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Casshern – “Helix” Review

Alternative chiptune artist gives us a belter

Casshern is a chiptune artist whose 2014 release “Helix” is like a frantic party fest of exactly why chip music is so fun to work with in the first place. The chipset sits firmly in the low-end C64 style with some slight downgraded percussive crunches that feel more 8k at times but the results are always fun.

“Aurreole” is the hyper addictive opener with bending sine waves for the main melody, plenty of bleeps and blips as a backing melody, a bouncy bass and glitching drum squashes. What impresses me is that the five-minute track just constantly changes things up. Yes the strong chorus is there but the pace and sheer quick fire variety, especially in the second half, really impressed me. I was rocking out. “Exosphere” goes for the razor-sharp feel with two bass lines forming the lower melodies and they interplay with each other beautifully as the higher pitched bleeps seem to furiously freak out to their own chord pattern. It works well because of the strange way the tracks made up. “Livid” is more poppy in its delivery and a little less fraught despite the name. It’s cute and well constructed. “Devoured” goes for the simple riffs and multi layered approach to open with before going for the ZX Spectrum route with real percussive smash to everything. It’s like two different songs and the track then starts to merge the two together over time which is quite clever. “Persistence” is like the typical anthemic chip tune. It’s huge drums, massive chord patterns and a massive smile on its face. Casshern does it with style and a great break down at the end too. “Dreamscape” is like machine gun cloud. It’s crunchy drums that would indicate a lush warmth in other chip sets here sound quite militant over the sparse chip arrangement. The melody is beautiful and it works perfectly in the last-minute before “Helix” closes the album. The five-minute track goes through a few variations of the main theme with different beats and breakdowns and although it’s a little too hissy in places for me, it’s a nice ending track.

Casshern shows real promise in some of the tracks on “Helix”. In particular, I like the sense of abandonment that runs riot in the first half of the album. An artist to watch out for.

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