The fourth track on Alpha Chrome Yayo’s After Dinner Cigar is called “Something Really Good.” Now given how lazy I can be, I could just use that as my entire review. But I respect my readers and ACY far more than I respect myself, so I’ll keep typing.
There’s also the fact that After Dinner Cigar isn’t something really good. It’s something really great. Scratch that, it’s pretty damn freaking awesome. Though that wouldn’t make a good title. Still, Alpha, if you’d like to create a remix with that title in my honour, then I can’t stop you.
Two paragraphs in and things are already off track. Anyway, After Dinner Cigar is ACY’s tenth release this year. We’ve gone from the relatively straight forward retrowave of Cut Class | Hall Pass | Mall Dash, through to the Cronenbergwave (!?) of Malediction Boulevard. Past that we’ve had the delicious occult strangeness of his Grangeweird collaboration with Danny Madigan. And now we are here.
But where are we exactly? After Dinner Cigar takes in new jack swing, electro-jazz and 80s funk. However, like a lot of ACY’s work, its five tracks aren’t mere pastiches. They’re sincere modern entries into those genres, albeit ones which aren’t shackled to their conventions.
Opening track “Punch Up” is some slick, solid funk. If, somehow, this retroactively appeared on the Ghostbusters’ OST, it wouldn’t feel out of place. But there are little dashes here and there which reminded me of vaporwave. The title track also carries this vibe, as it put me in mind of 90s artefacts I still adore like Streets of Rage 2. However, the scent of vaporwave isn’t overbearing. These tracks aren’t drowning in irony, they’re more ambitious and most importantly: they don’t suck.
“Crystal River” and “Something Really Good” are the most fascinating and entertaining parts of After Dinner Cigar. “Crystal River” features some sublime Japanese koto strings. What’s delightful is that this part of the mix was created using a Roland D50 synthesiser. ACY rolled out a ye olde instrument from the late 80s, in order to create a faithful effect which doesn’t sound dated.
“Something Really Good” grabs you with some hard hitting and satisfying percussion. But the real tingle comes from those vocals. Or VOCALOID I should say.
Okay, it’s not actually VOCALOID. Regardless, ACY has called upon the services of the freeware vocal synthesiser Alter/Ego. Specifically its “Marie Ork” voice bank. Interestingly, developer Plogue Inc originally released Marie as a death metal vocalist. There’s little trace of that here, but the way she’s been worked into “Something Really Good” creates a dissonance which amplifies what was already a pretty damn weird (though wonderful) song.
In the liner notes, After Dinner Cigar is described as a ‘Decadent soundtrack to your most sophisticated evening soirée.’ I’m actually struggling to picture what such a soirée would actually be like. What I know for sure is that ACY would a great host, and that evening sure would go with a swing.
You can find Alpha Chrome Yayo here: