Well hello, boys and girls! It’s your resident Chip Mom here to chat about the next slew of excellent tracks! While I am in no way a chiptune aficionado, I do, as they say, “know what I like”. And, my dear chiplets, I love these tracks!
Track #40: Sleepwalking In Tennessee by Temp Sound Solutions
I wasn’t familiar with Temp Sound Solutions before this compilation (I know, I know, I iz newb), and this track got me excited to seek out more. Sleepwalking in Tennessee is composed of a variety of tones and textures that seem like they shouldn’t play nice together. The track is a juxtaposition of rough rhythmic patterns, groovy bass lines, and smooth, almost oboe-like melodic themes. While this seems disjointed on paper, the song is in fact a head bobbing, booty moving tune for your soon-to-be-pleased ear-holes!
Track #41: Dreaming Machine by Thorazine Unicorn
Then comes the driving beat of Thorazine Unicorn’s Dreaming Machine. One of the few tracks on Volume 1 with vocals, it stands out among the rest. There is an 80’s flavor to this track, and it conjures to mind images that could be pulled right out of a Philip K. Dick action scene. Bleeps and bloops and heavy drum sounds are coupled with vocals that are reminiscent of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (this, of course, puts it right in my 80s-woman-rocker-loving wheelhouse). Throw this one on next time you sit down to a tabletop Shaddowrun.
Track #42: Columbia by Space Town Savior
WARNING: this track will and can cause bootys to shake! If you hear this track blasting at ChipWIN HQ, you will probably find me and Hoodie, stocking footed, grooving on the kitchen floor. Then again, that’s not all that uncommon of an occurrence. In any case, Columbia is one of those tracks that starts with a low, thumping beat that crawls into your ears and down your spine, so by the time the spacey melody hits you’re already either chair dancing or out on the floor. As the song fills out, you’re lost in the groove and grinning, flying through a Cosmos cut-scene. Even if you’re not someone that busts a move in front of others, do yourself a favor and let lose in your living room to this song at the end of a long day. I promise you won’t regret it!
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not one for brevity, but that short phrase sums up my impression of the song quite well. Ecstasy is gritty, deep tones that start low and slow and gradually build up to a relaxed, steady pace. The inter-splicing of the odd minor and diminished chord just adds to the musical tension. I mean, c’mon~! Ok, ChipMom needs a moment…
Track #44: Button Mash by Snesei
When I think back to those few short weeks of my childhood before I rage quit Mario forever, this is the song that plays over the gaming montage. Button Mash is bouncy, upbeat, happy, happy, joy, joy that provides a needed tempo change after a string of more intense tracks. What I love most about this track is that all the sound choices really do push up the nostalgic factor. I almost feel like if I could listen to it just enough times, that I could identify all the source games for the sounds. I’m sure I would end up with quite a list.
Track #45: Jambo by Cheapshot
Cheapshot’s feel with Jambo seems as if its something that Jean M. Auel’s characters would appreciate (I’ve been rereading that one lately). The infectious, tribal rhythms are sure to get your toes tapping, head rocking, and booty wiggling. And while it has a bit more of the “down and dirty” like some of the previous tracks, it manages to keep the upbeat feel pushing forward into the next run of tracks.
Speaking of those, check back with us next week to catch Mr. Rob Remi-PK‘s Volume 1 block write-up!
Sup y’all? Hoodie here. Looks like it’s my turn to take a spin at the multi-track Volume 1 write-ups. Woohoo! =D My five are a little further in on the album, but by no means suffer in quality and/or badassery because of such. In fact, they may be some of the best tracks on the entire release!
