Can you hear those sleigh bells a jingling ChipWINners? Perhaps a ring-ting-tingling too? For those of us in the northern hemisphere, winter has begun to make its full force known.
As fond as I am of a seasonal excuse to curl up inside with good video games, ancestral quilts, and a hot cup of coffee, the charm of ice and snow wears off quickly. As such, when King Keytan’s latest release dropped into my lap in late November, the idea of ‘Summer Forever‘ was a serious temptation.
‘Summer Forever‘ was released by King Keytan on the 22nd of November through the venerable UK netlabel Pterodactyl Squad. The Squad describes the album as “This is the music robots hear when they fall in love,” and claims that, “This is a new kind of chiptune.”
Being that I don’t know any mechanical entities that have experience with amorous magic, I cannot speak to their former claim. As for the latter, while I might not say this is an entirely new breed of chip, King Keytan pairs normally opposing tempos and tones in an idea inspiring fashion.
Built on top of firm foundations with a bass chord loop layered over a crunchy set of noise bass tones, ‘Blue Blaster‘ makes for a prodigious opening track. While opening quietly, in the first minute more and more instruments join the orchestra, building energy and purpose. With a crash of white noise, the track explodes into an energetic movement where the earthy feel of the bass instruments really come into their full beauty. With that same crash, around the two minute mark, the track falls into a movement that is meditative in comparison to the rest of the piece, before practically putting itself into a full reverse, playing itself out in reverse, crashing back to life before gently playing back into silence.
‘Purpose‘ belongs in the trailer to an 80’s sci-fi film, with its understated intensity and palpable tension. With the juxtaposition of hard-edged kicks and snares with a ponderous synthesizer, this track simultaneously exudes bleakness and anticipation. Short and sweet, the piece again has a loop-like structure. Because of that brevity, the looping structure could be in danger of being too repetitive, but is presented subtly enough to be enjoyable.
What caught my attention in ‘Love Yourself‘ was the dramatic shift in the flavor of the synthesizers in play. The use of marimba in the bassline was an eye-openingly fresh addition to the album. Paired with a dissonant brass, the combination is enough of a shift from the third of the album to hammer home the idea that you’re listening to some new and interesting musical ideas.
‘Sunburnt‘ is, by far, my favorite track from this album. King Keytan has found a winning implementation here. In particular, the use of a minor toned lead fighting against the brighter and plucked bassline gives a palpable sense of finality to the track. Especially at the end, where the lead fades away entirely, leaving behind only the bass, plugging along unaffected until the music fades out.
At the end of the day, ‘Summer Forever’ it is a damned solid release that deserves both your attention and love. It’s available for free download from Pterodactyl Squad. However, if you, like me, believe in spreading the love, pop on over to the Bandcamp page and toss £3 ($4.70 according to Google) into the pot.
Get out there, spread the love, and make some chip!