Aydan Appreciates: ‘Random Smash Hits’ by Yoann Turpin

- Posted June 9th, 2017 by

Keyboardist, composer, and chipmusician Yoann Turpin has seen a number of his works featured in the ChipWIN community, be it his submission to the ChipWINter compilation, 2014’s ‘FriendChip’, or 2015’s ‘Chip Songbook Vol. 6’. His music is known throughout our niche for its funky vibes, his phenomenal work on the keys, and jazzy, improvisational solos that’re all ingredients for truly gorgeous music. His latest release, ‘Random Smash Hits’, is a collection of three short weeks’ worth of Turpin’s aural artwork. As if the sheer quantity of music he’s released in the last two years wasn’t enough to turn heads, the speed with which this album was composed and mastered is astounding.

So let’s see what chiptune chart-topping pieces lie in wait!

First off, we’ll take a look at ‘Wait Wait Wait !’, a silky smooth jazz piece that perfectly showcases numerous aspects of Turpin’s skill. The song opens softly with synth chords, and immediately arouses imagery of a pleasant bar or lounge; this certainly wouldn’t sound out of place, especially if arranged for a full band. Percussion is peppered lightly in the track’s background, as are the first chip instrumentals. ‘Wait Wait Wait !’ continuously transitions from melody to melody, as the entire track feels like one gigantic improvised solo. As the track’s chorus arrives, one can note subtle differences between its first entrance, its second and its third. In the first rendition, the melody is established along with the general flow of the chorus and most of the song’s instrumentation; in the second, an additional chip voice is added, quietly playing the same melody an octave above the other instruments, with the cadence remaining the same; and in the third delivery, the upper chip voice is removed and the cadence is altered to allow the final moments of ‘Wait Wait Wait !’ to take on a slightly different sound from the rest of the song.

Next up, we’ll take a look at ‘Something is wrong here’, the album’s fourth track. The song is aptly named, as while it’s impressively composed, Turpin intentionally sows an atmosphere of mild discord. With this in mind, the listener can truly appreciate the song as what the artist intended it to be. A very catchy hook is introduced at the beginning of the track, and transitions fairly quickly into its memorable chorus. Instrumentation for this track is quite diverse, featuring both chip voices and melodies that sound almost Arabic in tone to Western listeners. This musical structure is further enhanced through brief chromatic passages, the track’s harmonic minor key, note slides and deliberately messy-sounding slurs. The moment that Turpin’s compositional skill really shines is close to the end of the track; voices climb chromatically at different points on the scale at the 3:47 mark, and a oud-like tone is featured at the 3:59 mark for a few short seconds. ‘Something is wrong here’ is a mysteriously beautiful piece of music and can be used as an example of how diverse Yoann Turpin’s music really is.

The album’s seventh track, ‘IRL’, is the next song we’ll be taking into consideration. It begins with a closed hi-hat rhythm, playing an open note at the end of certain phrases, and quiet chip voices fade in. The rhythm persists, and the song’s first melody is introduced in a non-obtrusive manner. Slight variations in the melody and percussion keep the song feeling unique throughout its entirety, such as slight changes in note timing and the use of a vibraslap around the 0:47 mark, a percussive instrument that has a rattling timbre to it and is instantly recognizable. An instrument reminiscent of a toy piano or a xylophone is introduced just before the one-minute mark, and a transition into the track’s chorus ties everything together quite nicely before Turpin struts his stuff in solo segments. The transitions in this song are absolutely flawless in design, with each phrase cascading into the next with ease. Overall, this is quite a light-hearted, easy to listen to endeavor on Turpin’s part, and as the rest of his songs on ‘Random Smash Hits’ are, ‘IRL’ is impressively composed and arranged.

This album is available for approximately $8 USD on Bandcamp, and for these twelve adventurous and funky tracks, it’s certainly a steal at this price. Yoann Turpin has already cemented himself among chipjazz legends Shnabubula and PROTODOME, and this album further solidifies his compositional finesse. ‘Random Smash Hits’ is exactly what it sounds like – a series of impressively composed pieces by a legendary and prolific artist.

Yoann Turpin
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