Author Archive

What’s On Tap – Roboctopus

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Hello and welcome to the first sun-filled summer edition of What’s on Tap. This month I am pleased to be able to review the brand spankin’ new album ‘Your Heart is a Pie Chart’ by the one and only Roboctopus, released on the Cheapbeats netlabel. Not only do I get to talk about new music from one of my favorite artists, but we get to publish the review on the exact album release date of June 5th! Normally these reviews publish a few weeks to a month after a release, and this is an exciting opportunity for me to give a guided tour through an album that most everyone will not have heard yet. Grab a cold beverage and load up your Bluetooth speaker on the deck – we’re kicking off summer right… now!

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What’s On Tap – PAULA POWERED

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This month’s edition of ‘What’s on Tap?’ is fortunate in its timing, with a new release matching up perfectly with the beer style I wanted to discuss this month. Combining PAULA POWERED’s new chip punk EP ‘Level Up’ with good weather and a cold hefeweizen is a recipe for success.

Many of the artists that I review on the ChipWIN blog – most notably Danimal Cannon and Norrin_Radd – gravitate towards heavy, complex music. While I enjoy music in this vein, the simplicity of the textures and importance of the message inherent in punk music is something that also really speaks to me. In their new EP, PAULA POWERED blends punk ethos with well-produced chip music mixing vocals, guitar, and the Amiga 1200. Although punk is often intentionally lo-fi, fans can expect to hear slightly more melodic singing and fantastic production from this release; think less Germs/Minor Threat and more Clash/Stooges. Onward!

Level Up

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What’s On Tap – Pete Ellison

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This month’s edition of ‘What’s on Tap?’ combines three of my favorite things into one deliciously awesome cornucopia: video games, breakfast, and beer. VGM veteran Pete Ellison returns to the soundtrack world with #Breakforcist, a breakfast-themed brick breaking collaboration with Kevin John at Lucid Sheep Games. Demonic waffles fall from the sky and your task is to destroy them by any means necessary, augmenting your ball with bacon lasers and pancakes. #Breakforcist is currently available on iOS devices, with an Android port coming in the near future. In addition to the soundtrack, Pete did the artwork for the game and you can unlock iMessage stickers by progressing through the levels. Play this game for ten minutes and the only person more enthusiastic about breakfast than you is Leslie Knope:

Musically, #Breakforcist sits squarely in an uncanny valley between retro gaming and contemporary music production. Soundfonts resembling the SNES and Dreamcast-era classics mix freely with Absynth-like patches and filters, wrapped up in a tight and clean package. Although designed for handheld devices, the #Breakforcist soundtrack plays well through laptops, headphones, and normal speaker setups – a testament to Pete’s solid production skills. The soundtrack has a common theme of uptempo, danceable grooves to keep the player’s energy high, but there are a surprisingly wide variety of sounds from beginning to end. The more ambient tracks function well as both background music and standalone pieces, with several standout melodies and funky basslines to keep the listener engaged. Perhaps the most unique portion of the soundtrack are Pete’s tracks that utilize the sexy vocaloid known here as Cyber Diva. If you are having trouble envisioning this sound, imagine Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ with a thumping backbeat and lyrics about waffles instead of nuclear war.

Now, let’s bust out the maple syrup and dig into some of these sweet tunes, shall we?

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What’s On Tap – chibi-tech

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Hello and welcome to the February edition of ‘What’s on Tap?’ After a work-related hiatus of a few months, we are back and ready to brew up a review for the ChipWIN blog! This month I have an excellent pairing of the earthy, spicy saison style with a brand new EP ‘The Mutual Promise’ from chiptune legend chibi-tech. Here w-

*record scratch*

Yep, that’s me. Bet you’re wondering how I got into this spot, huh? Reviewing new music by chibi-tech, chiptune mad scientist and compositional hero to anyone who has even considered installing Famitracker. Well, that’s an interesting story and I’ll try to keep it short – I called dibs.

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What’s On Tap – Norrin_Radd

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Hello and welcome to the October edition of ‘What’s on Tap?’ Your host is very excited about this month’s pairing as they are two of my favorite things – new music by Norrin_Radd and the double IPA. Both of these selections push the envelope of their style and are unique, intense experiences. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Matt Creamer is the mad genius behind the moniker Norrin_Radd, and his music has been influential to me in the years since I first heard his album ‘Anomaly’. His musical style tends to lean towards progressive rock and thrash metal, with plenty of complicated riffs and sudden mood shifts. Matt takes plenty of musical risks that usually pay off; where other artists might not explore such diversity in a short track, his music always seems to have a coherent trajectory.

The soundtrack for ‘Treasure Buster’ benefits from this approach, as most of the tracks are well under two minutes and still manage to cover a wide array of musical territory. ‘Treasure Buster’ is a game for iOS (and Android soon) developed by Reggie Schrieber with Pixel Licker Studios, described as ‘Zelda 1 meets pinball’ in the style of 90’s Capcom arcade games. While this review covers the music, I highly encourage you to follow this link to read more about the game and check out the videos!

Norrin_Radd 'Treasure Buster'

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What’s On Tap – Petriform

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Welcome back to ‘What’s on Tap?’ where we explore all sorts of pleasurable sensory experiences and pine over the last days of summer. This month I have the pleasure to review an artist whose work I really enjoy (Petriform) and a beer style that is in perfect season right now (Oktoberfest). Combining these two will be certain to please, and I hope you will seek out both the album and some of the beers listed at the end of the review.

Released in August, Petriform’s latest album ‘Don’t Worry, You’re Great!’ is an uplifting and cheerful collection of 13 tracks packed to the brim with catchy melodies. One of the things that makes this release unique in the realm of chip music is the artful combination of chip sounds from Famitracker with guitar and vocoder-laced vocal tracks. Not every song features the voice – and Petriform includes the instrumentals in the full album download – but those that do contain lyrics that tell interesting stories, and the voice blends among the chip synth in a beautiful tapestry of sound.

'Don't Worry, You're Great!'
cover art by Petriform
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