You like jazz? I sure do. Jazz music is the foundation for numerous music genres nowadays, including progressive, funk, swing, world fusion, and… chipjazz. Of course, the one that’s likely the most relevant to our community is chipjazz, and what would the genre be without one of its greatest contributors, Yoann Turpin? An extremely prolific and talented artist, Yoann has been featured several times on the blog, and for good reason; his music is beautifully composed, catchy, and impressive in every sense of the word. Just last month he released ‘Chip Songbook Vol. 7’; the name alone is a great example of just how much music this artist has put out, and this is just as wonderful an album as the many others that he’s put forth. What aural fables lie in wait for us? There’s only one way to find out!
First off, we’ll take a look at ‘Twist’n’Glock’n’Bits’, a melody-driven, memorable groove. The song opens with a tambourine backbeat and snares accenting every even beat, leading into xylophonic voices and classic chip solos galore. This track features a number of changes in phrasing with excellent, non-abrasive transitions between choruses, verses, and solos. Turpin’s solo composition remains as stunning as ever, with each and every improvisation featured bringing familiarity to each segment. The whole track is cohesive and flows perfectly, and the listener can tell that Turpin really pours his heart into these sexy, smooth beats. One segment of the track I’d like to highlight is the ending solo segment, beginning at 3:05; this segment is quite organic, and it sounds as though it was recorded in one take. Slight missteps on the climb make ‘Twist’n’Glock’n’Bits’ feel extremely natural, and it feels to me like a reminder that even the greatest musicians are human. The track starts with a percussive fade-in, and ends by fading out; while I’m not typically a fan of fading exits to music, it feels like a proper way to bring closure to this beautiful piece.
Next, we’ll listen to ’80s Shibuya’s Women’, the album’s fifth track. Again, this song opens with a silky smooth groove that hooks the listener right away, but it’s got a lower energy level than some of Turpin’s other songs on the album. The main melody and overall vibe of the song is soothing, and the addition of a shamisen voice gives ’80s Shibuya’s Women’ a certain sense of authenticity. As a bit of background for this song, Shibuya is a special ward in Tokyo that’s a well-known hub for youngsters and fashionistas, and really springs to life at night, when its beauty can really be appreciated. The track simply oozes atmosphere between the semi-isolated, prominent bassline and slow, deliberate pacing of the rhythmic sections. Enigmatic, distant-sounding vibrato notes can be observed at specific moments in this song; one of these moments occurs at the 2:58 mark, where a rhythm-focused phrase is slightly broken up by an overarching cosmic tone. There are a lot of dimensions to this song, and the continuous interaction between melody and counterpoint is subtle enough to be appreciated by both beginning and advanced listeners alike.
The last track we’ll be listening to in this review is ‘Toundra’, another highly atmospheric song that evokes images of frozen plains and frigid temperatures. The song opens with calm piano chords, crescendoing ever so slowly for a little longer than 45 seconds before introducing any other instruments. At this point, the chip voicing enters and plays a lovely melody over these repeated chords, and quiet kicks and claps are introduced to provide a little more depth to this sweet and simple ballad. Ever so subtly, the backing chords and overall tone of ‘Toundra’ change to a slightly warmer tone; this light progression is single-handedly my favorite moment in this song. The melody changes and provides an extra dimension to this soft-spoken yet deeply moving song before the chorus is reiterated. The chorus is certainly the main focus of ‘Toundra’, but subtle changes in note spacing can be heard in certain sections. For example, the previously established eighth-note climbs in the second measure of said chorus are morphed into triplets, which segue nicely into a new phrase; the general vibe of this entire sequence can be inferred simply by using the triplets and the initial chorus phrasing as points of reference, and this kind of musical structure is quite technically advanced. ‘Toundra’ is clever and deceptively simple in sound, yet boundless in its complexity.
‘Chip Songbook Vol. 7’ is a well executed example of Yoann Turpin’s stylistic breadth, and can be purchased on Bandcamp for $5.78. Turpin’s technique and compositional skill shine strongly through each and every one of his aural works, and this is yet another album of his that shouldn’t be missed. Each and every one of his albums pushes the boundaries of chipjazz, and his progress as a musician continues to show here as well. I wholeheartedly believe that Yoann Turpin is one of the greatest chipmusicians to grace our community in recent years, and as always I await his next release with bated breath.