To be completely honest, I have never liked Mindless Self Indulgence (Alternative Press’ description of “gloriously annoying” is rather on point), so I put this record on the turntable with quite a few reservations. However, I love chiptune like mad, and soundtracks are kind of my jam — plus, I figured that a label like The End wouldn’t drop anything that wasn’t worth checking out — so I got myself a copy and dropped the needle.
It includes a track from the game Metronomicon, four from the game I Want to Be Human, and one from the film, The Hive. One wonders as to why the four tracks from I Want to Be Human are broken up between two sides, when they’d easily have fit together on one side, but it seems that it’s more for sequencing purposes — ending side A with “Final Level” lets side B kick off with “End Boss.” In this way, the first LP’s respective sides each kick off with a bit of a banger.
It’s the reverse on the second LP: “Aching Addicted Affection Again” and “Lento Romantic Erotic Incubo” both sport maddeningly long titles, but also share rather dreamy melodies, as opposed to the craziness from the first LP. A song which epitomizes both elements is “I Want to Be Human,” which has an intro that shamelessly apes that of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock.” Given that Daft Punk’s track is based almost entirely off Breakwater’s “Release the Beast,” it’s exactly the sort of smirking middle finger that epitomizes the way most think of Urine’s music.
However, The Secret Cinematic Sounds, while managing to work in some of the snark that Urine’s known for, also features some genuinely great music. All of the tracks thus far mentioned are really entertaining, and the likes of “Patty Hearst” could fit in right alongside the likes of Chromatics or College on the Drive soundtrack, so perfect is its retro-synthwave vibe.
There’s even a take on Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Second Movement. Called “Beethoven Symph 7 Alleg Mvt 2” here, Urine goes all the way back to the late ‘60s, as he is in Switched-On Bach territory with the way he synthesizes the 200-year-old classical work. When one considers that piece, alongside album closer “Based on a True Story,” one could almost make the argument that The Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine is better when not tied to any actual cinema at all. The pieces in the mood of film score work better, because they’re so ephemeral in terms of context.
Look at it this way: if you like Jimmy Urine and Mindless Self Indulgence, the first LP will do you just nicely. If you’re not a fan, you’re going to find some new things to like about Urine’s music, and that second LP will absolutely grab anyone who loves synth music with a retro flair.
The double LP sounds big and fun. It manages to deal with the chirpy elements of “All Together Friends Forever” while still not getting muddy on a low-end bruiser a la “Final Level.”
The packaging is a little sparse. The cover artwork fits well with the music, and the rest of the art — including printed inner sleeves — mirror that, but after the initial blush of the cover, the simplicity looks a little low-rent. The back cover, with the tracklisting, crams way too much into its space and isn’t that appealing to look at. Also: when moving art from compact disc to vinyl, have the common courtesy to break it up by LP and side, so the listener doesn’t have to do math or look at a spinning center label to figure out what track’s currently playing.
“The Secret Cinematic Sounds of Jimmy Urine” is available from Amazon.