Bubblegum Octopus: Big Battles (Mysterious Friend, 2020)

August 20, 2020 at 7:16 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Bubblegum Octopus: Big Battles

This is a selection of tracks that Matthew Morden wrote for Battle of the Bits, an online chip music competition based in Detroit but including participants from around the world. They aren’t properly arranged BGO songs with vocals and hooks and the like, they’re more like instrumental MIDI demos, but they’re every bit as complex, twisted, and blindingly fast as his usual work, and their sheer creativity and virtuosity puts a hell of a lot of other musicians to shame. Opener “Tough Guys’ Club” is a demented fusion of jazz-core and triple-speed city pop, and “Lake Gusts” is something like sparkly magic forest drill’n’bass. “Ark” is not battle music at all, more like something to soundtrack a calmer transitional scene, possibly one filled with some dialogue, but also exploring. Other tracks start out strange and confusing in one way and then suddenly switch into hyper-break combat mode with no warning — just watch your guard during “Dumper Robo 2026”. “Outdoor Fridge” (awesome) is the most overtly 8-bit-sounding track here, but if it had been composed 30 years ago, someone would’ve thought their Game Boy was slightly malfunctioning. The Bandcamp download also includes MIDI files of several tracks, should you happen to find a use for them.

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