Freshman year of college is an exciting time; one adapts to an independence they haven’t known before which comes with glass-shattering moments as well as setbacks. Something that becomes quite special to somebody during such a significant time is your new music scoring your new adventures. This period was also my first foray into electronic music, as dupstep became a (short-lived) phenomenon that was hard to ignore. Growing up on metal helped me appreciate the overblown screeches that come with the genre. Upon scowering Bandcamp for free releases (see: broke college student) I stumbled upon Mia Lolita’s Stellar War Soundtrack, which scored the browser game “Enigmatica”. That album became an integral part of my first year of college. I listened to it multiple times per week and the beat shifts and minimalist lyrics by heart. Since then it’s fair to say that I’ve forgotten about it. I moved away from that style of electronica, just as I did that college, and certainly its dubstep influences.
Recently, I stumbled upon Stellar War Soundtrack in my iTunes library. Interested to see how this seminal album it holds up I gave it a few listens. Below is a track-by-track nostalgia-fueled review of the album. Enjoy.
Electric Organism: We start off strong here with a catchy, driving jaunt that escalates the stakes with each bar. A more memorable track that set a strong tone.
Wonka Factory: Wonka Factory is an absolutely astonishing track. In my memory it was the peak of the album, and upon re-listening that assessment is still accurate. It’s a complex, eerie, head banger that twists and turns through the tunnels of the Roald Dahl’s oft-referenced children’s novel. Unfortunately, there are some terrific moments towards the end of the track that get buried due to poor mixing from Lolita.
Nonsensical Bicycle (ft. China Doll): Though it was one of the tracks that stuck out in memory this is my least favorite song on the album. China Doll’s lyricism (though Mia Lolita could have been the writer) completely detracted from the song. It felt like buzzwords were being spewed for the surface appearance of complexity, but come off as a preteen hunting in a dictionary and using them for the sake of sounding deep. On top of that the production is lacking; its underwhelming repetitiveness makes this highly skippable.
Deep Heaven: This simple ode is nowhere near as lush as its title suggests. “Never gonna feel this way again/Oh no” yearns in the background as a plucky synth dances simply in the forefront. It’s a bit bland but does offer some atmosphere that helps embolden the color of this album.
Breathe: Breathe is a great microcosm of a large chunk of Stellar War Soundtrack. It’s a very solid track and the first thirty seconds has all the making of an exciting build-up, but it doesn’t offer much beyond the hook. It makes me wonder about the songwriting process. I have a theory that a lot of the composition of this soundtrack features the copy and paste method in Lolita’s DAW. That being said, it’s not like it’s not a fun song – because it is – I just wish more time was spent on it.
Obsidian Oblivion: An obvious highlight of this soundtrack features some of the more complex, confident beats on this thing.
Esquisetum: A noble track that suffers from awkward beat changes. It’s a bumper that features a couple of really interesting bass line but it lacks fluidity during transitions. It features one of the better uses of the wobble bass in the album, which is something. Its production problems make it feel amateurish, unfortunately.
The Drain: An experimental jam that is uncharacteristic of this album. Sudden beat and tempo switches give life to a song that rejuvines the album, a league above the few ones that precede it. It ends the soundtrack on a stellar note (see what I did there?).
Did this project hold up over the last five years? Yes and no. It was a fun nostalgia trip with a couple of tracks that really stood out, but as a whole it didn’t blow me away like it once did. That doesn’t invalidate how integral this album was for me in exploring electronic music for the first time and it will always hold a special place in my heart. This seems to be an early attempt in Mia Lolita’s music career and it shows in the mixing and composition patterns.
As of late, Lolita (despite not releasing a full project since this 2012 album) has released a track in the past month called “Silver Scream” and seems to be stockpiling music for future Enigmatica releases.
NOTE: Upon reviewing this album I revisited Mia Lolita’s Bandcamp page to find that the album had been reordered with a new song added. I have mixed feelings about reordering or altering an album after it has already been released, but ultimately it’s the artist’s right. It’s not changed that much really, mostly just the first half of the album being mixed around.