Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3 [Tracks 42 - 46]

Hey everyone, Glenntai here with more rambling and opinions masked as credible reviews! If you’ve gotten to this point, you have either read the other reviews or just clicked on this via facebook! You won’t believe what happens next!

Alright, enough of this pretending-to-be-witty bullshit, let’s get on with the review!


Snooglebum – Spiders and Cobwebs

With a very prominent bass fade-in and usage of tribal-esque percussion, ‘Spiderwebs & Cobwebs’ comes out sounding much like one’s escapades through what starts off as a dim-lit cavern and turns into your own personal tour of bustling lab full of machines and grotesque figures in lab equipment that seem to have not been touched in years. Snooglebum manages to covey a scene befitting to its title, transitioning to the next part of the song with instruments familiar to fans of late 90’s/early 2000’s happy hardcore scene, accompanying toms that sound like you could have fit them in a tech-pop hit of the 80s, and a polyrhythmic drum line set to an early-electro house motif.  However, unlike deadmau5’s earlier work, there’s more than one rhythm pattern in this song (and album).

Website | Facebook | YouTube


TRIaC – Dial Up

TRIaC follows up on the next track with a very danceable chip track reminiscent of 2007-2010 1xDMG trance pop with more-than-basic 1-channel melodies matched with an effective wav accompaniment and pulse bass. However, on upon further scrutiny, I have to give TRIaC a lot of credit. The instrumentation in this track is a stellar example of how big of a sound you can produce with Nanoloop.  If you listen closely, you can make note of how precise and well-timed each of those pulse arps are, making it seem like simultaneous channels despite the fact that both fast-paced and bouncy arps within the first minute are on the same channel. The release on the noise instruments is equally impressive. ‘Dial Up’ leads on to continue to have a solid form with well-planned segments that transition smoothly into a fun and enjoyable example of this particular style of chipmusic.

Soundcloud | Facebook


Daniel Capo – Summer Home

Daniel Capo’s down-tempo, ambience-filled dreamland of a track is a shining example of how to effectively use analog and low-fi equipment with modern-day music tools to make great music. The melody and its backing chords, both of them at a lower quality rate and giving a very distinct feeling of reminiscing over your favorite tape cassette, are delightful and don’t distract from the rest of the track. Said recording technique also allows for additional noise not normally found in the registers for a DMG, and to be played at more specific volumes than the standard registers for LSDJ (although after only a few minutes of experimenting, you can certainly come close.) Fortunately, this allows you to notice the dreamy accompanying pad arpeggios. I’m almost certain that the echo in these would cause a strict-native LSDJ user to do some embarrassing things in order to learn it.  Daniel Capo has succeeded in making a relaxed, warm atmosphere you can get lost daydreaming in, as well as a song you could get lost daydreaming in on repeat.

Website | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter


Ap0c – One More Dream

Philadelphia native and one of the only people I’ve seen with enough intestinal fortitude to use a Tuba with chiptune, Ap0c continues to provide a well-orchestrated concept to each one of his progressive chip tracks that I can only classify as “Romanticized Neo-Baroque” (oh sweet mother of god, the approximately-ten of you reading this that understand will likely want to punch me for that. Send all hate mail and pretentious insults to Glenn (at) Nerdfit (dot) com, please.) He prefers to consider it more “CastlevaniaCore”, but no matter what you call it, this track is a gem to listen to.

‘One More Dream’ is full of leads that love to deviate from the melodic tones to give an extra emphasis, and Ap0c manages to keep every accompanying element brilliantly accentuated throughout the entirety of the piece. Every transition to another step in the form of this song is its own little adventure, building up further and further within their progressions only to come to a cliff-hanging end. This, in itself, you could consider reflecting as a metaphor for all of our own dreams still technically in the process of being reached.

Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter


Kerosyn & Wowzerss – Predigital Reconciliation

‘Predigital Reconciliation’ is a track that tells a story of a simple time brought into a land of overwhelming new concepts and laments for an earlier, technologically-simpler time. Of course this is ironic since it used a dmg and DAW, but don’t even dare let that skew your opinion of its quality. This is a very solid track that slowly lets loose a floodgate of rhythms that comprise from your expected percussion to various pitch-sliding sounds and a woodblock effect (that I suspect is either sampled from a standalone drum kit or is some very impressive programming on a pulse channel) that make you want to move along to that dancehall-esque rhythm on top of your usual four-to-the-floor.

I find one of the techniques I hear abused a lot in modern pop and popular chiptune is the staccato and the stuttering effect that comes from its usage (guilty as charged, myself). Here, listening carefully, they have managed to manipulate such an effect that once it retriggers, it sounds like when a modern-age computer is having issues processing until it finally gets stuck in a loop and crashes. This is a very well-executed example of staccato and retriggering. It was also very well played out, considering they alluded to it 32 beats prior, with various instruments constantly retriggering softly in the background.

Kerosyn Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Wowzerss Soundcloud | YouTube


Volume 3 is a solid addition to the ChipWIN collection, sporting a wide variety of technique, genre, concept and creative processes that not only show how impressive the creative mind can be within limitations, but also the diversity of the collective artists that express themselves. Of course, this is not the end of the album, keeping to its tradition of 51 tracks. Stay tuned as Hoodie finishes up the reviews and reminds me that I’ve yet to write a drum solo as fantastic as Pieces of Eight’s. Holy damn, that drum solo is good. Coincidentally, I had submitted a 3-minute drum solo under the guise of “Wait why has nobody written a chiptune drum solo?” Well played, fellow great mind, well played.

RIGHT, ENOUGH CIRCLE-JERKERY AND UNPROFESSIONAL BANTER. CUE THE BOILER-PLATE.

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Hoodie Highlights… Roger ‘Rekcahdam’ Hicks!

Sup y’all? =) Hoodie here with a special BONUS interview for this month! A Kickstarter for an EXTRAORDINARILY AWESOME project has recently gone live, something that you need to be informed about and given the chance to support. So I took the initiative
and interviewed/enjoyably chatted with/endlessly pestered the creator to learn more about it, and him in general. The project in question is Band Saga, and its creator is the one and only Roger ‘Rekcahdam’ Hicks! Enjoy!

rekcahdam

Photo by Jeff Ball.

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Hoodie: Quick crash course on Rekcahdam, annnd… GO!!!

Rekcahdam: Yo! My name is Roger Hicks but most people know me by Rekcahdam. I was given that name back in High School because I used to try to hack into the school’s “iBooks.” I was the worst at hacking and reverse engineering among my friends but I eventually become the only one who kept up with it so I surpassed them.

I was always into music and video games. I started playing drums when I was 7 and my dad bought me a Nintendo, Game Boy and a Sega Genesis, so I’m very familiar with those sounds.

Hoodie: Wow. Damn. And already I’ve learned a couple things about you that I didn’t know! hahah

So, your programming bent & musical exploration started up around the same time, ay? (i.e. both EARLY).

Rekcahdam: Well music started pretty early. I started playing drums at my church when I was 7 years old. It wasn’t until High School that I started getting into “hacking”, which is different from programming. I never looked at the actual source code. I would always look at the ASM or byte code and change that to bypass certain key checks and stuff. I didn’t start really writing my own programs until after I graduated from High School and was on my way to college.

Hoodie: Gotcha. While the interest in at least a related field started early, actually programming came later. Would you say they’re both pretty intertwined at this point (music & programming), or more complementary I suppose?

Rekcahdam: Yeah, both programming and music are a huge part of what I do these days. Although I have to say that I love music much more than programming. Actually, I HATE programming! LOL I’m only a programmer of necessity. And I’m only good at programming because I want to see the end result in a timely manner. It takes me a couple hours to write a song, maybe a month to write an entire album. It can take me a month to 3 years to finish a program/game depending on the complexity.

