Past Forms
New Music

Chaotic experimentalists PAST FORMS tell the story of Dr. CH@OS, an infamous hacker with new EP “CTRL”

4 mins read

With ex-members of Chicago bands Cadence Fox, Argo Navis, and Nimitta, experimental chaotic hardcore / screamo / mathcore / jazz blender PAST FORMS are joining us today to give you a special presentation and track by track commentary for their debut EP “CTRL”. The high energy trio introduces themselves with a concept piece entailing the life story of Joseph Konopka, the infamous hacker who came to be known as Dr. CH@OS. The band rips through 5 tracks of technical, interweaving chaos, a tribute and paralleling common ground with Konopka’s prowess as a blackhat cybercriminal.

Past Forms was formed in the western suburbs of Chicago off the heels of experimental bands Nimitta and Cadence Fox. The trio have a long history of pushing limits within their music and on their debut EP “CTRL”, we see the band infuse their eclectic blend of jazz, electronics, and unconventional rock music with elements of noise and free jazz.

CTRL was written over the course of a five year period, being reworked, revisited, abandoned, reborn and finally fully constructed in winter of 2020. A concept record revolving around the life of Joseph Konopka, Past Forms delivers a five song journey through the rise and fall of the infamous hacker who would become known as Dr. CH@OS. Forgoing a conventional release through a traditional label, the band self funded and self released the vinyl through their own label Reader Advisor Records and have a tape also available through Tomb Tree Tapes.

The band looks to dive back into playing shows in Chicago and the midwest throughout the rest of 2021 and for the foreseeable future.

Mixing the technical aspects of math-rock, the textures of noise rock, and sprawling elements of post rock, the band twists and turns through fast paced, epic passages, layered with cryptic vocals along the way. The collective result is an experience that is as unnerving as it is beautiful and thoughtful.

The release will be available on bandcamp and all major streaming platforms, as well as on 180 gram vinyl via Reader Advisor Records.

Guitarist and vocalist Rob Poznanski comments: “”While writing this album, a recurring theme in my mind was the dissatisfaction I had with how much of my time and life my job took up. I barely had (and still rarely do have) any time to do things I’m passionate about, including playing and making music. It affects my overall wellbeing to the point of extreme anger and sadness. It’s sad that our society requires this of us to keep up a standard of living.”

Past Forms

“When reading and learning about Konopka, I related with his actions, as he was of a similar mindset. He also worked in the same industry with the same job title I carry, which was mind blowing. Whereas he acted out his feelings doing things which led him to federal jail time, I chose to do my best to channel all of my emotions into music, with what little time I had to do so. The overall themes in this release are that you can still be yourself, do the things which you most want to, and hide it from those who only want to bring you down. “Fake it ’till you make it” as they say. But never hurt anyone in the process of doing so. Konopka never hurt anyone with his actions. The resulting tunes are directly related to all of this. Cold, technical in nature, but exploding with aggression, and then relapsing into quiet somberness.”

Track by Track Commentary:

The EP begins with a rapid burst of energy titled “2600”. This intro is a tribute to Konopka’s early years, when he was a fan and avid reader of the publication “2600: The Hacker Quarterly”. The underground magazine was also host to a community of likeminded individuals in the hacking and technical manipulation world. As a reflection of Konopka’s bubbling interest into the world of hacking, we give the listeners a small taste of what’s to come.

Realm”, is in reference to Konopka’s self-founded community; “The Realm Of Ch@os”. Konopka is now older, and has given himself the pseudonym of “Dr. Ch@os”. Within the shadows of internet’s primiative era, Konopka would begin to assemble the Realm. The group became known for small time crimes, both on the web, and in his real life home state of Wisconsin. Lyrically, the track dives into Konopka’s disdain for the complacency of modern culture, and his wish to cement his place as a counterweight in society. The lyrics foreshadow his soon to come underground activity.

Continued below…

Past Forms

Mainframe”, moves to the point in Konopka’s now adult life, where he has made use of his technical prowess, and is making a living as a systems administrator. While he has successfully made his own career in the corporate world, Konopka still feels disgust with the overall pace and shortcomings of society. Motivated like never before, “Mainframe” describes in a first person view of Konopka’s frustration in the working world, driving him to start using his talents in malicious ways.

As “Konopka” begins to take shape , we now learn of the actions that made Joseph well known, and what he will forever be remembered for. The lyrics describe in third person the hushed legend who, now living in Chicago, uses hidden underground passageways to move undetected beneath the city. Konopka talks himself into moving forward with increasingly dangerous plots, while recruiting others into his now growing underground network of thievery, destruction, and manipulation.

The final track, “Elk Cloner”, is an instrumental tribute and metaphor to Konopka’s life. The name “Elk Cloner” refers to the first computer virus, which was harmless in nature, but led the way for the later malicious, and sometimes devastating modern malware, viruses, and ransomware. Just like the Elk Cloner program, Konopka’s intent was never to be harmful to anyone. However, things quickly escalated past the point of control, and Konopka ended up in federal prison for 13 years for his actions. This 7-minute track goes through the emotional vicissitude of Konopka’s life, eventually igniting and coming to an explosive end, a direct reflection of the life of Dr. CH@OS.

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