Supreme Commander’s jacket looks like the cover from Neil Norman’s Greatest Science Fiction Hits colliding with ancient, Neptune-exclusive minerals, but its tunes, while spacey in nature, aren’t from a galaxy far, far away unless the year is 1982 or so. Rather than employ modern technology to sound of-the-moment, Kraus seem bent on achieving the gist of lonely moon-beats being blasted to bits by guitar yawns and lazy lazers. Recklessly lay endless streams of digital bloopery that sound the way Tron’s grids look overtop and you’ve come a long way to achieving the Supreme Commander sound.
It’s not that simple, of course. Like most effective audio communicators of their ilk, Kraus appeal to us because they render ineptness alluring, turning stumbles into memorable moments, small warps into artful decorations, and obnoxious squeaks into sonic bliss. At times, it could be argued this is just another one of those records wherein a few dudes are piling aural debris sky-high in a walk-in closet in NZ somewhere, and maybe that’s how this thing was made. But Blues Control this ain’t. There’s enough innovation and careful obfuscation within the folds of Supreme Commander to tire out a thousand wagging Ducktails, and Kraus never fail to choose mystery over instant rewards, gaunt skeletons over fully fleshed beings.
You might call Kraus the Pumice of the more-violent-than-you’d-think earth’s core or a natural continuation of those early, self-recorded John Frusciante hometapes cool people can’t seem to jerk off to enough. The live-jamming of Side B cheapens what is, simply put, a thrilling Side A; don’t hold that against them, however, as track-in, track-out it holds together just fine. What’s irresistible, finally, about this music is that it’s challenging and instantly enjoyable at the same time, satisfying the academic urges of the no-fun knobs while lollipop-licking the laser lust of the EDMers, whose melted minds of Laffy Taffy need the constant stimulation Supreme Commander can offer. Just don’t expect graphics much further along than those first-edition TurboGrafx machines. Plug and play, ding-a-lings.