Published May 17, 2017Saskatoon electronica producer Will Kaufhold has been releasing music as Form since 2010. His latest full-length, for Toronto's Adhesive Sounds label, is a likeable enough foray into soothing, videogame-style electronica. Its lack of a distinctive personality means it doesn't quite leave a lasting impression, but it won't leave you with any regrets, either.
A good example of retro-style videogame music that avoids the trap of artificially limiting itself with chiptune fidelity, SOHO has a warm and inviting feel to it, and fans of the soundtracks like Heart Machine's Hyper Light Drifter, or Dennaton's Hotline Miami will definitely find worthwhile material here. Despite this competent overall aesthetic, though, Kaufhold plays things a bit safe creatively, opting for repetitive arpeggios in place of memorable melodies, and mere shifting/layering of sounds in place of interesting dynamics. There are certainly some arresting moments (the 16-bit cascades of "Ailment"), as well as some nice touches (the funky bass line and sharp synth descents of "Envelope"), but they're not enough to carry the album, and their initial impression is diminished via repetition and lack of development.
An interesting glimmer occurs towards the album's end in the form of highlight "Bapu," whose swirling wildlife samples and crisp 4/4 beat immediately set it apart, adding some welcome groove and texture to the proceedings; it's a viable template for Kaufhold moving forward.
Overall, SOHO is an enjoyable exercise in mellow, videogame-oriented electronica that isn't afraid to pair modern-day production with more nostalgic flourishes. A lack of originality ultimately holds it back, but the foundation for more vital and interesting work in the future are firmly in place. (Adhesive Sounds)