PIXELATED RETRO SOUNDS!
Smoke Signals EP
Gamer, hailing from New Zealand (the country that has royally bought us Lorde) have released their second EP "Smoke Signals".
Stylistically, as their name implies, Gamer sits at the 8-bit, retro video game end of the musical spectrum. Drums are suitably simple and rigidly programmed and the songs are economically constructed. Tracks have names like 'Quest', 'Turbo' and 'Maximum Pursuit' – these guys like their video games and the music that goes with it!
The "Smoke Signals" EP features four tracks. Opening with the title track, a slow-paced, synth-washed affair that could easily close-out the end credits of a movie.
'Winners Take All' is high-energy game music that implies you are about to play a level that involves some quick thinking and sharp skills. Are you ready to do battle on this special stage, race the track and take down the opponents in the process? Here we go! The track also features what sounds like a retro motocross commentary in part.
Next up is 'Zeros and Ones'. This is a more conventional sounding 'song' with a nice big polysynth sound (presumably a Roland Juno). Adding a vocal to this song could work well and would turn it into an catchy pop track.
Closing the EP is 'Maximum Pursuit' which ramps things up. Your challenge is to catch the offenders (or be caught as the case may be). The music sets up the scene and even if you crash and burn at least the music will soften the humiliation of defeat!
One thing to mention about Gamer is that they also create retro ‘pixel art’. This results in some excellent visuals to accompany several of their tracks in the form of animated music videos. The animation is excellently done in a retro, 8bit video game style. These videos have an underlying twisted sense of humour with a bizarre range of ideas and characters - aliens, the Pope, fast cars, guns, medical experiments…It's freak out time! The clips are well worth checking out as they show what Gamer is really about – music and visuals.
Overall a "Smoke Signals" is a solid follow-up EP to their self-titled debut. Geographically it is an important release from a country which is not known for producing a lot of electronic music. Maybe a Gamer remix of a Lorde track is in order then, or one of their pixel art music videos - Lorde being dissected by crazy aliens would really be something!
Gamer on Bandcamp: http://gamer.bandcamp.com/
Check them out as "SpaceFader' on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/SpaceFader?feature=watch
Andrew B White