Archive for April, 2013

ChipWIN Surprise Announcement ACTIVATE!!! 8)

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Hey y’all. President Hoodie here. Sup? =)
For one thing, it’s my 33rd birthday! Yaaaaay! I made it another year! Woohoo!! ^_^
And to celebrate this happy occasion…

~~~~~BOOM~~~~~

HAVE A SUPER SPECIAL CHIPWIN EP ANNOUNCEMENT AS A PRESENT!!!!!!!!

LOLWUT?!?

Chiptunes = WTFLOL 
Album artwork by the unceasingly amazing Nate Horsfall.

Releasing Monday, May 6th (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO FOXY ;D ) after the usual
8 Bit Power Hour party of wonderful insanity on the always awesome 8bitx.com
(Fb event link HERE), THIS happens:

6 tracks from the 3 previously released ChipWIN compilations (Volume 1, Expansion Pack, & ChipWINter) covered by 6+ amazing artists
(+ = special guests! OH YEAH 8) from the VGM scene.
 
To be more specific:

Stemage <— also mastering this one! OH SNAP~
VikingGuitar
Cory Johnson
The World Is Square
Jameson Sutton
Tim Yarbrough

They’ll be taking all the chiptunes out of your favorite chiptracks & replacing them with TROLLOLOLOLOLOL~ :3 (that and, yanno, LOTS OF ZOMBOFURKIN AWESOME).

Yup. Totes throwing a curve ball at y’all this time. Good to mix it up, right? RIGHT. 8)

In the meantime, see you on the intertrons!

Much \m||m/,
President Hoodie

P.S. Curious to learn which chipartists’ tracks are being covered & by who? Then tune into both the various ChipWIN & VGM artists’ social media outlets during the interim for hints & tips! (What? You didn’t really think I was just gonna tell you right now, did you? ;)

P.P.S. FINE. HERE’S A “TEASER” HINT ON THE CHIPWIN SOUNDCLOUD:

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Relevant links:
Chiptunes = WIN:
Bandcamp | Fb Group | Fb Page | Twitter
Soundcloud | Youtube | Tumblr | Myspace

Stemage:
Stemage.com | Bandcamp | Twitter | Metroid Metal

VikingGuitar:
Bandcamp | Fb page | Twitter | Youtube | Viking Guitar University

Cory Johnson:
Bandcamp | Cory.fm | Twitter

The World Is Square:
Bandcamp | Fb Page | Twitter | Youtube | Tumblr

Jameson Sutton:
Fb Page | SoundcloudBandcamp

Tim Yarbrough:
The OneUps | SpaceCamp | The Altered Beasts

Nate Horsfall:
Lightningarts.com | Fb page | Twitter

8 Bit Power Hour on 8bitx.com
Listening Party Fb Event

ChipWIN Tracks: #18 – #23

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Hey toys and joys! It’s your boy Kuma back from his hiatus fighting gorillas and asking people to tell me their secrets!  And in turn, I’ve learned so many things.  So, so many dark and terrible things about all of you.

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

But that’s not what this is about!  This article is about us pushing to get these ChipWIN Volume 1 write-ups written & released so we can make way for the upcoming Vol. 2!
So with that being said, let’s get started!

ChipWin Track 18:  Total Disaster by deadbeatblast

Founder of the BitMasters netlabel — which has produced work by artists such SMILETRON, Whitely, StarPilot and Kedromelon — the Canadian who calls himself Jake Deadbeat is incredibly skilled at what he does.  Whether you’re into jungle dnb, ambient breakbeat or thematically epic chiptune, if you enjoy music that both inspires intense moods and visuals as well as makes you want to get up and bust-a-move, this is an artist you should definitely pay attention to.  You can check out deadbeatblast’s other work (including my favorite song by him, Hyperspace V. 1.2) on Soundcloud, or follow what he and several other artists are up to through his netlabel.

