It sometimes feels like we’re getting to the point where it would be impossible to hear anything new in music, a new kind of sound that isn’t derivative of various other bands or scenes. Chillwave was just Balearic beats slowed down, Witch House is a really good hip-hop track in freeze frame and grit-pop is such an uninspired take on a genre so dull it barely deserves a mention. Most of the exciting stuff comes from mashing up a few contradictory ideas – Kanye’s last effort was so heart-achingly beautiful as it mixed the bravado of traditional mainstream rap with the bizarre honesty of a Dashboard Confessional song, wildly surpassing the limitations of both those core components, for example.
David Bird takes this idea of forcing together genres to another level entirely. It’s typical for unsuccessful, low-level bands to vary their output over the course of their output, playing their rag-tag collection of indie, reggae and cod-punk efforts to handfuls of people at battle of the band events. However, with his PePePiano project, Bird manages to avoid these clichés whilst simultaneously taking them to the next logical step. Taking the disciplines of chiptune, chillwave, ambient, glitch and the kind of new wave of shimmering, hip hop beats amongst many others, PePePiano experiments with how they react when placed alongside each other on individual tracks, battling for attention and centre-stage.
It’s a ploy that largely works, too. Whilst Bird is certainly a jack of all trades, it turns out he’s far from a master of none – though there are certainly some clumsy moments mixed in there. The failings are forgiveable when they remit is so large, especially with an album that provides so many memorable and intriguing moments, like second track ‘Fire Hands’. It’s a sound to persevere with, as even in the depths of home bedroom recorded self-aware eclecticism, there’s usually a moment of splendour just around the corner.