionally is applied in theory to the packing up of our trailer.

CP: When I listen to you, I always feel as if you’re studiously, theatrically trained. What gives?

C: Between the band and our visual collective, there are graphic artists and those involved with film and mass media. In a general sense, we’ve always been actively critical of the media, far more than just your usual level of sarcastic humor. This sort of explains our tongue-in-cheek approach to our sound and image. We think most people get the joke.

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Press Coverage:
Originally published on on November 29, 2006. Written by Jean Luc Renault.

Chromelodeon: an instrument invented by Harry Partch that plays chromatic pitches through a reed organ. Chromelodeon: a Philadelphia-based band known for playing epic music that combines the manly glory of Braveheart and He-Man with the playful familiarity of video game music. Less 32-bit than their side project Sprite Slowdown, the octet still bring to mind the clash of digitized swords with music that’s heroic, tragic and facetious all at once. While the group doesn’t actually utilize Partch’s unique instrument, Chromelodeon’s mix of finely orchestrated keyboards, hard-driving prog-rock-ish guitars, wailing squeezeboxes and solid no-frills drums combines to create a distinct sound that places them light years ahead of your typical rock band. (Jean Luc Renault)

Note: Chromelodeon dropped out of this show at the last minute according to their website.

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Originally published on on April 30, 2007. Written by Chris DeRosa.

Chromelodeon was a band that I had immediately followed ever since I saw them perform an entire set of Ninja Gaiden 2 covers at the Virginia based Magfest 3 gaming convention. For 7 years, they were able to successfully achieve a marriage of synths, guitars, bass, accordion, and drums that would help define their sound and style as “epic old school gaming prog rock”. But as all good things must come to an end, Chromelodeon had announced at the beginning of the year that they would be calling it quits, with one final show at their Philadelphia home base in April. Not to go out with a whimper, they also decided to release a new album with 6 original songs that were never recorded before. Dubbed “The Final Recordings”, this album serves as an emotional look at a band that had stuck together for so long without ever losing a step along the way. And it shows everyone who never had the chance to see or hear them just what they had missed out on.

The album opens with a bang, short and simple, to kick off the opening track “Polygon Sun”. It follows through with mesmerizing keyboard work and soon after comes a strong beat that demands heads to at least bob along. The melodies play out great and manage to build up so well in such short time. Leading straight into the rhythmically hypnotizing “Higgeldy Piggeldy” and “Wackadelly”, you get the sense that these tracks blend so well into each other and progress almost in an evolutionary way while still maintaining the same style and theories. It’s almost like this entire album could almost be merged into one track with just different movements. And that’s a good thing.

“G.A.H.” is a great straight forward rock track. It works in its marching simplicity, which in turn is a nice change of pace from the preceding tracks. All in all it prepares you for what might be the band’s finest moments. “Aluminum” starts off beautifully, with the guitars setting the tone with a genius chordal progression. Then soon enough the song turns you upside down and shakes you when it sets everything to rocking out. It’s a very powerful song, even the second time around. As the synth arpeggios wind the song down, the finale starts up in the form of “Triangular”.

“Triangular” is a very important footnote for Chromelodeon and their fans. To some, it might just be the best song they’ve ever written. The upbeat nature of the tune is enough to put a smile on your face, and that’s before the catchy lead section comes in. Everything comes together so well, and the perfection just makes you wish that it would never end. It’s fitting that it would be the longest track on the album, and the end of a band’s illustrious journey. It truly is a song to experience to really understand its purpose.

As solid and amazing as the album is, the packaging is just as great. And the album’s design layout should be mentioned as it’s very well done by Denny, the band’s bassist. Unfortunately, these works of art were only printed in a set of 100, and they have since sold out. I’m sure that a new printing will be done soon, but I’m honestly not sure if they’ll come in the same packaging. That shouldn’t discourage you, though. The Final Recordings are, simply put, the most proper send off that a band of such a high caliber could ever see to releasing.

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Originally published on on May 7, 2007. 

Chromelodeon just recently released what will be their final album, in conjunction with their farewell show on April 27th. Blending heavy post-rock sounds with chiptune-style synthesizers, their career works are split fairly evenly between video game covers and original compositions. In fact, they’re the only band I know of that combines more traditional rock elements with chiptunes — it seems it’s always one or the other — and the results make you wonder why no one else has caught onto this idea. The final recordings are all originals, heavily inspired by video game music, and easily rank among their finest works. They have a very limited quantity of the final album, releasing only 100 at their last show and offering an additional 50 through Myspace. So, if you want a copy I recommend messaging them about it immediately.


Bonus: Chromelodeon became known in part due to their awesome live shows, which involved the band playing against the backdrop of various moving images, ranging from Ninja Gaiden cut scenes to mesmerizing 8-bit video art pieces. Check out the strangely beautiful chaos that was to be projected while the band performed “Polygon Sun” (and prepare to slip into epileptic shock).


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Originally published on on 2008/01/15. Written by Larry Oji.

Patrick “Bucky O’Hare” Todd has made the rounds of the community promoting some rare material by the now-defunct Philly band Chromelodeon. (I saw them perform at MAGFest 5 last year and they were amazing. Props in particular to synth player Dino Lionetti.)

Sprite Slowdown - Power Glove

Under the group’s VGM tribute band alias, Sprite Slowdown, the group recorded several VGM arrangements, many of which only seeing a limited release while they were still active.

Luckily, Patrick’s got your back with the digital release of Sprite Slowdown v2. Besides the arrangement scene mainstay of Final Fantasy VI, the EP has got some very intriguing material, many selections of which I could safely say have never been arranged before in the fan community. Bill & Teds Excellent Adventure on the Atari Lynx??? Yeah, I can safely say.

Bucky provides what you need to know:

I played drums on this short vgm tribute, and it was recorded a little over a year ago. With the band having broken up since, and this ep never having a proper release, I decided to put it up for download. It was very much rushed for release at magfest 5 (and never performed prior to recording), but having just listened to it again more recently I appreciate it more than when I first heard it. A bit rough around the edges, but not as bad as I recalled!

Some of the track selection may be a bit on the esoteric side, hope you enjoy.

Track Listing –
1. Final Fantasy 6 (SNES)
2. Fire n Ice (NES)
3. Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure (Atari Lynx)
4. Kenseiden (SMS)
5. Abadox (NES)


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Originally published on on June 30, 2009. Written by Brandon Boyer.

Phillie chiptune megagroup Chromelodeon taps artist Johnny New Jedi Order Rogers for their Polygon Sun video, which must be the fastest ticket to a mouth-foaming seizure Ive ever narrowly avoided. If you survive, though, theyll land you on a glorious glitch-landscape, and it doesnt hurt that the musics good, too.

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