BRKfest 2014 BRKdown!!

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Weeeeeeelp, I reckon it’s about that time of year again! What time of year is that you, ask?

BRKFEST, DUH.

Full artist roster (updated 7/5)! Poster by Andrea Shfr.

Full artist roster (updated 7/5)! Poster by Andrea Shfr.

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Full visualist roster! Poster by Andrea Shfr.

What is BRKfest you say? Well, if you didn’t gather it from the SEXY POSTERS ABOVE, it’s an annual three day chiptune festivalJuly 25, 26 & 27 – happening in Cincinnati, Ohio, & it’s zombofurkin JAMPACKED with AMAZEBALLS performers and vizualists!!!

To top things off, expect quality vendorsmultiple open mics, & even a couple of
workshops. Don’t believe me? That’s fine. BELIEVE THE OFFICIAL SCHEDULE THEN!

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And you can catch it for only $10 (single day pass) to $25 (three day pass). That’s so damn inexpensive that it’s almost insulting!!! Nevermind the $15 BRKshirts you can preorder as well (although jump on that if you want one, as those are a limited time offer!).

brkshirt

BRKshirt? BRKSHIRT.

Honestly, there’s only really one thing left to say…

SEE YOU THERE!!!
(& here you thought it was probably going to be “#dickbutts” or ZOMBOCON or something, didn’t you? Shame, shame… :3 )

Much \m||m/,
President Hoodie
Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN

BRKfest:
Facebook (PageEvent ) | Twitter | Tickets & Merch

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P.S. ALRIGHT FINE HERE’S THAT HILARIOUS CRAZYASS DANCING GIF AGAIN
(swear I’m gonna try it this year… ;).

Aydan Appreciates: ‘Hot Banana’ by D&D Sluggers

Hey, ChipWINners! You might recognize D&D Sluggers from their track on Chiptunes = #SrsBsns, ‘Slam Jam of the Year’, and if you live on the East Coast, you may have seen a live show on the Odds ‘n Ends Tour that featured SkyBlew, Mega Ran, and D&D Sluggers. I’m definitely one of the latest D&D Sluggers converts due to this tour; unbelievably, the Odds ‘n Ends Tour made a stop in little old Ithaca, and getting to see Tim White play live was definitely an amazing experience. This month, we’re going to run through his latest release, ‘Hot Banana’, a perfect blend of chip, pop, and rock.

The album opens with ‘Robot Girl’, telling a tale of impossible love between himself and a robot girl incapable of feeling emotion. Organic vocals and guitar strumming play over a drum machine and a chip-emulating program – both run on the Nintendo DS, might I add – to create the defining sound of D&D Sluggers. The melody is well written, and the lyrics that adorn this melody definitely fit the title and tone of the song; a few of the things that the robotic subject of the song states are “She says she can’t go against her programming” and “She says she ain’t got no time to waste with you on cute sentimental things”.

‘Villain of the Week’ is another downtempo song; while ‘Robot Girl’ takes on a slightly darker tone, the tone of ‘Villain of the Week’ could be interpreted as comedic. The song opens with two chip voices leading into vocals, bass, and percussion with each passing phrase. The lyrics and the title of the song might – just MIGHT – be allusions to spoilers of a television series, book, or other type of entertainment in progress. The first lyrics of the song are “Please don’t tell me how it ends/I will learn at my own pace”, with a later complaint in a verse being “You don’t know how far I need to go before I’m there”. D&D Sluggers creates another memorable melody with comical and entertaining lyrics to boot, and this song is sure to be a favorite for many listeners.

Having played shows with Math The Band in the past, I expected at least a few hyperactive chip-rock-pop fusion ballads on ‘Hot Banana’, and a number of songs on the album satisfied my hopes. ‘Fight’ is an autotuned, danceable track that tells the listener to stand up and fight in order to get the girl. No, really. Listen to the lyrics. Heavy kicks and claps, a major key, and a vast amount of autotuned goodness help make this one of chiptune’s HOTTEST SUMMER JAMS THIS YEAR. ‘Rock Wild R’, the fifth track on ‘Hot Banana’, might be my favorite track just due to its energetic vibe. So much is happening within the song that you’d almost expect it to burst at the seams. ‘Rock Wild R’ is fast with regards to tempo, has punchy percussion, awesome vocal work, and throws a Mega Man riff at the listener during its guitar solo, should they be familiar with the series.

