Review: Veneer - Petriform
Written by Enoch Kim(@ProCreateEnoch)
For years the chiptune and EDM scene’s have been best buddies. Some of chiptune’s biggest hits last year have been highly EDM influenced albums, including Anamanaguchi’s EDM/punk hybrid Endless Fantasy and an0va’s drum and bass-infused Ego Depletion. Similarly, “complextro” pioneer Porter Robinson has been quoted before about the influence of videogame music and chiptune has on his music.
Petriform stands in both worlds, deftly juggling both chiptune and electronica, and sometimes combining the two. Veneer, Petriform’s newest release, feels like a culmination of three particular releases- Cross Section’s dnb/chip hybrid, Relentless Eventful’s liquid-hardcore fusion, and to a lesser extent Brown Plaid’s venture into lyricism. At the same time, it’s comes off as its own creature in both the context of his discography and the chip scene.
Veneer is a joyous, fun-filled ride from the first track. Compared to Brown Plaid’s more introspective, dark lyrics, Intercontinental Drift is definitely deterministic; it could almost be the theme song to a shonen anime. This happy-go-lucky feeling continues, a highlight being Excellent!! and its party-going Wheezer-inspired melodies. Even on tracks with a more frantic, panicked style (Beneath the Surface Pt. 1&2), there’s still a joyful attitude it takes in emulating the compositional styles of old NES soundtracks- I heard particular influence from Ninja Gaiden and the Shatterhand (maybe Silver Surfer?)
In fact, Veneer seems to be more comfortable in its own skin than many other chiptune releases. One of the scene’s biggest schticks is that it is not videogame music and some artists (Chibi-Tech comes immediately to mind) pull off ridiculous technological feats within the limitations of old hardware to sound absolutely nothing like videogame music or even traditional chiptune. On the other hand, Veneer welcomes the “VGM” moniker, despite the added synths and drums, Arpeggios and arps are in full blast, many songs feel adapted from loops, and I’ve before mentioned some of the compositional similarities in several songs to NES classics (Spelunker’s Resolve sounds like an extra track from… Spelunker). Veneer’s for once an album that fits the usually ignorant remark of “NES on steroids” and it’s a refreshing take on chiptune because of it.
If I had one complaint, it’d definitely be the mixing on some tracks. Especially on Illicit GP and Cavern, the synths and the NES channels seem to lie on the same frequencies, leading to a muddled mix where everything sounds like the exact same volume. It’s something that I’ve had a problem with before in Petriform’s previous chiptune outing, Cross Section Part II, and I was hoping for an improvement given how the mixing in his white label work and Relentless Eventful added to each track’s energy.
But a faltering mix shouldn’t get in the way of anyone listening to this otherwise solid release from Petriform. It’s a refreshing take on chiptune that embraces it’s legacy instead of deviating from it like other artists in the scene and it’s an energetic rollercoaster ride front to back. It’s not something to miss.
Grade: B Buy It