One of the greatest qualities that a musician can have is simply the ability to produce a cohesive, memorable piece. In our particular field, being able to express oneself through ‘simple’ sounds without losing a single scrap of eloquence is not only admirable but also an irrefutable sign of capability. However, since the concept of quality is not quite universal, and complexity and capability are not always in a linear relationship, there’s not an exact way to measure the first. Each person has their own formula, which is fantastic, but I think that there are some cases in which we all can agree on the value of a work. Today, I want to share one of those albums. In her latest work, Robyn A1200 offers us a huge variety of styles, mixing chiptune, house, VGM, and synthpop to the delight of her listeners. The result is astonishing, to say the least. So let’s take a look at ‘Formula Maintained’ by Robyn A1200.
From start to finish, this piece guarantees an atmospheric trip. As the track advances, the heavily accentuated bass line brings forth a strong, yet very smooth sense of direction, complemented by the sharpness of the cymbal ride. The coming and going of diverse elements combine their textures with the potent drum pattern and add depth, the most notable of these components being the voice pads and the flute. The latter provides a nice and relaxing tone – it’s like listening to Jazz Fusion for some reason, and it’s awfully nostalgic. Beyond the refreshing sound mixture, ‘Augmentation’ has an engaging charm. Maybe it’s the overall soft feeling or the simple but solid way in which the phrases are articulated, intercalating their length creating a pleasant sonic motion, and building anticipation for the next move. Whatever it is, it creates a genuine need for more.
In contrast to the last piece, ‘Low under Fire (The Ground Mix)’ is a vigorous piece that will make you move. The bouncy bass attracts and absorbs the attention as it increases in energy and takes control of the whole rhythmic sensation. The VGM influences are clear, but it never succumbs completely to the cliché. On the contrary, the constant search for change keeps the vigor and sparkle of the piece unsullied, assuring a stimulating development over the accompaniment. Of course, the catchy and well-defined motifs helps the listener to stay focused and relate closely to the piece. My favorite thing about this song is the way it ‘builds on nostalgia’; I’m referring to how Robyn takes advantage of the resources she has utilizing them to their fullest potential and not using them only to appeal to the listener’s consciousness, but constructing new and interesting structures with high coherence and an exceptional vision.
This song is one of the highlights of the album. Once again, the masterful combination of instruments plays a crucial role to materialize the bright spirit of the track. The fluid conversation between the piano and the sax, as well as the strings and the synths in the fillers makes a full-bodied piece. Clean and silky resolutions, plus the outstanding swing overtones and somehow progressive march it follows reveals the high level of Robyn’s expertise. She even manages to include one of the most known shenanigans in the jazz scene, not to mention the tremendous synth solo. ‘Fantastic Ways to Jazz Things Up’ is not only the very definition on how to jazz things up, but it is also a playful and fascinating piece of music that reminds us of the pleasure of music for the sake of music itself – pure bliss. When music is easy to listen to and enjoyable, words may not be necessary.
The marvelous contrast found in ‘Industrial Safari’ is just incredible. On the one side, we have the mechanical impression of the sounds of the bass and the metallic synth; in the other corner, we have the human touch of the drum pattern and the melodies. This duality enriches the soundscape, allowing each part a time and a place to explore the different facets they have to offer. If that wasn’t enough, the complex sub-melodies and tiny bits that lie under the main focus of the track boost the dimension and give extra meat. The orchestral hits in this piece also stand out. That little but important detail perfectly complements the idea of music expressing a mood. Even in 2020, this is how the future sounds.
Undoubtedly, ‘Formula Maintained’ is a true gem. It features a huge range of styles that is delightful from the first second after you hit the play button. Passing from soft, mellow passages to lively and strong sections, this album is an excellent example of how versatility and variety can make an unstoppable team to make a difference regarding memorability of a work. The way Robyn builds each track bit by bit is mesmerizing. There always seems to be just the right amount of everything. If we add the obvious inclination to always move forward and balance to the recipe, we have stable and meaningful pieces of music that push the listener to want to hear more. There are also killer remixes of three tracks by Miragey, djmaximum, and dusthillguy, as well as a special bonus track. So, if you can afford it, please support Robyn A1200!
Thank you so much for reading! Please take care and I’ll see you next time.