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Chipmusic • Music Artists

Review: Thy Name is Adventure – Oxygenstar

Wmogon001_cover-largee covered its release some time ago, but having gotten a copy of this unique record (and quantities are now very limited), I thought it was time to give it a shake at a proper review.

TNIA is a cassette only release, and at first you might be inclined to think this is merely a gimmick. Upon closer inspection, however, it becomes obvious that all of this linearity makes sense in the greater scheme of the release. Its always dangerous to assume intent in what is mostly a collection of instrumental tracks, but with the linear play order dictated by its medium, its quite easy to fantasize and find yourself swept up in an engrossing narrative.

Oxygenstar is a multi-instrumentalist, but his main instrument is drums ,and the release is resplendent with an abundance of playful and funky rhythms.  For most chip artists, whom groove is merely a tracker parameter,  the lesson learned from the sunny springtime swing of tracks like ‘Melinda..”, or the RPG village funk of  ‘Apple Pickin‘ should be that the supposition that simple sound design must beget simple song composition is a dangerous fallacy.

Through the first few tracks on Side A, the listener will come to see that Oxygenstar is not content to rest on his musical heels with the abrupt stylistic left turns of minor-staby-chord filled ‘The Most Climatic..”, the winsome journey balladry of “Less Talk” , or the rabid ewok anthem “March of the Marsupials“.  As the listener reaches the end of Side A, with the throbbing dancing saberdisco of  “My Favorite Forest“, its apparent that this is no mere dalliance in retroism for retroism sake, that Oxygenstar has transcended the medium and discovered an entire new galaxy, sitting like a million angels on the head of a pin, frolicking inside what you come to expect from a chip music release.

Side B keeps the narrative rolling along with the determined yet melancholy “Look How I Go“, the plodding anxiety of  “Disaster Avenue“, and by the time the angelic lead vocals of “Save Me” kick-in, you’ve stopped anticipating the surprises and come to terms that in the quirky imaginary world of ‘”Thy Name is Adventure“,  novelty is status quo.

Perhaps the most striking element of the collection of tunes seems to be the effortlessness Oxygenstar has in combining his fertile imagination within the restraints of a limited palette. In the hands of of a lesser artist, or an equal with a less restrained sense of taste, the delicate balance of success could just as easily shift from the congenial to the cloying, from the charmingly exuberant to the hyper-actively disjointed. If one must consider a successful release as a kind of blueprint for magic in a bottle, one could do far worse than use TNIA as your stylistic road map.

A lingering question in the chip music community is whether or not there is a place for commercial releases in an community where the great majority of its release are available for free.  Considering the total package, cassette, high quality tunage and affordable price, this is a strong vote in favor of the affirmative.

Another bonus of the cassette format? As the jovial coda ‘Let’s Stick Together” comes to close, you’ll come to the realization that all you will need to do is flip the tape, to start the adventure anew.

Order here.


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