Let me start off by reminding everyone that I’m just some schmuck who’s owned an eCommerce website for years, and not a professional music reviewer. This blog focuses on my passion for all things related to retrogaming, although I’ve been known to digress slightly off-topic with very little prodding. And so here we are.
As a music business outsider (way outside, like parallel universe outside), my thoughts on reviewing this album are that I should stick to my strengths, should I locate any, and keep my comments related to what I know best. Ultimately, since music is a bit like a Rorschach test for your ears, any review is as much about the music as it is an insight into the mind of the reviewer. But I digress…again. So on to the music!
Listening to ComputerHer’s Modemoiselle is a delight. The music is lo-fi digital technopop, with a distinct retro flavor. As I listened to the album, I kept thinking about what Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene would sound like if it was run through a Nintendo emulator and sped up to dance to. Sometimes it invoked images of playing oldschool arcade video games, at other times the back beat prompted me to envision 1980’s pop princesses in all their big-haired glory. I also noticed that there was a definite difference between listening to Modemoiselle on my laptop and listening on my desktop with surround. It may be lo-fi music, but the detailed nuances within the music are best listened to on a sound system that can deliver them. And with that public service announcement, on to my thoughts on each track:
1. Introducing Modemoiselle gave me a heads-up on what kind of music is coming, with a classic modem handshake to let me know it’s time to reconnect with my retro roots. Put me in a good mood and set the tone for what was yet to come.
2. SysOp completes the groundwork of the intro piece. At times this track invoked memories of playing various Command & Conquer games, which probably is a testament to its coolness. I liked it.
3. New York is a bit like the city it’s named from; varied, big, and eclectic. So much going on in this track! Not my favorite – could be my fuddy-duddy nature, though.
4. Heart Beeps is a bit light, but fun. I found it difficult to identify within the grander scheme of the album as it seemed out of place compared to the other tracks.
5. Burlesque Show is a hard one to pin down. It invoked memories of playing Galaga ‘90 with its high-pitched melodies, but also of 1980’s pop princess tunes with its driving back beat (which might be a bit of a kiss of death for a lo-fi artist, but that’s why I gave the disclaimer above!). Since I like both Galaga ’90 and 1980′s pop princesses, I liked this song, too.
6. Naughty Bits seems to serve as a flow-through piece, moving the album along to the next song, and incorporating some of the previous pieces’ sound in the process. I’m not certain where the naughty bits went to, though; I kept waiting to hear a Leisure Suit Larry theme trickle through to provide them!
7. Twilight Byte was an odd track, with its strange sounds and notes. I kept thinking about some of the stranger levels in a Genesis or TurboGrafx-16 arcade shooter, with bizarre background images to match the music. A bit discombobulating, but still enjoyable.
8. Dark Pub maintains a driving backbeat which keeps the musical story moving, but permits various musical motifs to flow in and out of the track. What’s going on where this music is coming from? Hard to say, but there’s a lot of musical characters with bit parts wandering through! I kept envisioning the cantina on Tatooine (gratuitous Star Wars reference), but without the band.
9. Sugar Cube was the most relaxing of the tracks, but had an interesting alien vibe going on throughout. Cool cruising music, too; this is music I could see myself driving the Trans Canada Highway while listening to. It was certainly my favorite of all the tracks.
Sometimes an artist comes across as lacking a vision of where they want to go and what they want to accomplish, which usually relegates the CD to the dustbin. Others have a laser-like precision to their musical journey, knowing exactly where they want to go and what musical vehicle will take them there. Modemoiselle is a work that was clearly composed and performed with a vision, and although not every track made a strong impact on me, I know I’ll be listening to it again, and recommend it as well worth a serious look.
You can purchase ComputeHer’s music from her website, www.computeher.com Enjoy!