As many of you probably know, Yoann Turpin is an artist that I happen to follow quite closely. I’ve always got my eye on him, as he releases high-quality tunes frequently, and he’s often one of the first artists who comes to mind when I’m deciding what album I’d like to review each month. On March 27th, he released ‘Rhythm’n’Bits 2’, a direct sequel to the first album he had written and released nearly seven years prior, and the album is filled with the intricately beautiful compositions I’ve come to know and love from Turpin. I’m elated to have the opportunity to review this piece of work.
We’ll start by checking out the first track on the album, ‘Chiptune Saved My Life’. Yoann always does a good job of introducing his listeners to his songs’ moods early on, and this is certainly no exception. The song is unyielding in its progression through its numerous solos and return to its extremely catchy leitmotifs. Percussion is subtle and artful in execution, allowing Yoann to have the listener’s attention seemingly effortlessly drawn to the lead. In actuality, we can observe a number of intimate details spritzed throughout the song, be they the phrase-reinforcing wahs of a backing guitar, or the very slight crescendo in percussion at the 1:40 mark, which signifies the beginning of a 30-second, musical palate-satiating solo.
Yoann has a subtle interest in the Asiatic that displays itself in a number of his albums; on ‘Rhythm’n’Bits 2’, that track is ‘Shugendo Dogma’. Shugendo is a religion and set of morals that came to light more than a thousand years ago, having to do with the search for enlightenment through feats of physical endurance and other ascetic actions. Shugendo has close ties with Buddhism, as they share similar philosophies and were tied directly together due to the banning of numerous religions in Japan following the Meiji Restoration, and prior to World War II. Turpin’s piece has a similar sense of mystique about it, utilizing sounds of traditional Japanese instruments – the shakuhachi and shamisen in particular – and intertwining them with his exquisite 8-bit voices. Street Fighter references can also be noted at the beginning and the end of the piece, which add a slightly playful touch to this lovely tune.
The last piece we’ll be looking at today is a remix of the very first piece on Yoann’s very first album, ‘Super Taikonaut 2 (Taikonaut’s Love Remix)’ by Yoann’s longtime friend and audio engineer, Mathieu Demange. Mathieu wrote the blurb for ‘Rhythm’n’Bits 2’ and briefly goes into how he met Yoann and came to know him so well; he does a good job of exhibiting just how much respect he has for the musician, as does his remix. Authenticity is the name of the game here – the whole piece is composed with the pure, lo-fi sound we all know and love. Mathieu’s minimal, staccato instrumentation and faster tempo gives the piece a slightly more hectic character than its original composition. Listening to one after the other, we can observe the level of accuracy with which Mathieu translates Yoann’s ‘Taikonaut’s Love’ and turns it into his own artistic vision.
‘Rhythm’n’Bits 2’ is available on Yoann’s Bandcamp for just shy of $8 USD, and is an excellent addition to any chipmusic lover’s library. Each and every one of Yoann’s pieces exudes his uniquely jazzy character, and he continues to create new art and evoke different scenery with each album he releases. Here’s to another amazing release from the pioneer of chipjazz!