Track #35: Algoorithm (Chris Algoo) – While We Can, Party
Chris’ groovetastic entry to volume 1 is three minutes & fifteen seconds of various bleeps and bloops, hard hitting bass, & tasty drum samples, all geared towards making the body move. The perfectly named track comes from his debut album “Robotropolis”, which was directly inspired by his personal experiences at Blipfest 2011. Having made it to that fantastic party myself, I can completely understand the desire to create something awesome after coming home from it. It’s largely how this entire project came to be after all. ;)
Track #36: Cartoon Bomb – Earthworm Facts
Cartoon Bomb’s contribution to this compilation is FAR dirtier than anything worms could ever be found wriggling in; there’s a dark, sexy vibe to this track, no doubt about it. If you listen closely youcan totes hear the “worms” moving around in this track via the interplay of the various interweaving melodies. Such a fun track! Seriously, this is an artist I’d really like to hear a good album’s worth of music from (only sporadic single track releases on his Soundcloud & such thus far). Although if I know Will he’s busy with a million different other projects as well. Maybe one of these days.
Track #37: Da Pantz – Real In The Field
And then we have this wild ass entry by Da Pantz! Seriously folks, his submission is hands down the craziest collection of noises, samples, bleeps, & bloops on this compilation. Although wrapped tightly around a driving bassbeat the way they are, it all sums up to become quite the head nodding, toe tapping jam! Another artist I’m looking forward to hearing more from, even if it’ll have to be from his current alias Ricky Brugal, as Da Pantz is currently in stasis.
Track #38: Sam Mulligan – Secret
I remember quite vividly how I felt after listening to this track for the first time right after Sam submitted it. It was basically “WTF was that?!?” with the huuuuugest grin on my face. There’s no secret about it, Sam Mulligan is 100% guilty of writing some of the most delightful, wholly enjoyable, absolutely FUN music in all of chiptune, and this 1 minute & 21 second track is about as perfect of an example of that as it gets. Not to mention that Sam might very well be the nicest human being in the entire chipscene (deal with it, Sam! ♥).
Track #39: Stenobot – Shark Flower
Until I received this track, I wasn’t even aware that the chippy heart of Supercommuter had a solo project. In other words, I’m very glad Stenobot submitted this track!! This wonderful joytastic jam is easily one of my favorite tracks on Volume 1, & dare I say one of the most excellently composed tracks on it, period. Fun facts: the track is named after Stenobot’s young son, Julian’s, imaginary friend’s sister. Julian is also the one responsible for shouting out the track title with gusto in the midst of the song. Doesn’t get much more totes adorbs than this, folks.
It’s not often I get to say that Richmond gets cool chiptune concerts coming through here. We did have Anamanaguchi a while back, but for the most part if you like chiptunes in Richmond you’ve got to go to MAGFest, or go to one of the other crazy shows on the East Coast. But here in Ol’ Virginny? Not much goes on, which is what makes the spontaneous shows like this awesome.
In fact, everything about that show was fantastic – it took place at Gallery 5, which as with much of Richmond, has been repurposed from some random brick building into a gallery/venue. What’s cool is that it’s actually Richmond’s oldest firehouse, as well as oldest police station/jail, so the stage (and bar) are set up where the fire trucks used to go, and the rest of the building is set up as a museum. It’s a pretty neat place (the first time I went there, there was a Tom Petty cover band playing, and I lent the lead singer my top hat for a few songs), and since the dudes who run the joint are totally cool, we might expect more things to come here! What was even cooler is that because the downstairs at Gallery 5 is fairly open, the other room that the stage and bar weren’t set up in was packed with oldschool games – provided by the wonderful Bob Broomfield, owner of the Carytown Play ‘N Trade and general all-around radical dude. A_Rival stomped me in Street Fighter 2 on the SNES no fewer than three times in a row – dude plays a mean Ken.
Can you see the fun Mike is having? CAN YOU?!
I want to preface this next part by giving thanks to the unofficial official photographer, Stephen Roberts – he was kind enough to share his album with us, and he got some fun action shots. If you want more than the few pictures I slap in here, you can check his album on Facebook.
So officially on the list, there was A_Rival, Inverse Phase, and Cuttlefish, with Datacats on visuals (Datacats does visuals now, protip). There was also the return of Mike Peloquin, AKA Open Mike AKA Not-That-Open Mike AKA Pelololoquin as the opening act, doing some Franz Ferdinand and Queen covers, which was totally fun. Also, Datacats went up and did double duty, both by setting up the visuals as well as playing an open mic set (because he’s multitalented and he can do that).
