There is something that can be said about those who incorporate chip elements into making a larger-scale composition. Many of these people, such as Marshall Art, Danimal Cannon, Professor Shyguy, and Dunderpatrullen (to name a few) have blown audiences away with their own unique visions of how they want to musically express themselves.
One name comes to mind; and it genuinely surprises me that I had not heard of him before early October of 2014 at a wonderful show put together in the outskirts of Orlando, Florida. That name is Zantilla. And, much like how I felt when I heard him perform on stage for the first time, get ready to be engulfed through a groove-filled, funky soundscape. One where tentacles have tea parties that (surprisingly, yet refreshingly) won’t give you the feel of a certain alternative Solarbear album cover.
Based out of the Tampa, Florida region of the United States; Zantilla is, as described cohesively, “a progressive music outlet by Adrian Shegstad that blends chiptune elements with progressive metal, jazz fusion and electronica.” His latest installment in this project, an album called ‘Star Bride’, is nothing short of this description, blending a marriage between the sounds of FM synthesis and his own synthesizer to give his work both life-like and tracker-based idiosyncrasies through the album. Considering the atmospheric concepts of the vast unknown entity known as the universe, ‘Star Bride’ is full of big, encompassing chords, sound effects, and a fitting, albeit less-than-modest, amount of reverb on the accompanying rhythm sections. All of this goes along swimmingly with lively melodies, grooving funk bass rhythms and solos full of life as much as each song is filled with curious wonder.
The title track of this album, ‘Star Bride’, is a beautiful marriage of music technique between human and technological elements. In this track, Zantilla brings together his synthesizer work along with a wide array of FM synthesis to create a sassy, 80’s-esque introduction. The lead melody, with its progressive nature, keeps you hooked and actively listening until he establishes a powerful refrain. Soon you find yourself in an incredibly lively bridge section full of busy tracker techniques and his knowledge of jazz fusion solos.
‘Tentacle Tea Party’ follows a similar concept in form, but starts off primarily with a deep, funky bass line and simple percussion rhythm that could almost seem like a tongue-and-cheek acknowledgement of how the name could be associated. It soon follows this up with another progressive but enchanting melody that leads into a strong yet lighter-hearted refrain. A lot of this song is very much swing beats and solos, which while typically this style gets a very big nod of approval from me, it takes a larger effort and knowledge of technique before I even consider openly praising it. In all the right ways, this track puts some flair in the mysterious, potentially-sleazy-to-the-eyes-of-the-beholder concept and brings it back to a level of funk that makes me nostalgic for a certain funk-filled soundtrack from the Sega Genesis. Or, to put it less eloquently; if the composer of Toejam & Earl decided to make the soundtrack to a pornographic movie, I would almost put money on it sounding like ‘Tentacle Tea Party‘.
Taking an extra step beyond my active-listening approach, I decided to also take this album along for a more pragmatic method. I decided to put this album to several playthroughs requiring it to be in the background of a variety of every-day activities. After all, there is a difference between actively listening to music and music you just keep playing in the background when you’re busy focusing on other things.
Some people prefer to listen to music to help pass time at work (myself included.) This album is very lively and might help you regain a bit of energy to help you either pass through tasks to allow yourself to get lost in it. However, due to the album’s short length in nature, I would supplement the album with other works so each song’s wonderful charm doesn’t get lost through constant repetition. The same can be said for longer activities such as cooking large meals or extensive cleaning, long car trips (or road trips, for those of us who travel to shows via car or bus.) However, due to the high energy of the content provided, this album is an excellent addition to your playlist when it comes to higher-energy activities, especially exercising routines.
‘Star Bride’ is a fantastic addition to Ubiktune’s lineup for releases, and makes a wonderful addition to your collection of chiptune-inspired music. As full of life as it is well-composed, I would suggest that overlooking this album would be large mistake for any fan of FM composition, solid bass lines, great solos, progressive melodies and happy feelings.