Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Keiji Otarii’s album Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality is a wild chiptune ride that leaps and shudders, drives and spins madly through clusters of notes that interlock and intertwine in wandering and unpredictable patterns. There are moments of almost classical sensibility that transition into stuttering, slamming industrial music and Keiji Otarii finds ways to make the basic 8-bit chip sounds into a complex and rapidly shifting musical landscape.
Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality is definitely on the experimental end of the chiptune spectrum. It has a challenging sound in between the chopped up computerized voices, the sonically complex way the simple triangle wave, square wave and noise channels all interact, and the odd twists and turns in the compositions themselves.
The most interesting chiptunes are ones that seem to defy the simplicity of the 8-bit sounds used to created them. It is definitely true of the tracks on this album which seem to have a layered intricacy to them that manages to make it seem like there are far more than three sound channels involved in producing the musical complexity that exists on Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality.
I am also drawn to the strong rhythmic nature of this album. The “drums” that the noise channel creates have a hard-hitting energy to them that adds power to the sound and there’s also a feeling of throbbing bass notes created in the triangle channel to further put weight into the tracks.
My Favourite Tracks Analyzed
“Atari Boomer Riot”
“Atari Boomer Riot” begins with mad pulsating and rushing interlocking chip sounds that whirl out repeating arpeggios of bright sound. The hard-hitting “drums” pulse along with the scrambling, jumbling and wild rush of notes that burst, break and burst into action again and rise over the relentless hard hitting beat. There’s a real wildness to this track that makes it interesting.
“Do Not Inject Mushrooms”
There’s a touch of the classical in the elegantly interweaving patterns of notes that starts off “Do Not Inject Mushrooms.” The noise channel drums punch into the track and now distinct, uneven sonic pulses are joined by the steady hammer of the beat, propelling the track with a throb as the bright flares and laser pulses move along with the shifting, ear worm of a main melody, tightly woven and energized.
“Pineapple Song” comes to life with slowly climbing chip sounds that extend through the track. A chopped up, incomprehensible vocal makes its broken and wandering way through the music. The hard hitting percussion sound is joined by leaping, twirling arpeggiating notes and bursting layers of stuttering, skipping notes. The shattered vocal line breaks and roams while the driving blocks of sound press on.
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“Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality”
More of a classical music sensibility opens “Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality” as extending runs of notes are joined by cascading arpeggios of chip sound, high and tight that move in wafting flows of sound. The square channel creates sounds that roam through the music in a continually reaching, intertwining pattern and out into silence.
“SNEScobar” leaps to life with rapidly rising and falling arpeggios that move over a hard-hitting beat and then we burst to slow lines of the square wave creating a sense of counterpoint. The high arpeggios whirl and move over a surging beat, slamming and powerful, as the wildly rushing notes spin and slip around one another and abruptly end.
Gentle, smooth sounds shift under the dancing, spinning and whirling high melody as “Stonks” starts. The melodic line spins out with abandon, madly flying through over the gentler sounds underneath it. Deep triangle channel sounds move through the track before it cuts out to add substance.
“Song 13” opens with dramatic, shadowed notes that buzz into the track and the bright square lead spins into the track with the triangle waves adding a solid bass pulse as that leaping, flying and madly shifting lead has brittle shine over the depths under it and the breaking, jumping “drums” that add shape.
“Is Dis Synthwave”
I get the impression of sounds of 1920’s jazz as “Is Dis Synthwave” kicks off. There are slamming percussive sounds under the energizing lead tune. It’s very catchy and now the broken robotic vocal wanders through the music. The tune has a fun swung quality to it and that stomping beat adds a certain similarity to electro swing.
Dreams Are Fan Fiction of Reality by Keiji Otarii is a free-roaming, energetic and aurally interesting album that moves into a distinctly experimental realm as it leaps, flies and stutters through unique music that definitely has its own character.