ChipWin Track #19: The Out by crashfaster

Founder of 8bitSF and co-counder of monobomb records along with minusbaby, Morgan Tucker may arguably be the most prominent and passionate promoter and producer of lo-fi electronic music and chiptune on the west coast, and his love for both is evident in everything he does.  Having rocked a of wide array of abandoned tech from modded Gameboys and C64s to Vocoders and 808s, crashfaster has crafted some of the catchiest chiptune as an artform that the genre has to offer. Creating songs with incredibly dancey rhythms and drum lines to reflective lyrics like those of the song “time” to instrumental grooves such as “ascension”, Morgan knows how to get a crowd moving  (even if it is to lyrics that are sometimes heartbreaking as hell).

Perhaps the most notable aspect of crashfaster is its transformation from being a formidable solo act to being a 4 person hivemind with the inclusion of Ryan Case on guitar, Devin Nixon on drums, and Amy English with her incredibly sultry vocals. The result has been an act that has gone on to rock some of the coolest venues across the country, including the DNA Lounge in San Fran, I/O Chip Music showcase in NYC, PAX East Jamspace 2013, and, most importantly, MAGFest 11 this past January. If crashfaster is your thing, you should definitely keep up with them on Facebook, and check their homepage for upcoming events.

ChipWin Track #20: Harmonix by Iamcloud

Surprisingly young for someone in the chiptune scene, Frostbyte — the artist formerly known as Iamcloud — is a classically trained guitarist whose tutelage has provided a strong musical foundation for an artist who has gone on to rock the monthly Ustream concert series Clipstream by producing electrical, vivid, colorful music that invokes as much passion aurally as it does visually.  The result is a synesthetic experience that can only be described as awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that even more prominent musicians such as Br1ght Pr1mate have taken the time to personally express their amazement at how deftly skilled Frostbyte is, as he and other young contemporaries such as Vince Kaichan and Dire Hit (other young upstarts who are also still in high school) have come to represent the full promise and potential of the next generation of chipmusic.  But don’t let Harmonix be the only evidence of his awesomeness: head on over to his Bandcamp and let albums such as SHUT IT AND DANCE 2012 EP speak for themselves.

ChipWin Track #21: Did You? by Fraktal Face

Patrick Phillips aka Fraktal Face is a regular attendee/participant of events like Pulsewave, I/O Chip Music and Control Flow in NYC as well as an artist on the Jellyfish Frequency netlabel and a staple of the New York City chipscene.  Whether he’s performing or composing, Pat brings a combination of videogame nostalgia and love of DnB, trance, 80s house, and techno to the chipscene and does it incredibly well.  The result, while sometimes lengthy (Patrick has become notorious for being the guy who needs more than 5 minutes at open mic) is always worth it.  Fraktal Face is one of the few musicians I’ve found in the chip scene that know how to not only build up to an awesome experience with each song, but know how to wind it down and end it just right, as well.  While “Did You?” is definitely a strong example of the amazing skill set he has as an electronic musician, “Battle Face” is a noisier, more frenetic example of this same skill that’s highly reminiscent of music from games of the 32Bit era of gaming, particularly games such as Zero Divide. Its unusually pleasing pitched noise frequencies, heavy bass and glitchy rhythms just make you wanna get down. If you wanna keep up with Fraktal Face, Soundcloud is the way to go. He doesn’t post frequently, but when he does, it’s always worth it.

Chipwin Track #22: Stardrive by NickelPUNK

A skilled musician who’s been honing his craft for 12+ years and has produced soundtrack work for various computer games, Sean combines his classical sensibilities with the passion of his inner gamer to create music that appeals to a wider audience than expected.  Whether it’s a foray into darker tones with industrial pieces such Trant Raznor, more traditionally sounding chip/vgm work he’s done for games such as Laser Bombs 2.Bro, or vocal tunes such as Lost the Deposit–a song that reflects on a relationship gone awry– NickelPUNK is an musician that consistently delivers powerful, thought provoking music with each release he puts out.

For those of you who are digging Stardrive, or for those of you who enjoy vocals with their chiptunes, I do highly recommend downloading I Miss Boston or his surprise release EP, All I Could Do (which features a track with vocals from our very own Ryn!).  I also recommend checking out his work on Soundcloud, as you can also listen to music he’s contributed to video games such as Bosses Forever 2.Bro, as well as a preview track off his soon to be released EP, The Image of Cool.