Seriously, Chris is great.
As to the main show, it started with Cuttlefish, who you may remember from my 8-Bit Invasion writeup as that guy who, living up to his stagename, was ludicrously hard to locate, let alone turn up any information on. As it happens, though, he was hiding in Richmond the whole time! And just like last time, his set was brain melting. He also had a friend of his come up and do a duet with him, which was super great. (I think he might have also been responsible for like a fifth of the crowd, and it was NOT a small crowd, so we can say he totally brought the ruckus.)
And then he used Chaos Control and became Super Cuttlefish.
After that, Inverse Phase got up and started off his set with a Name That Tune game, giving away such swag as t-shirts and CDs. He went on to do a considerably long set, going through much of Pretty Eight Machine and some of his other fun covers. He then had A_Rival show up and spit some lyrics on top of one of his tracks, and the set was over. The crowd took some time to buy some merch, buy some beer, and generally prepare their bodies for the wave of music that was to come.
IP totally met Trent Reznor and told him about P8M. Apparently he was super down with it. Success!
I’d like to take a second and talk about everyone’s setups thus far. Mike and Inverse Phase had laptops running trackers, Cuttlefish and Datacats had Game Boys running LSDJ (not including Cats’ laptop running visuals from the AV booth). But A_Rival was totally fancy, rocking his Mac with two iPads feeding in to adjust volume and various other effects for his tracks. I snuck a peak when he was testing stuff before the show, and it’s pretty fantastic. I’m a big fan of being space-age and future-y with tablets, so this completely rocked my socks.
As to his set, A_Rival played through the entirety of his new album, Truthcannon. Now, I’m fairly, uh, unknowledgable when it comes to the EDM/dubstep/etc scene, believe it or not, so I was moderately unprepared for what happened next – all I can say is that it was an explosion of electronica in the best possible way. After he wrapped up the new album, he then went on to play one of the hypest tracks I’ve ever heard live.
I kept wanting to scan his QR Code shirt, but it’s lies! ALL LIES!
This show was too good. Mad props to all involved. If you missed it, I feel for you – but hopefully, you’ll have more chances to see them all live soon! Hit up those Facebook links above to keep track of where they’re gonna be, and hit up the music links below if you want to get a taste of what you could have heard if you’d been there! (Or what you did hear if you were there, like a cool kid!)
Sup, ChipWINners? Bet you didn’t think I’d ever be doing this again, did you? I mean it’s only been like…half a season. That being said, let’s kick off summer in style with an interview of someone who encouraged me enough to get back into doing this, Cole Caron, the rising star in chiptune known as Dire Hit!
Kuma: So, let’s start with something basic. How’d you come up with your name?
Dire Hit (DH): Well, I don’t really remember. I started out as Aegyssystems, which sucked. Honestly, I’m the worst possible person at coming up with names for things.
Dire Hit is a useless item in Pokemon, but I really like it as a name, and it just stuck, and now I think it’s too late to change it.
Kuma: Ah, that at least confirms my suspicions about the origins of your name, so lets move on. Now Cole, I’m going to be direct here: while we certainly appreciate and admire younger talent and the promise people like you and your contemporaries such as Kaichan, Frostbyte and Chasing Bleeps hold, I must say, you are the youngest chiptuner I’ve ever met. You’re only, what,15? And on top of that, you started about a year ago, right? What made you wanna get into this? What made you decide you wanted to make music using video game systems us old farts had when we were your age?
DH: I started with chiptune at age 12. My sister’s boyfriend used Nanoloop and I just really liked the sound, so I downloaded MilkyTracker and went with it. The product of that is as horrible as possible. I had very little classical music training, and I did not understand the format at all. After a few months I moved on to Arkos Tracker, and I stuck with that for a while.