Hoodie: hahaha A necessary evil for you then. I can see that I reckon. ;)

Rekcahdam: The fact that I’m good at it doesn’t help either. haha Imagine being good at something that you hate to do, so everyone keeps asking you to do more of that thing you hate and you have no choice but to do it because that’s your bread and butter.

Hoodie:  I understand. It’s hard for me being sexy as hell all the time, but -shrugs- I manage, yanno? Just gotta keep pressing on & shit. 8-)

YUP FOLKS IT’S THAT KINDA INTERVIEW. #SryNotSry 8-)

Rekcahdam: Let’s make a trade. My programming knowledge for your sexiness……
DEAL!
<.<

Hoodie:  >_>

Can we just, like, swap them back and forth on occasion? That’d be useful. :3
Plus teleportation powers. Because I need that. #InstantTransmissionFTW

Rekcahdam:  YO! Better yet, Rekcah Hoody Fusion!

THEY AINT READY!!!

Hoodie: OH SHIIIII-

Nah, man, you’re right: the world ain’t ready for that yet. ;)

Rekcahdam: ROFL But yeah, even though I hate it being able to code is an awesome skill. I love music and I love video games. I also love crazy sci-fi stories about space and exploration. Being able to program allows me to combine all of those things into one package. I just wish I didn’t have to spend the better half of my life staring at a computer screen to do it, but I think it’s worth it. I wanna leave some good works behind before I die *the most emo way to end any sentence*

Hoodie: HAHAHA This interview is the best interview! XD

But yeah, it’s definitely working for you. And that’s what matters most, man. Props for owning that shit.

Before we get to the hot topic at hand — the one that everyone who has a clue is buzzing about! — I’ve gotta talk live music with you first. My first exposure to you was via some awesome live shows. Not sure if I first encountered you jamming out at MAG or PAX East, but it definitely made me go, “Whoa. Who the hell is THIS dude?” hahah There is something magical about a good live show, both experiencing one and being part of one. Especially among a group of true kindred spirits at something like MAG or PAX, yanno?

Rekcahdam: I feel you 100% man! It’s one thing I will never stop enjoying. Being able to perform for people and seeing them enjoy it is the best feeling ever. And what’s cool for me is live performances and jamming is like one and the same for me. I never play a song the same way twice. I always add some extra shit here or there to keep myself from getting bored. When I drummed for Disasterpeace I really appreciated him allowing me so much freedom. I know sometimes he probably though I was crazy… well he was right: I am crazy! hahaha But that made for a good show I think. Even if I fucked up I made it fun somehow. Performing for me is less about perfection and more about just having fun.

Hoodie: Definitely. That’s the heart of the whole damn thing really, to me at least.

And that *WAS* a solid pairing. Saw you and Rich jam out at least a couple times. Worked really well!

Got any other live music projects happening and/or on the horizon? Or are you just playing those as they come together organically in-between all the other craziness you’re currently engaged in?

Rekcahdam: Yessir of course! My next show is on the 21st in Tokyo! It’s called the “Band Saga: Tokyo Game show After Party“. I’ll be drumming to my tracks as well as DJing along with some artists from Tokyo!

Hoodie: Annnnnnnnnnnnnd we’re right back to me needing teleporation! Damn. :O

Rekcahdam: LOL After that I have nothing planned. Ive been trying and trying to get MAGFest to let me perform but its been tough. I applied for a spot but it seems unlikely. Earlier this year I did a Band Saga: GDC after party and it was sold out! An0va played the guitar to my tracks while I drummed. It was badass.

Hoodie: I heard about that party. Sounded like it was a helluva time as well!

Rekcahdam: Maybe next year we can do a Band Saga: After Part Part II. Other than that, if you have any other events going on please let me know. I’m 100% out of the loop for these things. Like I said before, I’m practically locked in a dungeon coding, forced to ignore most of social media until I have to whore my next project. haha

Hoodie: DUDE GO TO SQUARE SOUNDS FESTIVAL TOKYO.