Chipwin Track #23: Special Beam Cannon by Chip’s Challenge

Taking their name from the signature puzzle game of yesteryear, this young trio of upstarts from Rochester who have helped define the upstate New York chiptune scene deftly combine their skills to make aural awesomeness.  The fusion of Karl von Steuben’s hard hitting drums and joyful synths and chips coupled with the rhythmic chords of Zach Sigmund’s guitar and groovaliciousness and topped off by the syncopated licks of Ben Wheeler’s bass result in instrumental mayhem that would make lovers of Rush’s YYZ turn their heads and say “Woah”.  From tracks such as “One More Step“, which is reminiscent of post rock legend Maybeshewill’s “I’m in awe, Amadeus!”, to their signature self proclamation song “We are Chip’s Challenge”, this mathematical trifecta has crafted a formula that consistently results in infectious, face melting music to party hard to!  Don’t take my word for it: hit up their Soundcloud or better yet, their Bandcamp and download their live album Chip’s Challenge Live(s)!, and marvel at the fact that this is one band that’s just as amazing in person as they are in studio.

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Relevant Links:
Artist Facebook Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Artist Music Access Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte | Fraktal Face |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Record Labels and Promotional Venues:
Rochester Chip | Jellyfish Frequency | 8bitSF | monobomb |
BitMasters | I/O | Chipmusic | Pulsewave | 8static

Guest Speaker: Aydan Scott on Kola Kid’s Afterparty

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We here at the Chiptunes = WIN Blog are EXTREMELY happy to be presenting a new guest writer, Aydan Scott, speaking this week about chipbreak gigamoth Kola Kid.
So everyone put down your ‘Get Lucky’ vinyls and give your most raucous and welcoming of applause! Take it away Aydan:
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Russian chipartist Kola Kid transforms ideas and themes from numerous genres to create an extremely unique and incredible sound. I discovered Kola Kid through StepMania. Songs by Kola Kid in the game include ‘Can’t Hide Your Love’, ‘Purple Drank’, and ‘Spaceman’, all stepped by chiptune prodigy Kommisar. His first release, ‘Rave to the Grave’, is fast, hard-hitting, and extremely aggressive – the essence of chipbreak. His music calls breakbeat artists such as Venetian Snares and The Flashbulb to mind; it also calls to mind Sabrepulse‘s album ‘Chipbreak Wars’, which is, to me, the defining album of the chipbreak genre.

However, ‘Rave to the Grave’ is not the album that I’m interested in for the sake of this review; I’m going to be reviewing ‘Afterparty’, a much calmer album compared to its predecessor. The drum patterns are reminiscent to those of Sabrepulse, but the melodies used are far less harsh and aggressive in tone. ‘solar flux’ is the opening to the album, and its soothing melody flows extremely well against the static drum samples. The second track, ‘square spooner fisher pusher’, transitions well from the previous track; the fluidity of the transition is one of the highlights of this album.

The third track, ‘like a robot’, takes on a darker tone, whilst still remaining fairly calm. The rhythm and melodies in this song are particularly memorable, and the choppiness of the vocal sampling is a fantastic addition. ‘0909’ follows, returning to the previous, upbeat tone. The repetition in the beginning sets the listener up for a nice change in the rhythm, and as the melody repeats itself, more and more is layered over it until it climaxes with a somewhat abrupt end.

The final track, ‘lucky 13’, is the most interesting to me. It opens with an incredibly aggressive tone, and once the melody is introduced, the drums back off completely before the two of them join together. I feel as though ‘lucky 13’ could have expanded on its theme just a little bit more, and it could have ended less suddenly; Kola Kid’s intent, however, may very well have been to instil this kind of feeling onto the listener. ‘Afterparty’ is an excellent example of “how to chipbreak”; if you enjoyed Kola Kid’s second release, you can download it in the embed below. 

