Shima33 x May :3


Liam Murphy

September 17, 2022

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

A wide selection of music is masterfully shoved through the glitching wormhole of bit reduction and saturation on this release

There’s no doubt that much of 333 is engineered solely to put the listener in a state of disorientation and even discomfort. Simply put, the album features a wide range of different – and often well-known – songs smooshed through the sharp and unforgiving vortex of a bitcrusher plug-in. It is an effect that many will know, its inner workings involve pulling a sound file’s bandwidth or resolution down in the search of purposeful audio artefacts and sharp pained dissonance. It is not an effect you’ll hear a lot in mainstream music other than in some EDM – and even then its placement is strategic and nuanced, as it gives a sound or a track in general a feeling of degradation and coarseness. It is this feeling that Shima33 and May :3 toy with delightfully over the 11-track runtime.

Take the first track, B My Bby, that finds Whigfield’s 90s hit Saturday Night suffocated of much of its brightness and smoothness. Though things sound broken down, there’s still an emotion present, the well-known hook fizzling over pure house chords. The light percussion almost sounds like its at the top of the listeners throat, such a visceral audio experience its hard to know where to focus. The listener feels under the presence of some massive heat or pressure. Things pick up into a tight bassline that forgets the impassioned introduction, the cleanest thing on the track by a long way. It's a frantic reinvention of the eurotrash track, a jarring experience hearing such a recognisable tune under such immense duress, but invigorating.

ALL✰CATS✰ARE✰BEAUTIFUL is a perfect example of a track that seems intent on pinning the listener to the floor. Screeching dissonance pouring from each movement as an acidic rehashing of Technohead’s I Wanna To Be A Hippy thunders along. Sounding halfway like some hooligan anthem and half like a slouching teenager dripping battery acid from the orifices of their hoodie, the track supercharges the inane energy of 90s industrial techno.

333 conjures many different images in the listener’s mind, all of these hazy and ridden with artefacts – much like the tracks themselves. weedcloudss – surprisingly – has the feeling of warm sun against thin eyelids as you lie down in a field or area drenched in weed smoke or pollution. There is a vague sense of comfort, but only through lenses of stuffy warmth and noxious fumes.

The ridiculously high-pitched screeches sounding more and more like purposeful musicality than disorientating noise.

The crunchy bit-reduction element certainly lends itself to a noughties aesthetic, as can be found on the beautifully named Youtube is giving away a brand new 4GB iPod nano. Motorola Razr speakers blare out an incessant rework of Kanye’s Stronger, the beat slapping the listener right through their flip phone screen. The track is reminiscent of the tinny power of outdated phone and iPod dock speakers, a far cry from the pristine sound that emanates from devices of the modern day.

Funny MC Hammer.gif also moves with this lo-fi blaring bravado. It almost sounds as if your PS2 is rooted through a TV that has had Mountain Dew spill and slowly congeal over it, shorting the speakers and scrunching up the music from a slightly surreal game. On this track – as it is on others – the shards and splinters that the bit reduction creates almost become their own instruments. The ridiculously high-pitched screeches sounding more and more like purposeful musicality than disorientating noise.

Through a combination of perfect sample choice and precise tweaking of saturation and distortion, Local Twink Fucking DEMOLISHES Touhou 7 on Lunatic Difficulty is a highlight. The pitched up 80s sample bounces with such a joyous swiftness, a beautiful fragile emotion located through the brambles and thorns of fuzzy disfigured sound. There is something to marvel at in how the artists can make a song sound so wistful and magic while the track is – in essence – hindered by the saturated style, but something in the execution makes it perfect. But the duo don’t let the listener sit comfortable for too long, with the next track Geddup providing a nuclear onslaught of overwhelming sound and pumping beat. A vocalist is sent around this obstacle course of cacophony, sounding at points like they are screaming in pain.

Through the application of bit reduction, distortion and effects that purposely damage audio, Shima33 and May :3 open up a strange world filled with intense sonic pressure and gems of nostalgia from the more low fidelity past. Through a dynamic range of tracks, 333 introduces the listener into a sometimes-hazy-sometimes-excruciating realm of sound and somehow manages to end up being a coherent piece of work, despite its devilishly abominable style.