Archive for August, 2013

PXL-WIN Super Happy Review Special With Kuma!

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Ahoy there, ChipWINners!  Welcome back to the blog!  Now as I’m sure many of you are aware, we’ve recently outdone ourselves again with the release of our second epic annual compilation!  Having enjoyed continued success with it, we danced, drank Cherry Wheat and made merry with all of our friends!

PARTYHARD4Then, as with all great celebrations in life, we woke up the next morning in a state of panic as we realized our terrible predicament: we had 99 problems, and all of them were songs!  (Well, 95 to be exact…but I wanted a Jay-Z joke.)  Needing to do something with at least some of this residual music (which was mostly pretty damn good), we here at ChipWIN made a deal with the devil and agreed to allow our Editor-in-Chief to create a joint release with us to handle some select tunes from the surplus.  In turn, the mighty Kilpatrick, in all his Satanic might, used his silver tongue (by which I mean he spoke plain English with an English accent) to bend the rules (which, technically, did not exist for side-releases!) to allow two additional songs of his choosing that weren’t part of the bundle to be included with album.  We acquiesced, and soon thereafter, Devil Kilpatrick, along with his cohort Alex Kelly (who’s a pretty swell guy, actually) turned out what would be Chiptunes = WIN first joint release with another netlabel: PXL-WIN!

PXL-WIN Final - smaller jpg

Now I know what you’re thinking: should I listen to this… bedeviled album?  Is it worth risking my soul to listen to an… abomination these English demons have wrought upon chiptune?

The answer, quite simply, is yes. But don’t fear, for I, Kuma, the bear in a black man’s body, will lead the way through the 17 layers of WIN and prove to you this is a journey worth taking.
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Track #1: Deeksha by AlexOgre

First up to the plate is Alex Ogre, a young man from Russia who busts out some incredible stuff on LSDJ.  Taking full advantage of the program’s capabilities, Alex has become one of several artists whose work has progressed to the point that it has become exemplary chiptune, and that isn’t a bad thing at all.

A nice, steady bass line, strong use of snappy snares and arps, and a simple, dream like melody all combine to make a song that kicks off PXL-WIN in strong, confident fashion.  Put bluntly, this song is a dancer’s dream.  Its the kind of song that, when the chiptune community goes out to a venue like 8static, I/O chipmusic or Pulsewave, we expect to hear, and that’s exactly what Alex Ogre wants.  He wants to keep you on your feet, and quite frankly, if you don’t want to get up while he’s playing this track, well keep listening to this album, because clearly you’re dead inside and you need chiptune to work its magic on you!

alex ogreBleepLove 
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Track #2: C-Side (Tetanus In My Connector Pins) by AutoReMi-PK

Speaking of derpy chiptuners and dickbutts, this second track is one I’m especially fond of as it’s by my friend AutoReMi-PK.  You might know Remy from his blog posts here on ChipWIN, or for his level headed attitude in the ChipWIN group, or, most likely, his derpy antics with Ryn and Hoodie in my interview with them about BRKFest!  Regardless of where you know him from, or if you didn’t know him at all, one thing that you do know now thanks to PXL-WIN is that he’s also an adept chipmusician!

Specializing in Famitracker composition, Remy takes heavy influence from numerous genres, companies and franchises (most notably Megaman, Super Smash Bros, Kirby, and anything Motoi Sakuraba has touched), which he then uses to craft tunes that run the gamut to fun and quick to lengthy and full of emotion.  With its broad pulsewaves, militaristic snares and arpeggios that compliment the melody perfectly, Remy’s “C-Side (Tetanus In My Connector Pins)” is a fine example of the perfectionist lurking inside this affable young man.

autoremy performFacebook | Soundcloud | Twitter
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Track #3: Twisted by irq7

Confession time: I’m a sucker for fighting games.  The button mashing action, visceral visuals and especially the adrenaline pumping music just make me excited in ways I can’t describe but can be seen at MAGFest for yourself.  So when I first heard irq7’s “Twisted”, I couldn’t help but smile the biggest, shit eating grin the world has ever seen!  From the moment the perfectly timed build up leading to the sinister words “I try to scream…GO!” drops into the hook, irq7 drags you into the ring and doesn’t let go until he’s knocked you out.

