A fine February day to one and all of my fellow Chipthusiasts! Clouds blot out the sky, and the rain is heavy, but with the Oregonian winter returning to normal, I can finally rouse myself from my torpor and stoke the forge yet again. This month, my attention is drawn to a free release from a musician with a love of arcade sounds, BitBurner!
I’ve had an ear on BitBurner’s work since discovering a few of his tracks during a random traipse through SoundCloud a few months back. His arcade sample fueled stomping beats lit up the nostalgia center of my brain, whisking me back to a place of dim lights, odd smells and empty change pockets.
[WARNING: Video & album cover in this article NSFW! (full frontal nudity)]
BACK AGAIN!! And this time I’ve a few goodies in store for everyone! This new trip of “Inside The Daякcнip Mind” brings us to a group from Spain called Super Busty Samurai Monkey. The first physical copy I got from them is this SD card below with their first three albums on it. I really liked that idea a lot because of all the time you can tell they put into drawing on this & think it’s a great way to showcase their work. I’ve been talking to one of the members (Victor Vs) for some time now & we formed Kitten Paw Recordings together so our “madness” ties together quiet well.
Their newest album called ‘7‘ and is releasing on a nice fat vinyl – like we all love – on March 15th! If you haven’t seen any of their prior physical releases their last album, ‘6‘, was a clear square. The debut track for this album is called “Haai Hoer” which also appeared on ‘KP Compo Issue#1‘. It’s a blend of grimy/dark beats that are layered with drone leads & great vocals that fade in and out in mega good timing. ‘Haai Hoer’ caught my ear the moment they dropped it for the compo so I was very happy they were making it their debut track & also putting a video to it which is a new goodie that’s dropping today (link to video at the bottom).
This is the part where I’d normally say which tracks I like and so forth but I’d like to honestly leave the element of surprise of this album. I feel a lot of folks are going to have as hard as a time as I’m having deciding a favorite track. Having said that, I will talk about the whole over-tone/feel that I got from this album. The main word that won’t pop out of my head is SPOOKY! Got the crazy arp’s then out of nowhere it just hits mega hard with those grimy chip bass drops that we all love. Whenever I choose a album for this I test them by surround sound & by walking around with a pair of Skull Candies on. For this one I chose to walk around the random trail’s of Northwest Indiana at night, since it’s been so cold out I think it made that spooky vibe pop more! I strongly advise surround sound or earphones on this one! The main thing I can’t wait for is to hear that natural grain the vinyl will give it!
I got the chance to ask a few questions to SBSM & also like I said above, they are releasing their debut song’s video today for all of you! The album ‘7‘ comes out March 15th & you can pre-order the album starting today! _________________________________________________________________________
Frank – So when did SBSM form & also was there any beginning projects you both have done that people may know of or is still currently active?
SBSM –  Our first song was called “song written without headphones, screens and stuff”. One day, 1# told me “record some random phrase and send it to me”. Afterly, he mounted it over a Gameboy basetrack without hearing what he was doing. When we heard it, we couldn’t stop it. Maybe we did more stuff in the past, but I’d have to kill you if I told you.
Frank – What would have to be some musicians that are a major influence or what random things inspire you guys while writing?
SBSM –  I’m inspired by women who can scream, mostly, from Kat Bjelland to Poly Styrene, but the stuff that I’m influenced the most is andalusian flamenco and cante jondo.
- I steal most of the riffs I write. I surely don’t give a shit about which genre it comes from as long as I like it. I don’t even care about music that much. I’m on a blackmetal+techno era nowadays, but I kind of like Stockhausen as well, and the early works of Manuel de Falla. I’m also pretty much into anyone stealing samples from 8bit artists and making stuff with it.
Frank – Looking at your guy’s past physical releases they have been quite unique (definitely the clear square 6’). Will this next upcoming release also be strictly vinyl (if physical)?
SBSM –  Yeah, we be releasing 7, a 7” with six songs on it next 15th March. Its a co-release between Datathrash from ‘Murica, V Waeve fron Madrid and The Bloody Dirty Sanchez from Andalusia. We hired a guy and a model for the video teaser and artwork, which I think turned out pretty sick.
- For us, there’s no reason in publishing a record if it has no value as an object, if it doesnt communicate a thing, because, what we do aint only music and you can’t fully grasp it with another plastic cd. Our next work is a threat in the shape of a red 7”, people either loves us or hates us deeply, and this is our logical response.
