It is a little over a year ago that I was first introduced to the chip-tune music and this is my first attempt at ever penning my thoughts on it but if I had to pick one artist to cover then I’m glad I’m able to kick things off with the latest album from chipzel, ‘Spectra’, the thirteen track album was released last week and I’ve had it playing constantly, while I work, game and run!
During a brief trip home, the family got talking about music and I living on nothing but chipzel for the past few days brought up her work nd instruments and there seemed to be some genuine surprise and amazement in the living room as I explained how the sound was crafted Two tracks later and the wonderment was dulled as I saw them listen on utterly baffled and lost trying to comprehend what it was they were listening to, I couldn’t understand it until I looked back over an interview I had with chipzel herself:
“I’ve seen people just look on in absolute confusion at gigs before [laughs]! It can appeal to any age really, though. It’s got that nostalgic factor for everyone that used to spend hours playing old retro consoles, but it also has the appeal of being a “weird form of dance music” for the younger generation.“
That’s why this album has been blaring out of my laptop/television/headphones, I am entranced by it, transported back in time, seven or eight year old me is elated by the melodies, nine and ten year old me is hooked on the rhythm and the rest of me just wants to dance like I’ve conquered Gandondorf, sent Bowser packing and crushed Sephiroth all at once. This album is jammed full of memories that are universally shared by gamers, it serves as a reminder just how powerful music (in particular video game music) is and if you’ve ever picked up a controller in your life you’re going to need to own this album! Now!
I’m not a musician, I’d go so far as to say I’m musically challenged but I’m a gamer and I game pretty well! Games have structures and Spectra is built just like the foundations of classic games from the early 90’s! The album opens on three hooks, they are like the first level of any good platform game, they pull you in, the show you the beginning, they are simple but have an important role as they provide the basic mechanics for the later stages that increasing in complexity! Spectra and Tokyo Skies offer an easy hook, they work on a slower tempo, guiding you steadily into ‘Forged with Stars’, all three tracks share a similar heaviness but the tempo in the third track picks up and suddenly you find that you’ve been pulled in to the album and you’re at the end of the first part before ‘Formed with Clouds’.
If the album was a video game this is the aprt where you rest, you receive important clues and a powerful item, Formed with Clouds serves to bridge the gap between the first section of the album and the next, allowing a shift in the pace and tone.
Roll on World 2 with ‘Only Human’ ‘Aurora Borealis’ and ‘Evolution’ and things are already more complex. The first section of the album was indiciative of chipzel’s early work ‘To The Sky’ ‘Focus’ and ‘Come Home’ would have all sat comfortably at the beginning of Spectra, then this next section clearly shows the growth and development in talent and craftsmanship. There is something clean and polished about this section and by the time you reach ‘Evolution’, you’ll realise that there is more heart and life to the album – it wants to engage with you, it wants you to move, it wants you to remember, it wants you to dance! It’s faster, it’s more energetic and there is more coming at you than the first stage!
Beyond the Cosmos is your final chance to savour this energy, it is the stage before the Boss fight, your chance to remember all you’ve experience before! It serves a similar purpose ‘Formed with Clouds’, but in this case Beyond the Cosmos breaks the gap between Evolution and Veteran.
Veteran is harsh, it’s fast and it’s got a distinct industrial sound to it at the beginning that builds into an even faster and urgent sound – it is the final fight! If Veteran serves as the final boss soundtrack then Sonnet is that last burst of energy to escape the crumbling temple or crashing sky fortress, it captures that perfect sound and feeling of worry and elation, ‘I’ve beat the Boss but if I die here then it really is game over’ but ‘Sunday’ is your reward, it’s relaxed with choir layers and more harmonious tones, all is well…or is it? The Art of War serves to remind us that the darkness can return and another hero may have to rise to defeat it but who cares, it’s the ‘Final Credits’ and you’ve made it back alive and your reward is this infectious and bubbly track.
‘Spectra’ is a childhood of gaming crammed into thirteen tracks, it’s a lifetime of amazing nights out dancing, it’s a soundtrack for all the good adventures ahead, it’s a work of art!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!