Jredd’s Jewel Case: ‘Hard Reset [EP]’ by General Offensive and Mrsonic699

Hello, and welcome to the first ever installment of “Jredd’s Jewel Case”. Much like my Hidden Gems series, here we take a look at some up and coming talent. However, instead of looking at a few songs by different artists, this time we will focus on a single album entitled ‘Hard Reset‘ by General Offensive and Mrsonic699.

hard reset ep

Before we get started, I’d like to direct your attention to an interview of these guys featured on this episode of Retro Obscura Podcast. You’ll note that their experiences growing up with consoles in Romania is quite different from most, and yet the appeal of chip music for them is surprisingly quite similar to any one of us. Now that you have had the chance to get to know them a little better, let us discuss why I have chosen to highlight them.

You see, I’ve been friends with Mr.Sonic699 A.K.A “Teodor” for a couple of years now. As such, I’ve watched him grow and mature as an artist. We instantly clicked musically due to the fact that we both have a strong love for the Sega Genesis sound chip and I had the pleasure of helping him get acquainted with VGMM tracker. So naturally, when he came to me with a demo of an album that he and his guitar shredding buddy Alex were creating together, I was instantly sold.

If the idea of combining gritty Sega Genesis FM with screaming guitars and progressively powerful drums sounds awesome to you, that’s because it is! Imagine influences from iconic titles such as Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Comix Zone, and Shinobi fused with the heavier side of Progressive/Grunge Metal from bands like Alice In Chains, Kyuss, and maybe even a splash of Dream Theater and you’ve got yourself one heck of a combination.

Even in it’s demo stages the album was so good that when I heard a sample of it I just had to jump into the mix and help with a track as a special guest so that I could say I had a small part in this wonderful masterpiece. I mean come on, Sega Genesis and metal? It’s got me written all over it.

Right from the start the album opens up with the beautiful “Insert Cartridge”. It is a short but powerful intro that sets the bar rather high, but that’s okay because it only gets better from here and leads perfectly into the next track appropriately titled “Turbo Computing”. Something about those aggressive guitars paired with that classic Sonic 3 “Go” sample makes me smile bigger than should be humanly possible. If the combination of chugging guitars and FM Synth stabs don’t draw you in, the menacing Sega Master System PSG sirens will. Pair that with drums that cut through the mix and really sound live despite being programed in, it is easy to see you’re in for a real treat.

Speaking of Sonic, the next track ‘Dimension’ feels like the perfect melding of classic Genesis music and something akin to the rock motifs of the Sonic Adventure series, and I am totally fine with that. This track somehow manages to be gritty and lighthearted at the same time. In fact, I would say the entire album pulls this off beautifully. It has a hard hitting yet hopeful sound to it. It is empowering! As if you are facing impossible odds, yet you have the skills to conquer them! I get vivid mental images of racing down a snowy mountain, while explosions melt the ice behind me and cause an avalanche. Rather than screaming in terror, I just flash a cocky 90’s kid smirk and manage to pull off a few tricks while running for my life.

Following that, ‘We Rock These Streets’ is exactly what it sounds like. If I were to pick a tune that screams rock anthem it would be this one. The first half sounds like someone walking into a dusty bar with a self-assured air. Tall boots step fearlessly inside, and all attention is on the stranger ordering the strongest drink on the menu. He’s minding his own business, but his confidence offends the resident drunk, and all hell breaks loose. 

By the time we reach about the minute and a half mark, we have our fight scene. Guns blazing, bottles shattering, and a sucker punch or two round out the action. Of course, our hero walks away without a scratch. He sets a bag of gold on what’s left of the counter top,  as he’s leaving the place to continue his journey. It’s just another day for him. The bartender looks on in shock as he struggles to assess what just happened. Fortunately for him, most of his customers had bounties on their heads, so he stands to collect a hefty reward once the fuzz shows up to clean up the mess.

Next, we have ‘Whiskey Gloves’, a tune that Teodor and I worked on together and I can say it’s just like old times. Our collaborations have always been a blast. Look through either of our Soundclouds and you’ll see we feature each other quite a bit. This time it’s even cooler because now we have a guitar player which is kind of like adding bacon to bacon, It only makes a good thing even better.

