Floating through nebulae and flying through space are typically associated with a sense of excitement and discovery, perhaps a sense of wonderment concerning what kind of life may lie beyond our own limited scope. ‘The Signal’, an album written by demoscene and horror movie score-writing veteran Wojciech Golczewski of Poland, provides a stark contrast to the optimistic ventures of aspiring astronauts. It paints a picture that evokes enigmatic and frightful visions of the cold and desolate void that is our universe, interspersed with brief, touching moments of optimism. Before we head off on our excursion, do note that this is an atmospheric, ambient album; this is best listened to in one sitting, preferably in the dark, in order to better experience this artist’s vision. Now, come. The signal beckons us.
Sup ChipWINners? Welcome back to Quick Shots, the album review column where I take a gander at new releases and throw my fifty cents in on their overall quality. This time around, instead of reviewing albums from a few underdogs in the scene, I’ve taken the time to look over releases from three artists thatI first became familiar with because of Chiptunes = WIN! Each of these artists were all featured in ChipWIN Vol. 1 and not only have I loved them all since then, but I’ve seen them continue to grow and change in ways that have made me look at music differently. So without further ado, I’d like for you guys to join me as I take a gander at new music from Lukhash, Whitely, and +Let’s Disinfect!+!
We’re all busy people. Whether it’s flying across the country to go to shows (like I am this weekend), trying to get to work or just walking your dog, sometimes you want to listen to some chiptunes, but don’t have the time to dedicate to a full length album. You’re in luck though – the end of April and beginning of May have been just dumping EP after EP on us, and they’ve all been top notch. For one that truly stands out as unique, though, I’d like to take a look at Jakim‘s ‘Overflow.’
Clocking in at around 11 minutes, ‘Overflow‘ is a series of songs that truly keeps you guessing. The first few seconds trick you into thinking this is going to be a pretty normal, kinda dancey, demoscene kind of deal. Which makes sense, right? Jakim is well known for his demoscene work with eXtrait. But as the music progresses, you get sort of a jerky, glitchy feeling. This isn’t music to dance to – this is music you feel.
The music is piecemeal – there will often be short riffs layered on top of the bassline that feel detached from the piece itself. It is, quite literally, a musical representation of the idea of overflow – there’s so much going on, and you know the shape of the thing, what it’s supposed to be, but sometimes it’s obscured by other stuff from inside of it pouring out. I find it entirely appropriate that the final track is titled ‘Payoff’ – because it is, basically: after four tracks full of starts and stops which get proceedingly more dissonant both musically and rhythm-wise, you finally get a piece that 100% stays within “normal” compositional parameters.
I think what I like most about this EP is that it’s clearly an exercise in screwing around with what might be considered “normal” music by most people. As Frankensteiny as certain parts may sound – you know, cobbled together, maybe not moving exactly as they ought to, awkward starts and stops – the thing is that the songs are always compositionally tight: there are never any extra beats, never any unplanned key signature variations. Jakim knows what he’s doing – he’s screwing with your head because he can, and I love it. And that’s why ‘Payoff’ is so important too – without it, people who don’t know his music might think something like “Man, this kid was drunk when he wrote this, he has no idea what’s going on,” but at this point, even those folks have to go “Wait, no, this guy knows exactly what he’s doing!” It’s sneaky. I like it. Not to mention, if you’ve listened carefully, you’ll notice that there’s hints of themes from all four previous tracks in ‘Payoff’.
“But that’s only 11 minutes of music!” I hear you cry. Well fear not, friend, because Jakim is terribly prolific, so between his Bandcamp as well as his website, you should have hours and hours of entertainment to choose from, so go for it!