Rhyphte Reviews: ‘General Musings’ by cactus.

- Posted February 13th, 2020 by

Well, this is probably the last you’ll be hearing from me for a minute, folks. Got some IRL adventures to sort out before I can pursue my hobbies in the same way again. So let me kick off the review portion of this announcement with the revelation that cactus. is from Melbourne! Crazy to me since I was born there and had no idea (that cactus. resides there—pretty sure I know where I was born)! There’s so much talent in the southern hemisphere and the list of Aussie musicians that I am aware of grows longer day by day!

(very fitting) album art by Joshua Webb

‘General Musings’ is a collection of what cactus. calls ‘title-first’ compositions, which are songs written around expressions or phrases deemed sufficiently interesting by the creator. I think that the concept is quite refreshing, bringing many different and specific ideas together into the spotlight without the need for a binding theme. It’s a great prompt for generating new and interesting musical ideas!

‘Luna Cycle’ quickly sets the tone with a dramatic and ominous intro sequence that is marked by its harmony. The intro breaks in a bouncy (but still intense) melodic sequence that is backed by a hat-driven drum beat and a series of low-attack synth hits. The track develops further after the introduction of several additional voices which serve to establish the piece’s central motifs. The more pronounced drumbeat and synth trills in the next section eventually usher in a sinister, gritty bassline that adds a ton of space and depth to the track. From here, the track settles into a refrain taking the form of another ominous harmonizing melodic section, playing with some old ideas and introducing some new ones before a drum fill carries the listener into a revamp of the piece’s central motif. This section adds a sense of progression and unity. From here, we are launched into another gritty bass section, this one complete with various adornments and variations to keep the climax spicy and fresh.

‘Melodic Bees’ begins with a bouncy, plucky, fami-reminiscent melody complete with arpeggiated quips. A reverse cymbal introduces a dancey, upbeat sequence decorated with pulses of sliding portamento at the beginning of each measure. During the next section, More fami inspired voices join in. As cactus. plays with several new melodies, these voices begin to chorus and harmonize with each other. Those new melodies start to soar with higher highs and thicker embellishments. From here, the song transitions into a rehash of the previous, upbeat sequence before falling into a tenser breakdown accompanied by a downtempo drumbeat. The central motif augers in a series of segments heard earlier in the track. However, at 3:28, another tenser and more determined string carries the listener through to the end.

‘Spittin’ Shade’ is my personal favorite track, reminding me somewhat of cactus.’ earlier track from Volume 6, bulletGun. The track lets into it right away with a catchy, jumpy melody laid over a steady kick drum. It is soon accompanied by a deep triangle bassline. Before long, a proper drumbeat kicks in and the melody goes wild, taking the already grooving rhythm and adding a funky spin. Interestingly, from here the song launches into a drum-ride sequence backed by long-enveloped arps and bass licks. The melody returns to reignite these elements, developing the section further and adding tons of character. After a series of flourishes, the track shifts back to the groovy melody from the second section, this time with a bigger, catchier emphasis on the ’80s organ-esque bassline. The piece sets up for a flashy breakdown by soloing a bass hit progression. This is soon joined by arpeggiated synth chords and a snare accent. The ride-style drumbeat pops back in, carrying the tune to a drum breakdown that heralds in the final return of the main section of the track. ‘Spittin’ Shade’ closes out with a groovy flourish and a brief proggy-funk outro, issuing a curt finale to this dancey, little number.

So while this is a send-off for me in some ways, it is by no means a goodbye! You can always catch me in the official Chiptunes = WIN Discord! I’m still active there and super down to shoot the shit about games, chiptunes, or whatever else! So if you wanna gush about the newest hot release or propose a sick LSDJ collab, I’m only a dm away!

‘Til next time, y’all. Rhyphte signing off~

Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Dig this article? Then consider supporting us on Patreon!