Frank – My final question is what do you prefer to use while live gigs & also do you guys have any upcoming events happening?
SBSM –  Oh, we’re playing on the records release. And planning to do a small tour on summer, wich Is something we can’t talk about yet.
We’re just Gameboy+vocals live. #2 sings thru a KaossPad3 and I shoot the music on a Timbob Gameboy. Sometimes I use a monotron delay for fun and kicks, but thats it. Most of the time I cant even pay attention to the Gameboy, let alone use more gear. I’m more focused on jumping and shit.
- I just scream and I worry about being in focus well on stage. A good lightbulb and being told when the mic test is over is everything I need.
It always astounds me how much one can do with older software. Originally called ModPlug Tracker in 1997, it allowed users to listen to several music modules from file extensions such as .it, .s3m, and .mod. For its time, it was one of the most unique and well optimized audio trackers released. In 2004, the source code for the ModPlug was released and maintained under an open license; eventually, paved the way for OpenMPT: a newly designed, Windows interfaced tracker with VST plugin compatibility and ASIO support.
From the first track, you imagine a vivid sunrise from the deck of your futuristic Corvette. Top down, you stare at the glare in the rear view mirror and look forward to see the city approaching, hundreds of miles ahead. The road is long, but your mind is clear. The city moves closer. What this composer does, he does incredibly well. and every song gives you a calm uncertainty. Just know that every melody is filled with a unique complexity that will challenge the headphones of even the most high-tech audiophile listener. It has that power.
You might say that the album qualifies as dated but, I say it’s a just a damn good album. Before this review was even written, Hoodie and I discussed if it was too late to talk about; it ultimately came down to: it’s never been reviewed here at ChipWIN HQ. As confident as I am to say you’ve probably all heard it, this album is worth discussing again and again. Fortunately, we were able to contact the man himself and ask a few questions!
DjjD: I think I first heard your tune, “Pancake Department” back in 2012, but how long have you been composing and producing for?
FoD: I guess there’s technically more than one answer to this question. I started sharing and releasing my own compositions in public as “Fearofdark” in 2009; nearly 5 years ago! However, I’ve actually been making music on trackers since 2004 or so, tho I never shared them over the internet. In addition, I’ve been studying the piano on and off for longer than I remember.
DjjD: I’m really quite impressed how much you get out of trackers, what do you normally use?
FoD: My first and most common tool of choice is OpenMPT, in addition to several sample packs and things I can find. I’ve also been using Famitracker a lot since 2010. Other than Those, I use things like Beepola for making 1-bit Beeper tunes, and occasionally dabble in other things like Raster Tracker.
DjjD: About the album, I remember hearing a couple of tunes before ‘Motorway’ was released, such as “Surfing on a Sine Wave” or “Rolling Down The Street, In My Katamari”, were they always meant to be part of the release?
FoD: Yeah, pretty much. I made “Surfing on a Sine Wave” initially as a stand-alone track, but then once I started planning the album I decided to include it. “Rolling down the Street” was going to be an opening track but once I got really stuck into the album, the track order went through several changes, things got cut and so on.
DjjD: ‘Motorway’. These tunes certainly are the driving type but did you have any sort of theme in mind when writing these?
FoD: Not particularly. To me, as a whole, “Motorway” will always remind me of the idea of leaving home and traveling. Some songs were written with that idea in mind; “Fast City” was inspired by a trip to New York, for instance, and the final track itself. Others really weren’t, like “An Age of Planetary Pride.”
DjjD: Sort of an odd one but I’ve always wondered, why the name fearofdark?
FoD: It’s a username I came up with when I was really young. Since then, I’ve kinda stuck with it. It has nothing to do with Iron Maiden, as some people might be disappointed to know.
DjjD: To switch things up, I was kinda curious about the S3XMODIT Mania Entries. How did those all come to be?
FoD: S3XMODIT Mania was a weekly knock-out competition held by the Battle of the Bits community, which I took part in. Samples were provided by the members of Botb and each week we’d be given a random (and often ridiculous) sample pack, and then we’d be given about 4 days to submit an it/xm/mod/s3m. It was a pretty fun thing to take part in.
DjjD: Simple one: What are your influences?