I’m especially fond of this song as it represents a nice compliment to cheapshot’s “Jambo“, a song I’m fond of as it, too, is evocative of a fighting game theme.  But while “Jambo” is reminiscent of music heard in Tekken Tag Tournament, “Twisted” takes a more Street Fighter styled approach, reveling in its use of aggressive kickers, heavy, pulse pounding bass and rhythm, and a melody that begs to have a Chun-li style “Yatta!” thrown in over it for good measure!

irq7Facebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter 
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Track #4: Alien Friendship by AciDnB

Very few artists in the scene live up to their name, as most seem to be puns or names of things from yesteryear, and others are just Solarbear.  Some, however, let you know from the get go what they’re all about, and no one does that quite as well as AciDnB.  Having been inspired after seeing a bevy of Korg synths at an expo in 2010, AciDnB took his love of those sweet, artificial sounds and turned it into a serious passion.  The result is music that combines the decadent sounds of KorgDS10 and the finishing touches of FLStudio to create lush tracks such as the song you’re listening to now.

Replete with perfectly timed snares, a fuzzy ass bass line, and some of the coolest and most refreshing non-wub drops I’ve heard in quite a while, “Alien Friendship” invokes stark imagery of flying saucers as disco lights at the most happening party in the galaxy!  In a scene that is heavy with dance monsters, AciDnB takes his music a step further by embracing that he is part of a community that loves to boogie on down and runs with it, solidifying himself among artists such as LukHash and Whitely as one of the best beat makers to grace lofi music in the past five years.

acidnb

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Track #5: alcaline pizza by Gab Pearson

As we say goodbye to the stylish and funky “Alien Friendship”, we shift our attention to a song that, admittedly, I wasn’t sure I liked at first.  Most of the songs on this album stick out right away and you can tell you’re gonna just be into them the moment they open up.  However, when it came to Gab Pearson’s “alcaline pizza”, I wasn’t so sure what to make of it.

It certainly wasn’t a bad song by any means, I just didn’t have any compelling inclination towards it.  Over time, however, I found that the song’s strength came from its ability grow on you.  Further more, I found that Gab Pearson’s execution in crafting such a song is one of the most deliberate decisions I’ve encountered recently in music, as he’s a musician who switches up his style as often as he eats poutine.  Considering that he’s 1) Canadian and 2) he has a song named after the stuff, that means he changes it up a lot.

Making music that ranges from hip hop to chillout to the kind of funky, lofi new jack swing you’d hear in the genesis Sonic games, Gab may be one of the most versatile and understated artists I’ve ever encountered.

gab pearsonBandcamp | Soundcloud 
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Track #6: The Mysterious Shapeshifting Dog by Jay Tholen

What’s this?  A slowed down tempo?  A dream like rhythm?  All accompanied by a masterfully composed lead that could easily be replaced in a live performance by a trumpet or saxophone?  Oh yeah, we’re definitely back in Jay Tholen territory.  One of a handful of artists to return to ChipWIN on this joint compilation, I don’t think much needs to be said about Mr. Tholen that I haven’t already covered previously in my interview with him.  A talented and prolific renaissance man who excels at both visual and musical art, Jay seems to have done everything from dream like music videos to crafting his own video game.

This time around, Mr. Tholen seems to have channeled his love of the Mother series once again to make “The Mysterious Shapeshifting Dog”: a track that sounds like what would have happened to Boney had he eaten the hallucination mushrooms along with Lucas and the rest of the crew in Mother 3.  The distorted synth noise, steady, droning snare hits and a rhythm that create an atmosphere that simultaneously mimics a bad trip and an endless walk through a desert, Jay Tholen succeeds once again in leading his audience through another bizarre adventure.

jay tholen hairFacebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter | Homepage
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Track #7: Far From Home by monotron

Often times, when art is created, its intended message gets lost, changed, or misconstrued because while its creator may have had one intended message, the observer perceives something very different altogether.  

This isn’t possible with monotron’s “Far From Home”.  From the moment the pulsewave builds up like a foreign sunrise on a strange horizon, this song makes it very clear that you’re not where you belong.  More importantly, it reminds you to make haste finding your way back to familiar ground.  In short, “Far From Home” invokes a feeling of fear.

Sure, its got a phat beat and bass line you can boogie too, but if you really listen to your song, it’s very clear monotron is making a statement: that the light of day can only bring comfort for so long, but as soon as the sun sets, a universal fear fills us all.  That fear is the fear of the unknown, and of the dark things in our hearts that we subconsciously fill the void with.

