Happy Pride Month, everybody! To fit the theme, I’d like to cover a very special release from Business Pastel that is quite literally a rainbow of expression.
With a vast array of technical styles and moods, this album is just jam-packed with content. All of the tracks flow into one another seamlessly, and serve as little windows into the depth of the character of Billy Murphy, better known as business pastel.
‘wishing well’ is a refreshing take on the noodley classic that is the LSDJ thumper. The track begins with an energetic upbeat pulsewave that quickly develops into a full melody complete with light arps and quick, dancey percussion. A short cutaway introduces us to a catchy build-up that really encapsulates the spirit of the piece. After another melodic section full of bright sparkling arps implemented as effects, the song transitions into a swingy bridge consisting of a thick syrupy synth, which is then followed by a jazzy breakdown. A variation on the central melodic verse is played, only this time it’s more pacified, and relaxing. This segment gives way to a series of ascending arps that mark the lead-in to the first centerpiece track, ‘enbydextrous’.
‘enbydextrous’, to me, is the core of this album. It is just brimming with expression and Billy’s unique personality. It starts with an intro featuring many of the same instrumental elements as the final section of ‘wishing well’, giving it a powerful sense of progression and consistency, almost like a little story. The first part of this piece is a lead in sequence to a fast-paced LSDJ thumper section dominated by the central motifs of the track. The second main section is a slow build starting around 1:37 with a wav channel slowdown effect, succeeded by a downbeat rhythm section which eventually explodes into another melodic, dancey verse. The track ends with an elaboration on the central motif followed by a wav channel breakdown and a final glitchy melodic sequence. Somehow this track manages to combine the noodley pulsey goodness of ‘wishing well’ with the more graceful swingy riffs of ‘ghosting’, giving it an excellent coverage of the many elements of Billy’s work. This is probably my new go-to example for introducing somebody to business pastel — an instant classic.
‘dream emulator‘ is a track that is instantly characterized by its heavy use of samples. The static clipping effect of LSDJ’s wav sampler gives the piece a ghostly quality, reminding me a lot of the vocal sampling in nanode’s ‘Revenant’. The beat kicks in, accompanied by bright arps, which are intersected by a brief cutaway after about a minute. Halfway into the song, a slingshot buildup distorts all the channels in a frenzy, and then a steady beat and a swingy lead dominate the instrumentation of the track until the sample-driven outro that leads into ‘i miss my bed’. This track stands out due mostly to its complex yet cohesive instrumentation, and is rather simple from an organizational standpoint. It’s a good complement to the bouncy, melodic content of the rest of the album.
‘palette cleanser‘ is a serene, ambient experience housing a slow melodic sequence that gradually gives way to an intense extended breakdown around 3:25. This song is just so reserved and charming up until it’s not — but then it’s flashy and powerful and so full of life. ‘palette cleanser‘ has so much character and it’s just such an original and refreshing piece of art. For a track titled as an aural reset, it ironically leaves you with a strong flavor.
As a whole, ‘color wheel’ is a stunning example of modern chiptune kicking ass and taking names. It’s unique and expressive, and dynamic yet soft, catchy yet relaxing. It feels so deeply and sincerely personal, and to me that’s one of the most impressive things that an artist can pull off. The download also includes a lovely art book by Beatrix Urkowitz!