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The Crackle Plays: ‘Safari’ - Grumpysnorlax

We get into the Virginia natives latest project

8th Mar 2019

This week we dissect Grumpysnorlax’s ‘Safari’

Grumpysnorlax started his production journey in 2014 when he picked up a Novation Launchpad. After messing with the included Abelton Lite, he began experimenting with loops after honing his skills on a friends microBrute and a Korg Volca. In 2016 he got an OP-1 on Black Friday and from there he began crafting his unique voice. By the end of 2017 he had released his debut album 'SURF' and solidly carved out a space for himself in the Beat Scene. With a varied and exciting sound (with more varieties to come), Grumpysnorlax has gone from strength to strength as a musician but what does ‘Safari’ represent in Grumps’ journey?

An unmissable theme of ‘Safari’ is video games. Sampling the whole album from his favourite RPG OSTs, Grumpsnorlax wears his gamertag with pride and through it he is able to tell incredible stories. Each track is named after something in the Pokemon universe and that in itself tells the listener alot about where Grumps is coming from. The album resonates with you in an incredibly heartfelt way. Blending that feeling of nostalgia with the utterly contemporary. When we asked about the rationale behind sampling his favourite RPGs, Grumps had this to say:

‘I thought up the idea one day when I was eating my cereal playing through Pokémon Blue as I do biannually. Just hearing the sounds made me think of how cool it would be to repurpose some of my personal favourite RPG soundtracks. It was an experiment that went right. I actually found a snippet out of Super Smash Bros Melee and threw it over a simple kick/snare pattern. I grabbed my keys made some jingly bits to imitate shakers and boom I was hooked! I thought back to some RPG games then it all took off. Next thing you know it’s Friday and I’d made the whole album in a week. My main goal was to recapture that nostalgic feeling that you get when you pop in a Super Nintendo cartridge, start up your favourite RPG and hear the iconic sounds that take you back to a youthful paradise.’

This is Grumpysnorlax’s astounding talent. He creates music that feels distantly familiar but also somehow totally new.

Another standout feature on ‘Safari’ (and indeed all of Grumps work) is the melodics. It is fair to say this young producer is one of the best in the game at crafting lush, full and gentle but impactful melodic lines. Each lead on ‘Safari’ tugs on an emotion. Be it sadness, nostalgia, joy or anything in between. Grumps also performs these melodies with a deft touch. The playing is subtle and appropriately varied when needed. On ‘Max Repel’ the intro sets up this beautiful, intertwining piano and pad chord melody. It feels heart wrenching but also smooth, with a gorgeous flow. It can’t be overstated how gorgeous Grumpysnorlax's melodies are, and on ‘Safari’ it feels as if another level has been reached.

With an ear so attuned to melody, it would be easy to gloss over the rhythm work here but ‘Safari’ manages to be both funky and chill at the same time. Grumpysnorlax has a struck a fine balance between bouncy drums and lush melodics that take you away on an 16bit cloud. Take album opener ‘HM02’ for example. The bright pad chords instantly catch your ear but underneath this, a strong drum beat prevails. The drums have Grumps’ indelible bounce injected into them and that is true of all the beats on ‘Safari’. They feel real and, in an odd but dope way, personal. This is Grumpysnorlax’s natural rhythm in full swing and it couldn’t be any other way. The pairing of his melodic steez and the easy funk of his drums is a true Grumps’ creation and it shines on ‘Safari’.

‘Safari’ represents an evolution in Grumpysnorlax’s career. With this project he has managed to hone the edge that makes his music so special. The project centre’s around a love and appreciation for video games and their culture; but Grumps flips this from a general aesthetic or sound to be a deeply personal and important expression. On top of this Grumps’ melodic skills have never shone brighter. Crafting lush runs of beautiful notation throughout. ‘Safari’ also bounces. The blend between melodic beauty and funky rhythmic work can not be overstated and is balanced to perfection. ‘Safari’ is a gorgeous album. It is full of emotion but still manages to convey an overall sense of relaxation. The tales Grumpsnorlax shares with us here are simply beautiful.

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Listen to ‘Safari’ here:

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