Maybe I’m wrong, though.  Maybe I’ve mistaken monotron’s message and am just talking out my ass.  Why don’t you take a listen and decide for yourself?

Soundcloud
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Track #8: K1NG 0V TEH D4RK by DJ-PIE

Following up monotron in masterful form is a chiptune artist from France named DJ-PIE.  A musician who describes himself on his Soundcloud as a “MASTER PEANUS ZDEDEDEDE” (a reference to a ridiculous song he named P E N I S, as well as its various remixes), DJ-PIE busts out with some of the sickest synth play I’ve heard in quite a while!

Having crafted what I deem to be the greatest holiday song ever made for something that isn’t Christmas (even if it wasn’t his direct intent), “K1NG 0V TEH #D4RK” is the perfect Halloween anthem for the chiptune lover in you!  Combining almost warlike drum rolls with yowling square waves and a lead that invokes images of a pixelated interpretation of “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the song instills a playful sense of devilishness in anyone who happens to be caught in its spell.

dj pie live

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Track #9:  The M Word by Orbital Strike

Much like when I first started listening to Gab Pearson’s “alcaline pizza” I wasn’t sure what to make of Orbital Strike’s “The M Word” at first.  However, unlike Gab Pearson’s jawn, which took a few consecutive listens for me to feel, Orbital Strike grabbed me by the collar, and reminded me just who the hell we were talking about here as soon as they dropped the bass.  I was sold.

A song with a dizzying, almost alien, sounding lead, drum complimenting noise effects, and a club worthy bass line, “The M Word” is a seizure inducing dance hit that’s sure to energize and remind everyone listening that Nate and Nick are the frenetic, dubstepping George and Jonathan of the Seattle chiptune scene!  The wubs are something I have to compliment, in particular, because while wubs are certainly plentiful in chiptune, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone outside of Auxcide, DireHit, and Ultrasyd drop them with this much skill.

orbital strikeFacebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud
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Track #10:  Thunderlizard by Graz

Following up on the awesomeness that was Orbital Strike is a young man who’s taken the west coast by storm.  Having found a strong niche for himself in Seattle and Portland is Graz: a versatile EDM artist who may have put forth one of the coolest fakebit songs I’ve heard since I last saw Misfit Chris live over a year ago!

An artist I first encountered after winning a copy of RAVECORE MASTERS Vol 1 from Initial P of Diskowarp, Graz takes a little bit of everything, from chiptune to gabber, to bonk to electro, and crafts music that is, quite frankly, a raver’s wetdream, and Thunderlizard is definitely proof of his skill!

A song that — very similarly to irq7’s “Twisted” — works equally well on the dance floor as it does in a fighting game, Graz has made a track that continues his proud tradition of making pure party music.  From remixes of Crazytown’s “Butterfly” to bass heavy eurobeat, Graz has joined the ranks of heavy hitting DJs in the Northwest such as Initial P/Kid Whatever, Jimni Cricket, and J-Mi & Midi-D to keep the raver scene alive and well, constantly infusing it with anything from chipstep to happy hardcore.

grazFacebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter 
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Track #11: We Screw Up At The End by Mr Wimmer & Solarbear

Sometimes, when you least expect, life throws you a curveball.  While that odd pitch is normally perceived as a bad thing, this time around it’s absolutely wonderful.  You see, we all know Solarbear sucks.  That phrase is as axiomatic on this planet as gravity.  Or at least, that’s what I thought until I heard this song.  I’d like to think it was Mr Wimmer, with his deep, mournful, distorted crooning, skillful guitar strumming, and beautiful face, is the only person that made this song as wonderful as it is.  In all honesty, though, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this: I think Solarbear actually has talent.

I know, it’s a difficult pill to swallow, but listen to this track!  Listen to it’s sinister noise, sad lead, and pulsing rhythm that seemingly rains down misery on these two poor saps!  It’s almost as if Solarbear is acutely aware of how to craft atmosphere in a piece of music that sounds like someone’s spiral down the drain towards personal oblivion!  These two bastards actually managed to not only enhance each other, but they managed to make a song that’s the embodiment of a strung out heroin junkie coming down from his fourth fix on a hot summer day in what used to be The Prodigy’s apartment complex in their video for “Breathe”!  It’s…It’s…oh wow, they really did screw up at the end.

