Archive for June, 2014

Chris Considers: ‘Kids’ by Breakbeat Heartbeat

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As a writer for ChipWIN, I strive to stay on top of the near-constant stream of new chiptune releases. It’s an enjoyable struggle to say the least, but sometimes an album comes along that you instantly click with and know from the start that it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship. I think we all have at least a few of those “default albums”, and for me it was definitely Breakbeat Heartbeat’s ‘Hold On’. Since its release in August last year, it garnered praise here on the blog in Morgan’s excellent review. ‘Hold On’ then went on to inspire some beautiful fanmade videos, as well as a killer mashup with Shirobon by DJ Cutman!

Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to ‘Kids’, the latest release from UK-based Breakbeat Heartbeat (Eve Turnbull). These 11 tracks continue to showcase her masterful fusion of chiptune and acoustic sounds. Once again the perfect balance is struck, resulting in a work that is simultaneously exuberant and meditative; chilled melodies sit comfortably alongside frenetic breakbeats. Themes of nature, nostalgia, companionship and solitude are conveyed without saying a word and having fun all the while.

The opening track ‘Sunrise’ utilizes harp and woodwind sounds to perfectly establish the tranquil tone found throughout ‘Kids’. This leads into one of my favorite tracks from the album, ‘Arcade’. This track both celebrates and longs for the arcade’s heyday of the 90s. While the song is short and sweet, Breakbeat Heartbeat enters some new territory here with some excellent sample work featuring Chun-Li and Zangief. The serene and infectious melody coupled with intense breakbeats results in a track that is nigh impossible to listen to just once.

The two tracks that follow bring smooth funk to the forefront, and seem to be dedicated to all the lovers out there. In ‘Waterfront’, a sweetly swaying chip lead is backed up by classic funk guitar and slap bass that makes the head bob and the hips move. ‘Stay With Me’ follows suit using similar instrumentation as well as introducing orchestral-like strings to create an atmosphere that is extremely heartfelt and frankly, romantic. Having slow danced to these tunes with both my girlfriend and cat, I can attest that it’s one of those experiences that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you’ve done it. Top-tier MAGProm material right here!

At no expense to its beauty, ‘Kids’ adopts a more somber and melancholic tone in its second half. ‘Snowy Theme’ combines chip sounds, gorgeous harp and a slowly plodding piano to recreate the feeling of staring out the window at the falling snow while nestled in a warm place, mug in hand. ‘Lamplight’, being the longest track on the album, takes a while to percolate before the rising tension gives way to a soaring lead and bass-heavy drums that are somewhat muted. The final track ‘Elsa’ goes out with a bang, however, bringing all of the diverse instrumentation from the album together to form a rousing finisher that contains some of the most stimulating stuttering that I’ve ever heard, slicing and dicing not just the percussion, but the lead and supporting melodies as well.

I cannot stress enough just how adept Eve is at crafting extremely catchy melodies and compositions that truly touch the listener. Her sound has evolved, yet all of it is unmistakeably Breakbeat Heartbeat. Everything about it adroitly juxtaposes the peaceful and the upbeat. This is music without ego, and it would also serve as a perfectly palatable primer to chipmusic for the uninitiated. ‘Kids’ is available on Breakbeat Heartbeat’s bandcamp page, name your price. In my humble opinion, her music is very valuable and will give you endless hours of comfort, beauty and inspiration.

\m|♥|m/

Breakbeat Heartbeat:
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Mirby’s Mishmash: 8bitSF 5th Anniversary Show with ANAMANAGUCHI

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Anamanaguchi. To some, that would mean nothing, but to the crowd at the 8BitSF show last Sunday, it was enough to create a line around the block to get in. I’ve been to many shows at DNA Lounge here in San Francisco, both in the big room and the space above, but never have I see what amounted to a solid mass of people, all jamming out to the sweet sweet tunes being played on-stage. This was easily the biggest crowd I have ever seen in that space, so much that I had some trouble finding a place to watch it all. Of course, this was 8bitSF’s 5th anniversary show, which also marked 5 years since Anamanaguchi played their first show in San Francisco.

OMFG 5 Years indeed!

OMFG 5 Years indeed!

