This edition of Office Hours will be my first opportunity to review an artist that I have previously covered, which is exciting for me to see their development and revisit some old favorites. Gors follows up his 2015 release of ‘Brave New World’ with ‘Limitless’, a 10-track album exploring the endless facets of creativity. The sounds and styles of this release are widely varied but form a cohesive whole, and the Famitracker work is top-notch. From retro action-platformer jams and bouncy Nintendo-esque textures to chippy pop-punk inspired tunes, you will surely find something to satisfy your aural palate with this album!
album art by Gors
1. Bee’s Knees
Opening with a driving, energetic bassline, ‘Bee’s Knees’ effectively sets the tone and pace for this album. Something that immediately grabs my attention is the bass moving effortlessly from the opening riff to a supporting role as soon as the main melodic idea kicks in. Brief interludes happen between repetitions of the opening melody; these act almost like short instrumental solos and contain little repetition. Although it moved to the musical background after the introduction, the bass is actually the most important voice in these sections. Its repeated riffs and chord structures tie these freer sections together for the listener, while the melodic voice continually introduces new material.
2. Curry Rice
‘Curry Rice’ features some fantastic percussion writing, both in the intro and the solo section near the end of the track. The overall sound is guitar-driven square waves in a chippy, pop-punk vein. A catchy melody accompanied by a nice inner voice line dominates the texture, while the rhythm section steadily pushes the music onward. The most interesting moments of ‘Curry Rice’ happen in the solo, with a high-vibrato arp figure accompanying some shredding square waves, ending with a heavy dose of bass and drums before fading out.
3. Famicom Champuru
The previous texture of bass, drums, and melody returns in ‘Famicom Champuru’, but sounding decidedly more retro than the faux guitars in ‘Curry Rice’. A triangle wave bass thumps along in the vein of the best old-school Nintendo soundtracks, and an echoing melody uses a wide stereo field to add a large amount of depth in the overall texture. While I am a sucker for the triangle bass here, my favorite sound is the high pitched percussive attack on the offbeats. It almost resembles a ride cymbal and adds an interesting, if somewhat tiny detail to the overall sound.
4. 千本刀 (Senbon Gatana)
This track has perhaps the most interesting opening on the album, beginning with a gritty, lo-fi sample and my favorite triangle bass patch. Gradually fading long tones help build tension before the track explodes in a bit of high-energy nostalgia. The bass and drums provide a busy, energetic texture and the main melody complements them perfectly with long tones. This is also one of the first times that humanization elements such as vibrato and lines fading in and out appear on the album. All of these elements combine to make ‘Senbon Gatana’ a stand-out track among the nine others on ‘Limitless’.
5. Hi-Speed Coffee
‘Hi-Speed Coffee’ has my favorite opening on the album, with a drum and bass texture reminiscent of ‘Year Zero’-era Nine Inch Nails. The bright keyboard-style patch contrasts nicely with the omnious bass and drums, and I really like some of the exploration of the lower end of the spectrum in this track. The best way that I can describe the overall sound world here is ‘chill doom lounge’, and I want to hear more music like this in the future. My favorite individual sound is the warbly lead that enters at 0:58 – again, very interesting contrast to the texture and a cool melody!
So far the openings of each track have been completely unique; this gives the listener a sense of musical progression rather than immediately referencing the sound of a previous track. ‘Lodestar’ keeps the energy high after a shot of coffee, with an emphasis on pitch bends and quasi-glitch sounds than previous tracks. The frenetic pace of the bass and percussion has been heard before, but some fantastic noise channel manipulation keeps this texture fresh once again. ‘Lodestar’ has perhaps the greatest variety of instrument patches heard on the album, from clean square waves to dirty sawtooth and glitched-out noise channel effects.
Steadily rising lines and a medium tempo groove propel ‘Photonclast’ forward, and the long tones in the melody again provide a great contrast to the rest of the instruments. These tracks tend to be short – around 2:45, with the longest clocking in at 4:45 – which leaves little time for development. ‘Photonclast’ contains a unique tempo shift and a new swing feel, contrasting with the music of the main idea. This change in feel almost resembles a completely different tune overriding the original transmission, and is a fantastic way to provide musical development and new material in the confines of a short amount of time.
Crunchy rhythm guitar returns in ‘Tesseracter’ after being largely absent since the opening of the album. I like that Gors uses this sound sparingingly; as great as the texture sounds, it is very easy to oversaturate an album with this style of accompaniment. The frantic percussion and bass elements return here, which seems to be a common theme among ‘Limitless’. Two things help this track stand out – the surrounding melodies and little interjections are new, and the punchy quality of the bass drum really shines through the texture. Although the album sounds great as a whole, I would love to hear a bit more low end thump, and ‘Tesseracter’ does an excellent job of bringing out lower-pitched percussive noises.
9. That Girl With Red Hair
‘That Girl With The Red Hair’ opens with multiple lines combining into a very complicated texture, almost reminiscent of the tempo shifting transition in ‘Tesseracter’. The complexity eventually thins out for the main melodic idea to shine through, and thankfully the drums are slightly more subdued throughout this track. I love the syncopated accompaniment figure that occurs with the repeated melodic idea; I think this sound is the unique element that ‘TGWRH’ brings to the album. The transition from 1:45-50 is perhaps my favorite of these ten tracks, with an interesting triplet figure leading into cool descending lines before the eventual fade.
10. Love Embrace
‘Love Embrace’ closes the album with a very laid-back vibe; gentle percussive beats and a reigned-in bass accompany a melody sure to tug at your heart strings. The bass patches have a tendency to muddy up the frequency spectrum from time to time, although I do enjoy the low end support provided for the mostly mid-range melodic lines. These melodies emphasize long tones, which is a great trick to cleverly hide direct/indirect repetition. Melodies return but are harder to memorize in a single hearing, so they still remain fresh to the ears. A little flourishing solo in the coda puts a nice finishing touch to ‘Limitless’.
‘Limitless’, the new release from Brazilian chip artist Gors, stays true to the message that creativity knows no bounds. These ten tracks all contain unique elements that allow them to stand apart, while their brief nature and driving percussion lines form a cohesive musical unit. The Famitracker work on this album is top notch, featuring a variety of instrumental sounds, glitch textures, and humanizing elements that bring great depth to the music. Musically, there is a little bit of something for everyone here, and I would love to hear certain elements like those found in ‘Hi-Speed Coffee’ expanded upon in a future release.