Never mind.

wimmer and solarbearSolarbear
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Mr Wimmer

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Track #12: Lickwid Lazer by KOOL SKULL

In the time I’ve been in this scene, I’ve heard chiptune be many things.  I’ve heard it be dance music, I’ve heard it be rock; I’ve heard it take the form of folk and I’ve heard it take the form of haunting industrial.  Indeed, I’ve heard chiptune used in many a genre and have heard it described it in many ways, but never before have I described chiptune with the adjective I’m about to use right now.

Sexy.  KOOL SKULL’s “Lickwid Lazer” is sexy.

Not only is it the first song I’ve ever heard in chiptune that I can straight up consider sexy, but it’s one of the most lustful songs I’ve ever heard, period.  Get past the noise, the snares, the static that fills background with dissonant chaos.  Listen to that bass line and kicker.  Listen to what KOOL SKULL did.  Do you hear that?  The man made a thrash song over a reggaeton beat, then sang a carnal, domineering lead over it a la Trent Reznor or Ogre of Skinny Puppy!  You can just as easily mosh to this song as you can grind up against someone or tie them up to the bedposts and — *cough*  I’m sorry I… I got carried away there.

The point I’m trying to make, though, is that surprises such as this are what make me fall in love with chiptune over and over again!  Musicians like KOOL SKULL are the guys that make the work we do here at ChipWIN exciting!  Between his visceral illustrations and guttural, raw music, KOOL SKULL is a talent that continually pleases and surprises.

kool skull

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Track #13: shortcut by unini

Continuing the visceral noise trend that Kool Skull set is unini with his song “shortcut”.  A track that lives up to its name, as it’s only rivaled in brevity by AutoRemi’s “C-Side”, “shortcut” may be short, but it certainly isn’t sweet.  Striking hard and fast with a violent assault on the senses that deftly combines noise, off pitch pulsewaves, and frantic drum and bass, this song is an excellent example of unini’s style.

Interestingly enough, however, despite the fact that unini crafts music that’s a slam dancers dream, the man himself is incredibly quiet and elusive!  In fact, unini is so mysterious that outside of this contribution to ChipWIN, he can only be found on Bandcamp and noisechannel, where he’s only posted on the forums twice!

If this enigmatic newcomer’s style is up your alley, I definitely suggest checking out his debut album on Bandcamp, and, if you’d like to learn more about him, I’d recommend trying to hit him up noisechannel.  Just don’t expect him to say anything back.
uniniBandcamp | noisechan
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Track #14: That’s Fer Sure! by + Let’s Disinfect! +

My mp3 player has a tendency of putting tracks in alphabetical order as opposed to track listed order, so while the album actually starts off with the aforementioned “Deeksha”, my Sansa clipzip decided that + Let’s Disinfect’s! + “That’s Fer Sure!” was the first track on PXL-WIN, and as far as I’m concerned it made an excellent choice!

I say this because while a large part of what ended up becoming ChipWIN Vol 2 had to do with flow from one song to another, PXL-WIN seems to have done the opposite and gone back to ChipWIN’s roots by putting out a release that’s much more dynamic.  That’s not to say PXL-WIN doesn’t have synergy, but when it comes to energy you don’t get much more dynamic than this!

Deftly combining his punk sensibilities and skills as a singer and multi instrumentalist, the prolific talent that is Sean Monistat (who has contributed to ChipWIN as + Let’s Disinfect! +, Sean Monistat, as well as with his bandmates in Thorazine Unicorn!) proves he is a force to be reckoned with in a song that’s not only full of life but catchy as hell!  Between his clever use of the pulsewave being used as a rhythm guitar, his frenetic guitar solo, and mosh pit inducing lyrics, I dare you not to sing the lyrics along with him whenever you hear this jawn!

sean monistatFacebook | Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter 
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Track #15: I’m An Idiot by Sam Mulligan

Honest.  Derpy.  An astute awareness of being both.  These are things I appreciate in a person.  Fortunately, Sam Mulligan is all these things and more, as he’s not only a talented musician and a vibrant DJ, but he’s charismatic enough to tell his seemingly never ending stories of failure as well!

Seriously, how can you not love a man who openly admits how damn stupid he can be!  “I’m An Idiot!” is another in a long line of songs that is just quintessentially Mulligan.  Fun, energetic, quick, and laughter inducing, this particular song earns extra points with me for sounding like “punk” groups I used to listen to in the 90s, like early Green Day a la Dookie and Insomniac, Blink182, and Sum41.

