Chris Considers: ‘Leaving Home’ by Breakbeat Heartbeat

- Posted September 28th, 2015 by

As a huge fan of all things chipmusic and a writer for this blog, I’m consistently spoiled for choice with amazing new listening material from this prolific community. Even so, one fact that remains steadfast is that among my personal chiptune consumption, Breakbeat Heartbeat’s gorgeous music will always be one of the major food groups. Being a ChipWIN compilation contributor who has just released her fifth album, you may already be familiar with Eve Turnbull’s beautiful atmospheres. If not, get ready to fall in love.

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Since the release of last year’s album ‘Kids’ (which you can read my thoughts on here), I’ve been looking forward to more of the lush textures that Breakbeat Heartbeat crafts so well. ‘Leaving Home’ is a return to her signature blend of intricate breakbeats and heartwarming chiptune melodies, with this one seeming even lighter and more carefree. Just one look at the album cover’s stunning photography should give you a good idea of the overall aesthetic of ‘Leaving Home’. It’s a sumptuous synthesis of the organic and the electronic that pairs excellently with the outdoors; I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this in the backyard by now.

The title track starts with a lovely harp plucking out the main melody for this track, which is fresh and optimistic, conveying the feeling of the dawn of a new day. This is then layered upon with guitar and bongos, before blooming into the full soundscape by adding a joyful chip lead and furious breakbeats at 1:05. This opening minute exemplifies the incredible character that Breakbeat Heartbeat infuses into her music. While it’s the same melodic phrase that is repeated, each one adds a new element and increases in excitement, making for a resplendent climax. After the chipbreak, the listener is gently lulled with the sounds of serene strings and the final plucks of the harp.

‘If I See You Again’ is a standout track that shows how deft Breakbeat Heartbeat has become in merging instruments within her compositions. This hopeful tune takes you on a journey while maintaining a constant melodic throughline. From one minute to the next, you may not realize just how you got there when compared to the beginning, but it all flows so naturally that it’s best to just enjoy the ride. Filter swept breakbeats pleasantly coexist alongside a catchy chiptune hook, as well as orchestral tones and impressive sample work. The samples in this track provide a subtle callback to the track ‘Arcade’ from her previous album. It’s touches like these which really reward longtime listeners and helps to create the artist’s own personal soundscape that grows with each release, while always being cognizant of their established universe.

Speaking of which, ‘Delta’ is a remaster of her 2nd album’s title track from early 2013. It’s very rewarding to hear a fresh take on an old favorite. Those niggling clicks are now absent and the song has now been pitch-shifted up an octave. The percussion is now more pronounced and the string section has a much more rich and full presence within the mix. The hook that kicks in at 2:35 is much more expressive and improvisational in nature now, delightfully sliding in pitch and coalescing with the repeating triplets that occur in ‘Delta’. It’s such a magnificent track which I’m happy to see gain renewed exposure here.

‘Heart’ takes all of the album’s aforementioned instruments and creates a warm, yet whimsical song that nuzzles its way into your heart. The chip lead’s soothing vibrato has a delightful interplay with an elegant string section, providing the perfect buildup to some incredible breaks. Gaining momentum, the soothing vibrato becomes a quickened staccato, then both simultaneously, culminating with some rad “Hyah!” samples. In this moment, Breakbeat Heartbeat is tugging at your heartstrings while simultaneously hitting you with some seriously diggable breaks. Her ability to pull off this potent mixture consistently is what makes her music so addictive. And seriously, who in their right minds would ever argue against more breaks in chiptune?!

‘Day Theme’ and ‘Night Theme’ is a duo of tracks which were made for the game Swish Ball on IOS. Remixed here for her personal release, extra musical flourishes and breaks have been added because hell yes, I believe we’ve covered this before. These tracks really nail that Animal Crossing vibe. ‘Day Theme’ is contagiously cheerful, and contains some of the best breakbeats from the album. I absolutely love the piano in this track. It’s the wonderfully moody ‘Night Theme’ however, that holds my favorite moment from the album. After establishing a somber and somewhat forlorn mood that is evocative of the moonlit night, a flame is lit at 1:35 as warm tones and bouncing bass frequencies carry the listener through the darkness.

The many high points that I’ve highlighted still go without mentioning gems such as the exhilirating ‘From Up Here’ as well as Breakbeat Heartbeat’s track from ChipWIN Vol. 3, ‘Racing Heart’. With ‘Leaving Home’, Breakbeat Heartbeat has solidified her special sonic space that I couldn’t imagine chiptune being without. Every moment of the album drips with genuine kindness and compassion, and its appeal lies beyond the chiptune scene that this blog likes to focuses on. By which I mean, this music touches upon something very human and personal which I feel that anyone who is a fan of peace can relate to. And with a 36 minute running time, I feel that it would make for the perfect accompaniment to a meditation or yoga session. ‘Leaving Home’ is an essential album which will bring you many hours of enjoyment, and I recommend listening to and supporting the artist wholeheartedly.

Until next time, keep your hands and heart held high!

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