Chip Music, Reviews

A Most Welcome BSOD: PROTODOME’S BLUESCREEN (Review)

June 3, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook A Most Welcome BSOD: PROTODOME’S BLUESCREEN (Review)on Twitter

When Ubiktune published PROTODOME’s album BLUESCREEN (a follow-up to BLUENOISE) on Christmas Day 2011, I nearly peed my pants. Not because I knew or understood the pedigree of the composer, but because it had ridiculously cool artwork and the first few tracks hooked me on first listen.

In fact, I think I intended to write about it around the time of its release. But then, holiday break, family events, and then MAGFest… and hey, after MAGFest, any organization or structure left in your life must fall apart. It’s a law. MAGFest law.

But now, BLUESCREEN is one of the albums released in the Indie Game Music Bundle 3, so that’s all the more reason to talk about it. Without further ado, here we go (post-jump).

Right off the bat we get BSOD’d. You know, Microsoft’s famous “Blue Screen of Death?” Your PC is a piece of garbage, the OS’s various .dll files are in shambles, and you may as well walk away. But wait! What if you got the BSOD and then some funky synth jams started playing? That would be the best! Well, that’s what I imagine happening here. PROTODOME (real name Blake Troise) is a master of synth convergence. He uses famous sound effects from games like Super Mario World (Yoshi mount), Kirby’s Dream Land, and many more, all in tandem with the music. And hot-chick-sigh? Does that ever not work to make a song even hotter than it already was? It’s amazing how fun and funky this track is with its orchestra hits, and then it gets straight-up sexy. Wow.

The next track on the album, BLUENOISE!, is also effect-laden. Right of the bat you hear the Mario pit-death effect, and it works so well in the track, it’s almost absurd. And that space-age synth lead? Gorgeous. Even better though is the square wave (i.e. chip-emulated) bass line. So hot. So smooth. So fresh. Oh, but what’s this? A musical bridge with a modulated build? I thought things were just smooth and easy-going, but you hit me in the face. BLUE style.

Next up, “There’s Always Next Week.” A whole bunch of sexy synth, including that awesome mid-range tremolo. But, this track is best known for its featured saxophone solo. Live instruments over all this synth? Gorgeous. Had I heard this as, say, an arranged album from Falcom jdk Sound Team or Konami’s Kukeiha Club, I’d have loved it. But now, for much less money, I have it in an “original work” context. Cheers, Blake. Cheers.

The next three tracks might actually be my favorites on the album. “Nostalgia Breaks Hearts…” Honest-to-God sounds like it should have been part of Anamanaguchi’s soundtrack for the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World game. It’s this heart breaking mid-tempo ballad with a great chord progression (I hear your minor iv and salute you for kickin’ it oldschool!). “Over-Priced Ice Cream” never tasted so good. At only 90 seconds, this short track is a fun, chip-heavy, syncopated dance-pop tune. I could strut down the street to this while eating a $5 ice cream cone. And if I’m in NYC or San Fran anytime this summer, I’ll probably do just that. Then there’s the glorious “Analogue Dream Girl.” I believe that would be the girl on the front cover. The track is indeed quite analogue, grainy vinyl playback effect and all. Most of the instruments here are live, especially that hot keyboard. Think “Bad Dudes” at their best. Blake’s emulating them here. Sweeeeeet.

Now, a lot of people I’ve talked to have expressed a deep love for “JPEG Jive.” Me? It’s not my favorite, but it’s another great funky track with plenty of those SFX samples. The album formally ends with the adagio “Grayscale.” But then, there are two bonus tracks: “JPEG Jive CHIPMIX” (even more scattered and insane than the original version) and fellow Ubiktune artist halc throwing down a unique arrangement of “Nostalgia Breaks Hearts…” — yum yum!

Despite being on the Ubiktune label, the distribution for BLUESCREEN is exclusively via bandcamp. If you missed it as part of the GMB3 bundle, don’t fret: this album is priced to move at only 1 British Pound! At current exchange rates, that’s about $1.50. Don’t miss out; the album may be relatively short (24 minutes) but let me assure you that every minute of it is wonderfully satisfying.

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