Hey there, ChipWINners! In case you don’t recall their Chiptunes = #SRSBSNS track ‘Forever Alone‘, Here Between You Me is a hype-fueled chiptune/rock/pop group whose releases are generally few and far between. Over the years, they’ve released tracks to the public through their Bandcamp in the form of singles, or on Soundcloud in the cases of covers, rough cuts and demos. Now, with the release of their first EP, ‘Phantom Beach’, the polish that these Los Angeles based champs have put into their music really shows, and this has quickly become one of Brandon’s and my favorite releases of this year thus far. So what’s all the fuss about, anyway? Let’s dive into this sonic ocean of a release and find out!
The listener is immediately greeted with a set of punchy noise snares in ‘We Came This Way’, followed by an immediate marriage of electric guitar, pulse arps, and organic percussion. A soft vocal entry reminds me a bit of shoegaze-inspired groups like The Bilinda Butchers. During the chorus segment, Terence Calacsan reveals the strength and versatility of his voice, emotionally stating to ‘remember…we came this way’. A bridge segment builds back up to the chorus one last time after a second verse and choral rendition, with voices being re-introduced slowly to the listener before bursting with energy once again. I can’t imagine any other track being a better fit for an introduction to this phenomenal EP.
‘Fire’ begins immediately after, which fans of Here Between Me You may remember as one of their first single releases. Remastered and executed with impeccable finesse, a side-by-side comparison of the two versions shows just how much the group has further defined their sound since their inception. Pulse slides, unique synths and clean vocals meld together to create an entirely different experience from bands typically associated with the chiprock subgenre, like Anamanaguchi and I Fight Dragons. A pulse sweep going down in pitch leads into a sort of LSDj solo segment, which is a particularly memorable moment on the album. Another gradual build in energy is showcased by the end of this track, although this particular build-up crescendos to its peak quite rapidly, and ends the track on a positive note.
The fourth track on the EP, ‘Scorpio’, is a tad slower paced and more melancholic than any other song shown to the listener. Influences of emotional post-rock are present throughout the album, but nowhere else is the down-tempo, heavy-hearted sentiment more present than in ‘Scorpio’. Considering the rest of the album is upbeat and high-energy, this pensive ballad presents itself as a stark contrast to everything else heard on ‘Phantom Beach’. Polyrhythms – two or more conflicting rhythms being played simultaneously – between pulse and noise are a beautifully performed touch to what might be one of the most gorgeous emotional chiptune tracks in existence, alongside Sk8bit’s ‘Knife and Flame’ & Victory Road’s ‘Ceilings’.
The final track I’ll be covering for today’s review is the penultimate track of ‘Phantom Beach’, ‘Kids and Scientists’. An upward pitch bend opens the track, and segues perfectly into octave-spanning note triggers, mellow percussion, and Terence’s gorgeous vocals, this time backed by Jinian Ramos Austria. This track, too, is a bit slower-paced, but significantly more upbeat than the previous track. This aids in allowing ‘Phantom Beach’ to end on a high note and leave the listener with a certain sense of satisfaction. A heavy, droning bass helps to shift the listener’s focus to the more melodic sounds present in the track. The midsection to ‘Kids and Scientists’ is a highlight of the album, with synths and chip taking the wheel for a short while. The combination here almost sounds like bells chiming, which is a particularly interesting effect that I can’t say I’ve heard utilized to such a successful degree.
Don’t sleep on ‘Phantom Beach’. Priced at $8 on Bandcamp, the replay value on this lovely EP is incredibly high, and you’ll find yourself singing along to almost every track in no time. Nothing’s been announced since this album’s April 20th release, but I’m sure that something will show itself within the next year or so, be it on the next ChipWIN volume or otherwise. The face of modern chiptune’s post-rock is here, and its name is Here Between You Me.