What’s really impressive to me here is that I thought I had pulled out all the stops: weird time signature shifts, sound design tricks, and of course solos in every place I could fit them. Yet, not only did Tudd blend with me perfectly (as he always does), but he managed to improve my sound design and continue my solos as if they were an extension of himself. Not to be outdone, Alex proceeded to lay down solid guitar tracks that sound as if they had always been there. In the end, the collaboration couldn’t have gone smoother and I can’t help but grin every time I listen to it.

Finally, ‘Resolution’ is also exactly what it sounds like in that it’s the perfect way to end an amazing album. This one here is a bit of a ballad. The phase “Peace is restored” comes to mind. A warm feeling of accomplishment swells within the listener as the credits to an epic adventure roll by.

Swapping out the grittier rhythm guitar for a cleaner acoustic style, it really pairs wonderfully with the serine FM bells. Now, there is an electric lead guitar that comes in but this time it has some hauntingly beautiful reverb that melds with the atmosphere of the track effortlessly. What can I say? This is a solid album that I by all means highly recommend.

Oh right, you guys probably want to know about the secret songs too huh? Well, I guess you’ll just have to donate and support these guys to listen to the hidden bonus tracks! Why? Here’s the deal, not only do you get 2 extra unreleased tracks but you also get the tracker file for ‘Whiskey Gloves’ by Tudd and I. You can feel free to study our work and go on to make your very own Sega Genesis music!

So, are you excited yet? What are you waiting for, grab this album! Go, go, go!

-Jredd

MRSONIC699 (Teodor Dumitrache)
soundcloud | facebook

GENERAL OFFENSIVE (Alexandru Ungureanu)
soundcloud | facebook

JREDD (Trevin Hughes)
soundcloud | facebook

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Sladerfluous: ‘FriendChip’ by Yoann Turpin

Time to get down and funkay with some surly-swirly funkadillio with ‘FriendChip’ by Yoann Turpin!

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‘FriendChip’ by Yoann Turpin is a fourteen track album created, as quoted on FriendChip’s Bandcamp page, “with my lovely Korg synths: Kronos, M3 and Polysix Emulation. Also: Alesis Micron, Yamaha EX 5, Roland Juno D and Nordlead 2X for the chip parts, my Akai MPC 1000, Kaossilator Pro and the great Reaper”. Yoann takes several successful explorational deviations from ‘FriendChip’s core funk feel, and many of them are solid home runs.

Click play on the track embed below and sink into ‘FriendChip Overture’ to get a feel for this thoughtful, laid back album.

Yoann employs a lot of bold, quirky sounds to create the songs of ‘FriendChip’, including notable kazoo-like accompaniments in the song ‘Slikk Time’, the entire Tron-esque intro during ‘Final Bit on the String’ and the straight up boss-mode showdown harmonies in ‘Presh-Influence’. The conscious attempt to scour the corners of the sound bin for inspiration culminates in an album that touches many different musical worlds without spreading itself too thin.

Hit play on the embed below and take a listen to ‘Never Ask Why’ for a beautiful change of the album’s pace into a piano based melody, shifting into soft, echoing chip tones for an inquisitive lullaby track.

‘Never Ask Why’ is a remarkable change of pace in a primarily chip-funk album, underscoring Turpin’s ability to colour outside the lines compositionally. ‘Never Ask Why’ will be a standout favourite for many listeners, and is a highly recommended must-listen if you are on the fence about purchasing the album.

Just when you think you have a handle on the direction ‘FriendChip’ is taking, Yoann cranks the wheel and sends you down a completely new fork in the musical road with ‘Sensei Alpha': harnessing the wondrous melodies of the erhu and infusing a deep asian flavour alongside the chip-funk Turpin has established throughout the album. ‘Sensei Alpha’ rightfully deserves a spotlight for its improvisational melodic riffs,

‘FriendChip’ continues to surprise with shifts and changes toward the last third of the album with ‘Swords and Spears’, which includes prophetic lyrics and vocals provided by Joe Cimatti. Immersive, purposeful, and and completely complimentary to Turpin’s track, ‘Swords and Spears’ alone is reason enough to consider supporting Turpin’s continued musical pursuits with a digital purchase of this album.

