Album Review: Alive in Screen by Nelward

Nelward makes funky chopped up 8-bit video game beats with skill and precision. His latest release Alive in Screen is a seven-track album that fuses together a 90’s lo-fi aesthetic with Nintendo R&B grooves. His tracks work because they both remind the listener of childhood while simultaneously allowing the listener a new way to engage with the nostalgic material. Alive in Screen repurposes and culturally cannibalizes beloved 90’s media. It is both old school and new.

Alive in Screen is an electro neo-soul journey into a computer processor that has been transported from 1994 to the future. The inaugural track “Brain Dance,” sets the tone for the rest of the album, with its computer modulated funk. Nelward traverses the cultural landscape here both aesthetically and musically. The album art is specifically designed to mimic Windows 95 Paint aesthetic, while also tapping into our current love of all things 90’s and our growing obsession with nerd culture.

On Alive in Screen Nelward writes the soundtrack for the listener to create their own internal video game. “Seafoam Breeze,” is an underwater level with air bubbles bursting all around. Track four, “The Minus World,” is the dangerous underworld where there are fireball welding buffalos and sheep dodging to a funky backbeat. The final track “Toy World,” closes the album with a happy ending where the self-generated protagonist runs off with the object of their affection.

Alive in Screen is a well-rounded glimpse into a world of pure imagination. It allows the escapism of video games and a groove that will get you on the dance floor in the Sims or IRL. Nelward’s next show is at the Mammal Gallery on February 23rd. Check out the record on his Bandcamp or Spotify and stay updated via his Facebook and Instagram.