Tuesday, 30 June 2015

BANSHEEBEAT – SHINSEKAI [初演 • PREMIERE]

It's another premiere – what? Yes it's true. And this time around it's from a Tucson, Arizona-based musician-producer called bansheebeat. Contrary to many SoundCloud-born-and-bred musicmakers, whilst maybe ostensibly belonging to part of a scene, bansheebeat employs many different styles under a banner that at first glance may appear to be heralding J-pop-flavoured electronica. His latest track, and the first to be taken from his impending album Lumine (itself two years in the making), is 'Shinsekai'.

Shinsekai or 新世界 is a Japanese word meaning "new world" – from my perspective it refers to two things: the New World of One Piece, and also the Shinsekai district of Osaka, whose origin dates from Japan's period of rapid modernisation in the early 20th century. In reality the term is more abstract and refers to the earliest inspiration for bansheebeat's song.

"Shinsekai is just an abstract term, but I originally got it from the fact that an early iteration heavily sampled from Dvořák's 9th symphony [known as "The New World Symphony"]. It took over a year to finish, and went through so many completely different forms," bansheebeat tells YES/NO. "It starts with a bit of an overture; I wanted it to sound like you were starting up a JRPG on the SNES, like Chrono Trigger or something, but it ended up being this eight minute monster that is like three songs in one."

And without further ado, here is 'Shinsekai'.

Beginning with the always-welcome crash and wash of waves on the shore, we move into the "overture" part that bansheebeat mentioned above – electronic harps plink their gentle melodies alongside strains of synth flute, strings and marimba hits; a plaintive song that sets us up for surprise when breakneck virtuosic buzzing synth leads whirlwind into your ears in the next section. Syncopated kick-locked synth chords explode along the way with ticking hi-hats and punchy snares – a driving beat for joyful vocal samples echoing into the void. These get their own chance to shine midway through, alongside the endlessly skittering and increasingly jostling beat, pugilistic heart-throbbing toms giving it extra urgency.

Chiming melodies return for a gentler section in the latter part of 'Shinsekai', gradually giving way to a return of percussion heavy boomings that previously bounced around in our ears, the vocal sample now stretched and pitch-shifted to play out an aching melody of discovery and wonder. Because with the concept of this track as "new world", essentially, you can very much discern a real sense of excitement in the elctro-symphonic journey that we're taken on, the hyper-anticipation wriggling in the endlessly impatient shifting patterns of the beat, the grand chords like triumphal orchestra hits expressing achievement, the gentler, more fragile melodies and elements summoning newfound beauty – all of it conjuring a true sense of what any "new world" (a fresh beginning: starting a new job, falling in love, emigrating, moving house) can be for any one of us: scary, exhilarating, and regretfully sad for the "old", all at the same time.


  • It's taken from bansheebeat's upcoming album Lumine, which is out next week.


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