Rekcahdam: OH YEAH. I lied. HAHA I’m playing at the Square Sounds Pre-party. I forgot.

Hoodie: hahaha Good. Was about to say, you’ve GOTTA get out to that jam, programming dungeon be damned!!

Rekcahdam: I played at the pre-party last year so they asked me again this year. haha

Hoodie: Nice! That’s one I REALLY wanna make it out to eventually. Traveling across the pond ain’t cheap, but that party looks like it’d be worth it.

Rekcahdam: And then after that I’m playing at an event called 1H1D in Kyoto October 3rd. And then after that I’m DJing hip hop in Tokyo October 4th. So yeah, I guess I do have some things lined up, but mostly everything is small. The pre-party is small, 1h1d is hella small; the DJ thing is pretty decent but it’s literally just hiphop, so I didn’t count that at first.

Hoodie: What is jamming in Japan like, especially at such a variety of shows? Seems a bit like an off question, but I have caught concerts in different parts of the world. It’s still live music, but feels different to me in different places I reckon.

Rekcahdam: Well for me, it seems just like anywhere else . The biggest difference is that the venues are much MUCH smaller in Japan. The Square Sounds pre-party can probably fit 80 people max, but even 50 people leaves hardly no room to move. Everything is just so small! But the people here have a extreme love for music. They might know all the lyrics to your song before they even understand what you’re saying LOL

Hoodie: haha And THAT’S the kinda thing I’m talking about. That’s awesome.

Alright. Time to get to it. BAND SAGA: talk to me, man.

Rekcahdam: It’s a FM sequencer, it’s a Space Action Adventure game, it’s a collaboration tool; it’s even more than that but if I told you your brain would explode. And my brain would explode because I would start to remember all the shit I still have left to do to finish it! ROFL

Hoodie: hahhhahhahaha I’m not gonna lie: my brain DID asplode after checking out the Kickstarter! It’s… A LOT! Pretty ambitious project for sure. And AWESOME.

Rekcahdam: Yeah. This is that game you wanted to make when you were a kid, or at least me. I would make shit up like “YO IT WOULD BE COOL IF YOU CAN DO THIS. AND THE CHARACTER COULD ACTUALLY DO THIS. AND THE WORLD WOULD BE AFFECTED BY THIS.”

This is that game that does all the things you ever wanted it to do.

And i cry every night thinking about how much work has gone into it and how no one will probably play it because i’m a nobody….

BUT IT’S OKAY! You’ll play it right Brandon!? (☉ε ⊙ノ)

Hoodie: FUCK YEAH I WILL.

Rekcahdam: <3

Hoodie: And I KNOW I’m not the only one. I’ve seen other brains being completely explode-i-fied on the internet about it, especially when they take a moment and discover everything that’s involved in the project. The trick is exploding WAY more brains about it. And, of course, that’s one of the goals of the Kickstarter: to bring the brain s’plosion to more folk.

Rekcahdam: Yeah. See that’s where the sexiness comes in. If I were as sexy as you that trick wouldn’t be a problem.

Yup. Sexy. That's me alright....

Yup. Sexy. That’s me alright….

Hoodie: HAHAHA Dude, srsly, STFU. <3

Fortunately, you have me as a friend, so you’re good. WACHOW, BBY~ 8-) #RandomSamuraiJackReference

Rekcahdam: LOL!!!! Brandon, you’ve exceeded my nerdy expectations.

Hoodie: Dude, I go WAY back with the nerdiness. So many levels upon levels of it. And the best part of it is that I OWN that shit now. Life’s way better when you own it, nerdiness and all.

…although I’m DEFINITELY preaching to the choir on this topic. hahaha

Rekcahdam: HAHAHA I’m a closet nerd. I need to learn how to own it more.