Chiptune gets accused of being a cheap trick that cashes in on nostalgia, and because there are people and companies that do take advantage of this I think there’s a sort of uneasiness about nostalgia being used as an adjective in the scene.  While that’s an unfortunate truth we have to live with, nostalgia isn’t something to be ashamed of.  In fact, if done properly, thoughts and experiences that invoke memories of yesteryear can be reveled in, and this does so in hilarious fashion.  Breaking the mold that chiptune only conjures recollection of the late 80s and early 90s era of gaming, Sam’s tale of whimsical dumb fuckery and unfortunate events causes me to recall my asinine teenage years when I used to rip my favorite cds onto mini discs and get into arguments with friends about how they were the future of music.

Oh, what a fool I was!

sam mulligan

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Track #16: Morning Breeze by shakaboyd

As a writer and music reviewer, I strive to put out quality material for you guys to read, because even if not a lot of you read it, for those that do, you know  that I put a lot of effort of into what I’ve produced and that means a lot to both of us in the long run.  But sometimes, there’s not much to say about a song, and such is the case is shakaboyd’s “Morning Breeze”.

Now why is that, you may ask?  Well, sometimes a song isn’t a deep metaphor for darkness in the hearts of man or a moan of carnal pleasure among basement party moshpit.  Sometimes a song is just good and fun because its, well, good and fun.  Filled with a playful melody, cheerful rhythm, wave hits that sound like a steel drum and a beat you can dance or work out to, shakaboyd has made a song that falls into that simply delightful category, along with song’s like chipzel’s “Can’t Stop Us“, Snesei’s “Button Mash” or Brick Breaker’s “Dusk Runner“.

In the end, for all the fancy adjectives I could try to use to describe this song, no amount of words can compare to the fact that, quite simply, it makes me smile.

shakaboydFacebook | Soundcloud | Twitter
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Track #17: The Cloma by Corset Lore

I remember the first time I saw Corset Lore.  She got up on stage to perform a song she was working on during an I/O open mic session and I was thoroughly impressed by what I heard and saw.  I walked up to her and asked her if she’d be interested in submitting to ChipWIN.  Little did I know, being very new to chiptune at the time, just how long she had been rocking the scene.  I would later find out to great surprise and moderate hilarity that not only had she been kicking ass in the community for years, but that she’s one of the great vets of the East Coast chip scene!

Having performed at venues along side other heavy hitters such as minusbaby, Bitshifter, Kris Keyser, Bubblyfish and Glomag, I’m sure you can imagine my embarrassment at this situation!  I like to think childlike enthusiasm must have worked (although I know it was really the work of Devil Kilpatrick) because she submitted the incredible track you’re listening to now!

Wrapping up PXL-WIN with elegance and style, “The Cloma” is a continuation of Tamara Yadao’s proud tradition of crafting music that’s both intricately melodic and easily enjoyable in way that’s accessible to the masses.  With its fun beat, energetic lead and sweeping rhythm that combine in a way that make you want to listen to this song all day, Corset Lore manages to make a song that feels comfortable in any setting, regardless of tastes.

That’s a feat that’s certainly rare in a scene many already consider too obscure to be mainstream.  I just hope that if I ever get to hear her play this live, that she plays a guitar over this incredibly lofi melody, because it’s just begging for some sweet riffs to be layered in with it a la Square Therapy’s “Miracle Max & The Cliffs Of Insanity“!  If Ms Yadao’s music is your cup of tea (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be) I recommend checking out her home page so you can keep up with and learn about not only what she does as Corset Lore, but the various other audio/visual projects she’s invovled with, including foci + loci, frogwell and tu.

coreset lore

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That wraps up this album review.  I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me through PXL-WIN and that you’ll continue to stick with both Chiptunes = WIN and PXL-BOT.  PXL-WIN is the 6th album we here at ChipWIN have helped release since 2012, and while we’ve certainly gained quite a bit of momentum over the past year, we don’t expect to stop doing what we do, and neither should you!  So stick around and don’t forget to keep up with us and and all your favorite artists on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.  I promise you, you guys ain’t seen nothing yet.

Peace!

\m|♥|m/

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Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 (Tracks 17-21)

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[Turtle Princess] Hey guuuuuuurl. [/Turtle Princess] I know you guys are itching to get through more of these dope chiptunes, so let’s not stall any longer, hmm?

