Katana Splatter Combo is a solo project of Nikos Tsamasiros who hails from Athens, Greece. This is a look at his newly-released debut EP titled Risky Island, which is a visceral combination of math-tinged experimental rock and instrumental hardcore, composed entirely in MIDI sounds.
As you can tell by the considered approach – thank you once again Robbie for taking the time. If you have a band you just want to review, please feel free to drop me a note to tim @ emergingindiebands.com
With those varied elements it would be easy to make the mistake of overcomplicating things and producing a frantic mess. Thankfully, this is not a trap the artist falls into, as each composition contains a nice balance of energies which means no one track outstays its welcome. From the beginning Risky Island proudly bears its homage to video games, with a 24-second “theme” designed to loop on the title screen of the best retro game that was never made. The first “proper” track, Stage 1 – Forest showcases the razor-sharp bite of the heavier influences, with angular and distraught riffs flying thick and fast. I found this track the catchiest off the album, love the way the song begins quietly before launching into the heavy MIDI guitars.
The album continues with Stage 2 – Underwater, which continues the frenetic proceedings with breakneck riffs before calming into a (relatively) relaxed groove, perfect music for the submerged shenanigans of an 8-bit hero.
At this point it would be good to reiterate out how catchy these songs are – these tracks get stuck in my head so easily! The next track is Stage 3 – Sky, a rapid succession of phrases compounded by percussion which would make Zach Hill sweat. In my mind’s eye I can see a level from a Mega Drive game playing out to this song, on some secret base set in the clouds.
Stage 4 – Beach is one song I can’t particularly imagine going well with the typical sun-and-sand coastline imagery, as it’s extremely dark and dissonant. It is however a compelling track which grows into a monster by the end.
Lastly we have Stage 5 – Volcano and Final Boss, the cacophonous finale to this hectic ride. Sustained bass notes play under a series of bouncy lead guitar to lend Risky Island a triumphant conclusion.
I really enjoyed this album, both for the music and the concept. After speaking to the artist his appreciation of bands such as Tera Melos, The Mars Volta and Hella began to show through in the music, though there is plenty of individuality in these compositions. Somehow, the lack of human performativity works well with the frantic musings of its math-rock inspirations, as this kind of music definitely has something robotic about it.
Turning the album into a videogame soundtrack completes this concept, and making it readily available on the internet will broaden its accessibility. Thank you Nikos Tsamasiros for bringing us Katana Splatter Combo and the chaotic statement that is Risky Island, I look forward to future releases from you.
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