Chip Music, Featured, Indie Music, Reviews

Chipzel’s Dance Floor Domination: Spectra (Review)

February 17, 2014 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Chipzel’s Dance Floor Domination: Spectra (Review)on Twitter

There are plenty of chip music makers out there these days. I have respect for all of them — it’s difficult work, to be sure. But one person I especially admire is Chipzel. She broke onto the scene when she wrote the three-track OST for Super Hexagon. But she has plenty of original works out there too.

The latest among them is Spectra, released in September 2013. This full-length album was created entirely in LSDJ, so it’s pure Game Boy goodness. The nature of this album? I think the headline gives it away, but if you want a detailed report, as well as where you can pick up the album, keep reading!

Let’s start with what this album lacks. I’d argue that it’s not a particularly deep or cerebral album. The chord progressions are all quite common, and the time signature is pretty consistently 4/4 (i.e. “common time”). In this musical sense, I find the name “Spectra” misleading. It’s not covering a very broad spectrum of musicianship. And it’s not broad in its sound palette either, being limited to what a Game Boy (or several Game Boys) can do.

However, on the other hand, if we think of one thing — a spectrum of colors, for example (which the album art certainly helps drive home) — then we have something to work with. Because one need only imagine being gifted with synesthesia to hear, see, and feel how this music covers the whole rainbow, and the spectrum of brightness to darkness.

Across this album we have plenty of upbeat dance songs, and a few slow, moody spots as well. Chipzel crafts incredible melodies, counter-melodies, and awesome rhythms. While it is, by its very nature, repetitious, it is not minimalist. There are too many layers to describe it as such, and things change too often. Take, for example, the second track on the album, “Tokyo Skies.” It starts slow, dark, and moody. Then she drops the beat and starts sending two separate melodic strains all over the place. Up and down multiple octaves, weaving through traditional minoric chord progressions, but making it all sound fresh and new. And if you don’t want to dance by the midpoint of this song, might I suggest to you that there’s some disconnect between your mind and body? It’s dancing time!

And that’s really how I feel about the whole album. Some chip music is more dance-able than others, but this is the pinnacle. This music demands you get up and dance. It demands a party. From start to finish, it’s good-time feel-good get-moving music. And that is no easy task for a musician to create. Kudos to Chipzel on this one.

If you want it, it’s on Bandcamp for 7 British Pounds (as of this writing, that’s about 11 USD).

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