Ahoy and well wishes citizens of the ChipWIN Nation! Up in my neck of the woods, the August sun is burning with a ferocity that will melt the skin off a person’s bones. Why am I mentioning that random weather related factoid? Aside from breaking the ice with something we can all understand, that’s the best gauge I can give you folks on how potent Vince Kaichan’s latest release is. CheapBeats has been dropping amazing releases all summer, and ‘Power Tricks‘ earns its place among them in spades. If you’re looking for some of the best LSDJ work I’ve heard in a long while, you’ve found the right album.
First track on the album, ‘Illjoy‘ sold me as soon as I hit play. This track explodes out of the gate, managing to perfectly intertwine a deep, vibrating bassline with a silky smooth sliding mid line. The melody at this point is so creamy that it seamlessly glides into the forefront of the soundscape. While not loud, they’re certainly proud and given a chance to show up just how expertly their instrumentation is programmed. Even though the bass fades into a supporting role, the way they almost bubble when combined with Vince’s supremely constructed noise snares is to be admired and aspired to.
The track is broken up by a quiet percussion section at roughly the half-way point. It is truly a beautiful interlude, sounding to me like an electronic mix of the essences of wood blocks and beat boxing. The thematic change is just enough to catch one’s attention, but not so dramatic as to break the flow of the track. It leaves you primed for the slow build into an energetic breakdown that begins the final third of the track. This is a well executed stylistic fake out. The drop initially had me prepped for the track to go out guns blazing. Instead, those excellent wood blocks and snares returned to treat me to a chiller roll to the fade out.
I have to admit, the first thing that caught my ear about ‘Ignition 8‘ was the qualities of those first few opening tones. Something about the instrumental timbre drew me immediate back to Peter Schilling’s ‘Major Tom‘, which was a favorite of a ViridianForge from a very long time ago. Those seven seconds aside, ‘Ignition 8‘ quickly defines itself as a musical beast worthy of recognition. Deep kicks and mid-range arps usher in the sliding tones that Vince used so expertly in ‘Illjoy‘. Here, he leverages them for more of a jazz-dance fusion, where they have the energy to encourage some localized booty shaking.
With a pair of crashes roughly half-way through the track, Mr. Kaichan repeats the descent into a quiet segment. However, unlike the first track, this breakdown feels less like a quiet interlude, and more like it is barely restraining the underlying power of the music. There is an urgency in the arps as the track builds towards a drop into momentary stillness. As the music insists on bursting forth to its conclusion, the underlying instrumentation from the first half of the track layers itself back into existence. The gliding waveforms return for just a short moment, surfing along with the arps to a final fade out.
With an opening that hearkens back to racing games of old, ‘Drag Strike‘ shows the aptness of its titling straight off the line. The thick, thrumming bassline quickly mixes with arps and an amazingly reproduced snare and hi-hat set that sucks the listener right into the flow. Briefly, the music dips into a period of preparation that is down tempo with a swirling melody. The sound is as if the music is preparing itself for the next movement. Springing forward with a wild squeal, the initial jazzy groove rolls back in, head held high and victorious.
The music finds another moment of centering just before the end. A snare roll beating on and on, highlighted by a perfect seasoning of quiet rising notes and arps. Giving way to dark, dirty and extended kicks, the track takes on a unique kind of seriousness for a moment. That particular tension that arises from confidence in the face of a victory that stands upon a knife’s edge. A victory that bears out, as the track twinkles into the twilight. Capturing and savoring that moment of success until the very end.
‘Stormsong‘ provides a close to ‘Power Tricks’ that shakes things up in all the right ways. ‘Stormsong’ introduces one of best uses of digital cowbell I’ve ever experienced, and mixes it into kicks and snares that are as catchy as they are simple. With a grinding bass drop, the main leads join the fray. They provide an engaging juxtaposition to the bass line of the track, their slow tempo and borderline sorrowful tone standing in contrast to the energy and playfulness of the drums. Together, for me, they combine for a great musical representation of being stuck in your living room as the heavens are tearing themselves open above you. The excitement of wild winds and whipping rain tinged with a bit of fear and the disappointment of being stuck inside away from it all. All’s well that ends well, as the storm abates with the hopeful and reverent square waves that close the song.
And that closes the Forge for this month. ‘Power Tricks’ is an amazing release, and you really can’t go wrong by sauntering on over to CheapBeats’ bandcamp page and getting a copy for yourself. For one, that’ll nab you some great learning materials in the way of Mr. Kaichan’s LSDJ .sav file. For two, I’m pretty sure that nabbing it there will speed up chipmusic’s eventual domination of the planet. That’s a good thing, right?
So… chop chop everybody.