Monday, January 2, 2012

REVIEW// Jim Guthrie: Children of the Clone EP

   Upon awakening to the new and beautifully designed newsletter from Jim Guthrie, something inside of me let out an almighty, child-like grin. Whatever is happening around you doesn't matter when you are handed even a couple of tracks by this musical aficionado. However instead of two, I was made aware of an eight-track EP! I sat down, and with a smile plastered upon my face, a wonderful thought entered my head. Today was going to be a great day, and Mr Guthrie didn't let me down. A followup to 'Sword and Sworcery', the soundtrack to a superb game of the same name, 'Children of the Clone' was amazingly, only recorded via a PlayStation 1 and the 1999 game MTV Music Generator. What Guthrie has managed to do is record a stunning set of tracks through the utilisation of considerably old technology, which is worthy of any music lovers adulation and admiration. 'Children of the Clone' is the epitome of nostalgic reminiscence, it's beeps and synths and panning sounds all part of a single thing, looming from the mists of time itself to stand worn and weathered at the door! The wires and plugs behind its emergence isn't noticeable in the music, but it's a fact that makes such sonic soundscapes that much brighter, lit by the impressed light of your eyes!
      The EP opens with 'Economica', a quietly ominous track laden with chiptune melodies and a thundering bass line. A deep piano note sways forwards and backwards as Guthrie experiments with 3D sound panning. The higher and lower phrases are split into separate headphones before amalgamating halfway through in a thoughtfully upbeat chorus. Tone- wise things flit from happy to sad, playful samples whirring and laughing amongst the dark moonlit gravestones of the backing track. A technological glitch plays out before your ears and the next number begins without pause. The title track, a steady beat throbs. Strange noises detail the constant, almost totalitarian suppression, but then a powerful synth calls the clones to arms. Regimented and solemn and sincere, those many marching feet begin to run. The ground shakes and the lone drummer continues to beat. Brilliantly constructed in every conceivable way, this number feels truly perfect, but perhaps that's because it is!
     After the sparse magnificence of 'Room Full Of Empty People', its building melody and ethereal purity growing on you as the song progresses, 'Heart Of The World' begins. This is the number you can really imagine in a video game. Something about its speed, panting and crying and racing from an unknown enemy just works. Layers of sound and detail and complexities end with the booming, mocking image of a 'game over' screen, and I adore it! 'Popcorn Part 2' follows from the non-existent 'Part 1' but the cheery upbeat charm of it all forgives such lacking continuity. The constant backing melody ultimately devours all other sounds as it moves to the forefront of the music. This crushing blow is worthy of 'Jimmy's Lament', a song gloomy and moody as an organ picks a number of despondent notes for it to play. 'Lust in Space' moves a little way from electronica to explore a guitar's acoustics, but you can't expect them to stay away forever. They edge back into the music more than often, but you cannot help but accept them! 'Everything' concludes the EP. It's woven from the same thread as 'Lust in Space', and feels content with everything that came before. A wonderfully happy sigh leaves my lips as these eight tracks take their leave from my ears. Its nothing short of exceptional so hear 'Children of the Clone' below and find the EP here.