Having been a long-standing member of the FlashFlashRevolution community, Kommisar was a name I had commonly encountered betwixt his music and simfile charting. Kommisar has contributed to ChipWIN in the past on more than a few volumes, with each track containing his legendary, patented jazzy ‘insaneous chiptune solos’. Recently he’s re-released a number of tunes in the form of an EP titled ‘Mercury’; each piece on the EP is impressive in its own right. The most impressive facet to his compositions is the fact that all of the pieces on ‘Mercury’ were written on 1xLSDJ; this is quite hard to believe considering the depth of each track on the EP! Now that we have the ability to listen to this in its entirety as intended, let’s revisit some of these amazing tunes!
‘Last Tile 海底撈月’ was first released on Kommisar’s SoundCloud approximately five years ago, and it slaps just as much now as it did then. The piece opens with a quick hi-hat and an aggressive beat, utilizing only a single square channel at first. Kommi often utilizes Japanese voice samples in his work, and this can be seen in the first few seconds of this track as well as some of his other pieces. Immediately after this, a second square voice harmonizes with the first, and a grimy bassline enters the fray; the sheer depth of the sound in the opening segment alone is phenomenal. Kommi hooks us with fast-paced, bass-heavy beats that don’t let up in the slightest. This track’s solo occurs at the 1:32 mark, once a rhythmic permutation is established, and BOY, it is something else. Seemingly effortlessly, the solo shifts between octaves, and countless ideas and riffs are thrown at the listener systematically just as they begin to appreciate the previous riffs. To those who may not have heard Kommi’s music in the past, this might sound objectively overwhelming. However, the best way to listen to these the first time around isn’t with a critical ear, but rather to just go with it and let these absolutely outrageous solos whisk you away. On the second listen, one can note that the solo is divided into four distinct sections, each with their own unique square voices taking the reins. With each of these mini-solos taking up about 13 seconds apiece – or 8 bars in the song’s context – Kommisar’s technical prowess and ability to compose short, sweet and astonishing solos rears its head.
In the EP’s title track, we can observe that Kommisar once again takes a formulaic approach to his composition. Our exposition to the piece is more minimal in nature, with hearty square chords and noise channel rides introducing us to the piece’s overall vibe before its FAT WAV bassline comes forth. In the beginning, more focus is placed on the WAV channel than on the square channels that dominated our previously analyzed piece. As such, the sudden pulling back of the bassline at the 1:22 mark comes as quite a surprise as Kommi shifts to a uniquely satisfying sequence of square kicks and intense vibrato. These pulse channels subsequently back off as the WAV channel comes in even hotter after this brief break, being the focus for the first few measures of this solo segment. When we approach a return to the stability of the established melody at the 2:58 mark, Kommisar flips the track onto its head by initiating the square voice as normal, but we quickly realize that he takes this final opportunity to grace us with yet another whopping 32-measure solo. ‘Mercury’ ends the same way that it begins, and we’re left with a satisfying sense of closure.
Lastly, I’d like to check out one of the more downtempo pieces of this EP. ‘Cherry Cola’ is a bouncy, slightly slower piece than what we’ve looked at already, but is just as full of sound and depth as everything else on ‘Mercury’. The main melody itself is a little less hectic than something like ‘Atomic Jill’ or ‘Last Tile 海底撈月’, but Kommisar’s iconic voices are omnipresent through all of his compositions. ‘Cherry Cola’ feels less packed-to-the-brim and more relaxed, with its peppy melody backed by a rapidly modulating WAV bass, quickly arpeggiated staccato square chords, mellow percussion, and vocal samples from ‘Drill Dozer’. On that note – the visual aesthetic of this game perfectly matches the aural aesthetic Kommisar aims to achieve.
Kommisar has listed this EP on Bandcamp for a full purchase value of $1 CAD, which amounts to a BACK-BREAKING $0.76 USD. He’s also set the individual track downloads of ‘Mercury’ to be free downloads, so if you’re so inclined to download the EP this way, Kommi gives us the ability to do so. However, I would highly recommend purchasing the album for at least its minimum purchase price, if not more than that; ‘Mercury’ is a compilation of some of Kommisar’s best work to date in an easily consumable form. His insaneous chiptune solo compositions are chock-full of minute details and demonstrate his mastery over 1xLSDJ songwriting, with each track being a familiar yet impressive experience.