FoD: Aha, a lot of things.. too many things probably. I suppose in chipmusic terms, I’ve been heavily influenced by the likes of Kulor, Blitz Lunar, virt, a lot of the regular Famicompo Mini entrants, a lot of the people from Botb and who were on 8bc before its demise (in other words, too many to name). As far as non-chipmusic is concerned, I like listening to and studying a fair amount of classical music – my favourites are J.S Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Beethoven. I also used to listen to a lot of Funk and Prog-Rock (Tower of Power, Frank Zappa, King Crimson, ELP, Funkadelic and so on), but I’ve started looking at electronic music a lot more as well (again, far too many to name). I also get sidetracked by pop music from time to time too.
DjjD: Do you have anything planned for the future of fearofdark? Exciting new projects?
FoD: Hmm, maybe ;) I’m working on a couple of solo projects, which are slowly getting there and might not see their release until late 2014. I’m also working on a couple of things for compilations too. That’s really all I can say.
DjjD: If you had one bit of advice to give to future composers/producers aspiring to use trackers, what would it be?
FoD: Keep practicing, don’t be afraid to take part in competitions and community projects and most importantly, throw love, flair and passion into whatever you make.
DjjD: If you were a genie and a person asked you this wish, “I wish you would not grant me this wish” what would you do?
FoD: Divide by zero… or give them a cat; who doesn’t love cats?
Steve manages to keep my attention throughout this whole album with little effort, but there’s more than meets the ear. You can listen to this album casually no problem, but listen a little closer and it will seem as if the song is yielding more notes than before. Layers upon layers, verses upon choruses ensures that this album never gets boring. Two weeks ago, I was on a trip that took me from here in Arizona, to Alaska (by flight), to Indiana (by car) and FoD was a most popular choice among the 3 MP3 players my friend, Jesse and I had.
This is an amazing album. By far, my favorite track was: ‘Funknitium-99’.
First off, I’m all about the journey tracks. If it’s longer than six minutes and sets you on an adventure, that to me equals perfect. I can’t speak highly enough of this one, guys. It’s super good ‘n funky.
Sure this album is a couple of years old, but why not give it some more attention. I love you, Ubiktune. Yes, that’s a personal statement of love. I come to you, looking for music and you kindly in return deliver things of the highest quality I couldn’t have possibly imagined.
Fearofdark is one hell of an artist, and if you’ve already heard ‘Motorway’, check out his latest creations on Bandcamp which include his S3XMODIT Mania Entries hosted by Battle of the Bits. A little different than ‘Motorway’ but equally as awesome. So diverse. I can only stand by and watch this guy perfect his craft. Highly recommended. All of it.
It’s time to get classy tonight on The ChipWIN Blog! And by that I mean, of course, I’m going to do my first “manifesto” with a focus on booze & chip from Great Britain. Aren’t you thankful you can’t hear the extraordinarily terrible British accent that I’m absolutely affecting on this entire article as I write it? Because I totally am. In my head. Jolly good show & all that rot. Sounds just like the beer fox actually (don’t worry; you’ll meet him soon).
At any rate, Beer & Chip Vol.6 is going to be all about…
Morland “Old Speckled Hen” Ale & Mark ‘TDK’ Knight
I initially picked up a sixer of Old Speckled Hen on my brother’s suggestion. While we don’t always see eye to eye on beer choices, this one was a pretty good call!
Old Speckled Hen is a smooth, easy drinking, refreshing ale with some tasty malty flavors. Just the slightest bit of sweetness, but not enough to “ruin” it in my mind. With that rich amber color, it’s a beautiful looking beer as well, especially poured into a tall pint glass and left sitting in the window for the sun to shine through (which is a terrible damn idea; your beer will get warm way too gorram fast!).
Classy, classy Hoodie.
This could easily become a go-to beer for me, particularly in the warmer months; except as an import it’s a bit too pricey to be a regular grab (around $12 for a sixer in my neck of the woods). I expect I’ll still buy it on occasion, and would definitely be willing to try its counterparts (“Old Golden Hen” & “Old Crafty Hen“) were I to run across them.
But nevermind what I think about this tasty ale! Why should I waste words talking about it when you can listen to a fox puppet tell you all about it?? (brilliant advertising campaign).
Truth be told, while I like this English beer pretty well I mostly purchased it to assist in making a smooth segue to my UK chipartist, the demoscene legend Mark ‘TDK’ Knight (nevermind the fact that his chosen alcoholic beverage isn’t beer of any kind…).
If you’re unfamiliar with that name (or have only seen it popping up around the intertoobs within the last year-ish), don’t feel bad. TDK has only recently returned (2012) to making chipmusic after a considerably lengthy hiatus (approximately 19 years!!!). And while I could delve into his considerable back story of early chipmusic creation (he began in 1984), in depth demoscene involvement (google Anthrox and Melon Dezign) & subsequent video game music composition (skim his Bandcamp bio for that impressive list), I’d rather focus on his current efforts! In particular, his aptly titled full length album ‘Reawakening’.
