The Man Behind the Machine

by Victoria Wasylak

Photo Courtesy of Chrome Sparks

Trouble usually accompanies the first show of a national tour for even the most experienced bands; electronic mishaps, forgotten lyrics and bad timing often plague the first stop on the road before the band can smooth out the bumps of a new tour.

For DJ Chrome Sparks, the only snafu was that his onstage “Infinity Octagon” became stuck on one color. The onstage prop, which simulates a 3D lightshow with mesmerizing alternating patterns, had been beaming red rays instead of the anticipated mesmerizing kaleidoscope arrangements.

“I think our octagon is stuck on a color,” Chrome Sparks, A.K.A. Jeremy Malvin said onstage Sunday, September 10, at his set at the Brighton Music Hall. After some adjustments, the molten color of the prop changed to an array of blue shades, resembling stars flitting by during a journey throughs outer space.

Not bad for the first stop on tour.

Most DJs have a distinct light show, but what Chrome Sparks can boast is that he was so tied up in his music that he didn’t notice the prop malfunctioning until 25 minutes into his set.

Cornered onstage by his own equipment, Malvin approached the setting as a laboratory, and he acted as the mad scientist and creator. A sole light bulb illuminated, signaling the onset of the madness. While danceable, club music it wasn’t; the futuristic electronica produced onstage transcended ordinary club thumpers as spaceship music with soul. Blending intergalactic noises with breathy synthesizer and the mystique of organ music, Malvin brought out emotion in a genre called soulless by many music critics.

The bass took thunderous – sometimes alarmingly loud – steps forward over gentle strains of organ, with both of Malvin’s hands at work, each on a separate soundboard. Beside him, his touring drummer is the only musical accompaniment onstage. At the helm of the stage, the octagonal vessel embedded with LED lights lunge the music and crowd into another universe.

Further alienating himself from the generic DJ, Malvin changed the tempo of his tunes smartly and frequently, a rarity amongst electronic artists who tweak one beat to make it into many painfully homogenous songs. Combined with his genuinely enthusiastic facial expressions (in comparison to the distant ones of many similar musicians), it feels like Malvin wandered into the wrong genre, although the electronic community – Allston’s included – is glad he did.