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Sick of This marks J3WEL’s debut via international label CheapBeats and it’s clear from the outset that he’s out to make an impression in the Chip scene. He’s certainly spent time honing his LSDJ sound design and instrumentation as despite Sick of This being developed entirely using a Gameboy, his bass-heavy sound is thick and full with very little of the muddiness that can result from taking the 1989 handheld beyond its original purpose.
The EP begins with Acid99 and this certainly sets the tone for the record with a gradual, tense build to a bass that initially feels like it might dominate the mix, but it soon evens out once the instrumentation develops. Custom sample work is something I feel like I don’t see very often in LSDJ composition but Acid99 uses them sparingly and to great effect. The staccato melody that accompanies the latter half of the track is considerably different to what most chip music.
I Hate You is the second track in, introducing a little more of a melodic lead that’s catchy almost but not quite to the point of thinking I’ve heard it somewhere before. After a big, aggressive drop the melody’s repetition is broken up with heavy growls that intensify up to another rhythmic outro using quick, arpeggiated stabs; living up to its name, this one’s all about getting all up in the listener’s face. My only complaint is with this track coming in under 2 and a half minutes, it’d be great to hear this developed a little further as compositionally it’s one of the most interesting out of this four-track EP.
Tripping is a smoother ride as we pass the halfway point, starting with a neat, melodic hook over the familiar heavy bass. This builds into a downtempo middle that feels rather chilled despite the glitchy growls emphasising the end of each bar and the choice-worded vocal sample. Tripping is over a minute longer than I Hate You, but it feels like it could use an extended version to really make the most of out each section. It’s definitely very listenable but it’s over a little too soon, with just a hint of a beautifully chilled-out chord arrangement in the outro that I’d love to hear worked into a full track some time.
The final track on the EP is Cut Throat, which gets back to business with a tense, rhythmic build-up to a dense, complex display of J3WEL’s skill with LSDj’s wave channel and pulse tables. As with the majority of the record, the pulse-channel melody that people might expect from an LSDj artist takes a back seat in favour of rhythmic noises and effects that stay just the right side of dubstep and downtempo EDM. The track ends quite abruptly, which is only emphasised by the amount of energy in the rest of the track. I feel as if this is another one that could have been developed and extended by another minute or so to bring the EP to a more natural-sounding close.
Overall, I’m very happy with this EP, especially for a first release. Each track is well balanced, channelling aggressive, stompy rhythms and growling bass with melodic touches that make them very listenable through my headphones as well as hitting hard in a live setting. The only thing I could say is that a couple of the tracks feel a little short, but what’s there is top notch, well worth the $4 digital price tag and then some!
If you’d like to hear this EP for yourself, it’s available at Cheapbeats
$4 digital or $8 physical