‘FriendChip’ is an album that surprises and succeeds with its brave combinations and tangents into uncharted chip waters. But hey, sometimes you’ve got to be brave to make new friends, or chiptunes for that matter. :)

FriendChip by Yoann Turpin is available now on Bandcamp for €7 (just under $9US).

Pixel Recall (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love ~

Yoann Turpin:
Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | YouTube | yoannturpin.com

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Chris Considers: ‘Lepidoptera EP’ by Talkboy Arcade

There are many things that I love about Chiptunes = WIN, one of them being that our annual compilation album is a truly equal opportunity event. Submit an awesome track, and any talented newcomer can comfortably sit alongside the more established names in the scene. Case in point: the subject of my consideration this month, Talkboy Arcade (Daniel Goodman). His rousing debut track ‘The Longest Distance’ was hosted on Vol. 2, which was followed up the next year with ‘Azure Skies’ (which I had the pleasure of reviewing in my section of the Vol. 3 track-by-track writeups). These two excellent tracks comprised the totality of his output. That is, until now!

Talkboy ArcadeTalkboy Arcade has recently released his first collection of tracks, the ‘Lepidoptera EP’. The lepidoptera is the beautiful and large order of insects that includes the moths and butterflies. And like the lepidoptera, this music absolutely soars. With 4 carefully crafted tracks on offer, composed entirely in FamiTracker using the 2A03 sound chip + VRC6 expansion, let’s delve into a track-by-track breakdown to see just why you need this EP in your earholes.

A quick percussive measure followed by an ascending glissando kicks off ‘Tropic Commando’. It then launches into a joyful wall of sound where the lead melody is complimented by some lovely sawtooth bass. While it’s under a minute long, ‘Tropic Commando’ is an endearing opener which sets the stage for the rest of the EP and calls to mind the liberating freedom that a butterfly must feel while emerging from its pupa and taking flight for the first time.

In ‘Galactic Ocean’, Talkboy Arcade builds upon the kinetic energy that he’s forged in the first track. The main hook serves as the anchor to which the melody will always return, while various effects such as sharp staccato stabs and pulsating synth-like voices are spread throughout the pulse channels. These unexpected flourishes keep things interesting and rewards the listener upon repeated listens. About halfway through, the tempo slows and the song adopts a somewhat sentimental tone. The percussion during this section is particularly impressive, which switches between a slow and measured beat to a frantic jam just about every other measure. Becoming more and more sporadic, it ultimately goes absent entirely in order to put the spotlight on that glorious hook.

Talkboy Arcade pixel art

The title track is also the longest on the ‘Lepidoptera EP’, as well as a fanciful journey brimming with engaging variations on its main theme. This effervescent track really captures the spirit of the entire EP. A bubbly bassline blends with all manner of beautiful bleeps and bloops and a wailing refrain that echoes across nearly every channel in this track. In my mind, it conjures up imagery of a carnivalesque parade that’s taking place amongst an even larger celebration.

It’s a tough call, but I’m leaning towards ‘Emerald Highway’ as being my favorite track from the EP. It has this fantastic swirling quality to it, all the while guided by a consistent beat that gives the track a healthy dose of swagger. The carefree melodies contained within ‘Emerald Highway’ occur simultaneously, sometimes dueling, and then suddenly rejoining to harmonize with one another. It’s a very organic track that seems to twist and unfurl before your ears, and is an excellent closing number to an overall delightful experience.

After his stellar contributions to two ChipWIN volumes, it’s wonderful to see the ‘Lepidoptera EP’ materialize. It’s available on Bandcamp, pay what you want, and I wholeheartedly recommend supporting Talkboy Arcade’s future musical endeavors with a donation. As an added bonus, your download will come with all 4 FTM modules. Opening these tracks up within FamiTracker reveals just how well constructed these tracks are. I also find it noteworthy that my previous review on this blog was also from a UK-based artist who uses FamiTracker as his musical creation tool of choice, Fearofdark. This leads me to conclude that there is quite a healthy and formidable presence of FamiTracker phenoms from across the pond. As always, keep it locked to the ChipWIN blog for more insightful reviews and exciting announcements. In the meantime, keep your hands and heart held high!

Talkboy Arcade:
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Tumblr | Facebook

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