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Chip Mom’s Kitchen #1- Graham Cracker Toffee

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Sup y’all? Hoodie here. =) It’s time for me to finally introduce my favorite member of the ChipWIN blog (sorry guys, I’m a little biased here heheh). So far, she’s been hanging in the background doing a bit of editing here & there (& helping me problem solve on occasion; she’s good at that!). Of course I’m talking about my lovely girlfriend Erin McQuisten, better known to most of y’all as either First Lady Ryn or, particularly in this case, ChipMom!
Take it away, babe! ^_^
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Welcome to Chip Mama‘s Kitchen – where the treats are tasty and the portions over-sized!  I’ll occasionally be dropping in here at the ChipWIN blog to share some of the how-to-yummies that I like to give out to my Chipkids and VGMers, whether I’m bouncing around at cons or via the friendly snails at USPS.

For my first trick, I’ll show you a nummy that I sent out with my Christmas bundles. It happens to be one of my personal favorite recipes:

Graham Cracker Toffee

Difficulty level:

Newb        |        Apprentice        |          Journeyman          |          Master

Possibility of burnt sugar, boiling over, and making a general mess of your kitchen.

Quest Items:

An oven
A saucepan (like for Ramen)
A cookie sheet (like for cookies)
Tin Foil
Paper towel

1 Box of Honey graham crackers
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
6 Hershey Bars

Ready to go!!

Illustrated Guide:

First things first, preheat your oven to 350*. Now, rip off a sheet of tin foil slightly longer than your cookie sheet. Press this down flat against the bottom and sides, wrap any extra around the edges of the sheet. This is going to make clean up TONS easier for you.

 

 

Use a paper towel to slather the pan with butter. Get it into all the angles and corners – with the added bonus of preventing the toffee from sticking to the foil.

 

 

 

 

Then, line the bottom of the pan with graham crackers.  By splitting them into their smaller pieces right away, they’ll be easier to cut once they’re cooled!

 

 

Set this aside and we’re gonna get to the stove stuff.

Put the saucepan on the stove over medium heat. Unwrap the sticks of butter and add them and the cup of brown sugar, thusly —->

It will melt pretty slowly, and at first it won’t seem like the sugar and the butter want to mix. That’s ok, just keep stirring! If you leave it alone for too long it’ll burn and you’ll have to start over again.

 

If you get bored, you can unwrap Hershey bars while supervising the pan.

Eventually, the sugar and butter will mix together. You want to keep stirring until the mixture thickens up a bit and is bubbling consistently.

 

Now carefully and slowly pour the melted mixture over the graham crackers. Give .the cookie sheet a little jiggle to even everything out (be warned, the graham crackers may have gotten a bit floaty!) and then place the pan in the oven.

 

Set your timer to 8 minutes.

Go ahead and unwrap chocolate if you haven’t already!

You’ll know the toffees are ready when the surface of the sugar mixture has tiny little bubbles all over.

 

Take the pan out of the oven and put the chocolate bars right on top of it.

The chocolate willl start to melt right away! Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread the chocolate over the top of the toffee.

The final step is to cool these suckers down so that you can shove them all into your mouth at once.  At least that’s what I do.

Stick them in the fridge for about 10-20 minutes, or until the chocolate on top has solidified.  Once everything is solid, slide the tin foil wrapped deliciousness off of the pan.  It will be one solid piece.  Try not to gnaw on the corners, instead hold the sheet of toffees sandwiched between your hands. You’ll be able to safely flip them upside down.  Then, place them on your cutting board, peel off the tin foil, and use a big knife (watch your fingers!!) to cut along the lines.  You’ll be left with delicate, crunchy, sweet, chewy, Graham Cracker Toffees to indulge in.

Nuggets of Graham Cracker Toffee!

That’s all for the first edition of Chip Mama’s Kitchen. You’ll be able to check back monthly for more delectable delights!  Until then, hugs and love to all!! <3

\m||m/

Andrew Kilpatrick Talks: Monomer’s Quite Operational

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Monomer‘s first EP release, ‘Trials’, came out last year on Pause. Since ‘Trials’ his name has popped up on a multitude of high-profile compilations, including Ubiktune’s Preschtale Variations’ and upcoming Fez soundtrack remix album ‘FZ: Side F’. Now he’s back, with a new release seemed destined to make sure next time you read his name there’ll be a strong association attached to it.

