Montreal-based Egyptian producer Fayek Helmi, AKA The Sky is 256K, has come out with his latest album Luv X War - his first foray out of 8-bit and Chiptune music that's made with a Gameboy. The album was inspired by the juxtaposition between the quiet of Quebec and the turmoil and terrorism facing Cairo over the last couple of years. He writes: "This album was started January 2014 during my trip to Egypt. At the time there was a lot of violence still occurring around me, bombs exploding, people dying, and coming back from a peaceful city like Montreal, it definitely stirred something inside me."
And that something was Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass. Or at least that's how the album kicks off with a nine-minute bootleg remix, turning the impossibly catchy Pop sensation into a dark atmospheric basement mash up that brings up memories of late 90s big beat music like Prodigy. His knack for a big build up continues into the second track, WAR, and throughout the album. This was the first track inspired by Helmi's trans-Atlantic journey, and a very Gesselfielstein-esque apocalyptic Electro-Dance effort with a heavy 4x4 beat and more monstrous warehouse rave vibes.
The sonic elements in Luv X War immediately conjure up cinematic Marvel-style action hero sequences with villains and creatures of the dark ascending. Helmi's 8-bit roots come to the fore with the third, much more somber and melodic track, New World Order, blending many of those signature Chiptune sounds with a House-y 4x4 and Rim pattern, coinciding with some melodramatic vintage synth sweeps. Slightly more up-beat, The Sickness comes in but fails to make much of a dent with it's somewhat stridulous and monotone nature, dragging on for seven minutes.
The album picks up once more though with CPULUV which almost feels like the score to an PC's first date. Esculating arpeggiation swerves around what sounds like rigid computer malfunction samples, turned into a pitched saw melody. The best we think is left to last, with the Aphex Twin style BaBaRaBaBa that bursts into existence with a scattershot, bassy break-beat pattern with more of that lo-fi, reduxed and wrecked Matrix sound.
It's a highly original, if somewhat niche album appealing to producers, cyberpunks and basement ravers.
Stream in full below. Luv X War
is also available for purchase on Bandcamp.