The Musicorium

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Posts Tagged ‘she’

SHE

Posted by Fionn on June 4, 2010

First of all, many thanks to the guys at the Musicorium for having me on here. For my first post, I want to recommend a really pleasant discovery I’ve made in stages over the last year. I’ve been progressively more interested in the chiptune scene on the net, and I think it’s one of the best examples of a music community with a real indie-web ethos, and a genre whose inception demonstrates the genuine creative strengths on the internet. I’ve found it to be a brilliant counterexample to the common music industry notion that without monetary incentive, there is no quality selection, and nothing of any value is produced. The genre is hyperinnovative and thriving. There are some seriously talented musicians involved in it. And most of the music is free to download, with a voluntary donation ethic for remuneration.

Many chiptune musicians are quite diverse, and their work is a rainbow of electronic genres. One such artist is She. She is a Swedish electronic outfit signed to the Japanese label Pony Canyon. There is one official member: Lain Trzaska, who is, despite the name of the band, male. Various (mostly female) vocalists have performed on his records however.

She has one excellent straightforward chiptune album, Pioneer – an exhilarating gameboy-rave album with souped up industrial beats, and atmospheric production. Some of She’s more interesting stuff incorporates a chiptune aesthetic into more mainstream sorts of electronic music. This makes for a highly varied discography which is nonetheless unmistakably the work of a single person.

A common aesthetic runs throughout she’s work. Unapologetically synthy, and heavily produced, the tracks modulate through the classic dance music chord progressions for catchy, plucky tunes, but there is so much going on! Lain manages to create intricate arrangements, where a highly rhythmic combination of instruments overwhelm the listener – more of an aural overload even than outfits like Crystal Castles.

Some of his latest releases Orion and Coloris (these are official releases from she, and are the only ones that must be purchased from iTunes, but I thoroughly recommend them) have the influence of acts like Daft Punk written all over them, but the result is more interesting. No compromise is made in terms of dancefloor appeal, or pop sensibility, but common themes of she’s music shine through: an obsession with all things Japanese and all things futuristic. The tracks also career through various forms of aural manipulation, with sourced japanese phrases and voiceovers, and random atmospheric noise. The initial impression is of turning a radio dial, and listening to broadcasts of excellent dance music from the nightclubs of neoTokyo. And I really can’t emphasize how phat some of the tunes are. There really isn’t another word for it.

I should also mention that she is a multi-instrumentalist, and includes some rather tasteful and skilled analog instruments on his tracks, from the snatches of classical piano on days, to the slap-bass funk of touch and go, to the distorted licks of guitar splashed across his work, notably on fuse. Brilliantly, though, the chips are asked to do the really impressive solo work. It’s amazing how much soul can be gotten out of a Commodore SID chip.

Enough talking. Here are some highlight tracks from perhaps the most immediately accessible records, Coloris and Orion. Do make sure to turn up your speakers, and consider buying these records, just for the higher definition audio.

Coloris

Fuse

Computer Music

autumn in space

The freely downloadable album, chiptek is a good example of this part of she’s corpus, if you want to listen to it before you need more in a similar vein. Here’s a track off that:

supersonic [HD]

Music

Finally, I will say something about the fact that many of she’s albums have quite expansive concepts behind them, with extensive artwork and even backstories to them, all of which are augmented by the snatches of speech and SFX heard during the tracks. Perhaps the most conceptual of she’s stuff, the Days album, is a collection of ambient industrial tracks, which languish as downtempo mood pieces, or which pulsate and rise out of brooding dark atmospheric noise and low synth pads to build into an orchestrated breakbeat crescendo only to vapourize before they have established, sometimes collapsing into simulated CD skipping, leaving you craving more. All this against a background of ominous science fiction themed pronouncements in English and Japanese. It’s really awesome stuff. And there’s quite a story to go along with it. So if you like your electronic music serious, and with a bit of depth, try this out. The sequel, Nights, is in progress!
Day 9
Day 5
Day 11

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