Danimal Cannon – ‘Lunaria’ [Review]
And now for something completely different.
Danimal Cannon’s Lunaria is a mostly instrumental industrial-prog album, composed on a 1989 Nintendo Game Boy and loosely based around a conceptual story inspired by the Giant Impact Hypothesis.
Whether you’re new to the chiptune world or a die-hard veteran, you’re unlikely to have heard something this relentlessly left of centre before.
Acclimatising to Lunaria’s claustrophobic, digitised-to-the-nth-degree universe is challenging, to say the least. But once you get past the initial sense of sonic culture shock, its true nature as a fun, fascinating, and rewarding listening experience is revealed.
The result is worth the effort.
Lunaria is a frantic, hyper-speed journey that barely lets up until the neuron-relieving lounge jazz of Postlude, and an elegantly virtuosic piano rendition of opening track Axis that closes off the whole thing. The original version of Axis consists of frenzied arpeggios, slippery guitar solos, and flustered clusters of massively distorted notes – and it sets the tone for the pieces still to come. In turn, title track Lunaria‘s innovative mixture of classically trained vocals and boss-level composition is not just mind-blowing; it also highlights one of the major achievements this album represents.
Danimal Cannon spent several years figuring out how best to blend the instruments at his disposal – and whether the results are instantly addictive or an acquired taste, the fact remains that Lunaria is almost as much an invention as it is an album. For me, Lunaria was best taken in in small chunks, with plenty of breaks, but I was still constantly left scratching my head and wondering just how what I was hearing was even possible in the first place.
The last time I encountered Hatsune Miku, I was in Paris watching THE END – and the outcome was more than a little confusing. But on Long Live The New Fresh, Miku’s brief cameo appearances via Danimal Cannon’s Miku Stomp pedal make perfect sense. This is definitely a Vocaloid’s natural habitat.
Beyond Long Live The New Fresh lies the realm of musical impossibility made not just a possibility, but reality. Lunaria is an album inspired by two planets colliding – and it sounds like it. Collision Event is nothing short of a gloriously structured brain-frying barrage; Surveillance sounds like Nine Inch Nails on Blue Meth; and Coalesce takes things completely over the top, welding together classically-inspired counterpoint parts, anthemic metalcore chords, and dubstep-in-a-blender rhythms until you feel you just can’t possibly take any more.
Then comes the end, easy listening jazz and a piano piece that reminds me of Mike Keneally’s work on Steve Vai’s Piano Reductions album.
Overall, it’s worth listening to Lunaria just to say you have. In a world where so much has been done already, this is the cutting edge of modern music.
TMMP RATING: 91%
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Lunaria is out now; check out the Bandcamp player below and head to Danimal Cannon’s official website for more details!