Fives and Nines: Tuberz McGee reviews ‘Exit Plan’ by Fearofdark

- Posted August 4th, 2017 by

Fearofdark is not a newcomer on the scene, but rather a miracle of modern science, a beacon of Chiptune wisdom, and a coffee enthusiast. As a revered Famitracker Wizard and ModPlug Master coming off the back of several successful albums, Mr. ofdark has released a brand new chippy toure de force titled ‘Exit Plan’. The album combines his love of jazz harmonies, four to the floor head bobbing, and pseudo avant garde whole tone weirdness. ‘Exit Plan’ is released through Ubiktune, a label known for their ridiculously complex, progressive music that combines super catchy melodies and riffs with weird time signatures and absurd harmonic progressions. This album is no outlier. It exemplifies everything that I just listed, as this album is masterfully crafted.

Alright team. Let’s go on a journey. Let’s jam!

Fearofdark + Dragons = I should have studied maths rather than music at university

This Room

The track starts with a musical figure in 15/8 which already gives you a great idea of the direction for this album. Very intelligent, stuttering time signature grooves obscuring the general definition of EDM. All of which fits perfectly into Fearofdark’s signature style. I noticed people looking at me weirdly on public transport and then realised that it was because my head was bobbing in 15/8 (which looks like 4/4 with a stutter). This just goes to show how catchy this track can be while balancing intricate groove and weird time signatures. It should also be noted that Fearofdark’s brilliant percussion writing is what makes the time signature changes so seamless and natural. ‘This Room’ is a perfect way to open up an album, especially if you’ve come off the back of ‘Motorway’ and ‘The Coffee Zone’.

Staying Afloat (feat. Danimal Cannon)

Just as you get into the groove of ‘This Room’ Fearofdark is taking a full 180 degree turn, providing us with the complete opposite, with dark, gritty triangle wave bass to boot. This is a constant theme of ‘Exit Plan’, and comes from the varying and diverse ranges of genres that Fearofdark not only engages in, but EXCELS at communicating through. This track has one of my favourite Fearofdark staples as well, being triangle wave lead lines. Definitely something that isn’t used enough. The chorus at 1:00? Yeah. It’s super tasty and suddenly any question that you would have had about the track melts away as it has that signature Fearofdark flair (or should I say Flairofdark?). Then suddenly, *boom* a new challenger appears. Danimal lends his cannon. Guitar solos? In my Fearofdark? It’s more likely than you think. Reminds me of weird King Crimson style Adrian Belew guitar solos. Strange, intricate, and probably on a higher plane of existence than mere mortals. Props to you Dan. Great harmonic material, and I can only imagine what it must be like to be asked to do a guest solo on a track this stacked.

Drowning in Sleep

This track sounds like ‘Secret of the Forest’ from Chrono Trigger and I love it. The beauty of this music is in the minor details, and there’s buttloads of them. Sure, the notes are brilliant. The arrangement is excellent. The percussion is thicc. The thing that really astounds me though, is how *alive* this album feels… actually scratch that. How *alive* ALL of his music feels. There’s a sense of humanity that’s being conveyed through his spreadsheet music and that’s super difficult to do. Also that section at 3:10 is soooooo dope. I’m always a sucker for 5/4. Tracks like ‘Don’t Go Outside’ are no exception to this rule, being an absolute groove fest. My personal challenge for all of you guys is to *not* bob your head at 1:40. This is nigh impossible, I guarantee you. Oh and 2:10 may be my favourite section of the whole album. It’s such a gorgeous progression.

