September salutations to all of the fine folks of the ChipWIN Nation! This month, it’s my distinct pleasure to share a solid release out of the Ukraine. Odessa’s own Fat Frumos released Squarewave Oasis on Bandcamp last month. The album caught my attention by grabbing hold both of my ears and my rose-tinted recollection of happy hardcore fueled nights of reckless driving. Self described as an acidcore, chiprave, raggacore, and breakcore release, Squarewave Oasis meshes together a variety of styles into a unique musical admixture. On the surface, the release is good, and upon deep inspection, it is really good. It shines in the places where that rich stylistic palette is allowed to coalesce and truly highlight what Fat Frumos is capable of.
Straight out of the gate, ‘Fish-boy Dances‘ sets a quick pace and high tension. Immediately, one can feel the energy demanding to be released from the notes being played. The tight chip-flute that begins playing over it infuses a feeling of sunniness into the theme. Combined, they thoroughly prime the body for a good old sweat drenched dance throw-down. At the thirty second mark, all that build up finally releases with a rapid-fire drum breakout that demands foot stomping and head thrashing. With a good thirty seconds of release, the pace abates for only a moment. The whistles return to restore some lost energy, before melding and becoming one with the crashes, kicks and snares. The percussive cacophony, now imbued with a sense of joy, inspires a frenzied desire to pogo about the dance floor. The initial musical rev-up returns as the track draws to a close, leaving the audience primed for another throw down that isn’t coming.
‘Da Pushah‘ gets a little help from JAHMAIKL to produce an interesting blend of reggae and breakbeat. What caught my ear about the music itself was its underlying construction, ebbing and flowing between two distinct characters. On one end of the spectrum, there is a comparatively slow, yet charged, reggae beat. On the other, there is a relatively standard set of breakbeats. Working together, the dissonance is mild enough that it will keep heads nodding and toes tapping. What makes this track memorable is JAHMAIKL’s vocal contribution. With a simultaneously chaotic range and regular cadence, it enhances what makes the track interesting, adding that little something extra the composition needs.
With a synth lead-in straight out of the baseball psych-ups of yester-year, ‘Icecream mountains‘ brings an admixture of love and madness. Scott Carpenter‘s iconic ‘Godspeed, John Glenn,’ punctuates the track’s first breakbeat, mincing no words that the audience is in for a ride. The mixture of anthem styles with the rapid fire pace snare breakdown keeps up Fat Frumos’ pattern of body rocking beats. What gives it that necessary dash of fun is the sample work done to spice things up. Predominantly on the silly side, there are a series of monkey hoots, bird calls, Russian mutterings and more that add an interesting levity to the rapid pace of the track. Worked in here, they add an appreciated touch of levity to what might have otherwise been a standard breakcore track.
Dark, warbling, and ever so slightly distorted, ‘DA BUM TISS‘ has a different character than the other tracks on the album. Breakcore elements are there, with swift percussion that shifted up to the hi-hats as much as its coming from the kicks and snares. All of this is broken up by sample interludes straight from Kung Fury. Among them, most telling from in the midst of the drums in the deep, is the exchange between Kung Fury and Cobra. “What the Hell is the place?” “This is Heaven. I’m afraid you’re dead.” The breakbeat is short lived after this point, and the track begins to fade. As the percussion peels off, all that’s left is a single synth repeating a note at a heartbeat’s cadence until it also meets its end.
In addition to making some excellent tunes, Dima was an excellent enough person to answer a few questions for the ChipWIN community.
VF: What would you like the ChipWIN Community to know about you? Who are you? What makes you tick?
FF: Hello guys. My name is Dima, I’m from Odessa, Ukraine. I am a breakcore/chiptune/acid musician, producer and promoter.
VF: What drew you to making music? How did you get your start?
FF: My father was a musician so music has been part of my life since I was born. While in school I learned to play guitar, gusli and triangle. In the mid 2000s I started to arrange breakcore/8-bit parties. Hanging out with many musicians it was inevitable for me to begin creating my own stuff.
VF: Has Chiptune always been part of your style? If not, what drew you to it?
FF: Long ago I saw a Pasha (a.k.a Uoki Toki) performance. He was playing his music using cool coloured boxes. I was curious about how it worked, thus I got to know what Lsdj was, and that one can create music using a Gameboy. My first few EPs and albums were made with only a Gameboy. Later, trying to find my own unique sound I’ve started to mix 8-bit with breakcore, hardcore and acid with an oldschool rave sound, getting what I call Chiprave.
VF: How do you like to compose your music? Instruments? Approaches?
FF: I like to compose music while being influenced by some impressive moments in my life. Usually I use almost everything e.g. samples from old movies, children’s music, instruments and so on. The most of workflow is done in the Renoise tracker.
VF: What is your perception of the musical scene in the Ukraine?
FF: There are a lot of cool producers in the South of Ukraine, but unfortunately there are almost no raves at the moment. So nowadays I often perform abroad. But it is not easy since I have to get a visa to almost every country that I am invited to, and promoters don’t want to mess with it.
VF: What plans do you have for your next EP or Album, if any?
FF: I have no precise plans right now. I have scheduled a few performances in the UK this autumn, and I expect to get a lot of experience and have a lot of fun during this journey. After that it probably would be the right time to produce a new album.
VF: Where are you wanting to take your musical career? What aspirations do you have?
FF: I enjoy visiting and performing in other countries, meeting new people and exploring new cultures. I’m looking forward to visiting Japan and the USA. I believe that music can bring one even into Outer Space.
VF: Is there any wisdom that you would like to pass on to other artists just getting their start?
FF: Compose and play your music, try to create your own original and unique style. There will be a lot of obstacles and misunderstanding, just don’t give up and sooner or later you will gain recognition.
At the end of the day, Squarewave Oasis is not only good music, it’s a great reminder of what made the electronic music of the 90s amazing. Dima’s positive attitude and immense talent go leagues in amplifying that. If any of the tracks highlighted above tickle your ear, the album is available on Bandcamp for the community standard amount of “name your price”. Pop on over, grab a copy, and toss a little love in the hat to keep the ChipGlobe spinning.
Get out there, spread the love, and make some chip!