Ozymandias by ‘Starving GOGO’ (and distributed by Cheapbeats) has been under the radar for a while, being released back in October 2018. However, it is definitely one that people should pick up and get into. Last year I had the absolute privilege of meeting ‘Starving GOGO’ and having him play at Chip Bit Day 2018. Needless to say Starving GOGO’s entire set blew everyone away with his blend of chiptune, electrocore, and attention to detail in LSDJ. As well as playing live, GOGO also faced off against ‘Tekmann’ in a ‘ChipBattle’, playing some fantastic quick tunes that are actually featured on this album.
Starving GOGO’s ‘Ozymandias’ is actually the end trilogy of chiptune albums. This trilogy also includes ‘Kill Your Darlings‘ and ‘discredit denial destroy’. According to the artist, the themes of the trilogy came in three stages; ‘Kill Your Darlings’ was about rebirth & reinventing; ‘discredit denial destroy’ about overthinking; and finally ‘Ozymandias’ about the decadence of things. The name ‘Ozymandias’ itself comes from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem and is one of the names of Ramses II. He was often considered the last and the greatest pharaoh of his time, and his figure incarnates the concept of decadence, since his empire has been one of the biggest and greatest ever but eventually it crumbled, like everything else is destined to be.
The entire concept of ‘Ozymandias’ fills me with dread, but also compels me further to listen and understand. With that here are 3 pick tracks off ‘Ozymandias’ that really resonated with me.
We begin this review looking at the 2nd track, ‘When I was a kid I thought adults knew what they were doing’. This is essentially a long name for a track, but the sound design is to die for. This is mainly because it was created entirely in Nanoloop Mono, something that is absolutely astounding. For those who don’t know, Nanoloop Mono only has three channels to utilise and for Starving GOGO to pack so much into something that gives so little is a great achievement.
Not only that but it contains some of the bassiest sounds alive, with the introduction almost shaking my laptop to pieces. Whilst the sound design is strong, what I like about the song is that it is very different in tone, feeling a lot more warmer due to the analogue sound from Mono. That inherently makes the track a lot more accessible and easier to listen than say the 3rd track, ‘Falling Over In Public.
My next pick is one with so much meaning and it’s the 6th track, ‘All our heroes are suicidal (and died by their own hand)’. Swapping the gameboy for the NES, the song references tracks where their creators have killed themselves. Quite macabre but considering the themes of ‘Ozymandias’ are about decadence and the end of things, I think it’s quite poignant. ‘All our heroes are suicidal (and died by their own hand)’ starts off with the beginning of the iconic, ‘Black Hole Sun’ by ‘Sound Garden/ Chris Cornell’ (RIP). This seems very on point as a lot of Chris Cornell’s writing was based upon depression and his suicidal tendencies.
Whilst the middle is an original concept, designed to link the beginning and end together, the final reference is from Nirvana/Kurt Cobain’s ‘Lithium’. Again like ‘Black Hole Sun’, ‘Lithium’ is a double entendre, as both the song and singer have a strong relationship with suicide. According to Cobain, ‘Lithium’ is about how man must turn to religion in an effort to combat his urge to commit suicide.
Although I feel a lot of people will probably enjoy the nostalgia of ‘All our heroes are suicidal (and died by their own hand)’, it’s ultimately the meaning behind the song itself that is the treasure. The references and intertextuality really build up the track to something much more than just a nostalgia trip.
My final pick relates more to me personally, as it was created for Chip Bit Day; ‘How Hideous Am I (aka II Tempo Delle Mele)’. Part of Starving GOGO’s Face melting ‘ChipBattle’ against ‘Tekmann’ (which we’ll never see unfortunately). It was quite possibly the most intense LSDJ song I’d ever heard topping the Harley’s ‘Anchor To Reality’ in both sound design and heaviness. There’s so much going on in the channels that it’s quite astounding when you find out that it’s run solely on a DMG. What is even more poignant is that this track was the final song for not just his ‘ChipBattle’ sequence, but his Chip Bit Day set too! This rings dead for Starving GOGO’s themes of decadence and the end in ‘Ozymandias’, and further more goes beyond the parameters of the album itself.
Ozymandias is a fantastically created and well imagined album, with so much intertextuality and hidden meanings to unpack. It’s just unfortunate that you have to some detective work to find this all out. I do feel more clues should’ve been laid for the audience; for example, perhaps the description in the bandcamp was utilised to define the decadance? Sometimes with high concept albums, the way you market it is just as important as the album itself, as it acts as a trail of breadcrumbs for the audience to follow. That said once you realise what is being touched upon, you’ll find yourself thinking as to why you never bought ‘Ozymandias’ sooner.
This has been a blog post from Chip Bit Sid, a UK based Chiptune Blogger. Along with monthly features here on The ChipWIN Blog, I post once a week on my own blog. To get in touch, please message via the social media links below! I also do my own music under the banner as ‘Kojin’.