Kubbi – “Circuithead” Review

Kubbi - Circuithead - Circuithead B-side coverKubbi infuses a lot of game music effects and chiptune traits into their musical work. The album makes sure to use a lot of palettes to paint a vividly different soundscape for each track.

Opening with the growing “We Are Wired” MIDI acoustic guitars are pulled in and slowly layered with angelic keyboards before inch by inch chiptune staples start to pour in and beef up the track. What I particuarly like is the track refuses to sit still jumping from one percussive set to another and using a lot of phasing effects too. “Concrete” flits between two piano chords whilst a slightly noise distorted female vocal sings almost like she’s performing to a James Bond theme song. Things start to blossom into a full track when the noise filter is removed from the vocals and the chipset takes over the whole song. It’s great to see a band pushing chip music into new genres and places. “The Hibernator” keeps things in the soft chip rock genre with a synth voice pushing the main melody  over a breezy track  that feels like walking down a country lane in Spring. “Indolence” is more electronic with real old skool chip drum sets over a trance overture.

“I Inc.” has a throbbing pulsating heart drum that is off beat and is great with the opening arpeggios and complex melodies. It’s like a full trip back to Spectrum days and is like a reggae trip back in time. The whole track is fantastic from start to end as it effortlessly flips from hook to hook. “Paracet” takes a break from all the big bass and drums with an ethereal trip for the first half before a pacey near jungle beat kicks in for the middle section. It still strangely feels quite relaxed despite the pace because the chords are so drawn out. Chill out almost. Title track “Circuithead” is the second vocal track that comes over like a alt-pop track from a singer/songwriter. It’s such a unique sound it actually takes a few listens to get used to and that’s a rare thing these days. “Escapist” has a wonderful weightless feel to it with some of the synths speeding by effortlessly while the main chords really take their time – as do the slower drums. It feels like you’re gliding in space. “Disconnect” goes for an awkward piano riff that reminds me very much of Son Lux’s style of making music. The track works really well in making things feel slightly uneasy and off kilter without going too far off the beaten track. “Machinary” returns to a more chiptune sample set with big punchy drums, grizzly basses and phased melody voices for something that sounds like an extended Sonic track before “Flicker” closes the album with panache. It flips from a rockier vibe to a spacious one and then to a chip frenzy.

Kubbi sits in a unique position. Not quite chiptune enough to be fully fledged, not quite anything else to fit comfortably into another genre. It literally defies classification in a liberal sense but I see most game music lovers taking a lot from the compositions and maybe Kubbi will forge a new genre of chiptune crossover! Some of the music really hit me but other more experimental tracks have yet to engage me as much. Time will tell if they ever will but as a chip artist, Kubbi’s got it!

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Categories: 80's music, chip tunes, composer, indie, music, review

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