Happy June, folks!
This month on the blog, I display to you all a modest delayed reaction on a spring release that I enjoyed recently. ‘workplace ergonomics’ was released on April 23rd, 2018 by Philly based musician, visual artist, and coder, nmlstyl. While I was shocked that it hadn’t already been reviewed here, there were absolutely no surprises on my end as to how gorgeous this record turned out to be.
Usually, the first time I hear an album I review here is online, right before I start to review it. This record was different; I was in the car last weekend, getting picked up on my way back to New York City from my home city of Boston, where nmlstyl’s intricate ear candy made its way through the car speakers. “You should review this,” I was told.
I’m lucky to surround myself around some really good people from this scene. I adored the record but hesitated on even checking our Blog schedule to confirm this album’s review availability, because albums this good get scooped up so fast between the blog writers (sometimes a month in advance, or really whenever word leaks from the artist of the release date, or as soon as it hits the ChipWINdex).
Nmlstyl always sounds great and has a unique energy. To me, ‘workspace ergonomics’ is the sound of dark lit Philadelphia art spaces filled with people you’ve only talked to online, bobbing their heads in time like tickers on old cuckoo clocks. On top of displaying a savviness for music technology, nmlstyl, also known as Joey Michalina Mariano, is also a coder and visual artist. The aesthetic of nmlstyl’s logo alone has so much brilliant character, despite being so simple.
Track 1, ‘plenty w.i.p.’ is catchy in all three elements of melody, supporting harmonies, and rhythm. Displaying a complete sense of control over parameters, nmlstyl created a catchy track consisting of multiple sections, leaving me with no choice but to go back and listen again at the end of the track. The mix is very good and each section seriously just flows into each other: It’s like an amazing dj set compressed into nearly five minutes. Track one, and I’m in love.
‘church chuck’ is a spooky and dark track I personally found to be just as much catchy as it was meditative. Part of nmlstyl’s artistic stamp is adding as much color as possible to a piece of music; the variety of instruments laid down displayed some of the best textures I’ve heard from a record in a long time. And, holy crap, I really love the snare sound.
‘infinitaves’ brings us to the grand finale of ‘workspace ergonomics’. Beginning with a rhythmic bass line and a soft but impressionable lead synth, ‘infinitaves’ sounds both nostalgic and impressive. How easily each different section of each track progresses gives me the impression of somebody who really knows their sound and themselves, and this, to me, is inspiring on so many different levels. It takes a long time for an artist to figure out what they want to sound like, or how to sound like how they hear themselves in their head. While each track on this record is very different, each has the nmlstyl style (!) stamped to it.
If you’re as curious as me as to how this record was created, look no further. Comprised of Linn Drum samples (a drum machine synth designed by Mr. Roger Linn and his company from ’82-’85 with a limited run of approximately 5,000 units), the ym2616 sound chip (a FM synthesis chip developed by Yamaha for Sega Genesis), and the SN76489 DCSG chip (a programmable chip, also known as the Digital Complex Sound Generator by Texas Instruments, comprised of both a noise generator and three square wave generators), this album sounds totally cohesive, despite using quite a variety of sound sources.
You can check out upcoming nmlstyl shows on July 12th in Philly at The Pharmacy, and on July 28th at the Bit Gen Gamer Fest in Baltimore, Maryland at Ottobar (upstairs). As always, please support those in your local scene, and I hope everyone keeps an eye and ear out for nmlstyl. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to introduce this one to our viewers and I 100% recommend everyone to support nmlstyl because what better motivation is there to create good music than knowing that we all care about it?
There is only more good to come.
Until next time,
The Unicorn Princess