Release date: April 22, 2016
RAMZi’s world exists just outside the corner of your eye. It is a land of look behind; possible to reach, impossible to return. At least, impossible to return less a warrior.
It’s not unusual to feel alone in RAMZi’s world (or this world, lest you forget), even in your newfound freedom and ability to adventure. Yes, a vaporous sentimentality streaks the emerald skyline conjuring reflection and magic. When you do find this peaceful solitude, remain alert of zombies and know your allies. Phoebé Guillemot is the guardian of this world. The fearless, intuitive heroine whose arsenal of melted rhythms and mutant songlines exude from her armour.
Guillemot’s past releases – self-administered and for Total Stasis and 1080p – mapped this world, RAMZi guiding the endlessly interpretable landscape with her warped, dubbed-out tribal dance music. The effect was ecstatic, combative, and tactical. For Haku, the next installment in the ongoing RAMZi adventure game, delves more into the mythology surrounding this mossy culture.
“Messiha,” the first piece of For Haku, establishes early momentum; the slow release, the toddling movement before transitioning your body to your avatars. You settle into this new form and feel for your surroundings. It’s sweltering. You don’t sense any immediate danger, but you proceed cautiously into the overgrowth. It’s important that you never stop moving. Mutant creatures of all scales and feathers begin to appear as you crunch and crawl through the contours, but the voice of Haku rises above their growls and warbles. It hovers above jungle law.
“Maleheya” is the evocation of an even more prehistoric version of this place. It was less crowded with creatures, all forms of flora and fauna seemed to levitate just above the swampy ground. A voice appears from the hillside rock formations and rolls out an origin story in an ancient tongue. Night descends and the zombie infection becomes apparent. It wasn’t always this way. That’s why RAMZi is here. And that’s why you are here too.
In “Anima,” you are suddenly joined by a boy character. He is physically skilled and seems to have fun with the zombies, shredding them to pieces while delighting in their darkness. As you follow him, your pace quickens, absorbing his agility, jumping higher into the air. The monsters grab at your ankles below, not even brushing the bottom of your feet. You’re stronger, but also more desirable.
The adventure ends on a most cathartic and serene note. You no longer have an active influence on this world, you are reverent of its beauty, its strangeness. You prepare to travel back to the other world with the knowledge gained inside, with your own song, the one sure weapon. Perhaps For Haku is a narrative of becoming. It reveals the RAMZi warrior as an ancient being in the body of a young woman, a figure who has endured a life with one foot in each world, and has faced zombies on either side.
For Haku is the first entry in the Commend See series and is released in conjunction with Strange Fires, an installation by artist Jessica Hans. An artist edition of six unique LPs are available now, alongside a cassette edition of For Haku. Strange Fires is on display at Commend through May 12, 2016. Read more about the Commend See series here.