Jamatar - Spacesounds
You will know within the first 20 seconds of "Gravity", the opening track of Jamatar's Spacesounds is an EP that you will love or skip. It straddles the line between being a heavily chiptune-influenced synthwave album and a heavily synthwave influenced chiptune album. Chiptunes aren't for everybody, and people can sometimes write off any aspect of that genre quickly. That's a shame though, because there isn't a second on Spacesounds that isn't fresh and infectious.
The debut EP by the Australian artist is at it's most impressive when it is using the same Gameboy source to create interesting textures and layer them. "Gravity" does this masterfully, mixing warmer, rounder tones with the more brittle, distinctive video game sounds we are all accustomed to. "Singularity" follows by doing much the same. While filled with layered melodies, the song is more subdued and chilled out. It is more house-oriented than the other tracks, but the wash of nostalgic sounds manages to keep it from sounding overly repetitive.
"Dead Space" sees Jamatar channeling darker atmospheres that wouldn't be out of place in an old Metroid game, but with Final Fantasy sounding melodies, if that makes sense. It is an overtly chiptune song, without as much of the synthwave influence. The next song, "Asasamu" is a highpoint of the EP and brings back the retro-synthwave feel with full force, blending it with a little bit of that the house music vibe of "Singularity". It is ultimately a track showcasing most of Jamatar's strengths as an artist.
"Space Sounds" and "Unity" close out the EP, making it one of the few releases that is bottom heavy, as opposed to top heavy. Many artists put their best songs in the beginning of releases, but the three longest, and by far strongest Jamatar tracks occupy the back half of the EP. If you are on the fence about it, start from "Asasamu" and work your way to the end from there. It'll be interesting to see if Jamatar continues along the path of synthwave composition in a largely chiptune format, or if we blends more into that distinct Gameboy-generated sound. "Unity" implies that it could be more of the latter, and that makes me really excited for this artist's future releases.