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LABEL: Aardvark Records/Lightfall Records RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2012 GENRE: Ambient, Electronic, Chiptune
// review by Jeff

Impulsive? No, quite thoughtful, in fact.

The dualistic pseudonym of 12 Followers/Meteo Xavier, neither of which are succinct, has returned with another brand new album, "Impulse". In a similar vein to his previous album, Espers, our ever-morphing artist has created a series of seamless bridges of sound, implementing as many different experiences and auditory cultures as possible in the process. Impulse is actually the soundtrack of a freeware game of the same title; it is a shmup that throws puzzles, enemies, and other encumbrances in your path. Variety, so sayeth Mr. Xavier himself, is the key to the game, but it is also the spice of the soundtrack itself.

With every song comes a new and engaging reality. The introductory track, "President Obama is a Juggalo", provides an electronic simulation of our initial foray into the universal beyond, not unlike the space-themed journey provided on Enigma's 2006 album, "A Posteriori", with its blend of symphonic pads, piano interludes, and interjecting beats. We don't ask questions about the title, though. On the flipside, "Zin Kibaru's Guitar" is a completely different affair, a hip-hop-infused number with strings ablaze and the unapologetically untuned guitars of an anarchic space fleet gone mad.

Every song brings new life into the embarking of a cosmic voyage, from the dismal percussion of "Impulse Prime... Ribs..." to the manic tribal overture within the oddly-monikered "d('-')m('-')m^('-')^w('-')w('-')P". (I suppose the addage of "ASCII and you shall receive" applies here.) A personal favourite, lies in "Combustion (Project A-OK)", a superb modernization of the chip-tune formula. Meteo has even enlisted the assistance of fellow OCRemixers Brian Ali and Neblix to round out the package with their own interpretations and appendices of his works, both of which are strange bedfellows but still feel as though they belong within the flow of Meteo's creative mindset.

As a source of relaxation, Impulse may not be quite your cup of tea after listening to the serenity of Espers of 2011. Those expecting to close their eyes and drift off into a meditative state will soon be rethinking their decision: Impulse contains more energy and boisterousness than his previous works, and that is certainly a boon to the thriving shmup. If there's one thing we don't need, it's a space shuttle mission specialist/player falling asleep at the helm at blast-off. It is easy to see the amount of effort put into this project, a staple of Meteo's entire discography. Every track bleeds minute touches that simply add to its finesse. This album is more than just a soundtrack to a video game: it is a sentinel to the creator's constant striving for improvement and for creation of music itself. Like Espers before it, Impulse is definitely not an electronic work to be missed.

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