Hey, ChipWINners! Long-time fans of ChipWIN may remember, on our very first compilation, a track called ‘Button Mash’ by a Detroit-based chipmusician named Snesei. With its high-energy percussion and cute melody, the track has cemented itself as a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the earliest days of my chipmusic blogging career. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but feel emotions rush over me as I recall my college years and the friends that I so cherished during that period. When I saw just four short days ago (as of the publication of this post) that Snesei released a short, 3-track EP with a guest remix included titled ‘Digression’, I was intrigued. Each track on this EP feels as though it’s been written from the heart, and with the central theme of growth, one can tell that a truly personal, loving touch is present throughout. But, I digress… let’s see what we have here.
For the sake of viewing the progress of this EP in real-time, I’ll be tackling the tracks sequentially. Beginning the album is the titular ‘Digression’. A slow, almost eerie rising scale introduces the piece, and accelerates in tempo as it continues to play. As this continues, percussion and a gritty square bass are added in, and tension continues to rise until the track peaks at the 0:58 mark. A new melodic voice enters at 1:51, and for a short period, both voices compete for the listener’s attention. The established melody changes in the second half of the song, and even with this being the case, one can hear the faint murmurings of the introductory melody, as though all other voices have…digressed from the initial musical subject matter. As the piece closes, the intensity of the piece decreases; voices become more subdued, and in the last few seconds of the piece, only the melody and scale remain, with the initially established scale having the final say.
The bridge between the first and final track is ‘Unity’. Again, Snesei opens the track with a catchy hook that persists throughout the majority of the piece and sets the tone for all other instruments and melodies. An unassuming series of snares, claps, and hihats precede a heavy, toneless kick that borders on organic in sound. At precisely one minute into ‘Unity’, sounds blossom following the crescendo of a reverse hihat. A distorted, guitar-like voice can be heard performing a solo of sorts over the rest of the track’s instrumentation; while the piece is primarily composed in a repeated fashion, small touches such as the addition of a melodic voice, the introduction of a new melody, or subtle hints at the melodic phrases to come prevent this track from falling into the stereotypical, repetitive Nanoloop trap. At 2:22, the final section’s melody can be heard extremely faintly in the background before a percussive crescendo with a heavily distorted voice-over, and instruments and effects are removed one by one until only the newest melody and percussion remain. These are promptly cut short, and the track ends on a high note.
The final unremixed track on ‘Digression’ is ‘You’. As the piece opens, we can hear almost immediately that there’s a lot of ‘room’ in the opening of ‘You’; that is, the soundscape is relatively open and there aren’t many sounds cluttering the first third of the track. As such, Snesei leaves himself a lot of space to introduce new sounds and dynamics, and this proves to be an extremely wise choice in sonic design. At the 1:14 mark, the piece’s M.O. becomes apparent as it suddenly transitions from a peaceful ode to a full-on tribute to chipbreak. The influences of titans like Sabrepulse and Saskrotch can be heard throughout – ‘Dot Matrix Hero‘ in particular comes to the forefront of my memory – but Snesei’s own unique, peppy sound is still noticeable. One of the most interesting musical design choices across the entire EP can be heard at the 2:03 mark in ‘You’; any and all percussion ceases, and the listener is left only with the melody, rhythm, and bass. Subsequently, the bass is removed and the melody fades out, and the listener is left only with faint static and chords. In the track’s final moments, a sense of clarity is achieved when the static is also taken away from the track and the melody sharply ceases at the very end. This lingering, wistful moment of the EP feels very much like Snesei has lost ‘You’, the subject of this piece, presumably a friend, maybe a lover, maybe even depicted on the EP’s album art. This could symbolize acceptance of one’s circumstances, and as the central theme of the EP is growth, may be a musical representation of maturation.
Snesei’s maturation as an artist is apparent on this album, and the amount of composition coming from his heart is something to behold. ‘Digression’ and a remix of the EP’s title track by Mitomoro (disclaimer: it’s very good and puts an extremely unique spin on an already interesting track) can be purchased on Bandcamp for only $3. This small collection of heartfelt tracks is certainly worth the price, and while Snesei doesn’t frequently put out music, it’s obvious that a lot of work went into these pieces, and I eagerly await his next release.