DJ Cutman’s Lost Beats & Found Friends (Album Review for Old Timey Hedgehog, Vol. 1 Issue 3)

(This is a post containing the article I was comissioned to write for Old Timey Hedgehog in their third issue, purchasable here: http://www.amazon.com/Hedgy-Times-Issue-Magazine-ebook/dp/B00C5J0MJI. They’ve decided they want me around a bit more often, so make sure you peep the full magazine, show them some love if you’ve got a kindle and check out their tumblr & other social media offerings. Quite a bit of nerdy goodness going on up in there.)

DJ Cutman has been on my radar for a while now but I’ve never just listened to a full EP. The chiptune jedi recently had a birthday and for this issue, the powers that be in the Old Timey Hedgehog world sent me this 6 track drop that he put out. A compilation of collaboration, there’s a bunch of teamwork going on here and considering what it sounds like, I support these forces joining together as often as possible.

8-Bit Brawl is an adorable & punchy track. There’s a relaxed chord line that lazily hangs around over the chippy version of kick/bass/snare drums, while the tune chugs along without putting on airs. I like the odds/ends feel of the EP and the debut track on it doesn’t come at you with anything weird or abrasive which makes me that much more likely to keep listening to the rest.

Gateway Timeout is a bloopy ditty that breaks into fun chip that remains quite danceable throughout. While a cynic would hand you a phone and say that it was the late 80s/early 90s synth community calling & they that wanted their sounds back, I would label that assertion as haterade-infused. The track reminds strongly of 8bit platformers and is better produced than those originals, so I’m a fan of where it goes and how it gets there. The little improvisation with the tonal work at 3:20 is a nice touch that adds a level of complexity that I didn’t know I was waiting for.

Final Level of the Game is humorous and chilled out, dotted with samples of two dudes complaining about video game levels & their ambient hardness. The beat is fun & accompanies this lounge feel which seems great for hitting some games while it plays out in the background. Bone Fracture may be a bit more traditional in its drum/bass sample choice but it adds a heaping scoop of bleeps and bloops with a light airy finish. There’s a playfulness that I think would do well being mastered for some surround sound systems because chasing the beeps around is a fun game.

77 keeps that light & almost ethereal feel while pushing some broken beats out to give it the mildest of gangsta-ness. The chord drop at 1:05 adds to this faux 70’s interlude to the diet gangsta feel. I’d use “gangster” if it was heavier, but it’s not, so that would be inappropriate. The final track “Through the Forest” is an upbeat remix that gets at the DJ RoboRob track work I reviewed in the last issue (for all of our lovely regular readers). There’s a bunch of good stuff going on here when it comes to chip, while the break at 55 sec in pushes into some fun syncopated synth that has an anthem feel while not getting too large/out of control.

Great effort, happy birthday and I’ll make sure to keep DJ Cutman’s work a bit closer to the chest in the future.

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