Track #17: SUPER MANLY BROS. X by Phonetic Hero

First up we’ve got Super Manly Bros X by Phonetic Hero, AKA Pete Lepley! You may remember his previous work with us, or perhaps his jamming along with other ChipWIN contributor Theory of N, but if not, you should definitely get out there and check his work on Bandcamp (handy links provided for you at the end of the article!). This track is reminiscent of the first Mega Man X title – which is good because Mega Man X is amazing and had a soundtrack that everyone wishes was the soundtrack to their own life.* I could honestly imagine this being Idris Elba’s theme, were this for the soundtrack of a Pacific Rim SNES game – it’s badass-flavored, with a lot of drive pushing it forward.

Track #18: Oynx by Zef

Oh man Zef! You know, Zef AKA Chris Penner! Another return ChipWINner Zef continues to bring the pain. And by pain, of course, what I mean is sick beats. Zef is known for good dance music, and good dance music is what you get with Onyx. He eases you in, gets you headbobbing, and then suddenly you’re po-going and you have no idea why but you’re sure as hell not going to stop. It’s a nice mix of low and high energy music all in one track. It’s a song that conveys motion: while some songs are just kind of there, as an ambient cloud, Onyx makes the listener feel like they’re traveling – like they’re moving along towards the end of the song, instead of just waiting for it. And at four minutes, the track is long enough to suck you in and make you a part of it without feeling like you’re left unfulfilled and wanting.

Track #19: Face Nation: A Nation of Faces by S.P.R.Y.

S.P.R.Y. (AKA Narayan Choudury) is a newcomer to our compilations – but he’s already become part of the family, having been responsible for mastering the Pxl-Win album. Back to the track, though, the percussion usage here is really fun – S.P.R.Y. makes heavy use of what I like to call “maniac drums,” by which I mean the kind of drums that if you were watching a live person do it, you’d think they were a maniac because their hands would be flying all over the place. This is a perfect example of one of those songs that has both fast parts and slow parts functioning at the same time which makes the song almost seem like clockwork, with each speed functioning as a gear to move the others. You’ve also got a repeated loop as the head, but it ends up changing voicing every few repeats, so the song actually ends up having a lot more depth to it. It’s fried gold, it is.

Track #20: Silverfish Riot by Snooglebum

The mysterious entity known as Snooglebum may be a newcomer to ChipWIN but he’s been quite busy when it comes to making chiptunes – his Bandcamp boasts quite a few albums, which you should go apply to your eardrums. Silverfish Riot is super fun – it’s simultaneously slow, but high energy. I’m not really sure how that works, but it’s quite good. Strong, punchy bass drums always make a song feel tough, and while the melody is a mid-length loop, it ends up being punctuated with a few variations. The song exudes the purest extract of danceyness – while some songs are labeled “dance music,” it takes a lot for a song to actually move someone to move themselves along to the beat more than just tapping their feet, and this song’s got it. 

Track #21: Miami Lights by Masikus

The final track here, Miami Lights by Masikus (AKA Angel Hernandez), is nice and trip-hoppy. I love trip-hop. I love chiptunes. So getting them both in one go is pretty fantastic, in my opinion. It’s great chillmode music, and serves as a nice counterpoint to the past several more high-energy tracks. With much slower beats, it’s got this soothing groove going on, and with the nice airy section starting ~1:10, it’s got this nice, wide-open and relaxed feeling to it. It’s just…soothing. Soothing is not normally a quality I ascribe to chiptunes, but this track is just that.  

That’s all for this time! Tune in next time, where we will all be covering this album on Brandon’s assorted collection of jaw-harps.** And keep an eye here on the blog, because big things are coming! I know that sounds like the normal blog rhetoric, but I actually mean that!

\m|♥|m/

*Don’t sass me, boy, you know it’s true.

**I’m joking, we’re not going to do such a horrible thing to you!

Relevant links:

Phonetic Hero
Facebook Twitter | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Zef
Facebook 
Twitter | Bandcamp | Soundcloud

S.P.R.Y.
Facebook Twitter Bandcamp | Soundcloud

Snooglebum
Facebook Bandcamp | Soundcloud | CDBaby (for his older stuff)

Masikus
Facebook Bandcamp Twitter Soundcloud

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Chris Considers: WMD’s Songs About Ruby

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Greetings, everyone! New writer Chris Krogsgard here, ready to spread even more chip love to all you beautiful people and overtake Kuma and Kilpatrick as the most bizarre K-name on the blog. It’s an honor and a privilege to increase my involvement with one of the greatest communities of artists and fans on the planet here at the ChipWIN blog. I don’t plan on stopping until everyone around the world comes to love and appreciate chipmusic and all of the wonderfully varied styles contained within. Get comfy, it might take a while…

Less than two months after releasing the superlative ‘Melancholy’, ever-prolific WMD has graced us with a new EP. In the decidedly lo-fi ‘Songs About Ruby’, WMD employs rich, dark textures and a reduced emphasis on chip elements. What results is a deeply personal and evocative experience.

