|By Mike Callahan||Friday, 30 Oct 2009|
C-jeff’s album Electric is an expansive chiptune album that breaks from how to spy on someone phone without touching their phone the realm that many tread in the genre – catchy, percussive, driving, consistent. This isn’t to say that Electric isn’t any of things, because it is all of them. Where this album differs from the majority of the chiptune crowd is that it is primarily a virtuostic performance. Think Garth Brooks versus Brad Paisley. Jeff Buckley versus Jeff Beck. Europe versus White Lion. Anthrax versus Megadeth. The latter in all of these artists or groups contained a supreme soloist, a performer that would step out into the spotlight at center stage and rip out a twelve or twenty bar solo that would both melt and blow away the audience with talent. That said, Electric is an album based on C-jeff’s solo lines. C-jeff’s base rhythms are tight, pounding and insistent – there is no lack of character. However, what makes each track (of which there are three) is the main melody that soars over each. For Part 1, the first of three tracks, you get a vibrato laced intro, with the lead sitting directly on-top a few seconds in. After half a minute, the lead steps out and does what it does best – play some thick, jazzy, sometimes stilted, sometimes legato’d lines. Part 1 has excellent, ascending arpeggiated melodies, a great sense of space and development, wonderful pacing (check out the contrast between the careful playing around 1:25 and the nice, Follin brothers-esque repetitive beat starting at 1:44). Around 2:45 C-jeff dives in and goes for it, with some wonderful solo lines, and an excellent sense of push and pull to his solos. This includes a nice meditative piece around 3:40, and the final bits from 5:00 onward. Part 1 is more of a prelude to Parts 2 and 3, however, as there is no real thematic connection to the latter two-thirds of the album. Part 2, my personal favorite, starts off with a great square rhythm, a buzzsaw cut that oscillates with the snappy drums. The production of the album on a whole is wonderfully tight, with impeccably sequenced percussion, steady and fat bass, and excellently cutting, sharp and focused upper-midrange solo tones. Around 2:30 of Part 2 is one of my favorite moments, where the rhythm slows down for the briefest of siestas, allowing the listener a mental break. A few seconds later and you get the stinging lead dancing a pensive line along the rhythm’s swollen and distorted bass, cracking snare drum buy essay online and string-based background. C-jeff treads the line between pensive and insistent and does it masterfully – check out the transition from 6:00 onward, and then at 6:20 where the big arpeggio run comes in, with a flying bit of wave, the drums cracking out a military beat…just wonderful. The contrast between slow and fast, light, fluffy and encompassing spaces compared to the dark, focused and speedingly laboratory report writing rhythmic ones are why I love this album. The last and longest track, Part 3, continues along writing an essay the same things, but also brings in distorted guitars. As far as I can tell form his website, the guitars were lifted from another track. The tone itself is decent, but for me the actual synth sound and soloing on the rest of the album from C-jeff far surpassed the sampled guitars – he does expertly slot it in, and does a sort of old blues call and response type licks with the guitar and his synth, but unfortunately the guitar’s lines are rather pedestrian and bland compared to the rest of the playing and sequencing. Nevertheless, the guitar only makes a brief visit – gladly. Listen to that riff at 1:55 and you’ll forget and forgive any faults with the untracked, key-less instruments on the album. The rest of Part 3 continues on, with contrasting resting and powerful bits. The riff at 3:51 gives me shivers – G.I. Joe for the NES, redux! Except that G.I. Joe never had the wild lead that C-jeff puts in at 4:20. Beautiful. Starting at 10:00, C-jeff gears up for the grand finale. More live guitars here, but these are much better suited for the album. Reverb laden, soaring…a great lead-in to C-jeff’s soloing. There’s more push and pull from the guitar to the synth and here it works as a wonderful endcap to the album, harking back to progressive, yet catchy albums that surfaced in the late 80′s – Yes after the Jon Anderson rift and return, Genesis with Phil Collins instead of Peter Gabriel – it has that tinge of jazz, of sting essay writing and sooth, of good things gone by but a sense of hope for the future. Certainly a little challenging, but also familiar and friendly enough to be accessible. I’m a big fan of this release – while most chiptunes go for a dance hall vibe, with catchy, repetitive, pounding beats and silky lines layered on top of them, Electric has more of a solo essay virtuosoist feel. Neither is better than the other, but the approach on Electric is wonderfully refreshing, making for a liberating, rocking, just plain good chiptune album that’s excellently different from most of the rest.