Chris Considers: ‘Out Of Memory’ by Zalza

- Posted January 11th, 2017 by

Greetings, ChipWINners! It’s good to be back on the blog with a phenomenal new album to review. While others may ponder what future 2017 has in store, we chiptune fans have a particular proclivity to maintain a strong sense of reverence and respect for the past. There is no other recent release that exemplifies this ideal better than ‘Out Of Memory’ by Zalza.

‘Out Of Memory’ is a tribute to humanity’s achievements through the exponential growth of technology, focusing on the exciting period of time from the late 70’s to the early 90’s when the personal computer rapidly grew from a compelling oddity into an essential, multi-billion dollar industry. Throughout the album, Zalza makes use of vintage computer documentaries reporting on “something referred to as technology”, guided programming tutorials, and giddy new PC owners who “just installed the Internet on their computer”. It’s a thematic construct that is at times humorous, but always intensely inspirational. This theme is all the more authentic coming from an artist who tinkered and toiled his way through those halcyon days himself. Let’s take a closer look at just a few of the excellent tracks from ‘Out Of Memory’.


Much like in his 2015 release ‘Superposition’ (you can read my review here), Zalza shows that he’s no slouch in crafting a killer opening track that immediately hooks the listener while also establishing the album’s overall theme. A soaring, triumphant lead melody propels ‘CPU’ forward while being supported by an undulating synth backbone. Interspersed throughout are the aforementioned audio samples talking about technology and its wondrous new possibilities. What’s clear from the beginning is that Zalza has grown beyond the traditional chiptune style, adopting a more synthwave vibe while still maintaining a core based around his signature technique. For my tastes, it’s a match made in heaven as these are my two most favorite musical styles that blend perfectly with one another. When all of these elements coalesce, it causes an undeniable pride and swelling of the breast that can bring you to tears when you fully process the scope and magnitude of what Zalza is paying tribute to here.

‘Ones and Zeros’ begins with the warm and fuzzy nostalgic sound of a modem, and then launches into a deliciously dreamy synth-led tune that tastes like the aural form of cotton candy. The bouncy bassline helps to create the sensation that you are floating on a cloud, and the whole track just feels like the extended cut of a feelgood 80’s TV show theme song. What makes me love this track so much in particular is the very natural and organic way in which this track flows. There may be no words, but ‘Ones and Zeros’ communicates with you in an extremely lyrical way. Zalza showcases his excellent command of the language of music here, and it’s for this reason that in this moment, this blissful and restrained tune is my favorite track on the album.

‘Space Invaders’ pays glorious tribute to what many would agree is the pinnacle of what technology allowed us to achieve: the invasion of space. Through the use of NASA recordings, descending bleeps, and hard, deliberate percussion hits, Zalza conveys the wonder, intensity and perilous danger of our computer-aided liftoff into space. ‘Space Invaders’ perfectly blends all of these varied emotions contained within this supreme accomplishment, while also defining itself as one of the album’s most catchy, intense, and even danceable tracks. The exquisitely captured tumultuous nature of the liftoff sequence acts as a beautiful crescendo to the album’s theme as a whole. We began with the wonders of programming our VCR’s, now we are piercing the very heavens themselves. Who knows what untold wonders the future will bring?

While Zalza’s 2015 album ‘Superposition’ and its quantum physics theme was a great chiptune album, ‘Out Of Memory’s theme as a tribute to the personal computer is even more fully realized, and this review only just scratched the surface. Zalza’s compositional and artistic skills are flexed even further, and his versatility in musical style is showcased with the broadening of his sound into the synthwave realm. If you’re at all a fan of either of these genres, or just love technology in general, I highly recommend that you purchase this album. I realize that at the asking price of $7, the value proposition must be high. The fact is, this isn’t some random assortment of pay-what-you-want chiptune tracks. ‘Out Of Memory’ is the full package, you get over an hour of a highly focused tribute performed by an artist who is one of the best in the business. After listening, it stays in your mind and demands to be replayed again and again. ‘Out Of Memory’ deserves a place in your library. Support this artist and his hard work, you will not be disappointed with this beautiful tribute album.

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