Album Review: Honnda – Ultimate Rivals: The Court

By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director
[Orange Milk Records/ Rivals; 2021]
Rating: 7/10

Key tracks: “Megabloom Halo ft Dai Burger & moistbreezy”, “Bounce Castle”, “The Golden Age of Content (Menu)”

It’s been three years since Honnda released their last project on Orange Milk Records,Maraschino Mic Drop, cementing their unique place within experimental dance music. This time around, Honnda has created a body of work that reaches past the musical space serving as the OST for the breakout game from Bit Fry Game Studio; Ultimate Rivals: The Court

Read more: Mindful MIDItation: Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum OST

Rivals is, as described on the Bit Fry website, “disrupting the $14B/year sports video-game category,” by creating a basketball based game that includes licensed players from not only the NBA, but also from official leagues from other sports such as NFL, NHL, MBL, and more. Not only breaking boundaries within the sports video-game category, Rivals pushes the envelope seeking out Honnda’s experimental sound. Without disappointment, Honnda’s characteristically sleek but punchy sound design creates a fitting sonic backbone for the high-energy “near future” gameplay. 

The opening track “Megabloom Halo ft Dai Burger & moistbreezy” stands out immediately with vocals from Dai Burger & moistbreezy delivering stadium energy. Syncopated to the vocals, a round thudding kick drum drives the track forward with a constant urgency, emboldened by the succulent bass pulsing intermittently.

“Bounce Castle” provides a stark contrast to the opening track, stripping away any vocal performances leaving a raw metallic framework. Despite the volatility of the song as a whole, a short melodic motif repeats throughout the track, allowing the listener to enter a hypnotic “flow” state. The percussion expands and contracts fully within the sonic space loosely mimicking the thuds of a basketball dribbling across the court. 

Honnda’s OST not only matches Ultimate Rivals: The Court aesthetically, with its fast-paced futuristic sound design, but also in its functionality when paired with the high-paced sports gameplay. Dynamic, futuristic, and heart palpitating, each song heightens the experience of the game by creating a hypnotic state of enjoyable tension. Without sacrificing Honnda’s spastic, experimental nature, the OST takes up just the right amount of room within the paired experience, somehow being unpredictable and hypnotic simultaneously.

Despite the beauty that comes with experiencing the game and the soundtrack together, Honnda’s creation also stands on its own sonically. Rather than needing the support of the game, the OST is only bound by it’s conceptual inspiration, living on its own as a piece of work. More than anything, this work highlights the dexterity of Honnda, augmenting their sound to match the feel of the game while still retaining the core stylistic nature of their previous works.

Listen here:

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