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386DX is the musical psuedonym for Alexei Shulgin, a Russian artist who, since 1998, has been creating note-perfect cover versions of classic rock songs with a - yes - 386DX (with 4mb of memory, an EGA graphics card and a 40mb hard drive), an AdLib soundcard, and a copy of Creative Labs' 'TextAssist'. The songs use General MIDI and sound like robotised versions of the awful MIDI music that pops up on home-made websites.

The end result is quirky and comic - he deliberately picks songs which are resolutely non-electronic, such as 'Purple Haze' and 'Anarchy in the UK', and strips the life out of them, presenting a strange vision of a soul-less musical future. His stark presentation works as a kind of musical leveller, reducing songs to their absolute basics - and John Lennon's 'Imagine' seems somehow more lonely when being warbled by a computer.

Shulgin is part of the net.art crowd, and although lots of people have written reams of guff about him ("His music raises a series of deeper questions about the complexities of authorship in the digital age" ... "He points out a very sharp analysis of the pervasiveness of American media products throughout the world") he is essentially a novelty act. But a good one.

He has a punishing tour schedule of art galleries and concert halls throughout Europe and appears to be permanently on the road. His live shows consist of him setting up his 386DX and miming with a detatched computer keyboard, whilst mid-80s video graphics are projected onto a screen in front of the audience. His version of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' rocks hard, like a magickist.


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