This excellent 11 track chip album is a combination of brand new jams & revisited tracks from his past, all created using a mix of his well established Commodore chip savvy and modern music production skills appropriated in more recent years. As a whole ‘Reawakening’ screams of compositional experience and refined talent; covering a gamut of musical styles, every single track is an engaging and addictive listen. Were I forced to choose a favorite from the release, I’d likely go with ‘Erethism’; there’s something about the crazy, happy energy of that jam that gets me grinning like an idiot every time!
In addition to this powerful comeback album, TDK also managed to lock-in Henry Homesweet to do a killer remix of his track ‘Nicotine Pang’, which is released separately via Bleepstreet Records here:
To complement his return to chipmusic, TDK has begun performing it live as well, incorporating his talented & frenetic fiddle playing. This unique addition enhances what is already a quality live set. In a short time, TDK has performed at a solid handful of European events over the past year, up to and including SuperByte 2013, with a spot at NINTENDOOM 3.0 coming up the last weekend of February.
TDK chip-fiddling up a storm at SuperByte 2013.
To top it off, Mark’s a genuinely delightful character (sorry to out you, bro! <3 ). The 8 Bit Power Hour release party we held for ‘Reawakening’ is still one of the most enjoyable shows we’ve had to date (as well as one of the snarkiest; damn Brits!! ;). And working with him on both ‘chipWINter’ & ‘Volume 2‘ was an absolute honor & a joy. Check out the most excellent end result of both of those contributions below:
I say, I suppose that wraps up this unusually British edition of my beer & chip review! Here’s hoping you get a chance to sample the tasty brew, preferably while listening to TDK’s excellent jams. If you need more British-ness for the night, just go watch a Doctor Who marathon or something, I dunno. Cheers!!
While also on the savory side of life, this version of chicken and dumplings, unlike Taco Soup, requires quite a bit of prep, quite of bit of attention, rue, and scratch made dumplings. This is not for first timers or the faint of heart!
The ‘Holy Trinity’ of vegetables (carrots, celery, and onion)
32 oz. of Chicken Stock
White all purpose flour
Medium Stock pot
Oh man, you can just look at this pile and know its going to be a good one.
To start off, get your pot on the stove over medium high heat. In the pot, pour two tablespoons of olive oil. Don’t push your heat over medium high, as olive oil actually burns at lower temperatures than a lot of other cooking oils.
While the oil is heating, sprinkle both sides of your chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and some poultry seasoning.
Place your chicken skin-side down in the hot oil. Flip after about 5 minutes to crisp up both sides. This gets the rich, fatty juices out of the skin, adding wonderful flavor for later.
As the chicken is browning, get to dicing up your carrots, onions, and celery. I used about half a bag of carrots, four stalks of celery, and a large onion.
Once the chicken is golden brown on both sides – not all the way cooked, just crispy looking – use tongs to pull them out of the pot. Into that same pot, place all of your good veggies into the oil and fat to saute.
Make sure to keep a close eye on the veggies. Don’t let them burn. You must continue stirring. Be vigilant. Do not allow yourself to become distracted.
Once the veggies are softened and the onions are starting to turn translucent, its time for the rue. A rue, as the linked video in the light blue description tells, is a thickening agent made of equal parts flower and fat. We have a bit over two tablespoons of fat in our pan from the chicken and olive oil, so you need to add two healthy tablespoons of white flower to the pan. Turn your heat down to low and do so gradually. Plopping it in all at once will cause lumps.
After all the flour has been smoothly incorporated into the fat, a smooth off-white paste should be in your pan with your veggies. Stir the rue until it starts to brown and smell nutty, this adds extra flavor. Once toasty brown, add your stock: slowly at first, and then gradually increasing the amount. Again, this prevents lumps!
This is when the reserved chicken thighs go back in the pan to finish cooking and make sure all the delicious chicken-y goodness is in that broth! Bring the heat back to medium and let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Have a glass of wine, a beer, or your favorite soda as the house fills with tantalizing aromas!
The finished chicken is taken out of the pot, shredded, and put back into the pot. This is also the best time to customize your seasoning. I personally added a pinch of curry powder and cayenne pepper for a kick. I would also suggest a dash of your favorite hot sauce. Don’t forget to salt and pepper to taste!
