Dollfin – TRILL0BYTE

‘TRIL0BYTE’ by Dollfin, was a nice surprise for me over the December period as for the past year I’ve been listening to his first self-titled album consistently. For some context Dollfin is an LSDJ based artist who fuses chiptune with trap and dance, all wrapped up in a seapunk-style. Furthermore Dollfin’s music is amplified by his fantastic approach towards some inventive sound-design. A lot of the sounds are modelled on the sea and the life that lives there. Because of this there is a unique sense of style that Dollfin brings to chiptune, something that is incredibly rare to see among artists.

‘TRIL0BYTE’ is Dollfin’s 2nd release under his moniker and contains a lot of the iconic sounds heard from the 1st release. Not much has hugely changed from Dollfin’s style. The only difference I can hear is that Dollfin has put more variation in ‘Tril0btye’. For me the 1st one could be at times a bit repetitive. Ultimately, Dollfin has focussed more on what the first album great.

This is evermore true with, ‘Hooked’ and right out of the gate it is an absolute party banger. Immediately starting with a wet ‘hook’ (pun not intended), ‘Hooked’ starts off incredibly strong and captures you in its claws. This is furthermore amplified through the pulse, which runs up the pitch whilst building up tension. The sawtooth bass is especially effective as it seems to really growl with such ferociousness. If you want to something as a nice warm up into ‘Tril0byte’, definitely start off with ‘Hooked’.

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They/Them – Quid, Quare

We’ve finally gotten to the end of 2018, but still people seem to release unique and exciting Nanoloop releases. ‘Quid, Quare’ is the 1st release by Australian musician, ‘They/Them’. Whilst most Nanoloop releases tend to be centered around genres such as, dance & dubstep, ‘Quid, Quare’ however is unique and seems to be a different beast entirely.

We begin with the first track, ‘Salus’. It is minimal but quite dancey, floating through its run time with ease. Right from the get go, you realise that ‘They/Them’ loosely follows the house genre with ‘Salus’, utilising the same melody, but weaving through bass lines whilst gradually changing the structure. This becomes apparent through the rest of ‘Quid,Quare’. One more thing that I particularly enjoy from ‘Salus’, is They/Them’s seamless merging from track to track. This is something that you consecutively hear throughout the ‘Quid, Quare’ and results in the whole premise acting like a journey.

On the flip side, ‘Quid,Quare’, we can definitely hear ‘They/Them’ trying be experimental as much as possible. This can be heard on the track, ‘Tempus I’ which is incredibly minimalistic but at the same time creates so much sound through all 4 channels. ‘Tempus I’ also feels rather harrowing, especially towards the middle of the track, as the synth starts to build momentum. Once it reaches its crescendo it turns into a scary experience, mainly due to the LFO being kicked into overdrive.

‘Quid, Quare’ is a listening experience to say the least and They/Them’s style honestly is the most interesting method I’ve heard using Nanoloop.

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Bit Shifter – Closed System Blues

I’ve been putting off from buying this album for a while, but since forking over my cash, and can’t seem to stop listening to it! ‘Closed System Blues’ is the latest album from ‘Bit Shifter’ and has been something a long time coming. The last official release from Bit Shifter was waaaaaaaay back in 2006! That is well over a decade!

Since starting back in the early 00s, ‘Bit Shifter’ has been a big part of the chiptune community, primarily in his hometown, New York City. This was mainly seen in his help running ‘8bitpeoples’, a prolific chiptune label which released huge albums from major artists (the likes of, ‘L-Tron’ and ‘IAYD’).

‘Closed System Blues’ is a primarily LSDJ composed album and is completely different compared to his previous material. Focussing on mainly on Drum and Bass, there is a huge change in sound, with melodies made on mainly on the WAV. Percussion is more brighter than the majority of chiptune DnB I hear, with careful consideration taken into account. For example, samples are rarely if not used in some tracks, instead opting for using the good old noise & pulse channels for Cymbals, Snares and Hats.

Whilst this style can be heard through all the tracks, the one track that primarily stands out is, ‘The Butterfly’.  As soon as it begins you’re immediately sucked into a whirlwind of drums and a bluesy tune that’s as sweet as cherry pie. Both low, mid & high are perfectly balanced in terms of sound with nothing becoming overbearing. Drum sequences also sound very controlled with certain instruments comprised of multiple channels. A good example can be heard at ‘1:00’, where the track takes a long breather from its bluesy hook. From there we have various types of sounds from different the Noise and Pulse channel playing huge roles. Both the ‘snare’, ‘hats’ and toms’ are stand out sounds, popping at the right time to make their impact worthwhile. For me this entirely section is golden, as they outshine the accompanying melody by a mile. This is surprising to say as melodies are usually the focus of the song.

I’m extremely glad I decided to buy ‘Closed System Blues’. If I hadn’t I would’ve missed one of 2019’s greatest albums!

Bit Shifter
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Jelly Bear – Digital Isolation

Wow, it has been a very a long time since I review a Jelly Bear album. I think it was just after I set up the actual blog; the review being his first album, ‘The Last Paradise’! Such a long time. This time I’m taking a look at his 3rd album, ‘Digital Isolation’ and it is completely different compared to what I had listened to prior.

Compared to ‘The Last Paradise’, ‘Digital Isolation’ is a far more heavier album, looking at the scourge of consumerism. This is done fusing together conceptual sampling and the 8bit sound, to create an experimental selection of dnb tracks.

This brings us to ‘Consumer Friendly’, the opening track of ‘Digital Isolation’. It begins with a very experimental mash up of samples from advertisements. This is very intertextual and immediately gives you the idea of what it’s aiming to say about consumerism. ‘Jelly Bear’ further communicates Consumer Friendly’s themes through his music, the melodies and drums feeling a lot like the hyperactivity of a kleptomaniac. Almost like an infection, ‘Consumer Friendly’ is minimalistic yet pulsing with atmosphere. It’s experimentation done expertly.

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