Hey there, ChipWINners! Joshua Morse, having produced chipmusic as early as 2007, has always been recognized as a pioneer of our ever-growing community. His music has been featured in several video games, such as ‘A Wizard’s Lizard’, ‘Onslaught!’, and ‘Lunch Bug’. Additionally, his long-running ‘Waveform’ releases are arguably some of the best chipjazz releases on the block, with each one showcasing Morse’s growth as a musician, not dissimilar to the ‘BLUE’ trilogy composed by chipfunk legend PROTODOME, or the progressively complex pieces written by Pieces of Eight. Just before the turn of the new year, Joshua Morse released ‘Waveform 5’, an EP of five chip-fusion-jazz tracks that’re sure to stick with you. Let’s get to it!
The EP opens up with ‘Turtle Dance 4′, featuring a number of instruments that should sound familiar to any player of the SNES’ ‘TMNT: Turtles in Time’. The track begins with several different renditions of a theme, sounding like a radio cycling through stations; the track mellows out around the 0:25 mark, where a spike in tempo occurs, and the music hits its smooth, funky stride. FM and SNES voices are predominant through the first half of the track, but a 2A03 chip comes in for a solo break, throwing the listener for a loop both in a nostalgic sense and simply with the huge difference in tone. Even though the change in voices is drastic, the overall mood of the track isn’t affected much; a testament to Morse’s prowess.
‘Bossa Bucket’, as its name implies, is a masterfully crafted bossa nova-esque tune. Brazillian rhythms, trumpets, piano, and FM synths all culminate into a simply beautiful song. The piano voicings in this track are of particular note; the relaxing mood is perfectly captured by this instrument, whether chords are being played or whether a lush, cascading solo is masterfully executed. A smooth, acoustic sounding beginning with the rattling sound of maracas simply oozes with Brazillian vibes, and segues perfectly into the main melody of the song while still maintaining a phenomenal flow throughout. While the track ends a bit abruptly, it’s not a bad ending in the slightest; as the song starts with a bit of a sudden transition into its main theme, the ending is quite fitting.
‘Cityscape’ gets its groove on early, starting off with a swing-like percussion while the bass chugs along. FM keys enter soon after, and a dueling rendition of the song’s melody – and more – happens once the SNES guitar enters the fray. A very jazzy piano solo comprises the midsection of the track, and it’s something that has to be heard to be believed; copious and extremely effective use of grace notes contribute highly to its success. Off-beat notes close out the phenomenal solo before a return to the music’s melody, with the guitar climbing several octaves before the song ends.
The fourth track, ‘Our Love’, introduces itself with a mellow bongo drum and angelic synth chords. Chimes help to set the romantic mood of the song; you can really feel the love that Morse put into this piece. The only percussive sounds present are the bongo and maracas, which adds a very flavorful and unique sound, and helps to maintain the mood throughout. The cello in the final third of the track is also an amazing touch, adding another hint of romance to the track. String instruments, bongos, maracas, and chimes are all kind of ‘smooth’ instruments, so to speak; working all four instruments together is a genius move on Morse’s part. While the rest of ‘Waveform 5’ leans toward the suave side of jazz, ‘Our Love’ is a game-changer in that it’s the only truly romantic track on the album.
The final track, ‘Fusion Passport’, has calming synths and percussion as the opener before the track blossoms into a beautiful Latin groove. Numerous voices battle for control throughout the song, be it the cascading sound of the piano, the shredding and strumming of the guitar, or the intense sounds of FM synths. Several dynamic changes between piano and forte are greatly appreciated, as they provide two completely different moods – relaxed and energetic. Additionally, the energetic portions of the song are compounded with the powerful struggles between instruments and their solos, culminating to form a truly extravagant piece of music.
Joshua Morse’s ‘Waveform’ series has been long-running, and while all of the individual EPs have their own merits, Morse’s growth as a musician really shines through in ‘Waveform 5’. Priced at $5 on Bandcamp, this is a low cost to pay for such a phenomenal demonstration of musicianship. Morse stands with PROTODOME as one of the greatest chipjazz musicians of our time, and ‘Waveform 5’ is proof of his mastery.