Aydan Appreciates: ‘Next Level’ by Graz

- Posted February 11th, 2020 by

Graz’s music catalog has been expanding slowly but surely over the last few years, with the release of multiple singles, EPs, and collaborations with other artists, in addition to a few features on our very own ChipWIN compilations over the years. Through Orlando-based netlabel Tiny Waves, Graz has released his latest EP, ‘Next Level’, a five-track EP featuring two of his most recently released singles in ‘Need Ur Love’ and ‘Run It’. Let’s check it out!

Right off the bat, we’re introduced to the – potentially familiar – ‘Need Ur Love’. Graz fans will recognize this as a track that was released as a single in October 2019, and the track still goes just as hard as it did before. ‘Need Ur Love’ opens with vocals similar to what you might hear on a song from a Shirobon or Sabrepulse EP, and the introductory riff is simple but satisfying. Once the percussion enters, the track moves at full-speed all the way through to the end. Graz keeps the track feeling fresh by making some pitch alterations to the vocals, which make for an interesting touch, and by making some alterations to the Amen break. ‘Need Ur Love’ is a dancefloor destroyer, needless to say.

The next track we’ll be checking out is the album’s fourth, ‘Arcane Magic’. While ‘Need Ur Love’ has some more modern instrumentation thrown into the mix, this piece is a banger for you LSDj purists out there. We’re introduced to ‘Arcane Magic’ with a kind of mystical pulse chord floating back and forth between our speakers. The WAV voice enters and continues to build atmosphere, and when the main groove enters the fray you won’t be able to help bobbing your head to the beat. A good number of classic chiptune vocals abound in ‘Arcane Magic’; the iconic ‘BREAK’ and ‘CHECK DIS OUT’ have always been somewhat comedic to me, so when I heard them in this piece I couldn’t help but laugh a little. They don’t detract from the song’s excellent composition, and if anything give the track something of a playful vibe at some points.

Lastly, we’ll take a look at the EP’s final track, ‘Reflections’. Again, this piece utilizes some more modern instrumentation with square voices taking a back seat to crisp vocals, toms, wobs and synths. The first minute and 15 seconds of the track serve as something of an exposition to the instruments and vocals we’ll be hearing throughout the track save for a select few, and there are a lot of small ideas explored in this first minute. We hear a variant on the melody played on piano, synth stabs accentuating offbeats (or exercising a form of syncopation), and a sweeping build up to one of the simplest, yet most effective, drops in the history of DnB – a single tom hit after a sudden dead silence. From here on out, we’re treated to a variety of distorted wobbles playing in tandem with a square melody, a seamless transition back to the slightly less heavy established instrumentation, and various voices gradually ceasing until we’re left with the song’s satisfying ending.

‘Next Level’ can be purchased through Graz’s Bandcamp for just $5, so if you’re a fan of chipbreak or musicians like Shirobon or Sabrepulse, you certainly won’t want to miss picking this one up. The EP was something of a throwback to me, as I spent a good chunk of my college days listening to albums like ‘Chipbreak Wars’ or being otherwise exposed to chipbreak and breakcore artists through FFR and StepMania. I’m sure to have this album on repeat for the near future, and I hope you, too, feel ascended after listening to ‘Next Level’.

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