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I’d Like My Chiptunes Animal Style, Please! “Open Air” EP Review

May 1, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook I’d Like My Chiptunes Animal Style, Please! “Open Air” EP Reviewon Twitter

Joey Mariano, known among chiptune fans by his artist name “Animal Style,” left a bad first impression with me. He was scheduled to perform at MAGFest 8 (earlier this year) after Metroid Metal alongside some other chiptune artists. I was sitting on a chair in a corner, and he was like “I’m setting up here.” And I’m all like, “dude, I’m writing here! Don’t think this will go unnoticed!”

I was being facetious of course. Dude wants to sell his wares, that’s fine. Especially when I saw that alongside his EP “Open Air” (available as an 8cm CD), he had another album for sale for $30 as a limited edition NES cartridge that actually plays the music when you put it in an NES! Well that’s pretty hardcore, my friends. So I wasn’t really upset. However, I think he may have been worried that I was upset. My consolation prize for having to *move out of my chair* (what a huge sacrifice!) was Open Air. Well, maybe he just knew I was a writer and wanted me to talk about the album. Wish granted, good sir. Sorry it took so long.

Anyway, how does the album sound? Put simply, I kind of wish I had picked up that other NES cartridge album (Teletime) for $30. That’s how cool his music is. Does that whet your appetite for 8-bit goodness? I hope so. Read on after the jump!

TRACKLIST

01 Open Air
02 DMG Giutar
03 Arps and Arcs
04 Bit Scrape
05 Next Line Is Equal

(note the mis-spelling of “Giutar” is as it appears on the packaging. I have no idea whether or not it was intentional.)

Anyway, “Animal Style” (also known as a way to order a a sandwich from In-n-Out, native to California) put together one fine EP here. Since it’s only five tracks, I’m going to give you the track-by-track breakdown. Bask in my ignorance as I am unable to describe, at a technical level, what it is I’m hearing!

The titular opening track “Open Air” is my favorite piece. It works with the same kinds of percussive noises I heard in Battletoads, and the melodic range and style sounds like a cross between Mega Man and Rad Racer. You could definitely chill out to this music, in or out of doors. Obviously, though, outdoors would be preferable to fit the “Open Air” schematic.

The next piece, “DMG Giutar,” has all the trappings of a driving/racing NES game. The percussion and the driving bass make you want to rev up some 8-bit engines! But it’s the melodic line, presumably the damage-dealing guitar of the title, that will keep you hooked to the song. The breakdown after the one minute mark is super cool, and when the beat kicks back in, you’re just ready to rock. Great track!

“Arps and Arcs” is my least favorite track on the album. It has a driving rhythm, but the pentatonic scales used in the melody make me feel like this is some kung-fu-dance merge. Like something out of TMNT II mixed with Kung Fu. Well produced, yes. It’s just that the melody, it doesn’t catch me like the other tracks.

Track 4, “Bit Scrape,” uses a lot of classic sound effects; sometimes for melodic purposes, but more often to emphasize a particular beat within the rhythm (usually 4, or the upbeats surrounding it). This is the only track on the album that’s set firmly in a minor key (though there are plenty of minor chords in track 2 as well).

The final track on the EP is also the longest, running at over 5 minutes. “Next Line Is Equal” has to be one of the most zany, scatterbrained chiptune tracks I’ve ever heard (granted my knowledge of the genre is fairly limited). I mean, yes it’s in 4/4, and there’s a structure to the piece. But the inserted sounds, the rhythms, the tempo: it’s just taking you everywhere. Your mind expands in different directions while listening to this one. You’ll want to dance along to this one, and given it is of sufficient length for a solid dance hall party… yeah. I wish I had stayed up late enough back on January 2nd to hear Animal Style do his thing for the crowd. Woe is me for being a father and having a bedtime. But props to everyone who has heard Mr. Mariano do it live!

Be sure to check out Animal Style on 8bitpeoples (where you can pick up the EP, digitally, for free) or at Last.fm. And for all you Philly natives (like Mariano): can you order a cheese steak Animal Style as well? Being a vegetarian, I guess I wouldn’t know.

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