Album review: Whorl Clock - A Time Travel Themed Compilation Album for MSF.
With this album Elektro Vox brings you the second in a series of several 'Guest' review articles trying their hand at their first reviews for our site to help us with the large volume of requests we have had this month! This incredibly in depth review of '‘Whorl Clock - A Time Travel Themed Compilation Album' is written by Redthir Jerdisheim.
Released Monday January 11th 2021'Whorl Clock' is the debut release from charity electronic label Three Eyed Cat Records. All the songs on it are time travel inspired with all musicians providing an original song. The album has all sorts- songs about the future, past, present, clocks, dinosaurs, robots, time machines, the big bang and much more- and it's wonderful to see what different artists do with the same simple brief. If you love your music with blips, chips, synths, beats and bass then you will be sure to discover something you love on this album! Featuring synthwave, chiptune, breakcore, ambient and other electronic music from all over the world- UK, Siberia, Arizona, Hungary, Sweden and more. All money made on Bandcamp will be donated to Doctors Without Borders- an international, medical humanitarian organisation working in more than 65 countries around the world. Their medical teams work to save people’s lives in conflict zones, natural disasters and epidemics. Find out more at https://msf.org.uk/
Fancy travelling to a time without coronavirus? From the wires of powering machinery to the exotic landscapes of times past and present, this cute, time-travel themed compilation showcases it all. Beautifully eclectic, awesomely eccentric, and electrically futuristic. This compilation nails its invocation of a surreal sci-fi world.
(Short, factual paragraph): This is a charity compilation where all sales will go to Doctors Without Borders; who provide medical attention in over 65 countries around the world: for those people stuck in warzones, natural disasters and epidemics. For that in and of itself, it's well-worth chipping in a small fund (there's no minimum!) to help the cause.
Shoutout to Sam Bradbury for his cartoon-y and very detailed artwork. The colourful selection of wires and the somewhat psychedelic vortex serve as a nice backdrop for this compilation, especially to the glitchier, mechanical-sounding tracks on here. Anyhow, onto the review:
I personally found this to be a charming, playful compilation. Having known none of the twelve artists contributing their works before, it was awesome to venture into a complete unknown… Which, come to think about it, is exactly what time travel, the theme of the compilation, is. The theme is complemented perfectly by the compilation's sheer unpredictability: after one track finishes, you have no idea what sort of wacky soundscape is gonna come next. Yet in spite of that, the tracks all fit together seamlessly… Or do they? It's arguably the tracks being slightly unfitting that gives this compilation its charm. I like to think of this as an unintentional concept album that continuously derails itself: at least, that's my perception of it, and I'm sticking with it.
There's no better example of this unpredictability than Track 4: 'One Night on the Earth'. After three instrumental tracks: the last of which is the glitchy, bleepy-bloopy, science-infused 'Reverse Engineer'; suddenly the listener is thrust into a nostalgic throwback to bright, catchy 80's synthpop. This upbeat, vocal, melodic song comes out of nowhere and completely throws off the listener.
In order to really understand how this whole compilation fits together (or doesn't fit, depending on your perception!), a track-by-track analysis (with a shoutout to each artist!) is perhaps the best means. Chorus1986 sets the scene with Track 1, the retro-sounding, ambient 'School Night Dreams', which begins with a rhythmic ticking clock which gradually fades as the song evolves into a simple melody immersed in trance-esque sweeping strings. Gradually, the melody builds up, with a nice arp punctuating the crescendo at the end.
Pretty good? Yeah. In truth though, this track does nothing to prepare you for the weird and wonderful delights in this Pandora's Box. Track 2 is 'The 61st Second', by S A Z E R. As a synthwave lover, it should be no surprise that I thoroughly enjoy this track. This is a bite of dark synthwave, that sounds straight out of any of today's retro wave labels. This track nicely bridges the retro feel of 'School Night Dreams' and the dark and distorted...
'Reverse Engineer', which I can only assume is a field recording. A field recording of the time machine of the great scientist Elkingtit. (Or maybe Elkingtit is the lab assistant. Or a bad guy who wants to steal time travel for his own selfish means. You can decide on that one!). This otherworldly, interdimensional track is a chiptune-y festival of glitches, bleep-bloops and Ozric Tentacles-esque modulation experiments. I could imagine this is the sound of a time machine in motion, especially with the track's paradigm shifts. What time you'll end up in after listening to this, is anyone's guess. I ended up back in my own space and time, although my pen has mysteriously disappeared.
...Except I didn't end up in my own time. As the crystal-clear voice of Alexandra Esakova informed me, aliens have arrived to enjoy
"One Night on the Earth". I love Spaceman 1981's power ballad to bits. It's awesomely different from the rest of the album and I guarantee that this euphoric, fun song will have you grinning from ear-to-ear.