Star Dance

Wow. Just as I had mentioned the power of the minor details, this song is all about the minor details. Listen to those glistening arps in the back that fill out the texture. Such a lush, full sound. And just as you think you’ve settled into a four to the floor EDM track 1:10 happens and you get a rad chorus with some syncopated hits. I love how unexpected this album is. It sets up an expectation and then breaks it. EVERY. GOD. DAMNED. TIME. Also chip solos. Those. And yeah, that breaking expectation thing… that happens again at 2:55. Fearofdark is master of surprise, and it never feels unintended. It’s brilliant. ‘It Was At That Point I Realised That’ this album is gonna get an absolutely fantastic score from me. Great segue right? Also, this main riff is so goddamned catchy. I love it when you hear a song and misread the downbeat before the drums come in. This is just one of those occasions. It’s listening to tracks like this that really remind me of how far Fearofdark has come since ‘Motorway’, which I remember gushing about on the week of its release (and it’s still a regular play of mine… and my go-to-album for practicing drums).

This is FoD during like… every chorus. Even songs that aren’t his. 

Dreamscaping

The hypnotic intro of ‘Dreamscaping’ gets me every time, and then it jumps into a more familiar jazzy groove that I associate with Fearofdark. This bass is so ungodly funky that I actually mistook it for a live bass player (which by the way, if you play bass, learn this). The section at 3:00 catches me off guard with its duplets over the top of a swung tempo (Oh did I mention that Fearofdark is also a music theory wizard, so don’t feel so bad about missing out on a music theory post this month). Also a Chick Corea style flute solo at the end. *mic drop* All of this is followed by ‘Handsome Guy’ where Fearofdark finally writes something about himself. An absolutely groovy jam. from the get go it just jumps out at you and delivers you the imperative “Bob your head dingus”. I did what I was told. The chorus is strong enough to kill a man. I was lucky to leave with my life.

The Fairies Will Come Out In Spring

This song is potentially the most polarising on this album. It just goes to show the massive number of varying genres Fearofdark occupies. This track actually seems to follow the trend of his covers and arrangements of French Impressionist Piano works for the Nintendo Famicom. ‘The Fairies will Come out in Spring’ sounds like something Claude Debussy (circa his late career) would write if you put him in front of ModPlugTracker, and I absolutely love it. Coming in in the last third of the album is the perfect time for this song, as it makes you turn your head and ask if this is in fact the same artist. It really makes you question where Fearofdark sits as a musician, composer, and artist, and I think that is one of the ultimate strengths of this album, moreso than his early work. If ‘Motorway’ and ‘The Coffee Zone’ showed off his prowess for Progressive Bangerz™ with incredible melodies, then ‘Exit Plan’ showcases his prowess for music of a vast range of influences.

bro arabesque no 1 is lit espesh the wav channel

Exit Plan

Holy.

Shit.

This is an absolute jam. This song hits hard, with tasty, infectious grooves and seamless transitions into 7/8, coupled with incredible, soaring melodies. The sound design is intelligently chosen and developed as the song progresses. I actually can’t say much more about this song. I listened to it on repeat at least seven times yesterday. My high point of the album. ‘Don’t leave me out here in the dark’ is a brilliant way to follow this. After hyping us up, Fearofdark takes the time to do something that many don’t. He warms us down. He goes from an incredibly high energy track, to a track with a far more lilting, calm atmosphere. This had a very, very positive effect on me. After my first lesson, I sat in silence for 20 minutes before realising that the album had finished and I in fact, had no music playing. This stuck with me. The album as a whole is a very holistic experience, with a strong intro, a meaty middle section with twists and turns, and a satisfying finale.

‘Exit Plan’ is a marvel of an album, and potentially one of the most sporadic, diverse albums that I’ve listened to in a while. This may be a put off for a number of individuals, but I see it as one of the high points of the album. Fearofdark shows he isn’t afraid to be entirely open about his music tastes, melding musical mediums on opposing sides of the genre spectrum. I hope that this is an indicator of where his music will lead next, throwing even more twists and turns throughout.

Personal Favourite Song: Exit Plan

This album is an absolute must buy for me. People will 100% be talking about this album in years to come, much like people still talk about ‘Motorway’. Fearofdark is a wizard. I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys artists like Virt, Shnababubla, or Zabutom.

~ Love Tuberz xoxo

Fearofdark:
Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp / Website / Soundcloud / YouTube

Ubiktune:
Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp / Website / Soundcloud

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