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Cyberpunk Album Review: "Digital Warpaint" by CELINA

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Overall Album Impressions

CELINA’s Digital Warpaint has tremendous force surging through every track. It combines strong melodies with ferocious percussion and staggering bass, along with a plethora of layered sounds. The end result is aggressive, ear-grabbing cyberpunk energy.

The sheer power and size of the drums and bass on Digital Warpaint is a major reason why I enjoy the album. There’s a physicality and size to the underpinnings of the music that imbue it with weight and intense power. The ominous nature of the low end contributes to the dark shadows wreathing the album.

CELINA’s melodic writing is another factor that drew me into Digital Warpaint. She creates melodies that can surge with strength, but equally ache with more painful emotions. The way in which her melodies can carry mingled feelings allows her to fill the tracks with a depth of expression that pulls me in deeper.

I also enjoy the way sonic layers build up on the album. Like a painter putting down many different textures and depths of paint, the end result is music that is engaging and interesting. Listening to the album allows one to enjoy all of the interactions and combinations of sounds as they unfold.

My Favourite Tracks Analyzed

“Quadrant” opens into cavernous space touched by medium low, shining synth carrying a delicately drifting melodic line. Heavy drums throb and massive bass thunders as medium-low synth with a glowing tone carries a mournful, but majestic melody. I enjoy the mingled emotion expressed in that melody.

Steady bass oscillation and a hard-hitting drumbeat drive the music forward. A voice whispers and elevated, distant synth carries a delicately spinning arpeggio. The powerful, solid drums and bass contrast with the elevated synth’s ethereal drift. Now vibrating synth carries a melody full of uncertainty and anxiety over the pulsating percussion and dense bass.

The music moves to a medium-low, rough edged synth carrying the hurting, elegiac main melody as all of the sound floats out into empty space. Once again, the pulsing drums and bass propel the music as an elevated, clear synth now carries the aching melody over the track's hard-hitting low end. A rippling synth pulse undulates in time to the heaving drums and bass before silence falls.

One ultra-low bass pulse hits and angular, sharp-edged bass jumps along with firm, strong drums to begin “Quantum Zero.” A minor key, gleaming synth with a razor edge carries an enjoyably devious, mysterious melody over the cutting depths below it.

The percussion pulse propels the music forward while the heavy, demonic melody moves through. The music breaks into a segment in which a creaking, bending synth spins out an ominous melodic pattern. Now the track flows into growling depths and a soft metallic clicking, like a gun being loaded.

Shadowy synths erupt again, as their lacerating edges tear into the music. There’s a diminuendo and then a crescendo as an angry, surging synth pulses along with twisting, nasal sound behind it. The repeating, spinning synth pattern falls silent.

“Blast” commences as a threatening, muscled bass pulse moves underneath a background that rushes emptily as a slowly undulating, tight synth wriggles. Crushing, slashing synth batters in heavy throbbing motion along with smashing drums to add even greater mass to the music.

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This is a tremendous slab of heavy music that doesn’t apologize for the fact and I enjoy that lack of apology. Now elevated, distant synth carries a nervous line into a swirling segment before the terrible weight and power of the thundering bass and pounding drums hits again.

The martial-sounding synth repeats its march-like pattern before the heaving drums and bass collide with the track like the fists of a giant pounding against the earth. High above, the skirling high synth repeats its driving, tense pulse into silence.

Dense, monumental bass and an equally prodigious drumbeat crash into “Kernel Panic” with intimidating weight that forms a jumping pulsation. Higher synth calls out in broadly swelling notes as a tense arpeggio whirls. Bursts of shining, elevated synth float into space and the vast drum and bass weight pushes the music on.

A tightly wound, high sound trembles distantly and long, sweeping synth chords move. There’s a segment in which a vibrating synth flows into space. After a broad arpeggio spins and increases in speed, the heaving drums and bass are joined by synth slabs that shift with immense power.

I am drawn to the way in which the music is dominated by the overwhelming presence of drums and bass. A nervously dancing arpeggio flows along with rising bursts of medium-high, gleaming synth.

“Strong” kicks off with a rushing, cosmic background that is broken by a sharp-edged synth sweep as expanding notes drop into space. Almost impossibly heavy drums pound and monstrous bass adds even more ear-pleasing, dark power.

Above it, jagged synths burst in a melodic pattern full of threat and weight. A ghostly synth carries a drifting line over the shadowy heft and muscle below it. An elevated, terrified sound rings out over a demonic voice as wandering synth drifts. The track flows into a gliding segment with ominous power lurking below.

Now thundering drums batter hard and the music grows in energy before leaping into motion again. The juddering, trembling bass and heavy drums support higher, more anxious sounds that twist above it. This is music that is full of a sense of urgent and palpable danger.

Gritty, growling bass moves below glassy chimes and a medium-high, flashing synth carries a delicately moving melody to open “Ascension.” Pulsating, flanging bass rumbles below and higher sounds trickle through.

Drums and bass form a colossal heartbeat that shapes the music as the medium-high, glittering synth carries the hurting melody. A dynamic, angular synth bursts in before the delicate melody floats again.

Digital sounds dance and the tightly moving melody trembles before a rapidly spinning, wide-feeling arpeggio twirls along with sweeping wind. A dynamic, leaping melodic pattern flows before we drift back into more ethereal synth. Glassy chimes carry the energetic lead melody now and raised sounds flicker through as the track ends.

Conclusion

Digital Warpaint is an album that takes hold of me and won’t let go. I find the sheer mass, power and energy of the music hard to resist. CELINA transports me through a cyberpunk nightmare, a digital dystopia that’s full of overwhelming danger.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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