Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned
Bitpop has been on the cusp for a while. Drawn from the blips and beeps of long-obsolete computers and early game consoles, it’s a genre that Malcolm McLaren heralded in 2003 as “a new kind of folk music for the digital age.” Two years later, Beck released an entire bitpop remix EP, but it hasn’t quite crossed over.
There probably have been artists working in the fringes who’ve embraced the genre’s sound more fully, but surely no act has mined the aesthetic deeper than the Fayetteville trio David’s Pegasus. Rather than simply sampling from old Commodore 64 or Atari games, these multimedia artists have created their own mythical game system, AtardoVision, which they describe as “a rare and primitive game console with electroshock capabilities.” Different “games” come with AtardoVision, including a Bible trivia contest and one called Rainbow Pegasus Land. David’s Pegasus draws its name from King David, who apparently finds himself close to falling into an eternal lake of fire for missing a Bible trivia question, and from the hero of Rainbow Pegasus Land, who somehow manages to escape his world to save the king. The backstory probably comes through a little better live, when the band features video that follows the pixilated adventures of the titular heroes.
Still, you don’t need an A/V aide to enjoy David’s Pegasus’ self-titled debut full-length. Driven by elastic video game pongs, the release follows a spare, mostly muted path. That, together with lead singer Barry Brinegar’s doleful, often mumbling voice, gives the music an ethereal, druggy quality. But underneath the haze, Brinegar’s wry, deadpan lyrics poke through in spots. “Stop Saying Hardcore,” the album’s first and best track, is a ready-made aphorism for the kids (the band knows it; it’s made T-shirts) that follows a chorus of “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah … that’s all I keep hearing from you.” “El Dorado” is a woozy tale of heaven, “a city of gold in the sky,” where “everyone’s naked.” “It’s like chicken noodle soup,” Brinegar sings with as much enthusiasm as his perpetually dispassionate voice will allow. And so it goes with the strangely appealing and often inscrutable debut from David’s Pegasus. An oddball act to keep your eye on.