Why I was drawn to chipmusic was pretty simple actually. My parents are in the whole “videogames rot your brain” crowd, so if I were to get a game system, they were okay with it being hopelessly outdated. So I got a Game Boy Color, an LSDj cartridge, and an auxiliary cable at age 13ish. I tried recreating what I heard in the likes of Sabrepulse and Nullsleep. Of course I sucked, but it gave me the foundation for everything I do today.
Kuma: That answers a couple questions I was going to ask but brings up a couple more. I’ll try to go in chronological order based on the answers you gave me. First of all, you said you first got into chiptune because your sister’s bf at the time used Nanoloop and it was a sound you were drawn to. Now, you live in Seattle, a place that has a pretty nice chipscene. Her bf wouldn’t have happened to be someone notable in the chipscene there, would it? Someone like Turtlesaur or Electric Children?
DH: No one famous, as far as I know.
Kuma: WOMP WOMP.
DH: I don’t remember what he went by, but it was during the prime of 8bc, so all of that is gone. Womp womp indeed.
Kuma: Regardless, that is cool, and it does let me move on to my next question: we’ve already heard you mention that you find inspiration in guys like Nullsleep and Sabrepulse, but is there any particular reason why you’re drawn to those two artists over so many others in the scene? Is it that they sound more modern than some other artists or is there an emotional level in their music which resonates with you?
DH: I liked the pleasant poppy songs in the beginning, but I’ve moved on to different feelings and styles. Totally forgot to mention, but I was hooked on Ultrasyd ever since “move your body” and that was a major reason I picked up Arkos Tracker. The 8bc charts were a big influence on the music I was trying to make. One of the funny things about my early chiptune listening was that I never really got into any Seattle chiptune at the time.
Looking back, that’s crazy. Electric Children specifically. I remember listening to Electric Children Sucks once or twice, but not thinking about it too much. Of course now I’m crazy into electro house.
Kuma: Really? You’ve never been involved with the live chipscene in Seattle? But you’ve got such good artists in your own backyard. Hell, your city has a rich history of music, from chiptunes to grunge to college rock to grunge and…grunge…why didn’t you ever get involved with the live scene back then? Please tell me you’ve rectified that in recent years.
DH: I’ve never played live, unfortunately (unless Clipstream counts). My first chiptune live experience was X-Bit 2, because I wanted to see ovenrake and KGHB live. I just fell in love with the people, everyone I’ve met has been so nice and supportive.
They all signed my hat. I haven’t missed an xbit since.
Unfortunately Seattle live chiptune has been hibernating at the moment, but there’s a Fighter X show June 1st, so hopefully that’s the kick this town needs for the summer.
And maybe I’ll even get to play a show. Eventually.
Kuma: Wow! That sounds wonderful! Reminds me a lot of my experience at Blipfest last year, which is what first got me into chiptune. I generally have to agree: most, if not all, the people I’ve met since becoming part of the chiptune/vgm scene have been incredibly supportive and fun to interact with, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities they’ve presented me with. I’m sure as far as live shows are concerned, they’ll return the favor. That being said, you have, as you mentioned before, performed on Clipstream! Tell us about that experience man! Did you like it? have you always been a fan of Clipstream?Would you do it again?
DH: It was wonderful! My first time playing Clipstream it was like 1am PST, and I was not on the schedule in advance. It was a terrible set, I had no real equipment, just a gameboy and some audio cables. But everyone loved the tunes, and I made some great friends.
I was invited back, and I like to think I did a better job the second time. I played in the most recent Clipsteam, too! I had some webcam issues but the audio was just fine. I’m more of a recent fan of Clipstream, but it’s nice to have one day a month for chiptune and shenanigans.
Kuma: I know! I really wanted to catch it but I got pulled away for family business earlier in the day, and I wasn’t able to catch any of this month’s show! That being said, I know Glenntai must have been glad to have you perform! It is one his projects he holds pretty close to his heart and being able to see it come to fruition must have made him very happy.
That being said, I’m very surprised at the fact that you said you have no real technical or classical music training. That’s pretty unheard of in the scene, and I think you might be the first person I ever interviewed that said that. As someone who’s one of the most talented chiptuners in your age bracket, do you have any advice for any novice chipbros and sistas out there?