Hoodie: It’s honestly really easy for me. I simply don’t have a choice. heheh :3

Rekcahdam: Quick thing i forgot to mention about Band Saga!

Hoodie: Yes please! Mention away! Fun goofiness aside, this project NEEDS to be sold to people. It’s too fucking cool!

Rekcahdam: <3 If you listen and look at the Band Saga LP song titles it’ll give you hints about the story of the game.

Rekcahdam: PLUS if you buy the LP on Bandcamp you get a full blown 22 page digital comic! And this ain’t no half assed shit bruh bruh. Heres a page from the comic:

comicHoodie: WOW. DAMN. You literally do it all, man. Just… What the… I don’t even. I… can’t word. o.O

It also completely annihilates my brain that this project is all you and one other cat (Hillmon Ancrum). I mean, I feel like I do a lotta things, but in comparison to something like this… HOLY SHIT MAN. :O It really just is your baby, isn’t it?

Rekcahdam: Yeah. This is a big ass baby too. It’s been way over past 9 months. Nearly 3 years now!

Hillmon wasn’t the first artist I’ve worked with either btw. The game has gone through like 4 different art direction changes. Partially because most of the artists really weren’t feelin’ my idea and couldn’t see my vision. Also partially because this type of game has to keep evolving while you develop it and I needed someone who could bear with me while I try new things. It’s such a unique concept that you have to do a lot of trial and error, which basically means you might have to scrap some artwork you did earlier because it just doesn’t fit the new design anymore. Which means you might hate me forever because you did work that no one will ever see. haha

But, that is the price of making a good product. There are tons of prototypes of Band Saga that no one will ever see, and I’m okay with that because I want to put my best foot forward. But, don’t get it twisted; all the artists I worked with previously I actually paid for their work, so if anyone lost it was me because i paid for work that I can’t even use! haha

Hoodie: Makes sense to me. Just part of the evolutionary progress of a project, especially something of this scale.

Any further thoughts before we wrap this sucker up?

Rekcahdam: EVERY BODY FUND THE DAMN BAND SAGA KICKSTARTER SO I CAN FINISH THIS GAME PLEASE!

Hoodie: I SECOND THAT. AND THIRD IT.

And if yeeeeew don’t liek it, fuuuuuuuk yeeeeeeeeeeeeeew!

Rekcahdam: ROFL!

Hoodie: Seriously, Roger, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. It’s been enlightening, and a blast as usual. We really need to hang out more IRL. haha I have been meaning to visit Japan at some point after all. ;)

Rekcahdam: Fo sho!

Hoodie: Best of luck with all of your crazy awesome endeavors!

Rekcahdam: Thank you sir. I’ll try to include you in one of them crazy endeavors one day!

Hoodie: hahaha Looking forward to it already, dude! Rekcah Hoody Fusion FTW!! 8-)
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Rekcahdam:
rekcahdam.com | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTube

Band Saga Kickstarter <– THROW MONEY AT THIS GORRAMIT!!!

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Chiptunes = WIN Volume 3 [Tracks 37 - 41]

Hello, ChipWINners! We’re nearing the home stretch of our track-by-track look at the awesomeness that is Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 3. We’ve heard some incredibly talented and diverse artists so far, and that trend definitely continues here. We have some seriously impressive tracks to cover in today’s batch, and would you believe that 4 out of 5 of them are newcomers to a ChipWIN comp? Without further ado, let’s jump right in!
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STAR☆DRIVER - Super Collider

STAR☆DRIVER wastes no time in getting straight to the hotness in his ravetastic track ‘Super Collider’. Combining a frenetic lead with a solid four-to-the-floor beat, ‘Super Collider’ is the musical embodiment of kinetic energy. About halfway through the jam,
STAR☆DRIVER unleashes many extra flourishes which take things to the next level such as bleeps on the upbeat, a growling WAV channel, and effective use of stereo, all of which keep things interesting and very upbeat right up until its abrupt ending. To those who are of the opinion that 1 X LSDJ isn’t enough at this point to make a splash in the scene, let this track serve as a friendly reminder that a single Gameboy in adept hands is more than enough to craft a killer jam that makes people stand up and take notice.

Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram
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Talkboy Arcade – Azure Skies

Talkboy Arcade returns to the ChipWIN comp since his awesome Vol. 2 track, ‘The Longest Distance’. This time around, we have a much more subdued, but no less rich of a track on offer. A sweet lead melody yo-yos to and fro and is complimented by a softly undulating supporting voice which adds to the serene atmosphere. Like a dandelion on the wind, these tones drift and flutter about, while always remaining beautiful and coherent. The bass and percussion remain quite upbeat, leaving the track to ultimately lay somewhere between ambient and energetic. Upon repeated listening, I’d have to say that Talkboy Arcade has crafted a unique style of energetic ambience, which is in and of itself a breath of fresh air.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to give props to Kubbi‘s excellent sequencing on Vol. 3. Sequencing a 51-track album is no small feat, and here once again the listener is wisely given a moment of respite between 2 intense tracks, and hoo boy when we get to this next one, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Tumblr
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Masikus X Mega Beardo – Across the Chipth Dimension

Masikus and Mega Beardo join forces for the benefit of all humanity in their sci-fi flavored chipmetal odyssey, ‘Across the Chipth Dimension’. It’s been great to see some solid metal tracks materialize on this year’s compilation, all of which perfectly combine and balance chipmusic with supremely rocking guitar and double bass. In the context of the theme of this particular track, it could not be a better fit. A spacey opening sets the stage and quickly gives way to a thunderous, glorious metal guitar riff. Eventually the main chip lead follows and plays along with the guitar exactly, including the solo, creating a delicious blend that is backed by atmospheric synth pads all the while. It doesn’t get much more grandiose than this, and by the end of the 5 minute excursion, you’ll be searching for a new face.

Masikus
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Vine | YouTube

Mega Beardo
Website | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube
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Chema64 – Kahlo Overdrive

Here we have another 1 X LSDJ masterpiece, ‘Kahlo Overdrive’ from Chema64. Hailing from Mexico City, we’re shown again (and not the last time on this comp) that the language and love of chipmusic spans worldwide. Chema64 brings some serious glitch aesthetics to his contribution. A hypnotic lead melody travels up and down its scales with wild abandon while a deliciously dirty and glitched-out bassline sizzles the low end into submission. About the only thing that can be predictable about this track is the steady beat. That is, until one of the song’s many headbangingly climactic breakdowns. This is a track that begs to be cranked up to 11 to hear the clarity, as well as the beautiful method to Chema64’s madness.

Website | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook
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Tuberz McGee – Cathexis

Utilizing Famitracker with the VRC7 expansion chip, Tuberz McGee brings us a truly astonishing contribution to ChipWIN Vol. 3. ‘Cathexis’ starts out with a suave, almost jazzy opening phrase, its lead melody gliding and modulating to create a distinctly memorable tone. Percussion is somewhat hollow, placing the majority of the emphasis on the exceptionally crafted chipsounds which evolve before our very ears over the course of the song. Somehow Tuberz McGee has managed to squeeze multiple Acts into a 3:20 long composition. After the rising tension of a blissfully staccato solo, ‘Cathexis’ retreats back to mellow territory at 1:26, the bass rising even higher than the lead melody for a moment. This isn’t even its final form. We’re suddenly in the midst of a full-on classical baroque composition with all the requisite ornamentation. The unexpectedness of it all makes it that much more effective. This is definitely one of those tracks that needs multiple listens in order to catch everything and fully appreciate this highly expressive work.

Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook
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That’s it for today’s collection of tracks for Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 3. We’re going to take a short weekend break and will be back for the big finish next week. I don’t think you need me to tell you that you do not want to miss the finale! Until then… keep your heart and hands held high!

\m|♥|m/

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