During my short time listening to chiptune, I’ve found a handful of iconic artists. However, today I’d like to call attention to an artist who is of particular importance to my personal chiptune journey. Responsible for one of the most iconic albums of the past decade, an avid enthusiast of chipmusic and accessories, tireless supporter of chipmusicians from all around the globe, advocate for chipmusic education, and notable Meme Master tobokegao has released a new album! Without any further ado, let’s take a look at ‘B (Albert comes over to me)’!
Much like his past release, this album has a different flavor compared to what we might be used to, but a colorful and fresh combination of styles let us glimpse the multiple facets of the artist and enjoy a delightful diversity that keeps the listener interested enthralled. ‘ACID PULSE TEST #0’ exudes an outstanding vigor. The panning white noise and the wave kicks fuse into a delectable break, leading the track into an atmosphere sprinkled with sweet high contrast sounds stimulating the senses. The way in which all the tiny bits merge to create a complex rhythm while keeping an inherent sense of melody, and simultaneously enhancing the rest periods appealing to the most basic principle of tension and release is remarkable. It makes you want to move – definitely the perfect rave material.
Diving into the intricate realm of memory is always fascinating, especially when accomplished through music. This track has a powerful emotional charge. The slow tempo of the piece, the calmed lead spiced with a hint of tremolo, the walking bass and the sophisticated patterns in the noise channel help to create a nostalgic wistful ambiance. The balance between sections is perfectly complemented by the occasional robotic speech, which adds an explicit element and gives a warm touch to reach even deeper regions in the listener’s heart. The overall tender mood is truly relaxing and, at times, even introspective; avoiding any kind of cliché. ‘サンタクロース・アリガト (Santa Claus Arigato)’ is delicate, but not fragile, like listening to someone telling a story.
‘E Funk Slap Bass’ is true ear candy and the very definition of groovy with a cohesive structure that makes it solid and irresistible. The sharp bass patch backed by the pulse wave reiterating a catchy motif not only acts as the backbone and rhythmic center of the piece, but it also allows the listener to dimension the development of the piece. At first sight, this song may seem like a short loop, but as it moves forward it grows unexpectedly. tobokegao not only adds new melodies and instruments to complement the initial ones, but re-contextualizes the track’s energy through multiple resources, like adding a panning delay or little arpeggios; tobokegao builds on the previous material to enrich and highlight the original musical themes. This was one of the first tracks I listened to from tobokegao and it definitely aged well.
This track is one of the highlights of the album. Since it contains three different, well-defined sections with a perceptible contrast among them, it is quite easy to digest. However, despite the marked variation, the bridges that tie each part together are strong and tangible so as not to disrupt the natural flow of the song. The best example of that is the transition between the last two parts. The cute, bright spirit of the first being slowly consumed by the somewhat darker aura of the last generates a bit of confusion that vanishes with the track’s ending, leaving the listener no time to question it. We could say that the bond between the first two fragments is emotional, while the union of the last two is (mostly) technical – ‘jingle #01 – #03’ is just breathtaking. One of the greatest features of this piece is the absence of the Noise Channel. Please don’t miss this one!
OK, everybody, it’s time to go crazy with ‘Jingle #07’. The frenetic march of the track kicks in with a vibrant (and fantastically measured) vortex of verve and wildness. The technical deployment show in this short, yet very energetic, piece of music is incredible. The zesty flow of the lead invites us to move along, while the deep kicks and hectic noise percussion make it impossible not to find one viable response beyond following the most primitive instincts and lose yourself into the absorbing mass of sound until you become one with it. Frankly, the more you listen to it, the closer you come to discovering a glitch in the matrix. I mean, is this reality, or a simulation?
Perhaps an album full of B sides, as the description says, is not your cup of tea, but I encourage you to listen through the whole work as tobokegao offers us something that not many other artists give in a way not many others would. He allows us to take a sneak peek behind his production process and exposes the way he experiments and tries new things through these compositions. And I’m not just talking about the tracks themselves; you can watch the live sessions in which most of the music was made and discover how the magic happened. That side of the musicians is one that I’d like to see more often, as it’s one aspect I enjoy discovering. With this album, we, as listeners, have the opportunity to come to know better the hows and whys of future releases, and for that I’m grateful. Whether you enjoy the sweet experimentation or just looking for some new and exciting music this album is for you!
On a side note, tobokegao has launched his own netlabel, TBKgao. So far you can enjoy three awesome releases, including this one. The most recent one is a great compilation of the collaborations he has made along these years, so please, if you can afford it, go and support tobokegao!
Thank you so much for reading. See you next time!