Sladerfluous Reviews: ‘FAMILY SWING’ by YMCK

- Posted January 30th, 2017 by

Welcome to 2017, ChipWINNERS! What better way to break into the new year than with some quirky chip-swing tunes delivered from their hearts to your ears by none other than the legendary YMCK!

‘FAMILY SWING’ by YMCK is a deliciously unique chip-swing album packed with heart, quirk, and unabashed adorableness. This bright album takes swing and runs with it, folding the classic genre into the chip-sphere with a level of polish that will make you wonder how you’ve never heard music quite like this before.

Check out ‘Glory in my hands…’ and fall in love with a little chip-swing with YMCK!

The full ‘Family Swing’ review continues below!

栗原みどり (Midori Kurihara) , 除村武志 (Takeshi Yokemura) and 中村智之 (Tomoyuki Nakamura) come together with classic swing flavour and light-hearted chiptune fare to create a chip-swing Voltron the likes of which the chip-scene has never seen. Released 13 years after their debut album ‘Family Music’, ‘Family Swing’ shows YMCK’s group cohesion, intricacy, and passion are firing on all cylinders with a professionalism that defies expectation.

One of the major accomplishments of ‘Family Swing’ is the sheer wholehearted embracing of swing as its core dynamic sound. This is not a caricature or gimmick; this IS swing music presented using chip instruments (including Magical 8bit Plug, which Yokemura himself developed) to incredible effect. Presented by YMCK as a musical, this chip-swing tale follows an arc of playful intrigue in a fictional city as YMCK battles its rival for swing-supremacy.

‘Family Swing’ is an excellent album, with a few choice tracks highlighted below:

The song so nice I’ve plugged it twice, ‘Glory in my hands’ is a glorious, rousing and inviting track that lays the foundation for the world YMCK has created for ‘Family Swing’. Wistful vocals seduce over cheerful upbeat chip-swing, lulling you into a sense of carefree wonder. ‘Glory in my hands…’ welcomes newcomers with a standard-yet-groovy swing style that gets heads bopping and toes tapping while setting up for more complex swing melodies and runs later on in the album to YMCK’s credit.
‘Emerald tact’ by YMCK showcases swing music’s intimate nature, drawing listeners in through soft vocal stylings and tight, underplayed instrumentals designed to pull you further into YMCK’s world. Bright chiming arcs and fly-away harmonies lift ‘Emerald tact’ into the stratosphere before bringing everything down to earth with quiet, deliberate cello basslines and near-whispering vocals toward a delightful finish.
‘Great mission Yeah-yeah’ is YMCK’s joyful quirky tone performing at full-force, revelling in “honky-tonks”, “favourite things”, and crowd “Yeahs” that demand smiles and blow away the clouds. ‘Great mission Yeah-yeah’ shows off with a piano solo that is so crisp you could confuse it for being played live as it dances exactly like a classic swing pianist would take such a solo. YMCK’s major strength throughout ‘Family Swing’ is the absolute carefree nature of their music. There is so much work and intricacy at play here but YMCK delivers it with effortless stride, which is awe-inspiring to say the least.

‘Thrill me’ doubles down on the intrinsic fun of ‘Glory in my hands…’, allowing the instruments even more chance to take centre stage, really showcasing YMCK’s ability to rally their chip-instruments behind the classic roles of the cello and drums typically tentpoles in great swing music. The melody attacks with ferocity, surprising with trills and off-beat moments that delight and keep you guessing. The fighting backstory in this pseudo-musical gets a real moment to play during ‘Thrill me’ as more traditional chipsounds battle it out in the fictional city of “Principality of Retrojuego” as “YMCK the phantom thieves battle against their rival The Swingers”. The joy is palpable and will leave you excited for more.
‘Random parade’ takes a different turn with a swing breakdown off the top and a vocal duo hinting at the ensuing swing-clash to come. The chip-cello and piano melody square off in duelling solos that are so decadent that it no longer matters that these are synthetic instruments playing swing music; this is genuine swing presented in contemporary framework and it simply WORKS. ‘Random parade’ takes YMCK’s license to play and runs with it, maintaining the acceleration toward the albums final few tracks, setting up for a delightfully satisfying finish.

‘Family Swing’ is a wildly original album successfully fusing the jovial exuberance of chiptune with the classic carefree melodies of swing music, creating an album that transcends expectation at every turn. YMCK is a powerhouse of creative potential and if ‘Family Swing is any indication, incredible original works are sure to come from these artists for years to come.

‘Family Swing’ by YMCK is available now on bandcamp for £8 (or more) via Hyperwave Records. Grab your copy and support these incredible artists so they can continue to create new and innovative music like ‘Family Swing’!

PixelRecall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love

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