There comes a time in everyone’s adventure in music where one asks, “Is there such thing as ‘too much of a good thing’?” It’s easy to summarize your viewpoint on life in this question. This question, however, gets immediately muddled by the existence of Magenta by Seajeff (fka C-Jeff); founder of the gateway to a ton of excellent progressive jams known as Ubiktune. There’s literally so much content and so much quality that the answer is either “no, there’s no such thing as ‘too much of a good thing,’” or I’m now a self-declared hedonistic opportunist. Maybe the answer’s both at this point, but let’s save that quandary for another time. This album is a badass journey through time and demands a listen, and after the jump I’ll give some examples (and a music video) for you to understand why.
Most people see the term “progressive” and immediately shrug this off to “intentionally just making songs longer with some solo wankery.” These are clearly missed the scope of what progressive intends to convey; a seamless journey of musical ideas and emotions that would be otherwise been split up into multiple tracks by the typical popular music conventional standard. It allows for a much larger selection of options that in themselves not only take a very strong knowledge to properly convey, but almost a mastery to be able to even put together without them sounding jarring or unfit for the composition. Progressive is just as much an exploration as it is a showcase of musical capability when properly executed. A lot of this can also be directly said about the opening track “Changes”.
In the first minute alone, “Changes” shows off a lot of strong composition. There’s not a single thing that remains the same in this song, from key, to instrumentation, to time signature, to rhythmic patterns, to overall mood and dynamic structure. Each changing section managing to smoothly transition to the next. Even then, you still have a few strong callbacks to previous sections to help readjust the dynamic and mood before diving further in to drive the track home. It’s a whirlwind of a track that can barely be put to justice by words.
The next track, “Lovers”, completely flips the script by giving you a sassy ballad full of melodic exposition. The bass line is prominent over sustained arps and a very basic percussion rhythm until the bridge leading into the refrain, which takes every element in the song and manages to intensify its very being. Relating to the track name, it feels like how the passion between two lovers can intensify just by the excitement of being in each other’s company while enjoying the aesthetic of their surroundings. To properly enjoy this song, try to visualize what comes to your mind when you hear this song, then watch the music video (which, mind you, is excellent. Kudos to Philip Summers for the great piece of work here.)
“Magenta” is a track that starts you off with a catchy rhythm and sustained arps that help drive the drama and tension to a catchy but overall simple rhythm for two minutes, and then in my opinion, the real adventure of this track begins. It immediately rewards you with more melody, stronger rhythms, and then when it hits three minutes you’re going to be welcomed into a barrage of polyrhythms. On top of that is a showcase of excellent, tasteful, glitchy sound design jank that takes your focus on the track to an entirely new, temporarily-disoriented level. It also takes this song up several notches on the “how difficult would this be to cover” scale. Without ruining the song by giving you a full play-by-play summary, let me summarize it by saying if I were a used car salesman, I would slap the roof of this title track and tell you “this baby fucking slaps.”
For anyone that listens to the album, they’ll be delighted to find an onslaught of excellence that has contributed their talents in the forms of collaborations or covers. The list includes plenty of familiar and highly notable names to me such as Manami Mastumae, Shnabubula, Stemage and Marshall Art (with Kev Ragone, to make sure I don’t leave out anyone to credit for their talent.) All of their contributions are excellent and really breathe even more life into these excellent original compositions. I was particularly impressed by the cover of “Lovers” by Miette; I wasn’t expecting a vocal rendition with lyrics, but it was strikingly fitting and really captured a different perspective for the original track than I imagined.
Magenta, the album, is beyond just a simple listen. This album is a shining example of how high one can reach in quality when it comes to chipmusic. It also shows how well-composed music really does transcend the medium it’s performed with. One might wonder if there is anything else (from a sound design standpoint) for Seajeff to tackle on the ay-3-8910 chip? Whether it takes a day or a decade, you can guarantee I’ll be excited to hear what comes next. Seajeff hasn’t just created an album; he’s created a badass collection of adventurous jams that has yet to be rivaled in quality and composition. He’s also created, easily, the best album to bookend your (original) chipmusic collection of 2018 on. Go home. Release your next original album in 2019. Seajeff just closed 2018 for all of us. See you next year.