Phixel’s Shapes & Colors was an incredible release: it dabbled in a myriad of genres and sounds in its exploration of an artist whose experience with life has given her greater wisdom than many of her contemporaries. Less than a year since the album’s release, Phixel has gifted us a deluxe edition that presents leftovers from the sessions as well as more recent tracks and a boatload of remixes. It’s an essential package for fans and newcomers alike.
There’s a few tracks here that would have comfortably fit on to the standard edition of the album. The Possum Pit co-produced ‘Burn Alive’ is a glitchy, melodic titan reminiscent of ‘Daisy’, albeit more atmospheric. The lyrics here play with vampiric imagery: ‘When the sun comes up we will burn alive. Just say you fucked up, move on with your life.’ The song doesn’t fit well with Shapes & Colors from a lyrical standpoint, but as a piece of music it’s just as cleanly produced and infectious as the project’s highlights. ‘Silver’ is an anxious song that sees the artist insisting on shrinking her ‘sense of permanence’ and keeping her ‘head out of the tulips’. Such self-observation is not uncommon in Phixel’s music, and yet every time I hear something like this from her it reminds me that many of us have so much further to go on our personal journeys. Her cry for help: ‘before I drown in this river, please be a giver, I’m rust in your silver’ is a scathing self portrayal and yet one that a lot of us that feel like burdens in one way or another may be able to relate to. Both of these songs would have been excellent either on the primary tracklist of the album or as part of its B-sides.
‘Fake Friends’ is a short but sweet song that could be considered most typical of the current hyperpop trends. It warns against building relationships with those that wish for your downfall, or never believed in you at all. This one feels like a definite outtake, but it’s no less impactful than any of the other music found here. There’s also songs here that feel like they belong to (and likely were intended for) other, long-lost projects. ‘Pit’ is a real curveball, featuring a word salad hook with no autotune and a banging beat from blackwinterwells, it’s one of the hardest songs in her discography to date. ‘Off Guard’ is an explosive, synthy banger starring a guest appearance from Kevinhilfiger (to add to existing cameos from 8485, wells and Alice Gas), it’s absolutely the GoonnCity artist’s track in conception and yet Phixel more than holds her own with a brief yet memorable verse. The deluxe edition’s other guest appearance is from Nari, whose chemistry with Phixel has been well established in the past. Both artists perform beautifully over a simple piano loop, exchanging heartbreaking lyrics in the process. This one is new ground for both artists, and I hope to hear more songs in this style in the future.
Then there’s the remixes. With every song from the original album except ‘Blender’ and ‘Loveless’ reworked at least once, this is a great collection of largely self-produced creations. The first remix of ‘The Silence’ is bonkers, smothering Phixel’s dreamy vocals in intense layers of distortion before dropping into pure ambience. The ‘HTML’ remix is chaotic, making an already viscous song into an abrasive punk tune. The ‘Listen’ remix was always going to be the hardest to pull off, and yet it’s one of the album’s most epic inclusions. There’s real SOPHIE influence going on here, actually. ‘Boxkitty’’s version of ‘Daisy’ is actually smoother than the original at first, then devolves into pure audio primordialism, then re-emerges as something that sounds like part of the TRON soundtrack. It’s the ‘Adversial’ remix that is most effective, however. ‘Dance With the Phantoms of Your Trauma’ is somewhat literal, as this ends up being the most cathartic inclusion of the remix bundle.
If you liked the original Shapes & Colors, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t love this. If you’ve never heard the original, now is the perfect time. Phixel is one of the scene’s greatest artists, one of the most talented young musicians alive, and she has an incredibly bright future ahead of her.
Check the album out below.
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– Chris (@108seraph)