Hey, ChipWINners! Aydan here, ready to do some more appreciating on the newly rehosted blog!
4mat is a long-time resident of the chipmusic community, and many fans of chipmusic have either heard of him or his work before; he’s been producing music since the year 2000, if not earlier. In late May, 4mat released an album that has been composed piece by piece for about a year and a half. Titled ‘Nadir’, which literally translates to “the lowest possible point”, 4mat explores the themes of “…legacy, memory, and…self doubt” and takes his listeners along with him for a truly memorable ride.
The album opens with ‘Vampires (A through Z)’, a track with abundant polyrhythms, a catchy melody, and plenty of intricate touches to keep the song sounding fresh with each new listen. 4mat doesn’t quite stick to one particular tone or set of tones throughout his tracks, and as a result is able to create truly beautiful soundscapes for his listeners with each new song; this is certainly no exception. Dynamic changes, occasional use of octaves and arpeggiated chords, and stuttered, “sloppy” drum loops, as he calls them, make for a unique track.
Stuttered instrumentation, delay, and the usage of off-sync voices and polyrhythmic techniques are prevalent in a number of the tracks on ‘Nadir’. For example, the album’s namesake track features a melody in the beginning with an intentionally off-sync piano loop coming in not long after the main melody is established. A higher pitched, delayed version of the melody is layered over not long after this, and it creates for a gorgeous, artistic effect. The ending of the track catches the listener by surprise the first time around; the “poppier” sound to the last minute of the track works to provide a stark and well-composed contrast to the slightly less energetic tones of the earlier part of the track.
The eighth track, ‘Daisies’, is another excellent example of 4mat’s use of delay and polyrhythmic techniques. During a majority of the track, a quieter, panning voice with its own unwavering rhythm takes a comfortable spot behind the lead voices, which play out and are greatly strengthened by this particular technique. In his liner notes for the album, 4mat states that ‘Daisies’ arose “almost by accident” when he was stuck on the ending for ‘Vampires’. However, nothing in the track sounds accidental. Everything is calculated and perfect, from the dual rhythms of the melodies to the stuttered hi-hat. 4mat also states in his liner notes that he feels this track is his greatest personal success on the album.
Many of ‘Nadir’’s tracks give off a distinctly French vibe in terms of their composition. One of the tracks, ‘Oil on canvas’, calls to mind the work of legendary French electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre, one of the pioneers of the early worldwide electronic music movement. ‘Oil on canvas’ in particular also takes on a bit of a neo-classical tone close to the end, with a solitary piano bringing the song to a close with a number of descending notes, leading into a slow, ascendent decrescendo. Ambient, avant-garde tones can also be heard in ‘Waves rush to shore’ and the last track, ‘Solitude’. Permutations on simple chord sequences played on the piano are used to great effect, and are later combined with sawtooth waves and an instrumentation meant to imitate the sound of a choir in order create a simply beautiful tone.
‘Solitude’ is essentially a solo piano piece with an orchestral backing; no ‘chip’ is present in this track, but it’s the perfect ending to ‘Nadir’. Calm, soothing notes are played, with a minimal amount of chord usage in order to give the song a quiet, calm, and reflective nature. The entire album resolves on a major chord, and as one of the moods explored by 4mat throughout ‘Nadir’ is self-doubt, this could symbolize a positive resolution – reflecting on oneself and having a new outlook on life and affirmations about oneself.
‘Nadir’ is available as a free download on Bandcamp, and, as usual, I highly recommend a donation should you have the ability to do so. Memories are explored throughout the album, both in mood and through the riffs and samples used throughout the album. With a solid mixture between energetic, danceable hits and powerful, moving compositions, this album is further proof that 4mat is truly a talented musician, and this album was well worth the wait between his previous release, ‘Sans Titre’, and itself.