Demonic Sweaters’ “Visitors”: Album review

Another great release from Demonic Sweaters!
The open strings of the opening guitar chord give the opening track “Days of Funner” a refreshing wide open feel despite how much interplay and melodic layering is going on, with multiple great hooks at work.
The synth pan pipes and the long drawn out synth drone notes of the second track conjured memories of playing “Shadow of the Beast 2” on my Commodore Amiga back in the 90s, so I was amused to see after several listens that the track is called “Role Playing Game.” In fact, this album continues a kind of chip tune sensibility that has persisted in some recent releases. I’m no chip tunes expert, but essentially you’re dealing with computer game music, music that might have been created back in the day to be playable on computer game consoles but is perhaps nowadays less designed to constraints but instead is intentionally made to sound as if it is built to those constraints. Or, built using old computer game console gear, which is a head-wrecker for me but after watching people literally fiddling with Gameboys hooked up to pedal boards and midi gear to play live tracks at a recent Pulsewave event at Babycastles in New York, I can kinda see how it works.
I’m reluctant to dive too much into chip tunes too deeply because it could be a bottomless pit. If you grew up loading computer games from cassette or floppy drive, which often failed or crashed, you remember the rush of success when the thing finally loaded and, especially if it was your first time playing whatever game of the day or week, heard the crazy lo-fi soundtrack that immediately set the mood for the game experience to come. Hearing some of those soundtracks now definitely evokes a nostalgia for more innocent times, and there’s something of that same feeling in these Demonic Sweaters tracks.
“Frost Bite” has a certain Aphex Twin element to it – listen to “The Waxen Pith,” “Wet Tip Hen Ex” or “Mookid” from 1994’s “I Care Because You Do” for example, and you’ll hear similarly otherworldly melodies and choices of synth patches.
The next few tracks pendulum between a pensive and introspective mood and quirkier moments as the quietude of “Mirror World” gives way temporarily to the lighter airier poppier feel of the title track “Visitors,” followed by the dreamy “The Flight of Marbon.” “Midiplus” takes us through some quirky territory before settling back into the pensive equilibrium, while “Marbon’s Mission” is both quirky, moody, and a touch on the dark side at the same time, insistent hi-hat marking urgent time in high tension.
The album rounds out with “Subcity Turnings.” While Justin Wierbonski‘s inventively compelling drumming lifts the synth-based tracks of “Visitors” out of the purely digital into an a more organic complexity, they are somewhat more pronounced and captivating in this final track.

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