Howdy howdy! For some of our long-time readers, you might remember that the FIRST installment of this column, just over one year ago (back when it was an artist overview column, and not just an album review column) was about this young Californian guy named Vince. A lot has changed in a year’s time, both for us and for him. Here we are, seven compilations under our belt (of which Vince has been on two, and had one of his songs remixed for a third), and the fun police haven’t yet tried to stop by and shut us down, so we must be doing something right! Meanwhile, Vince has had two albums out in that last year, in addition to his thriving Soundcloud. How fitting, then, that I should be doing this review, here and now, about Vince’s newest album ‘Ilio,’ since it serves as a fantastic benchmark for just how far this blog and Vince have come in the same amount of time. And little do you all know, but my previous review actually secretly connects with ‘Ilio’ more than you could imagine! (No, I promise that wasn’t a Buzzfeed article name.)
So back on my previous review of Vince’s work, you may notice that there’s a Soundcloud link at the bottom which no longer works. But lo and behold, that track has snuck onto ‘Ilio’ as the second track! Funny how things like that work out. There’s one other track from Soundcloud that made its way into this album, which is ‘Sailboat.’ This is one of the reasons I think it’s a great idea for all artists to have a Soundcloud, or at least some sort of organized place for non-album-affiliated songs – you never know when you might need to use one! What is interesting, though, is that this means that ‘Ilio’ isn’t so much a cohesive album in the sense that it was a planned album with a theme behind it. Given that the last two albums I’ve reviewed here have been straight-up concept albums, it’s refreshing to have an album of mostly unrelated but still fantastic tracks up on the slate.
Now, as I say that this album isn’t a concept album, you may want to take a look at the notes about it from Vince himself on the Bandcamp page. For your convenience, I’ll copypasta that here for you:
“What started as a concept album exploring the softer side of Gameboy music quickly lost focus and became a collection of mid-tempo tunes ranging from straightforward pop to more experimental songs inspired by jazz.”
Which it absolutely is. None of these songs are for raving to, or getting crazy to. These are chilltunes. Some of them lean a little towards slower dubstyle things (like the aptly named ‘Dubpark’), some of them are a little more goovy/funky, like ‘Saraday,’ but they’re all great tunes to calm you down while still serving up enough energy to keep you bopping around. I think probably one of the most satisfying things about the album, though, is the fake ending you get from ‘Shiosai’ – because it’s the final track on the Bandcamp, it’s got the traditional, almost Broadway-style ending to the track, only to have ‘Galaxies,’ the bonus track start playing (which is probably my second favorite track on the whole album) which then ALSO ends with a big finish. (Guess you’ve gotta go get the thing on Bandcamp to listen to it, huh!)
Personally, I love this album for the simple fact that this isn’t what you come to expect when you hear “Gameboy music.” I think this and a few other albums that have come out recently are pushing back on the idea that chiptunes has to be punk rock, or it has to be techno dance music, or it has to be a game soundtrack. Music is music, whatever the instrument is, and it’s good to hear more of these albums coming out showcasing just what you can do when you think outside the box.
That’s all for now, friends! Stay frosty. (Hah, see, that’s a joke, because I live in Richmond, VA, and we literally just declared a state of emergency because it’s about to snow. I hate the South.)