A searing soundscape reminiscent of Boards of Canada gives way to the subaquatic tones of ‘Ocean Dream’. The dreamlike atmosphere created here and throughout “…Ruby” is stirring and ethereal with a strong sense of longing. One gets the sense while listening that each song is a new and meaningful insight into the artists’ thoughts.  In ‘We Were This Close’, bongos punctuate a warm groove and the interjected voice sample used is poignant.

The melancholic atmosphere adopts a broader, more cosmic tone near the second half of this EP. Headphone users are particularly rewarded with the pulsating vibes throughout ‘Deafening Whispers’, as well as majestic synth pads in ‘Where Are You Going’. The sonic imagery here evokes shooting stars and vast expanses, while the overall sound remains grounded and genuine.  Each new track creates soothing waves of sound which lull the listener into a chilled and hypnotic state. It is the album finisher ‘Coastal Forest’, however, that reverberates and continues to seep into the subconscious. The expressiveness and sonic imagery contained within this track is such that you can sense the morning fog and the lone buoy in the distance.

‘Songs About Ruby’ has a forlorn beauty that absolutely must be heard. Its ambience encourages quiet introspection; no other chip artist leaves me feeling quite the way that WMD does, and he absolutely deserves your attention. Tightly focused and hauntingly expressive, his voluminous output has never suffered a dip in quality. This isn’t music that you just listen to, but rather music that you connect with.

Relevant WMD links:
Bandcamp
Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

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Sladerfluous: Breakbeat Heartbeat’s HOLD ON

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Hi peeps, my name’s Morgan and I’m SUPER STOKED to join the bloggers for Chiptunes = WIN and help get more awesome tunes onto your radar. Pleasantries = DONE. Let’s get to the music!

Can chiptune be integrated with acoustic instrumentals for the betterment of ear-holes everywhere? For the answer, look no further than Breakbeat Heartbeat’s latest release HOLD ON.

Hold On has a chill, funky feel. There are no power ballads, no hard-core wub-wubs. What we have here is an album of 9 uplifting tracks melding together a unique blend of chip-funk with classical elements making for an intriguing release that is absolutely worth your time.

What impresses me the most about HOLD ON is how Breakbeat Heartbeat has delivered a musical bob-and-weave of acoustic with electric that ensures both sounds have their day in the sun, but never at the expense of the other. Make no mistake, the choice to combine chiptune bleepy-bloops with deep acoustic sounds is a risky proposition. Too much chip and the instrumentals sound forced. Too much instrumental and the chip comes off as a gimmicky afterthought. Chiptune has the tendency to sound harsh when forced to play nice with traditional instrumentals, but that’s simply not the case here. The result is a unique mix that is polished, elegant and deserves some serious name-your-price love.

HOLD ON shines in the center of a chip/acoustic venn diagram playing off the lighthearted nature of chiptune and a natural depth drawn from classical instruments that offers a lot of room for exploration. Some tracks do less to innovate than others with “The Time Is Right” and “On My Own” offering a consistent loop of chill beats without pushing the envelope. Tracks “Night”, “Roads” and “Flashback” act as the tentpoles of the album, taking the fusion to its peak with an intriguing use of classical violin, piano and bass guitar respectively for a classical/funk/chip mix that underscores Breakbeat Heartbeat’s ability to combine wheelhouses.

(I just Googled wheelhouse and discovered the term is in reference to the individual swinging range or sweet spot within a baseball player’s strike zone. THE MORE YOU KNOW.)

It’s worth mentioning that if you’re unfamiliar with Breakbeat Heartbeat, there are two previous releases that also explore the fusion of chip with acoustic styles available on Breakbeat’s Bandcamp titled 22:06 (which, interesting fact, was originally released on Andrew Kilpatrick’s blog/label The Waveform Generators) and DELTA. It’s fascinating to be able to listen to those two albums and hear the leaps and strides Breakbeat Heartbeat has made honing this unique style. With such growth apparent from these three releases, Breakbeat Heartbeat is definitely a rising talent.

