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Ellen Dash - "The Whale" album review

I was browsing Bandcamp's selection of Pittsburgh artists today and came across a little album that caught my eye - Ellen Dash's The Whale. I didn't know anything about it. The album was just released on January 19th, a chiptune thing with a bright and charming cover.


The cover shows a pink whale moving to devour a small ship, perhaps a galleon or something of the like. The whale is probably pretty big then, but the sort of sub-8-bit art only shows so much. Like I said, I really like the bright colors and simplicity. There's not a bloody head or text that looks like it was woven from the world's oldest vines to form the name of the heaviest riffers in Oakland. The art fits the musick well.




The Whale starts off with "Truth In The Pants". The song has a knocking bass drum sound and springing trumpets amid somber tones and weird echoes. It sounds like something from an early 1st-person shooter. "Sun Orgy" has a similar foreboding tone, this time with a slap bass and driving/droning pulse. The organ break in the middle provides an excellent level of interest. "Jealous Laser" has a snare and dissonant organs that have a really cool progression. Some laser sounds provide additional color. "Relations" continues the more complex drum sound from the previous track with more down-tempo musick. I like the Princely keyboard sound on here. This song is a little longer than the others. I am not super fond of the little breaks of silence between certain sections, but this song is still good.

I really like the beat on "Resonance" and everything sounds nice. This is one of my favorite tracks on here. "Guilty Skull" has a sort of guitar sound, but it isn't really a rock song at all. The drums are really industrial, potentially heavy if they were a physical kit. "All I Have Is My Road" has the clearest drum sounds yet with some kind of effect on them I think. I don't really like this one, though; it's too much of the drums with nothing else, and I don't find them particularly interesting. The bass sound is okay. Unfortunately for me, this is the longest track on the album.

"Laser Sale" brings the album back to more exciting territories with its abundance of instruments, the bass echoing the piano. I like the drums here, though they are a bit high-pitched and thin. "Unto The Whale" starts with a beat that seems to be saying the title before dropping into a lonely bass sound, building on that, and then coming back to the original beat. I like that effect, though the beat is a little tiresome. "Angering The Gods" is the last track on the album. The end has a cool progression and there are some nice sounds here, though it's kind of a summary of the earlier songs.

The Whale was a fun album to chance upon. It's all instrumental chiptunes, and the songs are short. It reminds me of Guided By Voices actually, at least in the structure. I'll have to look for more musick by Ellen Dash, who also calls themselves pup/puppy. The Whale gets a Good.

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