Last month I talked about chiptunes4autism, a group founded by Gustuf ‘Asperkraken’ Young, which holds events and puts together music compilation albums for charity causes. These aren’t the only charity compilations I’ve discovered through Gustuf’s work, however. ‘Lavender’ by pprincess records is an absolute treasure I discovered through browsing his Bandcamp fan collection. Not only does this release feature a stellar 7-and-a-half minute Asperkraken synth odyssey, but as a whole it’s one of the most unique compilation listening experiences I’ve heard – transporting you to a world where lengthy electronica mood pieces are followed by short and serendipitous acoustic guitar. One track is a mellow lo-fi hypnosis (‘Miss You’), another is an energetic and sudden pop punk jam (‘Hate Triangle’). The latter refers to god as a “landlord”, and the way it does so is quite funny. Also, all of the proceeds from this album go towards clean water in Flint, Michigan. It’s enlightening hearing all of these tunes in the same space. There are a lot of gems in there, so, well, um, please check it out.
I’ll be getting a little personal now. This is my last article for The ChipWIN Blog, and I do want to make it count, but it’s… hard to write about. A lot of things are difficult to explain, even for a writer. Music helps me do that.
I’ll start with my favorite track.
‘STEEL, GLASS’ is over nine minutes of surprising decisions that create one of the most unified tracks I’ve ever heard. The mix is harsh and distinct, with each and every sound either hazily distant or urgently, mortifyingly close. Melodies merge lanes spinning around in your head. They are less passing tones and phrases, more-so frantic jumps and quick bursts, almost… friction-less? Rather than hold tension and release it, K.K. Slaughter 2070 opts to write a piece where the central theme is one deep puncture, and conflict grows from long periods of feeling nothing at all. The first drop is instantly memorable: loud, rhythmic, decisive – continuing the track’s favor of tangible and material emotions over the momentary abstract grief and heartache of things such as “resolutions” or “”chords””. Fuck that. We have percussive noise and synth stabs, designed to actually stab you. Then three minutes in, the heaviness in your chest is suspended again, before sending you spiraling down a slightly more familiar roller coaster. This drop doesn’t last, however, leading into about two full minutes of atmosphere, and another two minutes before any real metal and material comes back. Aside from a few small hints of it, small shattered pieces. The steel and glass pierces you, and then the sharp objects leave you completely, drawn out, open and wounded.
I’ve said before that what we feel and think about art can reflect a part of ourselves or what we’re going through. Anyways, if you could relate to the last paragraph at all, please take care of yourself, and know a lot of folks believe in you.
I’m not sure why I chose this one to talk about. It’s a pretty piano piece, with a focus on harmony and voicings and moments that happen and then happen again but lead somewhere slightly different. The notes themselves are, naturally, harmonious, but there are static and vinyl noises and bitcrushed and de-tuning glitches and this strange warbling that places the piano in an otherworldly place, like a cloudy dream, but one defined by something real and acoustic and human and in reality. The title is ‘ennui’, which is a term I remember learning from a throwaway joke in a Scooby Doo cartoon. It may have been a movie, or one of the TV shows, I’m not sure. The word always strikes me as humorous, for that reason, but also because such a grand concept is conveyed by a succinct five letters. Shiver Star’s keyboard work here is a lot like that, actually. Clocking in at just under two minutes, their playing is heavy and you can feel the weight put into some of the chords, yet always the motions are steady and the ups and downs are quite sad and emotional. Music is beautiful like that. The whole track feels carefully restrained, but not naturally, as if something holds back its reach, almost like a painful cry that shakes you to your core and turns your stomach. Not because it’s loud, but because it can’t be.
Alright, yeah, sorry, let’s move on.
Dilton’s ‘cholesterol’ is neat, simple, and evocative. The repetition and general sound both fit nicely with where it’s placed in the album, as a smooth but undoubtedly temporary break, in between a vexedly expressive indie rock piece, and K.K. Slaughter’s other rough landscape contributed for this collective. Also, the vocals in ‘cholesterol’ are bleak and undefined, with something about them lying underneath the temporal waves and machines the rest of the song makes up. The sound reminds me of a couple moments from Tuxic’s ‘Oblivion’. It brings me back to where I was when I wrote about that release, and processing complex emotions.
‘Simpleton 2’, by dirges ie:min, is essentially 336 seconds of unpredictable sound effects. Mostly electronic manipulations and artifacts, each noise recurs, grows, and stops, or glitches, moving around. In one way the piece is extremely anxious, possibly unsettling, definitely fascinating. In another way it’s so unlike what you think of if you go to “listen to music” that it’s the perfect escape if you need something but can’t handle much at all. In this style of uncompromising and sporadic often-toneless writing, audio creates a canvas where sound and composition wholly intersect, as samples and synths are often just things that bustle and evolve and stutter and break and make you look around. If you like this, first I would suggest the intense, fascinating and wonderful works of /f, with a pinch of Cryptovolans‘ chaotic fun, and more than a pinch of Prefuse 73. I would also suggest you take a dive into weird maze-like indie games, explorations, mods, and their ilk. I get a similar feeling from those kind of experiences.
It also kind of tastes like carrots?
Technically speaking, Twinkle Park’s ‘Blood Fountain’ is brilliant. The song begins with a classic drum break, poppy guitar chords, heartfelt turnarounds. Moving forward, we hear endearing vocals (from the vocaloid Luka, I believe), speedy creative instrumentation change-ups, as well as clever and seamless meter modulations, tied together by a proud and bright sound. It’s the perfect opener too: not so impressive nothing can follow it, but rather it pulls you in, cheering onward, preparing you to excitedly face anything that comes ahead.
Lyrically, the song is something else. From the start, the singing is pensive, rambling, vulnerable and unsure:
“I’m sick of how i misremember things that happened in the past, it’s good for no one. I talk to myself sometimes, i must be just like you.
kind gestures make me anxious sometimes, It’s something i am desperate to unlearn.”
– Twinkle Park (from her Bandcamp page)
As the track goes on, it gets more specific, alternating between guilty sentiments and finding comfort in someone you care about. From the titular fountain of blood, to being full of love, Twinkle Park says death is always on her mind, and yet again it could easily be called a love song.
It means a lot to me – even when we’re sore, and tired, and literally everything is painful – being able to love people, and love the art we make. I love these ideas, reactions, and what happens when a bunch of them collide. Fragments, and putting them back together: steel and glass, ennui. There are still a lot of things I don’t know how to say, but, whatever you are, wherever you are out there in the stars, you’re here too.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I love you so, so much.