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Computer Chic

Laptop maverick boots up, makes block-rockin' beats.

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Jason Forrest is a balls-out rocker. He arms himself with drums, guitars, and massive power chords, all draped in a glorious wall of noise. It's just that Forrest performs it all by himself on his computer. "Laptop shows usually suck," he says. "But I interact with the audience and freak out like Iggy Pop. It's basically like seeing a kickass rock band, but with only one guy onstage."

That manic energy is also evident on his latest CD, Shamelessly Exciting, which packs enough riffs to fuel an AC/DC album (along with some twang, courtesy of alt-country chanteuse Laura Cantrell, who supplies vocals on one track.) Forrest layers samples that build the disc's 10 songs to the point of eardrum-shattering bliss. "Most of the samples are so cut up or altered that the original band sound is lost," he says. "I've recreated them, using these tiny sampled fragments to make the songs new."

Shamelessly Exciting peaks with "My 36 Favorite Punk Songs," which packs three dozen three-chord wonders (by the Sex Pistols, Ramones, and others) into two and a half minutes. It's a tour de force that easily overcomes its gimmicky premise. "I was at a party and someone [played] Minor Threat," recalls Forrest. "I freaked out, because I have all that mid-'80s punk stuff tattooed on my brain." He started building a track around several Minor Threat samples. Then he added some Bad Brains' tunes to the mix. "And then I figured I'd just make the collection of favorites," he says. "The hard part is not just making a cheap novelty track, but instead actually making it sound like real music."

Forrest, a Buffalo native who now lives in Berlin, lets his visual-arts background seep into his his sonic collages and shape his binary beats. "All the conceptual art theory just won't let me alone," he says. "It always forces me to consider the exact intentions I have, instead of just making a cool beat. It's sort of a blessing and a curse at the same time. But that's who I am, so it makes sense in the long run."
Tue., March 28, 9 p.m.

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