First of all, anyone already versed in Monomer’s work is in for a bit of a shock; ‘Quite Operational’ is quite different from anything he’s released in the past. Following the recent trend towards Drive-influenced  80s electro-house in chiptune, which was further pushed by the popularity of Hotline Miami’s soundtrack and the output of Telefuture, Monomer’s most recent opus is an 80s homage painted neon.

What sets this aside from previous retrospective exercises in postmodernism is the depth at which the decade is explored. Not only is the aforementioned electro-house delved into, but ‘On The Brink’ has flourishes of hair metal melodies, and ‘Better Living Through Dysgenics’ features chordal tones that wouldn’t be amiss on a Bowie record. These strands stand strong alongside the pulsating bass and kicks of the rest of the release, creating a unified window into the past.

Another noticeable difference from its contemporaries is Monomer’s utilisation of tension and release. Album opener and title track ‘Quite Operational’ hits hard when it does finally hit, and ‘Deletion’ blends industrial tinges with a foreboding atmosphere, an atmosphere seen multiple times on this release.  Think Rolly Mingwald but more menacing.

The album isn’t perfect though. The eight tracks here could easily have been cut down to six; ‘The Glow and The Gleam’ flows by inoffensively but also rather blandly, and final track ‘Discontinue’ flitters without aim and ends up nowhere. In my opinion, the euphoric grandiose of ‘On The Brink’ would have made a far more compelling album closing.

That said, this is still a great release. This foray into cyberpunk and Miami-House (yeah that’s a genre I just made up) is a fantastic one, in fact one of the best and most courageous yet. By mixing more than the standard broth in an emerging subculture, Monomer will solidify himself as one of its founders.

Andrew Kilpatrick Talks: Jay Tholen’s ‘The Low Drone of the Earth’

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Jay Tholen has been creating his unique blend of chiptune and progressive rock for years now. He’s had releases featured on labels as prestigious as Ubiktune and Pause, and ‘moonlights’ as a game designer and artist (seen through his work on upcoming adventure game ‘Dropsy The Clown’). Adding to his already sizeable musical repertoire, this week Mr. Tholen released ‘The Low Drone of the Earth’, an electronic progressive opus in 7 parts on Swan City Sounds

The album’s opener, ‘Before The World Began’, sets the mood of the release perfectly. Pink Floydian tones and highly layered melodies flutter over each other, tied together by Jay’s distinctive vocal styling. Despite the high amount of musical layering, dynamics are never affected; Tholen’s compositions regularly drift into subtly soft phrases before building back into a crescendo. Tracks 2 through 7 are tied together into a loose conceptual album, and they blend in to each other seamlessly, helping emphasise a prose-like feeling of the album.

Unsurprisingly for anyone already well-versed in Tholen’s previous works, there is flirtation with a multiple of genres en-masse. ‘I- Voice of the West’ mixes psychedelic rock with electronic meanderings, ‘II- Golem Apollo and the King of the Badlands’ features heavy use of electro-pop vocoders and ‘VI- A Lament’ boasts a weighty post-rock atmosphere. Despite the huge range of instrumentation and musical influence, ‘The Low Drone of the Earth’ still manages to be Jay Tholen’s most cohesive piece of work to date, achieved only through the compositional strength of the music within. Whilst earlier works like ‘Blood Fete‘ suffered from brief interludes of dissipation, ‘The Low Drone…’ feels eclectic and meticulous.

The vocals also sound better than they ever have before, though if you weren’t a fan of Tholen’s warblings or explicitly religious overtones before this record won’t change your mind. Also, the title track fizzles out messily, though these small qualms shouldn’t distract you from the truly fantastic music within.

These negatives feel small in comparison to the release as a whole, however. If you’ve been a fan of anything Jay has released before, you’ll be championing this as his magnum opus minutes in. If you’re new to his work, I can’t think of a better place to start. Tightly-bound, full of direction and boisterous in both its scope and execution, ‘The Low Drone of the Earth’ sounds like the album Jay Tholen has been working towards all these years. 

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