Entertainment

Falling For a Square: A Symphony in 8bits

Karen Tan
CONTRIBUTOR

Electronic music albums can be used as good background noise, and Falling For A Square’s “GRID Recital” is one of them. Calm chiptune beats and soft metal tones resound throughout, quiet and repetitive but not long enough to make you forget that there’s music playing. The album is like a light sleep. The songs keep appearing and disappearing on the edge of awareness, easy to tune out until some static or the familiar 8-bit scratches start playing.

Falling For A Square, a.k.a. Jason Sposa, produces his music from Hoboken, N.J., and has released four albums through the music distribution Web site Bandcamp. Sposa’s intent is to create “gentle electronic music.” The phrase brings to mind wispy atmospheric ambient music or a dull drone with a few notes tossed in, but instead the sound could be described as old-styled 8-bit chiptunes over a synthesized haze.

The chiptunes add something to his “gentle electronic music” that keeps it from becoming boring after the one-minute mark. They’re the noisy, gritty parts that allow you to get a grasp on it again after you’ve nearly tuned it out, or the things that wake you up before you can completely fall asleep. They serve as bookends to each track, coming in before the synthesized parts and ending the song so that the track changes are somewhat abrupt and noticeable. The transition from “neutral” to “catalog,” for example, goes from steady, soft tones right to irregular video game beeping. The music still manages to sound as gentle as Sposa says, though, because it continues on with the same constant rhythm and doesn’t change much besides some static or filtering in the synthesized background parts of the song.

The only catch to that unchanging 8-bit melody is that none of the tracks in “GRID Recital” stand out. The entire album holds together well, but no individual track would merit a second listen or repeat, and the tunes in any of them don’t catch on well enough for them to be notable. Though “GRID Recital” has enough variation to keep it interesting, such as the jumpy metal xylophone tones in “the soft soundex” and the almost glitch sounding “loop record.,” the music is forgettable. By the end of the album it all will have sounded like one continuous chiptune-and-synthesizer hum, the kind of music suitable to play when some form of calming background noise is needed. Expect your attention to shift back and forth between something else and the music.

Overall, Falling For A Square’s “GRID Recital” is a somewhat decent album. It is a mix of unobtrusive sound that you expect to tune out in a few minutes, and constant chiptune beeps and scratches that you pay attention to because they’re loud and distinct from the undercurrent of synthesized tones. It is not too bland, but it does not make for a particularly interesting listen either.

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