I think we’re all familiar with that little proverb involving April showers, ChipWINners. This year’s rejuvenating spring precipitation is coming your way via a name new to me, BLUE GOD and his concept album, Water Levels.
Brian Russick, a.k.a BLUE GOD, is a SNES-loving music producer based out of Los Angeles. Before his work on ‘Water Levels’, his prior productions had been, in his own words, disjointed. He was experimenting with a variety of rhythmic ideas and melodic phrases. Taking inspiration from the soundtracks of SNES and SEGA games, with ‘Water Levels’ he wanted to make an album that gave off a feeling of nostalgia and relaxation. Relaxing is the definitive adjective to describe this album.
‘Dolphin Coast’ sets that relaxing tone brilliantly as the opening track. The bubbling harp tones that first greet the listener are both mysterious and mystical. They set a contemplative mood, priming one to ponder matters at hand and tease them out in due time. From there, a set of uplifting chip-wind instruments take over the body of the track, backed up by evenly paced snares and hats. No less relaxing, their brightness gives them a character filled with bright eyed, but paced, determination.
These two instruments switch control twice during the track, as whatever puzzle at hand is slowly teased apart. As the track nears its end and the solution becomes apparent, the motifs blend together and drive forward energetically as if to represent that beautiful ‘Eureka!’ moment. With the puzzle solved, the chip-winds return to their original state, and sleepily fade away.
‘Lost World’ follows up by injecting eeriness into the relaxation that ‘Dolphin Coast’ left behind. The first musical phrase that comes through the speakers in one that conveys an image of descending into a mysterious, dark, and cavernous environment. A minute in, the music is twisted and warped as the pace increases, producing a sensation of panic and disorientation. The remainder of the track is made up of that same set of notes from the beginning, played again and again with differing instruments and styles.
It comes together to produce an image of being lost in a bewildering labyrinth. The listener is struggling against panic to find their way. Every wall and path looks frustratingly the same. It is only by noting every minute difference that they can begin finding their way. At the end of the track, the music injects a few uplifting notes, signifying the light at the end of a long tunnel.
Closing the album on a high note, ‘Beach Party’ breaks out a beat appropriate to its name. It opens on a light-hearted and energetic beat that is reminiscent of an over the top “wild” 50s surf party. Friendship, happiness and a good time to be had while enjoying the waves. Around a minute in, there is a musical transformation vaguely reminiscent of an old school video game time shift, fast-forwarding to the evening. With a bonfire blazing in the background, the revelers twist their feet in the sand as the festivities continue. Such energy cannot be sustained for long. Appropriately, after the two minute mark, the music begins to grow drowsily, and the whole endeavor slows to a sleepy end.
For further entertainment, BLUE GOD has put together a music video that span all 22 and a half minutes of the album. Built from gameplay clips from various SNES and SEGA games, it embodies the game soundtrack style he had in mind when building the album.
‘Water Levels’ is available at BLUE GOD’s bandcamp page for the entirely reasonable price of ‘Pay Whatever the Hell You Please’. You can also listen to the whole thing on his Soundcloud and YouTube channels if that’s more your pace. Either way, if you enjoy what you hear or see, support a member of the chipfam in their quest to make cool stuff.
Now get out there, spread the love, and make some chip!