Since then 8bitSF has grown tremendously, to the point of having monthly shows complete with open mic every third Thursday of the month, featuring artists from around the scene such as virt, Danimal Cannon, Dj CUTMAN, Mega Ran and Metroid Metal, to name a few. And, as such, there was no better event to be my very first Anamanaguchi show. Since I’ve never had the pleasure to catch them live, I still need help with titles from time to time, but rest assured that I’m not completely clueless about the songs themselves. I can also tell you how the show felt, the atmosphere, the feeling, and the massive levels of hype and energy present at the scene. But that’ll have to wait, because there were other acts that performed too. Kicking the night off was crashfaster, debuting their new album ‘superchroma‘, which releases next month. ‘superchroma’ covers a broad spectrum of feelings, ranging from joy to anger to bliss and everything in between. A highlight of this fresh batch of music was the self-proclaimed attempt at writing an anime theme song. A rather successful attempt, I might add, because it was very well executed and the audience was quite into it by shouting GO! at the appropriate times. This was a perfect example of the high-energy style crashfaster has going these days, and the rest of the album followed suit, even if the energy was utilized in different ways fitting the varying styles of each song. After the stupendously superb superchroma section stopped, crashfaster finished their set with ‘collapse‘ from their last album, ‘further‘, and topped that off with the always-popular ‘time‘ from their first album, ‘disconnect‘.

During their new song GO! As evidenced by the word on the screen.

During their new song GO! As evidenced by the screen.

After a short break between sets as is the norm, Una took the stage. This was her first ever show in America, and it was quite a memorable debut performance here. The crowd had swelled between sets, and every person in it was obviously enjoying her happy and bubbly style. She also had fantastic stage presence, utilizing every inch to her advantage. Admittedly, I didn’t have the best view of her set, but even from my less-than-ideal vantage point the high levels of energy were quite infectious. Overall, it was a quite solid set, and came to an end rather quickly… It was a full set, but it was so good and so engaging that it felt rather short.

Una using the stage to her advantage as a captivated crowd looks on.

Una using the stage to her advantage as a captivated crowd looks on.

Even if I wasn’t interested in Anamanaguchi at all, this show would’ve changed my mind instantly. I found my way atop a subwoofer in the corner, and had a view of the whole stage. And I’m glad I did, because that was one of the best shows I’ve been to in some time. Lots of people were into it, lots of people were crowdsurfing, it was insanely fun. There was even a guy in a flying squirrel suit crowdsurfing; I guess that’s as close as he was going to get to flying. He did that several times, and I hadn’t really seen a show where crowdsurfing was actively encouraged. I even got in for a bit of crowdsurfing during what was seeming to be their last song, and it was rather exhilirating. As the crowd chanted one more song (or five more songs) after this, the request was granted. The drummer, Luke, came down after the chanting to buy time for the rest of the band to take a short break and, after a failed attempt at a joke, the show was back on for two final songs. It was a rather amazing experience, I must say, and I can’t wait for the next one I get to see.

Anamanaguchi in the midst of Meow as a giant cat surveys the area

Anamanaguchi in the midst of Meow as a giant kitten surveys the area.

After that, some 8bitLA folks (including our very own Professor Oakes) came on-stage to throw giant inflatable bananas to the crowd. Because that is the logical follow-up to a great Anamanaguchi set, apparently. Grimecraft also DJed for the remainder of the night, playing a great set including selections from his release, PokÉP. As usual, he was very engaging, talking to the crowd and generating hype in those who remained. All in all, it was a fantastic show, and definitely made me want to follow up on Anamanaguchi. Until next time, rock on!

BONUS! Ultra-rare photo of me crowdsurfing!

8bitSF
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter

crashfaster
Homepage | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Una
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Anamanaguchi
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud  | Tumblr

Grimecraft
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Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ by TORIENA

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Greetings, readers! Boy oh boy has my life been a whirlwind of craziness lately! If it’s not helping organize the Los Angeles SHADOWTRAVEL tour stop with NullsleepStagediver, Starpause, and Trash80, a free E3 party with Japan’s legendary Chibi-Tech at a local barcade in Downtown Los Angeles with Meishi Smile, Space BoyfriendSpace Town Savior, Timon Marmex, and Trash80, or attending not ONE but TWO Anamanaguchi concerts within the same weekend (at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and the DNA Lounge in San Francisco) respectively, it’s planning additional 8bitLA events, dreaming about attending out-of-state concerts like BRKFEST, and moving into a new apartment — I swear! I DO work full-time on top of all of this!