‘Hot Banana’ is definitely not an album to be missed. While more organic instruments are used than are present in most chipmusic, the blend of instruments in addition to D&D Sluggers’ vocal style are both phenomenal. Try something new. You’ll love it. I promise.

Rather than write about my personal experience at the Ithaca stop of the Odds ‘n Ends Tour, I’ll leave you winners with a link to the playlist showcasing many of the shows that the Ithaca Underground has hosted, starting at D&D Sluggers’ set. Check the links! <3

D&D Sluggers
Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter | Ithaca Underground Set

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Stoking the Forge: Psychedelic Supercomputer EP by Nul Nestao

Greetings fellow dwellers of the Chip Realm, and welcome back to the Forge!  This month, my interest was piqued by a new EP I stumbled across as I delved the depths of the Bandcamp Sea composed by a name that had never crossed my radar before, Nul Nestao.

a0612709994_10Psychedelic Supercomputer EP is a mix of original work and well-worked covers, and is Nul’s first Bandcamp release.  Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Nul is a self-described musician, film-maker, and programmer.

Future is the track that caught my attention, convincing me to stick around and check out the rest.  Three and a half minutes of ambient noise, bass, with deeply hidden and haunting musical components.

At first, I was shocked enough by the lead track being so experimental to be compelled to take a deeper listen.  (I also briefly considered the possibility that my headphones were going out)  With deep reflection, the piece really grew on me, reminding me of the near silent accompaniment only appropriate for the introduction of imposing implements of Imperial influence.
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Psychedelic Supercomputer, the EP’s namesake, breaks that foreboding pseudo-silence with composition that mixes mystery, apprehension, and drive.

Blending a refrain that could foreshadow any number of  dangerous and unknown situations and rapid tempo drums thudding away along the noise channel, the track serves as a great bridge to the rest of the album.

Ore no Kitsune roughly translates to “My Fox” (according to Google Translate), and is described simply by the artist as “a song about love”.  With its contemplative pacing and wistfully constructed sound, that description is fitting.

The composition is a good example of a contemporary feeling love ballad that is spiced up in places by the introduction of instrumentation and sounds that draw from traditional Japanese themes.  While the total package goes on a bit long, as a whole, the track is a worthwhile listening experience.

Captchas For Robots rounds out the original content of the album, bringing a bit of warmth and a sense of adventure to the table.

Introducing instruments one at a time, the paces builds gently, before dropping away to reveal the main theme of the composition.  Bright cheery tones overlay the entire listening experience, well supported by briskly paced drums.  The music fades with upward bending arps, which make the track well-suited for closing an album out.

Covers
Three covers are included on the EP, each a well executed and loving DMG tribute to their respective originals.  I could ramble on for awhile about each, but I think they’re best served by the discerning reader’s own analysis.  Compare, contrast, and bask.


With those well executed tributes fresh in my ears, I’m closing the Forge for this month.  I really encourage everyone to head on over to Nul’s Bandcamp and give the album a listen, see if you enjoyed it as much as I did, and as always…

Get out there, spread the love, and make some chip!

VF

LINKS

Nul Nestao
nul.so | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter

Knife Party
KnifeParty.com | beatport | twitter | facebook

Lorde
Lorde | Twitter | Facebook | last.fm | SoundCloud

Nonfinite
music | blog | chipmusic supplies

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8-Bit Banter with DjjD: Ben Briggs – Star Clash Original Soundtrack

Ben Briggs.

Bencookie

Composer, arranger, performer, health nut, net streaming personality.

Quite the character, Ben has been composing and producing music for the past decade in an effort to achieve super stardom. Starting out at OverClocked ReMix, he moved up the ranks of remixers with an impressive collection of re-imagined video game tunes; sometimes collaborating with fellow artists and creating new bands in the process.

Yes, Ben has been around for quite a while. Having worked with the guy in the past and coming to know him as a great friend over the past 2 years, I can certainly tell you he was determined about one goal throughout the years, far above the others: being a video game composer. Ben has picked up quite a lot with his time spent in FL Studio. Utilizing his abilities to create originals and video game remixes alike, his skills grew exponentially. When he had told me he got a gig as a video game composer, I knew one of his lifetime achievements was met.

