He contributes just three songs to the second game in the series. Of the three, only two actually show up in-game; the third made only a trailer appearance. Yet despite the brevity, French synthwave artist Carpenter Brut was one of the heaviest musical hitters in Hotline Miami.
My first immediate reference point for Carpenter Brut was that he reminded me heavily of Justice, especially because the first song I heard from him was “Le Perv”, which is probably the most Cross (†)-sounding thing in his repertoire. As awesome as it is, however, I eventually realized while taking in the full breadth of his repertoire that such a description does not fully encompass what he does.
Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number
I think this one, his other game feature, gets closer to the complete essence of what he is. And it’s a goddamn BANGER, too.
My read on Carpenter Brut is that “synthwave” is somewhat of a misnomer for what he does. His entire setup is thoroughly that of electronic music, yes, and it’s also true that it does have a heavy 80's-synthesizer bent. All of that said, he deploys that framework in the service of channeling aggressive, uncompromising rock. Which...bring to mind Audio Video Disco-era Justice, on the one hand, but he goes whole hog into invoking the spirit of rock in a way that Justice never did. It’s also extremely noisy.
That attitude and mindset helps define “Roller Mobster”. It may have a backbeat of similar caliber to “Le Perv”, but NO WAY is this meant to be some piece of dance/electronic music. Much of electronic music, especially of the instrumental sort, is about the interplay of patterns, the addition and subtraction and mutation of layers. But there is no “interplay” here; it just barrels along, crushing everything in its path!
The du-du-du-duuu du-du-du-duuuuuun, du-du-du-duuu du-du-du-duuuuuun of the distorted low synth is a crunchy metal riff to the bone. It fucking rules. The rest of the instrumentation keeps up the relentless pace, and then it throws in a wordless choir during the chorus segments because screw it, at this rate, why not throw in a wordless choir!! We’re well past reason!
“Roller Mobster” is the theme song for a pivotal and ambitious level in Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. It ably sets the mood—the scale of intensity—that such a level requires. Plus, if I recall correctly, it took literally an hour and a half to finish that piece of shit, so at least the accompanying tune destined to be on endless repeat was epically awesome.
I also found out, just this past Sunday when I saw Carpenter Brut in concert with my girlfriend in New York City—which Narelle and Nach also went to (huge thanks is due her way since she tipped me off in the first place!!) meaning that I had the pleasure of meeting them IRL—that it utterly destroys when played live. He did a seamless transition right into it from “Division Rune”, and it was perfect, and I was jacked up on adrenaline throughout the whole jam.
It provides rewards time and time again, even years down the line.
RedStripe Loved Trax—originally from days of Tumblr past—is a series about the music Justin adores, with special emphasis on songs from (or introduced by) video games and anime.