A very merry December to one and all in the ChipWIN nation, and thank you for joining me for another outing at the Forge. This month marks three years since I began writing for Chiptunes = WIN with a review of Corset Lore’s baroque-tastic self-titled EP. With serendipitous timing, it just so happens that Corset Lore has just released a brand new EP on the storied 8bitpeoples netlabel entitled ‘Graces and Furies‘. This release brims with the stylistic elements that inspired me to pen that first review along with highlighting Corset Lore’s artist growth in the last three years.
With its echoing warbles, ‘Graces and Furies‘ wastes no notes demonstrating its fitness as the eponymous opening of the album. There’s an immediate attention grabbing punch to the initial notes, and their dreamy nature provides a framework filled by the first warm sweeps of sounds. The track is then moved along by its drums, which provide a pacing the provides the backing for the telling the beginning of an epic tale. At the halfway point in the music, there’s a palpable expansion in the quietness that gives a sense of the story’s audience widening their gaze. There is an introduction of string-like elements that paint the soundscape with a sense of wonder. Interestingly, as the track wraps, the peripheries of that gentle graceful wonder begin to find themselves bitten at by hints of chaotic noise.
Immediately, ‘Odonata‘ combines flows from grace into a nearly frantic beat with ear-twisting instrumentation. Impressively, the volume and tone of the opening are controlled enough to speak of paranoia rather than outright panic. The pacing doesn’t abate, and combining with that paranoia results in a real need to escape. Again, not in abject terror, but standing on the knife’s edge of rational thought. As the track enters the back half, that feeling begins to firm into a cohesive flow. The paranoia undergoes a synesthesinetic metamorphosis into courage that rounds out the rest of the music.
Continuing with the cross track interaction, ‘Empath‘ combines a bit of vocal chattering with the remnants of ‘Odonata‘s paranoid undertones. Before that fearful theme can continue, it is smashed by an upswell of positive emotional energy emanating from Corset Lore’s first vocal contribution to the album. This begins an emotional and thematic back and forth that captured my attention. An opening of fear countered by an explosion of hope. A return of trepidation countered by measured resolve. An underlying perception of caution and apprehension met with a patient guide encouraging firmness and determination.
While we’re on the topic of ‘Empath’, let’s take a short break from the track reviews to appreciate its accompanying music video. This visual work of art was created by Raquel Meyers, also responsible for ‘Graces and Furies’‘ album art. Raquel is a Spanish artist who self-describes her work as KYBDslöjd (drawing by typing) and utilizes a Commodore 64 in much of her work. Here, she’s put together an evocative visual tale told to the progression of the track with adventure, fantastic creatures, swords and spells.
Getting back into the album, ‘Waking in the Forest‘ opens on both a much more mysterious and less threatening note. Moreso than previous tracks, it raises the question of – “How did I get here, and where am I?”, and no time is wasted in finding an answer to those questions. The pace picks up quickly and purposefully, and the progression is driven by definitive sensations of curiosity and inner fire. The track pushes forward with intent, and never for a moment is it in doubt that this mystery will remain unsolved. Even as the track’s pacing droops momentarily into valleys of caution as the music nears its end, it roars back to life each time with percussive gusto, before finally fading with a satisfied impression.
‘Dawn Compass‘ closes the album with a final infusion of Corset Lore’s new ideas. While many of her familiar instrument constructions are here, as well as recognizable tension and themes, there is a pacing and fire here that is amazing and fresh coming from the speakers. There’s an energy practically demanding to be actively and aggressively danced to, and it excites me. Layering her vocal talents over this pulls ‘Dawn Compass‘ together into a final combative showdown with the big bad that will leave a listener gasping for air as the music snaps to a close with the hiss of white noise.
That closes out not only an amazing album, but the Forge for 2016. If you enjoyed any of the tracks on this album, you can pick yourself up a high fidelity digital copy over at 8bitpeoples or Bandcamp and support a great chipartist while you’re at it. As a bonus, for those readers who are going to be at MAGFest this year, you’ll be able to have your minds blown by catching her perform live on Main Stage, Saturday January 7th. Speaking as someone who caught her set in Chipspace last year, trust me, it’ll be worth it.
Now get out, be awesome, and enjoy some chiptunes!