Yo, wassup, ChipWINners, and welcome back to Quick Shots: the monthly album review column where I take aim at the latest the scene has to offer and determine if it’s worth jamming out to or if you should just walk on past it. This month, I’ve got music from an exciting Swedish composer who imbues all his music with radiance and positivity, as well as introspective, complex arias from an artist who’s new to the scene. Both producers bring records to the table that are worth dissecting, so let’s not waste any more time. Sit back, relax, and join me as I pick apart new releases from veteran chip artist nanobii and neophyte Taylor Eruysal.
‘Sunshine Express’ by nanobii
Up first on the chopping block is Swedish composer nanobii. While he’s been in the scene for quite some time, having performed at venues such as Hyper Wave alongside legends like Ctrix, Bryface and Sabrepulse, ‘Sunshine Express’ is actually my first time encountering his work. I was initially attracted to this album because of its playful cover art, which features nanobii diving deep and exploring the wonders the ocean has to offer. Upon clicking the album art to listen to ‘Sunshine Express’, I notice that nanobii had a very succinct description of himself under his profile pic: ‘Happy Music Forever’. Curious to see if nanobii lived up to this presentation of his work he’d established visually and literally, I pressed play and was pleasantly surprised by what I heard. From the moment ‘Welcome Aboard’ kicks the album off, nanobii hits his audience with wave after euphoric wave of music that blends chiptune and more traditional synth tonality to create pure bliss. From the use of a flute synth for the lead melody to the simple, infectious beat he lays down with his drums, nanobii makes it clear that he’s all about the good vibes, and the rest of the album follows suit in remarkable fashion.
Furthermore, many will be pleased to find that ‘Sunshine Express’ is a surprisingly diverse LP despite its brief playtime. Songs such as ‘Lost on Whale Island’ seem to draw inspiration from soundscapes from the 16 bit era of platform gaming, as its opening measures are somewhat reminiscent of a synthwave take on ‘Beach’ from the game ‘Plok’. ‘You Are My World’ deftly combine aspects of dubstep and trance to make for some killer drops amid a song that is surprisingly heartwarming. ‘UP&DOWN’ uses some frenetic break beats and piano chords among playful vocal samples to craft an insane dance track highly reminiscent of happy hardcore tracks by artists like Pete Ellison. Conversely, ‘Ocean Blue’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ tone things down, making for more mellow approaches that are soothing, dulcet, and charming, allowing for a full range of feeling that never strays into the negative, which helps make the album both refreshing and perfect for the summer.
All in all, despite its quick run time, nanobii managed to turn ‘Sunshine Express’ into a fun musical adventure that’s sure to delight anyone who listens to it. If you’re looking for a summer album to help keep you in good spirits, it’s hard to go wrong with this one, and if you’re new to nanobii’s music like I am, this is an excellent album to become better acquainted with him.
Fave Track: ‘You Are My World’
Price: 60 SEK ($7 US)
Bang for Buck: 4.8/5
Replay Value: 4.8/5
Overall Grade: 4.8/5
‘Kintsukuroi’ by Taylor Eruysal
Kintsukuroi, also known as Kintsugi, is the process of repairing broken pottery with precious metals. Philosophically, the idea behind this practice is to look at the damage to the broken piece of pottery not as something to be fixed, but rather as something to be embraced. It teaches one to realize that pain and struggle are obstacles to be embraced, and that we are made more beautiful because of our flaws and how we overcome them, not in spite of them. It’s with this idea in mind that Taylor Eruysal has crafted his debut album, which he has named after this process.
A multi-talented creator who draws, composes and designs games, Taylor Eruysal has put together a seven track LP of Famitracker music that ranges from somber and introspective to hopeful and yearning. ‘Unexplored Horizons’ starts the album off on a serious note, painting a picture of a wandering nomad seeking to find their way through life. Various melodies wisp through the song like gusts of sand in an outstretched desert while a steady, almost horse-like rhythm of noise drum and pulse guitar establish a mood that are somewhat reminiscent of Spaghetti Westerns, but don’t embrace the genre as fully as Glenntai’s ‘The Duel of Solitude Hill’ or disasterpiece and Derris-Kharlan’s ‘West’ do. The same can be said of ‘Library on a Floating Island’ in that it manages to establish a sense of wonder and curiosity, but doesn’t feel entirely fantastical. The result is a song that is enjoyable but subtle in the images it seeks to invoke.
Conversely, songs like ‘Waltz of the Light Fingered’, ‘Graveyard Raveyard’ and ‘Once More’ are not only very straightforward in their presentation, but they’re very blatantly paying homage to certain tropes and games. ‘Waltz…’ is strictly traditional rpg fair, as its lead is interlaced with moments of playfulness that are redolent of moments that require a player to sneak into a castle to steal something of great import. ‘Graveyard Raveyard’ is unmistakably a love letter to the Castlevania franchise, which I find highly enjoyable due to its timely release coinciding with the debut of the anime on Netflix. ‘Once More’ is definitely paying respects to action platformers like ‘Journey to Silius’ and ‘Shatterhand’, as both these games managed to craft music that, much like ‘Once More’ feel like the pursuit of triumph in the face of adversity, a song that harkens back nicely to the title of the album. Ultimately, however, I feel the song that best shows off Taylor’s skill as a composer is ‘A Winter’s Memory’. This charming lullaby, which sounds akin to something from a gearwork music box with its plucking, twangy melody and twinkling lead, is such a heartfelt experience that I feel it alone might be worth the price of the album, as it is perhaps the most personal listening experience the album has to offer.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is a great album, I’d be lying if I said ‘Kintsukuroi’ isn’t a good album. Taylor has a solid understanding of the basics of music composition, as he is capable of showing off a variety of styles in his work that are pleasing without being distracting. As such, while it isn’t anything truly remarkable, I do feel it’s worth taking note of this release regardless because it does manage to encapsulate what Taylor sought to do. It proves to others, and to Taylor himself, that he is capable of being good at what he pursues, even if he or his attempts to do so are flawed. For that, I salute to Taylor for his efforts, and patiently await what comes next for this Renaissance Man.
Fave Track: ‘A Winter’s Memory’
Bang for Buck: 3/5
Replay Value: 3/5
Overall Grade: 3/5
Well, folks, that does it for this month’s edition of Quick Shots. If you liked what I shared with you, feel free to follow these artists on social media to keep up with their latest shenanigans. Also, don’t forget to follow us, as well, as we update the blog three times a week and regularly post cool new music and events on our various social media outlets. Last but not least, if you’re an artist, composer, producer, whatever, who’s looking for their time in the spotlight, please, keep doing what you do. You never know when Kuma-senpai might notice you.
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