And now for – arguably – the most important part of the meal: dumplins. I have seen dumplings made in a drop cookie style, where the dough is balled and thrown in to puff into massive tribble-like objects. I have seen long, noodle like strands. I was convinced by President Hoodie’s family to try it the “old fashioned southern way”.
This involved mixing 1/2 cup all purpose flour with 1 tablespoon of cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning. After mixing the dry ingredients with a fork, mix in 1/3 cup skim milk. If the dough is too sticky, gradually had a bit of flour until the dough is easy to handle.
Sprinkle the counter with flour and roll the dough out until it is about an eighth of an inch thick. Don’t worry about that being too skinny, they will puff and stiffen in the pot!
Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into bit-size rectangles. Toss these delicious noms into the pot. Cover the pot with a towel and place the lid on top. This captures more of the steam so less moisture is lost from the pot (At least that was our theory. We did it because the directions told us to!)
After about 10 minutes of steaming, stir the chicken and dumplins. Pick out a dumplin and test to make sure they are cooked through. I like mine al dente, where you might like yours softer.
This recipe made enough to serve three people. If you’re cooking for yourself there will probably be leftovers. If not, feel free to double up on this Hoodie Approved recipe!
Howdy howdy! For some of our long-time readers, you might remember that the FIRST installment of this column, just over one year ago (back when it was an artist overview column, and not just an album review column) was about this young Californian guy named Vince. A lot has changed in a year’s time, both for us and for him. Here we are, seven compilations under our belt (of which Vince has been ontwo, and had one of his songs remixed for a third), and the fun police haven’t yet tried to stop by and shut us down, so we must be doing something right! Meanwhile, Vince has had two albums out in that last year, in addition to his thriving Soundcloud. How fitting, then, that I should be doing this review, here and now, about Vince’s newest album ‘Ilio,’ since it serves as a fantastic benchmark for just how far this blog and Vince have come in the same amount of time. And little do you all know, but my previous review actually secretly connects with ‘Ilio’ more than you could imagine! (No, I promise that wasn’t a Buzzfeed article name.)
So back on my previous review of Vince’s work, you may notice that there’s a Soundcloud link at the bottom which no longer works. But lo and behold, that track has snuck onto ‘Ilio’ as the second track! Funny how things like that work out. There’s one other track from Soundcloud that made its way into this album, which is ‘Sailboat.’ This is one of the reasons I think it’s a great idea for all artists to have a Soundcloud, or at least some sort of organized place for non-album-affiliated songs – you never know when you might need to use one! What is interesting, though, is that this means that ‘Ilio’ isn’t so much a cohesive album in the sense that it was a planned album with a theme behind it. Given that the lasttwo albums I’ve reviewed here have been straight-up concept albums, it’s refreshing to have an album of mostly unrelated but still fantastic tracks up on the slate.
Now, as I say that this album isn’t a concept album, you may want to take a look at the notes about it from Vince himself on the Bandcamp page. For your convenience, I’ll copypasta that here for you:
“What started as a concept album exploring the softer side of Gameboy music quickly lost focus and became a collection of mid-tempo tunes ranging from straightforward pop to more experimental songs inspired by jazz.”
Which it absolutely is. None of these songs are for raving to, or getting crazy to. These are chilltunes. Some of them lean a little towards slower dubstyle things (like the aptly named ‘Dubpark’), some of them are a little more goovy/funky, like ‘Saraday,’ but they’re all great tunes to calm you down while still serving up enough energy to keep you bopping around. I think probably one of the most satisfying things about the album, though, is the fake ending you get from ‘Shiosai’ – because it’s the final track on the Bandcamp, it’s got the traditional, almost Broadway-style ending to the track, only to have ‘Galaxies,’ the bonus track start playing (which is probably my second favorite track on the whole album) which then ALSO ends with a big finish. (Guess you’ve gotta go get the thing on Bandcamp to listen to it, huh!)
Personally, I love this album for the simple fact that this isn’t what you come to expect when you hear “Gameboy music.” I think this and a few other albums that have come out recently are pushing back on the idea that chiptunes has to be punk rock, or it has to be techno dance music, or it has to be a game soundtrack. Music is music, whatever the instrument is, and it’s good to hear more of these albums coming out showcasing just what you can do when you think outside the box.
That’s all for now, friends! Stay frosty. (Hah, see, that’s a joke, because I live in Richmond, VA, and we literally just declared a state of emergency because it’s about to snow. I hate the South.)