The Hated Opinionated One

Posts Tagged ‘Chiptune’

Friend John Would Like To Be Your Digital Neighbor

Posted by Scotio on August 9, 2008

So, I was offered, again, the chance to review an unsigned talent. If you remember my review on the artist known as PSY/OPSogist, then you should know that I’m always eager for new raw music . . . as long as it’s good. So, with the chance to be able to review someone who might end up big in his respected field before the explosion happens to come about, I just had to take it. The artist goes by the moniker Friend John and his album is titled Version For Maddie. With something as kind and honest as that name, I was almost expecting to hear folk/acoustic music being played in my ears. What I got was something entirely different.

When I turned on the first song(“Different Dreams”), I was treated to something that I could only closest compare to Dntel work. Which was funny, because after turning it on, I saw that John went ahead and remixed “Dumb Luck” by Dntel. A fitting tribute, I thought. As the introduction to the 16 track album, I thought “Different Dreams” wasn’t too overbearing or attacking. It was so laid back and low, that I thought my volume had broken somehow. Then, dear old John attacked me with a spark of loudness. Letting me know that my volume wasn’t damaged, nor was the entire album going to be filled with a lot of low sounding pieces.

On “Blueberry Box,” John threw out the funk. It wasn’t anything to rival the likes of Justice or Daft Punk, but it was a good display of his flexibility. Sounding like a groovy/jazzy stage from the good old days of 16 bit gaming(you know the stage that you played on and never tried to beat it as fast as you could because the music was nice?), but at exactly 1:07 in the song, he turned it up a notch. Adding more layers, extra static rhythm attacks, and even going so far as to having a little digital solo performed in there. Afterwards, going to a revamped version of the original sound of the song.

When “Meanings” comes around, you’re tempted to ask if John is going to go by the moniker John Figurine in the next 12 seconds. The intelligence in his production is very close to those who are very much so professionals in the field that he’s playing around in. But, whatever you had set-up in your mind to prepare yourself for what’s next will be fooled by the track “Elephant.” It becomes hard to believe that John created it by just using his PC and probably only a MIDI keyboard. The song sounds like it belongs in some very futuristic pimp scene; equipped with a giant planet hopping Caddy & fur-lined Captain Kirk space suit. John uses his hip-hop/rap & funk influences on this piece, along with his silliness for video game love. In my opinion, it’s the best song on the entire piece.

A low point would be the song “Out of Here.” Not that the song is bad, it’s just that when the main portion of the song is playing, the sound is so low that it’s hard to properly make out and get into what’s going on. It’s kind of alienating to the listener to what could have potentially been a very dynamic track. Another small nitpick is that some songs are really great, but end under the 3 minute mark. Leaving you with a taste of just 45 seconds more of the grooviness.

On tracks like “Slow Jam,” “Ravens” and “Chapter One” you see him go into the world of Chiptune music. And on tracks like “Passive People” and “Meanings” he dwells on the European style of IDM music production. In “Meanings,” he borders between Dubstep and Glitch music. Friend John shows that he can cover a wide array of styles within the electronic musical world. Even, his remix work for the Indietronic icon Dntel shows him doing some really dynamic stuff. Using Figurine’s own liking for the, what my friend calls, ” Yoshi Island thumps” combined with the spacestation sound effects from, what sounds like, some random Sonic game. The beat is very subtle, yet diversely layered. There’s even parts that sound like a door creaking open in fast forward. He does so much to this little track, yet all the things he does still makes it all seem very minimal. That’s the mark of someone who’s coming into themselves with their artform.

As a first under this actual style, Friend John makes a nice impression as a new neighbor in your musical neighborhood. And, as he continues to develop and builds on what he has already established, you should be sure that he’ll soon renovate his home to make it that much more digitally illustrious. Highlights are: Elephant, Meaning, Multicolor dub and Dumb Luck [Remix of Dntel].

Friend John Version For Maddie


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