Despite all this crazy shenanigans, it’s good to be back writing this album review for this wonderful blog. I’m here to administer another dose of Chip Treatment the Professor Oakes way, and it is with great pleasure that I bring you a review of ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ by TORIENA — so sit tight and read up!

torienna logo

Released by MADMILKY RECORDS, a Kyoto Japan-based label founded by TORIENA and NNNNNNNNNN (pronounced as no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no-no) in 2013, ‘Space Fugitives’ is a REMARKABLE album released through Bandcamp on January 28, 2014. Beginning her career as a composer and a performing chip musician in 2012 (she’s also an illustrator and web designer!), Sae Shimizu (TORIENA) released her first EP entitled “ORBIT” through Vol.4 Records, and later ‘Black Dance Hole’, her first 10-track album, later that year. Exclusively using her front-lit DMGs and LSDJ to create the music and running it through Cubase 6 (she also uses a Behringer Pro Mixer VMX100USB), Shimizu has dug herself a spot in the chip scene as one of the best international acts, as she performed during Blip Festival Tokyo 2012 at Koenji High in Tokyo (alongside AbortifacientAliceffekt, Batsly Adams, Bit Shifter, Chibi-Tech, Covox, and Nullsleep to name a few) and was awarded ‘Best New Artist’ in the World Wide Chiptune Awards, according to her website.

With energizing stage presence (as this video of TORIENA performing at Blip Tokyo 2012 can attest), Shimizu’s passion for music began with her parents (her father is a DJ) and her enrollment in junior high band (Shimizu played tuba, double bass, and bass guitar). Shimizu began her journey in electronic music in junior high after discovering Kraftwerk and Daft Punk, and later Gold Panda and Squarepusher in high school, but remarks her interest in music is “quite fickle because the mood at the time can change.” (ICON.jp, January 17, 2014)

Receiving wide support from Pedro Silva of Slime Girls and Shane Banegas (watashimo), and featured on DJ Cutman‘s ‘This Week in Chiptune‘ on February 19, 2014, ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ opens with ‘Fetal movement’, as TORIENA creates an memorable, rhythmic introduction to the album at large. The calmer precursor to the latter half of the album, ‘Fetal movement’ is surely the calm before the storm. With BPMs ranging from the upper 110’s to lower 130’s as it starts to take speed, ‘Fetal movement’ is a brilliant example of dreamy, low-fi tracks that produce a sense of nostalgia, as Shimizu includes the Gameboy start-up sound as an element to the track, and a drone element which she pitch bends (which reminds me a lot of the sound the cars make upon accelerating in RoadBlasters and an element that The Depreciation Guild used quite often.) Another stylistic choice (whether intentional or not), is the slight humming her DMGs make throughout the course of the track—if you listen carefully, you can hear panning clicks laid on top of the melody she creates using her pulse channels, and the hi hats in her noise channel. There’s nothing more appealing than the true, natural sound a DMG can make, and I could never understand why artists would ever want to hide that!

‘Call me again!’, very appropriately mastered near the conclusion of ‘SPACE FUGITIVES’, is one of my absolute favorite tracks on this album. Sitting at just about 3 minutes long, the track throws you through a tornado of emotions as soon as it commences. Oozing at the seams with an unforgettable j-pop vibe, Shimizu mimics Mario’s jump and fire flower sound elements, which she very strategically places throughout the track. Leading up to about the 55 second mark, ‘Call me again!’ is a wonderful example of Shimizu’s ability to masterfully build up the emotion of the track using a rather static BPM and glitch-like elements, to then launch the listeners into a whirlwind of adrenaline-pumping elements and a much quicker tempo. Uplifting, hyper, and incredibly fun, ‘Call me again!’ sends me on a wild cat and mouse chase as I truly feel like I’m not able to rest until the conclusion of the track. Unlike its precursor ‘Fetal movement’, ‘Call me again!’ is far from anything calm, soothing, and dreamy (but rather insane and wild!)

‘SPACE FUGITIVES’ can be purchased through Bandcamp digitally for $8. This is an album I definitely recommend buying (if you haven’t already!) as I assure you it’ll make your way to your list of top favorites. While TORIENA has not yet performed in the western hemisphere, she tells ICON.jp that she would very much like to perform outside of Japan in the future—so keep your eyes out and catch her performing when this happens!

That’s all ChipWIN readers! Until next time on Chip Treatment—Professor Oakes signing off!

Toriena
Bandcamp | Facebook | Illustrations | Soundcloud | Twitter | Tumblr | Website

MADMILKY RECORDS
Facebook | Twitter | Website

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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.

brk vis poster

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!

more revisions stroke (smaller)

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… ;).

Chip Mom’s Kitchen #13: Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

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Hey Everybody!  For those not in the know, I am currently located in a one stoplight town in rural Arkansas.  I am not a native to the South, so I hadn’t experienced the divine delectable-ness of today’s culinary adventure until recently.  I was missing out!  But now, my dears, you don’t have to live another day without the gleeful wonderment that is…

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies

Difficulty level:
Newb          |         Apprentice         |         Journeyman         |         Master

A basic batter that makes your hands look like you’ve murdered some poor soul. If you don’t want to attempt the batter, or just want even quicker version, see my cake cookie recipe for a workable substitution!

