The first thing you need to know about Rodney Alan Greenblat is that he is the character and world designer for the iconic 1990's PlayStation game "Parappa The Rapper.” Yes, how awesome is that – I love that game. Well guess what? Creating cultural characters isn't his only talent. He also loves to make his own electronic music. In fact he just came out with an entire album called Nuthatch. It is sometimes quirky, playful, oddly tranquil at times and often incredibly minimalistic. Actually some of the music kind of feels like the music you would hear in a mid 90’s video game. As I was listening I could imagine myself fighting the boss at the end of a level or playing a Tetris-type game. The songs here feel like the sounds are vacant of any type of particular human emotion. It is music that I think fans of John Cage might enjoy. Almost all of the sounds are some type of synth although you also hear some occasional organic recording such as the sound of someone handling glass of some kind on “Shed.” The music is also incredibly slow paced at times. There are very little percussive elements and sometimes I felt like he was going for a meditative, spiritual component. That felt most apparent on a song like “thistle” which was one of the best songs on the album. One thing's for sure is that there is an eclectic mix of experimental sounds over the course of these 12 songs.
The first song “meadow” sounds most like video game music. Not like Halo but like Pokemon 8 bit style. It has structure and is a pretty conventional song considering the rest of the album. The second song “acorn” is no party pleaser. This song is mostly the sound of wind and seemingly random sporadic compulsions to play an electric piano. The minimalistic efforts continue on “nestling” as almost no two sounds are played at the same time. An 8-bit arpeggiation continues for 36 seconds on “gutter pipe” while “feeder” has the most percussive elements so far. Perhaps the most experimental, chaotic and ominous sound song is “sleet.” It kind of sounds like sleet but feels like an impending doom is present. The album ends where it begins with “nuthatch”. He revisits the playful themes and tones that would be on a video game for eight-year olds and younger.
Did I like this album? Yes. Is it something that I will be spinning daily? I doubt it. There are some interesting ideas here and sometimes they seem a bit scattered but ultimately I found it enjoyable. People who enjoy minimalist experimental songs should check this out.
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