Three eyed cat records
The euphoria of this track vanishes as suddenly as it appears. Before you know it, the euphoria vanishes and a tribal beat plays. This is Track 5, Humm Bugg's primitive-futuristic 'Primordial Ooze' which, with its rhythmic, percussive soundscape invokes a tribal ritual on some exotic planet. For the duration of this track, I find myself wanting to be a tribal shaman.
Let's recap. In the last three tracks, we've experienced a time machine in motion, followed by two lovestruck aliens partying on Earth, to the ritual of an Eldritch Abomination. As I'm sure you've worked out by now, this is a compilation that keeps you guessing what's to come next. Good luck to anyone who guesses any genre that Track 6, 'The Future a Petra Dish' resembles. The work of Petra Dish and The Nicotine Tingles, this song is… what IS it supposed to be, exactly? It's a minimalistic-experimental track with an erotic-sounding android intermittently talking over the subtly-changing glitchy instrumental field, which has a drum fill midway-through that never comes back again? Is this what floating aimlessly through space and time feels like? I have never in my life heard any song like this one. This song is an experience that all people should hear at least once.
As the last of this bizarre soundscape fades out, we return to retrowave in the form of Track 7, 'Timefall' by Endless Wires. This isn't anything too wild, but it's a very well-composed track. The composition is somewhat simple with few structural changes, but Endless Wires does an excellent job of evolving the increasingly rich, detailed soundscape. By the end, there's multiple melodies neatly mixed together, which is neat.
Next is Murgatroyd's 'Derailment'. As the title suggests, this is a track that becomes increasingly more chaotic. Similarly to the previous track, it begins quite minimally, only to add more and more detail to the sound as it progresses (or derails!). However, here we see a much more chaotic arrangement with bitcrushed percussion and a slightly discordant mix. This one sees an intro of bleep-bloops and chiptunes slowly make way for a melody. This composition becomes increasingly chaotic and discordant with repeated rising and falling notes in a chromatic scale.
Onto Track 9, and we find ourselves with Riddlis' offering of atmospheric trance, with the grand strings of 'Strawberry Galaxy'. The brightest track on the compilation, this makes for a delightfully melodic, luscious composition. If you close your eyes while you listen to this, you WILL feel like you are floating in a galaxy. I guarantee it. Quite simply, this track is glorious.
It's back to chaos and distortion with Bitrotator's 'Quite Simple', which is a hybrid of genres that excites my love of unpredictability in music. After a deep, ambient intro, a heavy guitar begins to form… until it builds into an industrial metal of sorts, somewhat like Celldweller. Then we get samples from NES Tetris amidst this metal, which fast turns into a beautiful mud bath of distortion. In short, kinda like chiptune metal: which is practically custom-made for someone like me who grew up on retro gaming and metal. Now I have an overwhelming urge to blaze through time at 88m/ph...
We continue through hyperdrive, with the bright, melodic chiptune-fest that is Track 11, '4D Nausea'. Putting aside that Creepy Pizza is an awesome artist name, this track is short but sweet. The last minute, transitioned into by the sweep of a speeding time machine, is the highlight: it will make you grin and wildly flail your arms about. You can absolutely imagine the people onboard the machine dancing with joy as they see an era unlike their own!
Eleven down, one to go… the last track is 'Henry Hassel' by Matthew Collington. This one is almost electro-acoustic in its composition. It's very atmospheric, discordant and disorienting - more of a noise experiment than a song as such. However, some of the sounds used in creating a noisescape are utilised in the final two minutes, where the track unexpectedly turns into a burst of experimental techno. This is an unskippable finisher and is one of the standouts of this compilation.
Chorus 1986- Schol NIght Dremas
SAZER- The 61st Second
Elkingtit- Reverse Engineer
SpaceMan 1981- One Night on the Earth
Humm Bugg- Primordial Ooze
Petra Dish and the Nicotine Tingles- The Future a Petra Dish
Endless Wires- Timefall
Riddlis- Strawberry Galaxy
Bitrotator- Quite Simple
Creepy Pizza- 4D NAUSEA
Moths!- Henry Hassel
I am exceedingly thankful to have discovered this slick compilation. The playful energy on this is infectiously awesome, the compositions are mostly very original and there's not a single track on here that I'd consider filler. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, eclectic experience from start to finish. Hats off to Three Eyed Cat Records for getting these artists onboard, and a personal thanks from me for allowing me to experience time travel!
Dance factor: 10/10
Vocals: n/a - most tracks are instrumental
Now, how do I get back to my own time?...
Three eyed cat / Whorl Clock Bandcamp: HERE
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