Chiptune’s ‘official’ Mexican exporter, Chema64, has returned with a new collection of tracks spanning four years and four consoles. Released on his own label, 56kbps Records, Chema64’s infectious jams are sure to remind the world that, along with Pulselooper and Chilean Analog, South America should not be underestimated as a producer of chiptune.
One thing ‘Zapotecno’ does very well is traverse genres. Tracks ‘Machines of Loving Grace’ and ‘Fin del Mundo del Fin’ both contain nods at metal a la 90s VGM faux-thrash (think Duke Nukem 3D’s soundtrack). Elsewhere, album closer, ‘Quetzalli’, has a euphoric Saturday Morning theme tune pop atmosphere, with the accompanying hook-laden melodies lodged within its crevasses.
The apex of the release really comes past the mid-point, however, and to be honest if the first four tracks had been cut the five remaining would have created a far more cohesive and powerful statement. The sounds present within ‘Dubtrip’ and ‘Featherblade’ are one of a kind, in fact the horn-like glissando harmonies on the climax of the latter sent goosebumps shooting up my arm. The spaced out atmosphere and throttling basslines of ‘Datavoid’ created a nice chunk of variation, and ‘Quetzalli’ has quite possibly one of the greatest selections of melodies to be released this year.
Whilst on the first few listens the sometimes repetitive and often hap-hazard sounding melodies might deter future listens, I would implore you to persevere. Unlike the adrenaline ladled ‘unce’ of most of his contemporaries, Chema64’s real strengths lie in his understated melodic hooks. What on first listens might appear like a jumble of erratic notes will quickly become nine tracks of greatly varying character and undeniable brilliance.
So, with the amateurish tones of ‘BROWNWAVE’ and dud melodies in ‘Megameng II’ aside, this release is fantastic. Given the time, ‘Zapotecno’ will likely become a mainstay in your listening repertoire, and such a unique one at that. If this is the level of quality produced elsewhere in South America, the rest of the world should definitely take note.
Favourite Track: Fin del Mundo del Fin
Grab the full release over here.
1. Megameng II
2. Machines of Loving Grace
4. Nerd Fatale
6. Fin del Mundo del Fin