Chip Music, Indie Music, Reviews

Take a Break From Frozen Synapse with Impeccable Micro (Review)

May 14, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Take a Break From Frozen Synapse with Impeccable Micro (Review)on Twitter

Frozen Synapse, from Mode 7 Games, is a once-underground hit gone above-ground due to critical mass, much like Minecraft, though for different reasons. But I’m not really here to talk about Frozen Synapse, or even its soundtrack. I am here to talk about the game’s composer, Paul Taylor.

Paul, under the alias “nervous_testpilot,” scored Frozen Synapse and other Mode 7 titles, and has even released original content under that name. And yet, one pseudonym was not enough to contain the power of Paul Taylor. I’ve been listening to a lot of his work in the past few weeks, just taking an interest in his collected works, and the one that stood out to me the most was a dance-friendly chiptunes release called “Impeccable Micro.”

Apparently, the style of Impeccable Micro was different enough to force Taylor to change his name, yet again. Even though it’s still just him releasing it as a solo work, he takes on the stage name _ensnare_ for this project, which was released in the 2nd half of 2011. After the jump, my thoughts on Impeccable Micro, and how to add the album to your own music collection.

Impeccable Micro starts (and ends) with _ensnare_ counting and singing, with a sort of vinyl static grain in the background, and in a wonderful lo-fi. After the intro track, we are immediately thrown into a high-gear with “Top Five Control,” which is basically the peak of chiptune dance tracks. Real talk: if I owned a club, this is the song I’d play to get the party going.

The awesome four-to-the-floor bouncy chip-house continues with a track that opens like something out of Jasper Byrne’s Soul Brother but then goes all dub-chip on ya. “Sprite Rip” is its name, and it’s the sort of completely unpretentious party track that makes me want to just get up and dance. It has a hot melody too, such that it would certainly be suitable as a character theme, or better yet, a stage theme in a Mega Man-style platformer. The same “theme”-ness cannot be said of track 4, “Stacked,” however. For all the layers of sound happening, it’s more about the repetition and the sound effects. Minimalist in terms of patterns, but maximal in terms of volume and audio layers. In your face!

The next few tracks all run together, and this is where I think the album gets a little weak. The sameness of these chiptune dance tracks starts to wear on me after awhile. But, hope is not lost! The best track on the album, “Trancesaur,” awaits. This track, the longest on the album, showcases all of _ensnare_’s skills as a chip composer. This is another one that would fit well in a game. Too bad, it seems no one outside the hardcore Frozen Synapse community even knows about it.

Excluding the short spoken-word “outro” track, the final musical track of the album is “Gavin’s Magical Rainbow Catastrophe.” Here, _ensnare_ makes use of some very smooth, palettable instrumentation for the melody. The song changes tempo halfway through: total double-time action. And the whole “play the pentatonic” thing reminds me of that Butterfly/Samurai song (or rather, series of remixed songs) from Dance Dance Revolution. But I mean that in a good way.

Please, if you want to expand your horizons a little, you gotta check out this album. I’m a big fan, much more for this than the actual Frozen Synapse soundtrack (which is very good in its own right). It’s only $3, buy it here.

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