Previously on Chipfinite Weekly, we’ve heavily featured artists and albums with an unconventional or creative slant on the chiptune genre, and for good reason- the fusion of multiple disparate sounds, when carried out skillfully, can be something amazing to listen to. However, for something to break new ground and set itself apart, there also has to be a high-level benchmark, a conventional standard to be compared against. Of all of the “conventional” chiptune artists I’ve listened to, there are few that stand out more than Disasterpeace, known well as the composer for the Fez soundtrack.
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In Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, the name of the game is a galactic adventure. Other than a brief outlay of a plot and song titles, this entry in Disasterpeace’s discography is an outer space concept album sustained solely upon its own “instrumental” 8-bit sound to excite listeners’ imaginations and bring forward a semblance of narrative. Creating some form of narrative purely through chip may seem like a difficult proposition, but the twelve tracks in the album make it seem easy. From the very first note, the album beams listeners into the middle of deep space with perfectly developed style that paves the way for a story to be told. Keeping excellent pacing throughout, The Obsidian Interstellar varies tracks and styles with purpose, exhibiting high and low points, areas of hectic rhythm and calming melodies that allow the formation of a narrative to take place. What exactly is the narrative? In the end, it’s up to you to determine, but you’ve been given a damn good frame to fill.
Though parts of a concept album, any one (save for a certain track) of the tracks from Rise could stand fantastically alone. After Prologue sets the scene, Jump Error kicks the plot into motion, throwing our heroes into chaos towards a destination unknown (alongside a fantastically danceable beat) before slowing down and allowing the hapless crew to take stock of their situation, stranded who knows where in the vast and elegant emptiness of space. I previously mentioned a single track unable to stand on its own legs, and that track is Beta’s Brilliancy. While it may be nothing special alone, it’s a pivotal scene within the context of the album as a whole. Consisting of slow note progressions amid interference, it grows, slowly adding more complexity, slowly becoming higher as the notes waver more and more. Then, at its apex, it moves into Ensis, a rallying point that sends the protagonists back into their journey, stronger than before.
It will take multiple listens to be able to fully appreciate and understand the flow of Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar. For music based upon such a simple “instrument,” its production levels and depth are surprisingly high. So go on, buy this album. Join the crew of the Interstellar and embark upon a brand new journey. You won’t regret it.