Hello and welcome to a snow-filled1 winter edition of Office Hours right here on the CWB. I fully expected to talk about a more straightforward chip release this time after my previous review of Oldstyle’s ‘Baroque Remixes,’ but I lucked out with a new release from Soleviio titled ‘Sonus Antiquitatum: Sonata for Two Game Boys in F minor.’ This release is again closely tied to my teaching, as my students learn a great deal about sonata form in my theory classes. Before diving into Soleviio’s music, let’s have a quick crash course in sonata form, shall we? (more…)
As a writer for ChipWIN, I strive to stay on top of the near-constant stream of new chiptune releases. It’s an enjoyable struggle to say the least, but sometimes an album comes along that you instantly click with and know from the start that it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship. I think we all have at least a few of those “default albums”, and for me it was definitely Breakbeat Heartbeat’s ‘Hold On’. Since its release in August last year, it garnered praise here on the blog in Morgan’s excellent review. ‘Hold On’ then went on to inspire some beautiful fanmade videos, as well as a killer mashup with Shirobon by DJ Cutman!
Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to ‘Kids’, the latest release from UK-based Breakbeat Heartbeat (Eve Turnbull). These 11 tracks continue to showcase her masterful fusion of chiptune and acoustic sounds. Once again the perfect balance is struck, resulting in a work that is simultaneously exuberant and meditative; chilled melodies sit comfortably alongside frenetic breakbeats. Themes of nature, nostalgia, companionship and solitude are conveyed without saying a word and having fun all the while.
The opening track ‘Sunrise’ utilizes harp and woodwind sounds to perfectly establish the tranquil tone found throughout ‘Kids’. This leads into one of my favorite tracks from the album, ‘Arcade’. This track both celebrates and longs for the arcade’s heyday of the 90s. While the song is short and sweet, Breakbeat Heartbeat enters some new territory here with some excellent sample work featuring Chun-Li and Zangief. The serene and infectious melody coupled with intense breakbeats results in a track that is nigh impossible to listen to just once.
The two tracks that follow bring smooth funk to the forefront, and seem to be dedicated to all the lovers out there. In ‘Waterfront’, a sweetly swaying chip lead is backed up by classic funk guitar and slap bass that makes the head bob and the hips move. ‘Stay With Me’ follows suit using similar instrumentation as well as introducing orchestral-like strings to create an atmosphere that is extremely heartfelt and frankly, romantic. Having slow danced to these tunes with both my girlfriend and cat, I can attest that it’s one of those experiences that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you’ve done it. Top-tier MAGProm material right here!
At no expense to its beauty, ‘Kids’ adopts a more somber and melancholic tone in its second half. ‘Snowy Theme’ combines chip sounds, gorgeous harp and a slowly plodding piano to recreate the feeling of staring out the window at the falling snow while nestled in a warm place, mug in hand. ‘Lamplight’, being the longest track on the album, takes a while to percolate before the rising tension gives way to a soaring lead and bass-heavy drums that are somewhat muted. The final track ‘Elsa’ goes out with a bang, however, bringing all of the diverse instrumentation from the album together to form a rousing finisher that contains some of the most stimulating stuttering that I’ve ever heard, slicing and dicing not just the percussion, but the lead and supporting melodies as well.
I cannot stress enough just how adept Eve is at crafting extremely catchy melodies and compositions that truly touch the listener. Her sound has evolved, yet all of it is unmistakeably Breakbeat Heartbeat. Everything about it adroitly juxtaposes the peaceful and the upbeat. This is music without ego, and it would also serve as a perfectly palatable primer to chipmusic for the uninitiated. ‘Kids’ is available on Breakbeat Heartbeat’s bandcamp page, name your price. In my humble opinion, her music is very valuable and will give you endless hours of comfort, beauty and inspiration.