Roboctopus’ Best of 2011 – Part 2
This is the second installment of my series of columns highlighting my favorite releases of 2011 (sorry about the delay, I meant to have it up last week, but I have been out of town.)
In the previous column I mentioned this was a good year for jazzy chip. Enter exhibit two:
Kplecraft is a duo that mixes the NES sound with jazz, taking the classic 2A03 sound and adding hand drumming, spaced-out saxophone, trumpet, clarinet, ukulele, and a variety of other instruments. The execution of this release is flawless and the production quality is excellent.
Other than the fact that I’m a fan of jazz, what strikes me about L 012 is the seamless integration of such disparate elements. The hand congas and bongos are subtly mixed at the same level as the chip percussion, creating a textured, natural percussive sound. The first time you hear “5114” you may not even notice the ukulele, and when the saxophone enters, rather than sounding intrusive, it seems the most natural course the track could have taken.
Sounding natural, effortless, and unforced is this release’s great trick. Because we as chip listeners are often unaccustomed to hearing chip sounds mixed with acoustic instruments, it takes care and skill to fuse the two without sounding awkward. Kplecraft achieves the feat flawlessly. One of my favorite moments in chip this year is when the horn section and the bongos make their appearance in “zzzzz” over 2 minutes in to the song. Rather than feeling intrusive, the moment is sublime, and should not be missed.
While L 012 may be challenging for those unaccustomed to jazz, it is well worth the effort for any fan of chip.