I love the pay-what-you-want business model, by the way. I personally believe that there should not be a financial barrier between people and experiencing music. Supporting the artist if you have the means is absolutely vital and if you can afford it, you should pay them. But with the pay-what-you-want model, that payment is more than a transfer of funds for a product, it’s a “thank you”. I think that’s an important distinction. Music as “the gift given” instead of “the product sold” bridges the gap between artist and fan.

Breakbeat Heartbeat’s HOLD ON is a gift given. Take a listen below, then go say thank you.

Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love :)

Breakbeat Heartbeat Links:
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

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Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 (Tracks 12-16)

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Sup y’all? =) Da Prez here. Time for me to take my first crack at reviewing some of the most excellent Volume 2 tracks! To be specific, the wonderfully wild variety of styles that = tracks 12 through 16!

Track #12: Riparian Woodland by sleepytimejesse

sleepytimejesse is one of the many “new artists” (i.e. previously unheard of by me) to grab a spot on Volume 2 (I blame Kuma for the introduction). This SunVox creation (& admittedly Jesse’s very first!) is potentially the most beautiful track on the entire compilation. It’s an atmospheric soundscape of an SNES OST feel (think Secret of Mana or Evermore) that truly does bring to mind a distinct vision of a deep woodland grove. I could easily enjoy an entire album of this sort of peaceful, relaxing chipmusic, a style that isn’t attempted near enough in chiptune imho.

Track #13: Just Missed You by Joshua Morse

Per the (exceptional) norm for him, Joshua Morse brought the funk with his first ChipWIN submission “Just Missed You”. If you’re familiar with his previous Ubiktune.org “Waveform” releases, this track will sound wonderfully familiar; FM slap bass, SNES sampled leads/synths, tasty drumming, & some lovely piano work. Basically it’s a little over 4 minutes of funktastic Morse composition 101, which is something that I’ll always be exceptionally pleased by.

Track #14: Miracle Max & The Cliffs of Insanity by Square Therapy

Another newcomer both to ChipWIN & chipmusic in general, Jason Doss blasts onto the scene with this fantastically composed high octane chiprock anthem. Created using a combo of FL Studio & LSDj, this track is chock full of tasty lead riffage & ultra catchy melodies. While the nod to Anamanaguchi is indeed there (rarely a bad thing when properly executed, as this most definitely is!), Jason’s metal roots & other musical influences shine thru enough to easily set this apart in its own right. If “Miracle Max” tickles your fancy, don’t miss his equally amazing debut EP (+ guitars!), & learn more about him via his recent interview with Kuma!

Track #15: Realms by Auxcide

A returning ChipWIN champion, Auxcide brings the chipprog to Vol.2 like only he can. Clocking in at 8:42, this 2xLSDj space jam is hands down the loooooongest track on the compilation, but so utterly entrancing that the time flies by without notice. Composed of so many different intricate movements and sections, “Realms” flows almost like an energy infused piece of classical music meets chiptune. SURREAL. The only thing moreso is experiencing his music in a live setting, which I was extremely fortunate enough to get a chance to do at BRKFest 2013. If you get a similar chance, DON’T MISS IT. And buy the man a all of the Sam Adams Cherry Wheat while you’re at it.

Track #16: Distress Signal by ArcticMetal

“Distress Signal” starts off sounding a bit like your garden variety LSDj track. And then suddenly BOOM: extremely infectious melodic hooks all up in yo’ face!! Quite honestly, I find this track to be one of the biggest earworms on the entire compilation; I rarely get past it without clicking “back/rewind/etc” at least a couple of times. Catchy hooks aside, this song as a whole is categorized by a strong, overarching sense of determination. It’s as if ArcticMetal’s drive to make the Vol.2 cut manifested itself directly into a chiptune track. And damn, did it EVER work (I still get goosebumps when I listen to this jam!).

And that sums up my rambling for today! Be sure to catch the next Vol.2 installment on the following Wednesday by one of our ever-growing number of talented bloggers! In the meantime, hit up the sexy links below to find more glorious chipmusic from this article’s chipartists!

Much \m||m/,
President Hoodie

Relevant Links:

sleepytimejesse
sleepytimejesse.com | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Joshua Morse
jmflava.com | Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Square Therapy
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

Auxcide
Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

ArcticMetal
Facebook Soundcloud

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