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Star Clash is sort of a weird mix between anime characters, a turn based RPG, and Tetris Attack. It has a cool mechanic where you point at the objects you’re supposed to hit and you either swipe to attack enemies, gain health, or regain time on your time limit. Ben creates a wonderful atmosphere implementing plenty of chip textures and crisp drums. There’s such a constantly catchy feel to each of the tracks, it’s easy to appreciate the groove going on here. I spoke with Ben about the soundtrack asking him how he got the opportunity along with how his touring is going:


DjjD: So, how long have you been doing music now?

Ben Briggs: I’ve been making electronic music for the last ten years, but I’ve been playing piano and other instruments since around the age of 9. So that would be…17 musical years in total.

DjjD: How did this soundtrack come to be?

Ben Briggs: A great friend of mine, Doug Perry– also known as DrumUltimA– met up with me at MAGFest 11 and asked if I was interested in video game soundtrack work. Naturally I said yes, and a few weeks later he passed my name along to Jonathon Powell, who was very interested in harnessing my particular style for his next game!

DjjD: Were there any major influences while producing this soundtrack?

Ben Briggs: Absolutely. Originally Jon had requested “Dance music mixed with Final Fantasy”, so a lot of the tracks are heavily influenced by Nobuo Uematsu. Other influences include Grant Kirkhope and Koji Kondo, but honestly their styles come through in ALL of my music. Geniuses, all of them.

DjjD: What was your favorite track to work on?

Ben Briggs: I really enjoyed creating “Sunset City” the most, simply because it was the first track that I began working on, and I was extremely focused on imitating Nobuo’s signature “overworld theme” sound. The melody and chord progressions I came up with were extremely inspiring to me, and I can still listen to Sunset City and get goosebumps. It almost feels like it couldn’t have possibly been my own creation!

DjjD: Did they ever tell you to redo a track because something sounded out of place?

Ben Briggs: Not even once. Jon was fully dedicated to giving me 100% creative control over the sound design of the game. He accepted everything I made without question, and my suggestions were invariably met with a warm enthusiasm. I cannot stress enough how amazing it was to work with Jon on this project; I’ve never felt like I had so much influence over a project.

DjjD: What is the game about and where can you find out more about it?

Ben Briggs: Star Clash is a game about a distopian future, I think? The gameplay is “tap and swipe”, with lots of upgrades, weapon purchases and other RPG elements to extend the depth. I’m doing a terrible job explaining it, so you should just visit www.starclashgame.com to find out more!

DjjD: As of right now, how many DJing gigs do you have scheduled?

Ben Briggs: I just finished up TooManyGames in Philly, and I’m literally sitting at a booth at ConBravo! in Canada as I type these answers. Next up– all these are in August– Ikasu Con in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, then I’m playing the Otakon Matsuri festival in Baltimore, heading down to Orlando Nerd Fest for a few performances, and finally another Florida show called Play It Loud. I highly recommend googling each of these events, because they’re gonna be great! So… to answer the question: a lot.

DjjD: Anything you want to tell your fans or perhaps inform them of something new you’re working on?

Ben Briggs: My first crowd-funded, full-length album is coming out within the next week! All 10 of my Patreon songs will be available for free/name-your-price on benbriggs.net very soon. I’m so proud of the new styles that I’ve been experimenting with, and it’s so humbling to be directly supported by so many generous people. So yeah, be on the lookout for that LP, and otherwise just BUY TICKETS TO MAH SHOWZ!!!


A couple of my favorites from the soundtrack:

Blue Forest

Starting out with a mallet instrument, this progressive tune moves into a dance beat with a 4-on-the-floor feel. It smooths itself out as the the bass comes in. Despite the chippy tremolo and the very 80′s lead that come in later, the pads carry this tune. It’s definitely one of my favorites as it’s both relaxing while being considerably jumpy at the same time.

Redship Bay

A very dark feel to this one, as if it’s a villain intro. The progression is very nice. The vibrato on the lead and the piano striking the chords in the background until the kick fills out the rest of the soundscape. Creepy yet mellow, it’s a surprisingly good combination.

This is a strong, well-crafted soundtrack and one that certainly deserves your attention. While some tracks stick out as being 80′s sounding due to their lead instruments, listening from start to finish exhibits a sound that is reminiscent of nearly all 90′s video games alike. You like games? You like chiptunes? This is where it’s at. Check it out guys, you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for reading!

Stay Classy
-DjjD


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