Album Review: Chameleon Technology – Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

Punk rock was originally meant to emphasize individuality and rebellion against the status quo. It is disappointing, with that in mind, that there aren’t more bands like California’s Chameleon Technology, a one-man act that walks all over the conventions of hardcore and pop punk. Almost as if Husker Du or even Cardiacs had been reimagined on the West Coast in the 1990s, this product of multi-instrumentalist Max Histrionic somehow manages to draw in the weird without losing accessibility in his work.

Blank Canvas is a recent five track EP from Chameleon Technology. Despite its relative brevity, the dense songwriting and high energy make me wonder if a full-length would have been able to keep up the same momentum. I think there’s a certain excitement that inevitably stirs when a short EP is compared to bands as different as Green Day and The Locust. The nods to pop punk and spaz-grind alike make a lot more sense when you listen to the EP. Although Blank Canvas consistently veers toward the pop end of the spectrum, there are plenty of weird interruptions that beg the question how you might label the style. This is made trickier by the fact Chameleon Technology shifts its focus from song to song. “No Safe Word” and the title track are heavy on bass guitar aggression. “Serin’s Vending” and “Lifestyle Science” are best described as proggy pop-punk, while “Self Repair” takes a respite at a slower tempo that vaguely recalls space rock.

All of this is made more impressive by the fact that Max Histronic has done almost everything himself. Although the guitar is clearly his strong suit, the drums and bass come through with all the same energy you would ascribe to a full band. Max’s vocals are appropriately all over the place and varied. Although his quasi pop-punk whine isn’t going to win over detractors of that scene anytime soon, the way he pairs that off against upbeat screams does keep the performance interesting. Not all of Chameleon Technology’s elements work as well as they could have, and I find myself appreciating the heavier, spastic material a lot more than the softer stuff. From a certain light, Blank Canvas sounds like Max Histrionic took a bunch of ideas and haphazardly tossed them all against a canvas to see what would stick. Not everything works obviously, but the energy and intent are enough to give this band a much-needed edge in a crowded scene.


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