Every once in a while, whilst sifting through the expanses of the chiptune world, you find a gem that reaffirms your belief in the genre’s scope and power. ‘Little Bumble’ was one of those releases. Sent to me in a PM by a member of chipmusic.org under the name of SJSFC, I opened up the link and explored. I was met with a set of conflicting notions; it was hosted by FMA, a curated and often high quality host of varying musical styles. However, on the other hand, the artwork showed a badly drawn bumble bee. The release was a mere four tracks and a blurb stated it “might appeal to those with young children”, painting it to be a collection of low-quality and embarrassingly crude takes on chiptune.
Whatever my preconceptions might have been, what I found inside pleasantly shocked. The tones and atmospheres can only be described as elegant, I’d only ever experienced tones so engrossing before in small snippets of ant1 and Zan-Zan-Zawa-Veia’s work, and the level of emotion pushed around these four short tracks rivalled that of peeR’s definitive release ‘Dances’. The EP follows a freeform progressive jazz flow, giving it a sound that wouldn’t be overly amiss appearing on Ubiktune. Countermelodies constantly shift and harmonies consistently strike an internal chord; in fact the melodies are sometimes touchingly beautiful.
Some of background glissandos in ‘4c iced tea’ are truly stunning, the end section of ‘tuffet’ makes inspiringly subtle use of droning pads, soft triangle bass and piano, whilst the harmonies and horns in ‘mighty lilbumble bee’ are remarkable. Almost inaudible sample work in the background gives the release a thick layering and the constant shift of thematic attention gives it huge breadth. Whilst not every note ‘strikes’ with you, for instance the opening 20 seconds of ‘tuffet’ are so dissonant it breaks the album’s pace slightly, on the whole every second sounds precise and purposeful.
If you were to follow FMA’s advice and give this to small children, the complexity within would be completely lost on them, however, the gorgeous tones and warm square sounds would undoubtedly find a willing audience. And that, in a crux, is the genius of this release; complexity without sacrificing emotion. If you’re disillusioned with the quality of most chipmusic output today, this will surely reignite your passion. A must download.