It’s important to form your own opinions about the music you’re attempting to review. When I first get an album to review I like to listen to the album a few times before searching for any band/artist information or reading any accompanying press releases. (Although, thankfully, the majority of Independent, Bandcamp based labels, don’t do much in the way of press releases.) I then, normally, Google the artist, whether I’m aware of them or not, so I can add some background facts and information.
Here’s the background information.
Nikmis is male. Possibly
Nikmis lives in Japan. Probably.
Nikmis has a twitter account. Nikmis makes experimental, modular synth and electronic music. Nikmis
has 13 other albums on Bandcamp, the first dated 2007. Definitely.
Nikmis has album number 14 out now. Its called “Jawbone” and it is released as a limited edition
cassette and download by the lovely, Brighton based Independent label, Third Kind Records. Definitely,
without a shadow of doubt.
There’s the background information and facts. Nikmis, it seems, would rather you formed your own
opinions about the music.
Album number 14, “Jawbone,” is set out in a mixtape format. The album is divided into two tracks, Side
1 and Side 2. Each side or track contains five songs that are skillfully blended and flow into each other,
just as any good mixtape should.
The first impression listening to “Jawbone,” is the influence of 1970’s and early 1980’s experiments with modular synths and, in particular the music soundtracks of British children’s television programs, such as the score, composed on Wasp synthesizers, by Graeme Miller and Steve Shill for the British version of “The Moomins.”
The second impression is that Nikmis has managed to retain or tap into some of his child like awe, wonder, excitement and enthusiasm that the modular synth sound enthralled in him at that tender age. Somehow, Nikmis has managed to capture and recreate that magical, otherworldly sound that accompanied many of our childhoods.
However “Jawbone” isn’t a collection of skits, short themes, oddities and sound effects that normally make up the
bulk of children’s television soundtrack themed albums. “Jawbone” is a well crafted electronic synthwave album with its roots in the experimental classical sounds, although short themes, oddities and unusual sound effects play a part, they only accompany the deceptively simple rifts, hooks and loops.
Both sides of the mixtape are filled with catchy, lullaby like moments. There are moments of wonderful beauty matched with moments of frantic, cascading, swelling and swooping atmospheres. Altogether “Jawbone” feels happy, warm and joyfully playful.
As synthwave music goes, the 10 instrumental songs on “Jawbone” are definitely on the experimental fringes. “Jawbone” is occasionally a challenging listen but more often an intriguing listen. There are surprisingly catchy tunes and layered soundscapes galore but unlike many who experiment with synth sounds and electronic music, Nikmis doesn’t drown the songs with heavy, dark, oppressive pads and bombastic drums. Instead, Nikmis fills the songs with multi-coloured, twinkling, bright, warm and wistfully nostalgic sounds.
Something for everyone in this album? Probably not.
Something for the synthesizer or experimental music fan? Definitely.