It’s last review of the year for me and I thought I’d continue the trend by reviewing absolutely no chiptune. Last year was no contest for me and I reviewed one of my favourite ‘Futurefunk’ albums of the year, ‘Watashi No Yume Diary’ by ‘Bigwave Mikazuki’. It was a wonderful release that I continue to listen to this day. This year however has been harder to choose. Originally I was going to review ‘Moe Moe’ by ‘Moeshop’, an awesome release with a variety of singers. Featuring a worldwide collection of artists from Manchester’s own ‘MYLK’ to Kyoto’s ‘Toriena’, ‘Moe Moe’ was full to brim with character.
However, as the year started to draw to a close, I came across another album; ‘Static Electricity’ by ‘Utsuro Spark’ (released by New Japanese Net Label, ‘Local Visions’). Whilst ‘Moe Moe’ was bubbly and colourful, ‘Static Electricity’ managed to instantly hook me, both through its mystical music and passionate vocals. Ultimately it was the heart of ‘Static Electricity’ that won me over, even when I compared both albums vigorously against one another.
We begin the review by looking at the opening track, ‘ネオン’ or ‘Neon’ and it is a mystical song held together beautiful vocals and harmonious keys. As soon as you begin listening to ‘Neon’ you’ll immediately find the style striking by ‘Utsuro Spark’. Each chord rings out slightly detuned, but just enough to create atmosphere.
As with most vocals from Japan, I find it impossible to completely understand the lyrics. However this is ultimately a blessing in the disguise as it allows me to focus on the harmonies created between the vocals and music. That said for the sake of the song, from what I managed to translate via websites, the lyrics seem to be about isolation & detachment from people and the world.
Whilst ‘Neon’ is beautiful song to start with, for me it by far the weakest song from the whole album. Impossible to believe but as you keep on listening to ‘Static Electricity’, you’ll start to agree with me.
Compared to ‘Neon’, ‘ミラージュ’ or ‘Mirage’ is completely different in terms of passion. As soon as you starting listening, it feels like you’re sleeping and ‘Mirage’ is Utsuro Spark’s interpretation about the journey to dream land. It is ultimately incredibly uplifting, full of soul and heart. The same thing can be said for the vocals which are also, inspirational. Going back the translator again it seems ‘Mirage’ is about vocalist wishes you be with someone, but for some reason cannot. Both the music, vocals and lyrics of ‘Mirage’ blend very well with each other and create a relaxing sense of wellbeing.
This feeling is further carried from ‘Mirage’ onto the next track, ‘ドローム’ or ‘Drome’. Incidentally I spent ages trying to figure out if this was the actual title, but I can’t fathom what a ‘Drome’ might be (if you know please say so in the comments). That said the music of ‘Drome’ is absolutely stellar, with the main crux handled by tremolo & filter induced keys. Just from listening to this instrument at the beginning is enough to put you into deep state of relaxation. It also helps that ‘Drome’ is also very slow with the vocals sounding rather heavenly from start to finish. ‘Drome’ ultimately feels like someone dreaming of vaporwave, featuring almost everything the genre is known for; including a pleasant saxophone solo. I feel this is the best song off the entire album, as for me songs that easily induce a sense of relaxation are a huge plus. It really reminds me of ‘Us & Them’ by ‘Pink Floyd’, one of my favourite bands to relax to. They’re both well crafted songs, have a saxophone solo and one that takes you through a psychedelic trip of music. At a close ‘Drome’ feels like a great song to end my review on, as I think if we review anymore tracks, it will ruin the surprise of what ‘Static Electricity’ has brought.
As you can see from Utsuro Spark’s ‘Static Electricity’ really left an impression on me from listening to it. Released during November, it is the perfect remedy for the coming winter, filled with such warmth and passion. For me the 15 minutes runtime the album has felt like a journey through a dream, something that gets better as you go through it. I can only compare the experience to my favourite rock song, ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, again by ‘Pink Floyd’. Each song brings vibes to the table, more interesting than the last. I hope this review gets across to why ‘Static Electricity’ by ‘Utsuro Spark’ is one of my favourite ‘non-chip’ albums of 2018, and possibly persuade you to end up supporting them too!
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’.