Listencorp review image of bumps n breaks by bakground




Liam Murphy

November 29, 2020

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

There was something magnificent about late 90s gaming, and a lot of that is due to the PlayStation 1. That grey box truly drove gaming into a new realm. It plunged millions of people into a world of superior sound quality and a range of unique games. Tekken was one of the most impressive of these titles, and the fighting game is what the artist Bakground bases their final release on. With projects on Lobster Theremin and Raw Sound District, Bakground’s discography is concluded on Pure Life.

A precise blending of immersion and musicality descends from the very start. PLAYER SELECT embodies the positive sound of the screen where you decide which sort of battle to have. The warm melody line inspiring positivity and optimism. Are you diving into a test of agility and strength on your own, or with a friend? Shooting forth alongside these welcoming sounds are raw jungle percussion loops, screeching and recoiling with real force. Tekken 1’s soundtrack was very breakbeat heavy, the designers desiring music with energy and pace. Bakground utilises this, instilling even more of that classic throwback sound.

The percussion is loud and upfront, whilst the melodies linger in the space behind. Pad-heavy tunes are hidden behind a thick mist, as if we are watching and listening to them play out behind the thick glass screen of an old television. Dubby voices spray out endlessly, some tuneful and some gasping for breath after taking a violent combo move. That recognisable voice announcing our defeat chimes in every now and again, but it is built into the background. It doesn’t bring a finality, and in this sense it feels as though the artist is illustrating the fun of the game rather than the anger and aggression. You can restart countless times to try and best the AI, staring into the small fuzzy screen into the dead of the night. That or the fight is a bit of fun between friends.

MIDNIGHT LOUNGIN’ immediately conjures images of that city arena on each Tekken game. Gaggles of onlookers jumping around on what looks like a skyscrapers helipad. Swirling pads and chilled percussion gives off that sense of vertigo, sparring ridiculously high up into the sky of a crowded city. The fighters and crowd were always so calm and collected, partying as landing beacons flashed and spotlights sprayed from one side to the other. Bakground expertly captures the scene, airy tunes buffeting around in the night air. INQUE provides that same wistful feeling, except here the drums are a little more vicious. Rattling into life with hi-hats as the filter is opened up and high frequencies spray into the shroud of ambient noise.

Things wind down as we reach the last few tracks. The menu screen fizzling, vomiting flashing multi-coloured light and sound into the room as we fall asleep in front of the TV. The gentle piano rolls stretch out like the lazy Sunday sun over the sky as morning comes. The heavy, energetic feelings of a Saturday night sedated by the return of the light. It feels as though the artist’s conjured images of PlayStation screens and Tekken fights fade as we find ourselves slipping into the very last Bakground track. THANKS FOR PLAYING finds crystalline flares peeling across the mix behind heavy-set drum loops. A muffled bass imbues everything with this heavy lucid feeling. The swansong touches the heart, an undeniable depth mixed with an airy fluid motion from the unrelenting percussion.

Bakground provides the listener with a wormhole into those late night video gaming sessions on BUMPS ‘N’ BREAKS. That warm jungle sound replicating sickly lit 3am Tekken bouts as well as matching the style of music the franchise often went for. It does transcend this concept though, as the artist gives us a clear example of why they have become so popular over the four years they have been active. Their style is raw and percussive, encasing truly breathtaking melodies and hypnagogic samples.