Quest Items:

Cake20140615_211113
1 1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter at room temp.
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp buttermilk
2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp red food coloring

Filling20140615_214104
1 pkg of cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

bowls
spatulas
mixer
cookie sheet
parchment paper

 

Musical Accompaniment:

Because when you eat them, you’ll be happy enough to float away. You will also want them all to yourself.

Illustrated Guide:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR OVENS!  We’re about to have a grand old time!  Set the temp at 375* and lets dive in!

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Blend your dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt) in a small bowl. The fun part about having both baking powder and soda is that each one causes the batter to rise at different times during the baking process.  Including both of these in a recipe means we’re going for maximum fluffiness.

 

 

Using your mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until it is, you guessed it: fluffy.

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Then, add the eggs one at a time.

20140615_212108
20140615_212442This is where your kitchen turns into something of a crime scene drama if you’re not careful.  Add the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and red food coloring (2 Tbsp is A LOT of food coloring).

 

 

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Watch out for splash back, it stains.  Mix until everything is really combined and use your spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl to get all the bits if need be.

 

 

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On a parchment lined cookie sheet (or silicone mat if you’re all fancy pants), use an ice cream scoop or similar spoon (I used a coffee spoon – sometimes cooking is about improvisation!) to plop even amounts of batter onto the sheet.  Leave a good amount of room because these lil’ morsels are gonna get comfy and spread out.

 

 

Bake for 10 minutes.  Pull out the tray and let it sit for a little bit before pulling off the cookies.  Set aside on a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, you take your softened butter, cream cheese, and vanilla and beat them soundly.  Don’t worry, they deserve it.  Then add your powdered sugar a bit at a time until it’s all incorporated.  Blend for a few minutes until it gets soft and… fluffy!

20140615_22054920140615_214853

 

 

 

 

 

 

Place a healthy dollop of frosting on the bottom of a completely cooled cookie.  Use another to make a sandwich and WHAMADEBAM!  Whoopie Pie.

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Taste Test

 

 

Don’t forget to
taste test!

 

 

 

As always, pictures of your wacky kitchen adventures are welcome over at the ChipMom Facebook page! And remember, Mama loves ya!

Chip Mom
Facebook | Twitter

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ChipWIN Sponsorship: Oliver’s Century Long Road to Redemption

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Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here with a different type of message to relay. Recently, a really awesome first for ChipWIN happened:

ChipWIN sponsored a good friend, a fan of the project & generally epic dude in Oliver Campbell & his bicycling journey/fight for adventure, health, & LIFE.

oliver campbell bio pic

Ladies & Gentlemen, Oliver Campbell.

What exactly does this mean? Two things in particular:

(1) Expect some very familiar music to appear soon as part of a specially made “bicycling mix”  to help promote the ride!

(2) Expect some very familiar art to appear on Oliver’s
bicycling jersey for the epic trip! (customized by the always awesome Pixel Pixie Apparel & Promotions, of course!).

 

Howeverif you’d like to see some additional, potentially even more familiar artwork appear on the jersey (i.e. YOURS) this can happen as well! Oliver’s gofundme campaign for the July 12th 130 mile bicycle ride has not yet made its goal. There’s approximately $300 to go before it hits the mark, which in turn makes it very convenient that we have 5 numbered spots worth $60 apiece on the jersey remaining (identified in the photo below).

numbered jersey mockup

Wanna chip in and help Oliver make this epic journey of awesomeness? Fill out the contact form at the very bottom of this article and we’ll get it happening! Note: artwork/text must be “PG”, & needs to be submitted no later than the end of July 1st  for us to get the jersey ready in time.

I realize this is a unique request, but it’s for a wholly unique individual; someone who has inspired me to better take care of myself and battle the rigors of chronic pain vs allow them to lay waste to my life (Oliver’s struggle to overcome his issues directly inspired me to make life changes that are currently GREATLY HELPING me conquer my serious lower back issues). Join us in doing awesome for this awesome individual. You won’t regret it.

Much \m||m/ to all,
Brandon L Hood aka “President Hoodie
Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN

P.S. The “President Hoodie” alias is all Oliver’s fault. At minimum, you now at least know who to blame for that inside joke. ;3

EDIT: Contact form removed because…
JERSEY FILLED WITH ART & OLIVER’S GOFUNDME FULLY FUNDED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Links:
Oliver’s GoFundMe 
| Pixel Pixie Apparel & Promotions | Chiptunes = WIN

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