DH: F commands. That is all. But in all seriousness, work hard. Don’t put out songs that aren’t 100% the way you want them. Although I’d like to make a mild correction, I’ve had some musical training. Self taught piano and like 2 weeks of guitar lessons.
Kuma: That’s not a mild correction.
DH: Sorry about that accidental wrong answer then.
Kuma: I will beat you senseless.
DH: Oh shit.
Kuma: But seriously, that’s good advice. Will you be practicing what you preach over the summer? And what is next in store for you, Cole?
DH: I will be releasing music this summer. As far as what to expect from the future, I’m hoping to figure out 2xlsdj more than I have already. I also have an arduinoboy I’m going to find use for.
Kuma: Oh? Is your new release gonna be in the form of an LP or an EP? Details, man! Drop them like balls!
DH: I haven’t planned that far ahead, to be honest. It could be a bunch of summer singles, or it could be a full length album. Who knows! But lots of bass, lots of loud drums and noise channel silliness.
Kuma: Well, I’m sure whatever you decide to do beyond releasing your next album that it’s sure to kick ass. Do you have anything you want to say before we end this interview?
DH: I want to say thank you to everyone who’s helped me out! Abducted by Sharks, Boaconstructor, Electric Children, Live Animals, Orbital Strike, and Turtlesaur have been nothing but supportive, helpful, and overall great friends. You may not see it everyday browsing CM.O but there are a lot of nice people in chipmusic.
Kuma: And with that open admission about CMO, I’d like to thank you for your time, Cole! I look forward to hearing more from you, and to potentially interviewing you in the future!
DH: Sounds like fun!
You can keep up with Cole via his Facebook, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages, which are listed below in the Relevant Links section. You can also catch up with him at chipmusic.org, if you’re so inclined to do so, as well as the Chiptunes=WIN group page on Facebook, as he’s become a staple of the community we’ve built there.
Tune in next week as I interview another person whom I haven’t decided on just yet.
Every once in a while, whilst sifting through the expanses of the chiptune world, you find a gem that reaffirms your belief in the genre’s scope and power. ‘Little Bumble’ was one of those releases. Sent to me in a PM by a member of chipmusic.org under the name of SJSFC, I opened up the link and explored. I was met with a set of conflicting notions; it was hosted by FMA, a curated and often high quality host of varying musical styles. However, on the other hand, the artwork showed a badly drawn bumble bee. The release was a mere four tracks and a blurb stated it “might appeal to those with young children”, painting it to be a collection of low-quality and embarrassingly crude takes on chiptune.
Whatever my preconceptions might have been, what I found inside pleasantly shocked. The tones and atmospheres can only be described as elegant, I’d only ever experienced tones so engrossing before in small snippets of ant1 and Zan-Zan-Zawa-Veia’s work, and the level of emotion pushed around these four short tracks rivalled that of peeR’s definitive release ‘Dances’. The EP follows a freeform progressive jazz flow, giving it a sound that wouldn’t be overly amiss appearing on Ubiktune. Countermelodies constantly shift and harmonies consistently strike an internal chord; in fact the melodies are sometimes touchingly beautiful.
Some of background glissandos in ‘4c iced tea’ are truly stunning, the end section of ‘tuffet’ makes inspiringly subtle use of droning pads, soft triangle bass and piano, whilst the harmonies and horns in ‘mighty lilbumble bee’ are remarkable. Almost inaudible sample work in the background gives the release a thick layering and the constant shift of thematic attention gives it huge breadth. Whilst not every note ‘strikes’ with you, for instance the opening 20 seconds of ‘tuffet’ are so dissonant it breaks the album’s pace slightly, on the whole every second sounds precise and purposeful.
If you were to follow FMA’s advice and give this to small children, the complexity within would be completely lost on them, however, the gorgeous tones and warm square sounds would undoubtedly find a willing audience. And that, in a crux, is the genius of this release; complexity without sacrificing emotion. If you’re disillusioned with the quality of most chipmusic output today, this will surely reignite your passion. A must download.