Eight Bit Tiger
Parallel Synchronized Randomness
The Musik Group
October 25, 2011 Eight Bit Tiger
If you're thinking it's just about that time to release those frown-muscles and get your limbs a-shaking, then you might want to pop in Eight Bit Tiger's debut album Parallel Synchronized Randomness. Composed after a solid fifteen years of brotherly musical bonding, the album originally started as side project for Erik and Kent Widman as they were playing in the band Love in October, but it soon became a full-fleshed entity of its own. The rich textures and sonic pop layers present in this album are so tight and luscious because after more than a decade of playing music, these Chicagoan siblings took the playful liberty of sampling their own library, looping things together until the sound was just right.
Borrowing from 70s funk, 80s synth, and Daft Punk-esque dance, and infused with a respectable dose of indie pop sensibility, the album is an unabashedly joyful pop journey, though not without a healthy dose of electronic experimentalism. A hefty appreciation also goes to the palatable oxymoron in the album title, and the human-machine hybrid in the album art (syncing well with the chosen name). All in all, the tone is distinctly upbeat, and the ten-song long album comes together without being too repetitive.
"Bad Advice" opens the album with a bad dose of groovy, letting the bass jump around with the drums, as spurts of synthetic waves roll up onto the song's shore, sparkling with a shimmering keyboard. It's a purely enjoyable three minutes of head-nodding, synth-infused beats before the knockout line: "Jumping in the elevator makes it go faster" (remember the title?). A few layers of vocals repeat the line, creating a light-chested feeling that'll make you feel like a kid again. Clever little ditty, this one, and as fun as it is, it also speaks to the impatience of youth, and the wisdom of never getting too old to enjoy the simple things - or to look back and laugh. Amazing how so much can be chuckled at in only 10 words and 5 minutes. (Also, you're sure to love the music video of stupid stunts and accidents - remixed - and perfectly on key for the pithy little theme.)
"Numbers" is the first single, and though the bouncy bass line is suspiciously similar to that of a song that has by now reached every corner of the globe (ever heard of Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks?") it still lends to a strong pop song mixed with clashes of cymbals, electronic drums and a catchy refrain.
Other notable songs include "The Night," which has a few layers of awesome to it, switching the spotlight between an upbeat, hollow-sounding keyboard solo to high-pitched vocals superimposed over a medley of electronic instruments creating all sorts of twings and twangs - and wait for the explosion near the end.
"Cameo" is a perfect club song, in fact, it completely belongs in a glittery 80s dance club somewhere. Strobe lights would shine perfectly upon this happy, upbeat little gem, light-heartedly celebrating the feeling of being in the spotlight with a "c-c-cameo" refrain amid a punchy drum line and solid keyboard chords.
Running a bit more now in the heartfelt indie direction, "Oslo" sings of happy tender things as the rhythm changes from slow and vulnerable to the explosively exuberant. This songs feels like looking for love, then finding it, then doubting it, then finding it again - like standing on the corner in the midnight cold waiting for a lover, feeling the heart jump as someone approaches, then dropping as they pass, then lifting up again as the expected one comes clearly into light. The clashing of instruments and electronics keeps the listener happily expectant, on tiptoes with a silly grin.
And this album achieves its purpose if that silly grin stays throughout, because it is meant to be a work of joy.
Vocalist Erik Widman said, "There's so much music out there that is depressing, so we wanted to make something that makes you feel good when you listen to it. That's what the world needs right now."
Surely, the rich layers of synth, the dance beats, the varying rhythms and happy-go-lucky textures will please those looking to let the mind wander for a bit in favor of a deep, undulating pulse that will grab you and make you feel a little more plugged in to the parallel synchronized randomness of existence.
Reviewer Bio - Nancy Woo, managing editor at OnlineRock, studied Sociology, Literature and Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz. A self-described "bohemian of sorts" she spends most of her time listening to music, reading, writing, freelancing in the world of journalism, tutoring writing, running, practicing yoga, attending live music and theater shows.