EP Review: Chipzel – Fragments

So this blog was originally supposed to be for super intellectual teaching/English stuff but I’m thinking smart about this so fuck that noise. Today one of my favorite chiptune (a genre of electronic music made using [or made using things to emulate {there are some purists <no one likes them> who have hearty discussions over this  difference}] soundboards from 8- and 16-bit systems like the NES, SNES, and Genesis.)  artists, a wonderful Irish lady who goes by the name chipzel, released a new 4 track album today called Fragments through the noisechannel record label. Give it a listen here. As a long time lover of chiptunes and onetime chiptune radio DJ I feel it is my obligation to share my thoughts on this new release.

Technically speaking chipzel has come a long way since her debut EP Judgement Day. The songs are faster paced, more fluid, and overall have a smoother, more mature feel that comes from working with the medium for ~3  more years. While “Judgement Day” will always have a special place in my heart due to the fact that it was one of the major releases that first got me into the chiptune scene, the new material coming from chipzel is much more polished and refined, ultimately leading to a better listening experience. The songs, once a little discordant with many different levels that coexisted but never really meshed have now melded and become a multi-layered complete product where different melodies and sounds fade, intertwine, and exist together to create a song greater than the sum of its parts. The songs still retain a definite “chipzel sound” including the recognizable “haha” soundclip found in many of her songs.

The EP starts off strong with “When They Come for Us,” probably the most recognizably “chipzel” song on the album. It hits fast and hard and doesn’t take shit from anyone. It’s a fun, dancey track with good pacing and progression that tapers off and leads well into “Torpedo.”

This is easily my least favorite track on the EP. It is by far the longest track clocking in at 6:37. I can see what chipzel was trying here, as each section of the song builds and evolves from the previous section, but I just feel it is much too long and much too repetitive. I’d love to see a longer track from chipzel, as most of her songs last about three and a half minutes, but I don’t think this is the song. It has some great, fun sections in it. I’m a fan of the section that starts around 3:55, but I feel that it doesn’t go anywhere.

“Knuckle Joe” comes up next, starting slowly and, I think, doing what “Torpedo” tried to do much better.Each section of the song is a logical progression from the next, turning a song that starts out slightly melancholy into an uplifting song that just screams hard work ethic ultimately leading to success out of its bleeps and bloops. As an added bonus, it is named after one of the most badass characters from the Kirby Franchise,pictured to the left.

Finishing off the EP is “Online.” The song starts off fast and quickly gets harder and harder, turning into a banger of a track. I feel it is missing out on some potential to be just slightly louder and slightly harder, but the endings more than makes up for it. I love any song that plays with the left and right channel, and “Online” ends with a metaphorical ping pong game between your ears.

Overall, while the album does have some flaws it is still a solid release with some great tracks. Be sure to give it a listen and tell me what you think of it below. You can find follow chipzel on facebook, or check out her other albums and support her through her bandcamp.

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