Folk N Rock
Spotlight Track: ‘El Wey’ – Hollywood Video Game Kill-Bot

Back when I was a kid, button-mashing my way through Mega Man 2, something clicked. It wasn’t just the pixelated heroics that hooked me – it was the music, that 8-bit symphony of bleeps and bloops. To this day, video game soundtracks hold a special place in my heart, a time machine that transports me back to simpler times.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Scott, your playlist is probably a mosh pit of metal, punk, the occasional folk ballad, and maybe some hip-hop thrown in for good measure.” And you wouldn’t be wrong. But nestled amongst the riffs and rhymes, you’ll find a whole universe of electronic sounds, a showing to my lifelong love affair with video game music. I was the nerd in high school blasting chiptunes between classes, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.

So today, I’m stoked to look into a track that scratches that nostalgic itch. It’s “El Wey” by Hollywood Video Game Kill-Bot, the brainchild of California-based multi-instrumentalist Zachary Chacon, who handles everything except the drums, which are sampled. Get ready to press start on a great little adventure.

Right off the bat, “El Wey” threw me into an electronic whirlwind. Deep tones rumble beneath the surface, grounding the track, but it’s that honking, almost cartoonish sound that really grabed my attention – it’s playful and quirky, setting a completely different vibe than the ominous low-end.

Then, these chimes chime in, and they’re not your typical, lighthearted kind. These chimes resonate with a deeper tone, like something you’d hear echoing through a grand cathedral or maybe a forgotten temple hidden deep in the jungle. Which by the way, I should mention this track makes use of some almost subtle reverb like effects. They’ve got this eerie vibe that I totally dig, a stark contrast to the playful honking sounds that came before.

As the chimes fade, a subtle ringing sound appears, almost like a phone call in the background. It adds this extra layer to the whole thing, making it even more interesting, like a tiny detail you discover in a painting the more you look at it. Which, this is going to be a track you listen to over and over to see if there is a pattern or a sound you missed.

But the real star of the show here is this sitar-like sound that takes over. I don’t know if it’s an actual sitar or something else entirely, which lets be real here, it’s most likely electronic, but the effect is undeniable. It’s got this exotic, almost hypnotic quality that draws me in, like a snake charmer’s melody that I can’t resist. Love this section that fills up the track from time to time.

This sitar sound isn’t just a random addition, either. It’s like the backbone of the song, making its way through the other elements and tying everything together. For a second, it’s like I’m wandering through some ancient marketplace filled with the sights and sounds of a bygone era, or lost in a vast desert landscape, the wind whistling through the canyons and the endless sky stretching out above me. Then, bam, I get brought back into that digital world.

Now again, this sitar-infused journey is fleeting, a brief detour before the song veers into an entirely different realm. The sounds shifts, taking on a robotic, almost alien quality. It’s like stepping out of a bustling bazaar into a sterile laboratory. The whimsical chimes return, their deeper tones grounding the track in a familiar way.

And also in a later part, there is this tiny, tiny section where thissitar-like melody and the deeper tones seem to harmonize, just for a split second, like a chance encounter between two travelers from different worlds. It’s a subtle detail, but it caught my ear and made me appreciate the complexity of the arrangement. It’s like the artist is hinting at a deeper connection between these seemingly disparate elements, a hidden thread that ties everything together. And it’s all fused together so well.

And speaking of hidden threads, there’s this other sound that keeps popping up throughout the track: a bass-heavy tone that fades in and out of the mix like a phantom. It’s barely there, but its pops in from time to time. It’s like a heartbeat that underpins the entire track. It adds a layer of texture that would be sorely missed if it were absent. Gotta have some deep tones there that makes for a great beat!

The density of sound in “El Wey” is undeniable, but it’s a controlled chaos that never feels overwhelming. Instead, it’s like following a winding path through a lush jungle, each turn revealing new surprises and unexpected cool finds. One of those finds is a groovy, thumping percussion line that pops up here and there that i just spoke about. It’s a welcome contrast to the more ethereal elements, grounding the track in a primal, visceral way.

He mixes in moments of respite throughout the track, before plunging back into the whirlwind. These pauses, often filled with that rumbling bass-heavy tone, makes for a nice break, making the return of the other elements all the more impactful. Whether intentional or not, it’s a brilliant move.

“El Wey” is a multi-layered composition, but it never feels cluttered or confusing. Instead, it’s giving you room to explore, to discover new nuances with each listen. I love the skill and creativity he has in which he can create a track that is filled to the brim with cool finds.

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