Hey everyone, DjjD here. Actually, first time here! As I’ve been involved with producing, composing and video game remixing in the past, I figured now was as good a time as any to write about music that I like. I contacted President Hoodie to tryout for the blog, and voilà! I can now haz blog! And on that note, here’s my review on ‘Diad’!
There is a reason Ubiktune is hugely revered.Featuring artists such as virt, Blitz Lunar, and Shnabubula; contributing a series of undeniably fantastic albums, they’re a force to be reckoned with. Offering quite possibly the best of what the chiptune macrocosm has to offer, this (fairly) recent release by Diad, a combination of chipartists Heosphoros and Tadpole, continues that trend with the best of two worlds: chiptune and progressive metal.
It’s one of the best chiptune albums I have ever heard. The combined euphony of chip guitar riffs and dreamy leads is mind-boggling. The truth is no one can be told what Diad is. You have to hear it for yourself. However, as a blogger I will do my best to convey my feelings of this album to you in a language you feel most comfortable with. It goes something like this:
“h0LY 5h17, 7h15 15 AN aw350M3 aL8UM.”
But if I had to go into a few tracks…
First track: “Pillars of Creation”
This is my favorite track off this album. With an intro that screams a quest on a faraway land, wisps of cool air; ocean breeze on the horizon, you can already tell it’s off to a great start. As the track continues, the progressions change, the mood swells with diversity and the atmosphere is so thick you could stand on it.
Second track: “Dimension-Reversing Dualities”
One of the most high energy tracks of the bunch; this one is nuts. Taken from Bandcamp: “Set in the 1930s, Dimension-Reversing Dualities takes you on a journey within the life of a depressed suicidal housewife and the outcome of her untimely death.” Deep stuff. This track has its fair share of variety, going back and forth between more intense phrases and the more subtle background pads.
If you’re looking for a mind melting experience, I highly recommend this album. It’s loud, it’s mean, and I can’t say I’ve heard anything quite like it. The instrumentation is so good, it’ll leave you wanting more. Unsatisfied? Try some links at the bottom of this page.
Get this album and understand the truth for yourself.
Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here with another edition of my monthly chip & beer special! Unlike the debut write-up on Solarbear & Pabst, this one is very unfortunately not being composed from a wonderful condo balcony in idyllic Pensacola Beach, Florida….
*THIS* was the view. Exactly.
That regrettable consideration aside, time to get on with the write-up! Today I’ll be covering both one of my very favorite chipartists & beers, a combination of which could (appropriately) rock the entire cosmos itself:
Sam Adams Cherry Wheat & Auxcide.
I should honestly just stop here. Anyone who has sampled either (even the skeptical crew of last Sunday’s episode of ‘Getting Weird With Nole & Josh‘) understands 1000%.
But for those of you that haven’t had either existence altering experience, allow me to elucidate! As many of you are well aware by this point (i.e. thanks to my endless harping about it :3 ), I consider Sam Adams Cherry Wheat to be a modern marvel of brewing ingenuity. A FANTASTIEXCELLENT wheat ale laced with subtle hints of both honey and cherry, resulting in what I consider a damn near perfect brew. And #REALTALK: I’m not typically a huge fan of honey or cherry flavoring in my beverages. But something about the way that this well known Boston brewery incorporates both flavorings into said ale leaves me in pure love/lust to consume it’s delightful alcoholic beverage with wild abandon!!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Regarding its equally AMAZEBALLS chiptune counterpart, Bryan Dobbins aka Auxcide, my love affair with his ethereal yet driving, progtastic yet danceable, epic space themed chipmusic hybrid began shortly after discovering his track (DAT BREAKDOWN!!! <3) on the ‘Pxl-Bot One Year Later‘ compilation in June 2012. This lead to my immediate discovery and appropriately hyperbolic (of course! ;) videogamedj.com review of his debut LSDjx2 album ‘of Atoms and Stardust’. Fast forward through a series of other fantasticsingles, a remix album, an EP, & various live events (BRKFest 2013 anyone??) and you have what I STILL seriously consider to be one of the most well put together amalgamates of chiptune & electronic music that the current scene has to offer.
His most recent (April 2013) two part EP ‘[ Dimensions ]’ is what keeps pulling me back with a ferocity, however. Four tracks x2 (first set chip+, 2nd set all LSDj) epitomize all that is Auxcide in just under 30 minutes of exceptional music: from the absolutely soaring opening track ‘Astral’ and joyous dancing revelry of ‘Oversoul’, to the extraordinary build-up-palooza frenzy of ‘Spirit’ and enormously dense title track ‘Dimensions’, Auxcide crafts a release that transcends your “general chiptune album” in damn near every way possible.
For me personally, it really all comes back to ‘Oversoul’, which, using the full scope of powers invested in my made-up Presidential wuttehfurkevar, I declare to be yet another epic anthem of chiptune and/or life in general.
Or I could just sum up this entire damn write-up with Bryan’s sublime summation of why he both composes and loves chiptune so much:
“BECAUSE IT MAKES PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD INTO A FAMILY”
Well put, son. Well put indeed. ♥♥♥
Tune in next time for another fantastically ridiculous, ridiculously fantastic chip & beer pairing! In the meantime, enjoy some Sam Adams Cherry Wheat & Auxcide (i.e. one of the best pairings of quality beer & music that this world offers)! And, if at all possible, don’t miss the most excellent IRL opportunity to enjoy this delightful combination during Bryan’s main stage chip showcase debut at MAGFest 12 this coming January!
Until then, CHEERS TO ALL OF YA!!
The ending of one journey manifests the beginning of another. As many of our readers may know, the performance at BRKFest 2013 marked the end of SMILETRON; one of the most beloved and prolific artists in chipmusic. It was an amazing, bittersweet set filled with emotion. But you don’t have to take my word for it, Hoodie and Chip Mom gave an excellent firsthand account in their post-BRKfest interview with Kuma on this very blog.
Shortly thereafter, the SMILETRON archives was curated and released through Noisechannel. It’s an absolutely staggering body of quality work spanning 26 albums over a period of 6 years; an accomplishment that many artists strive to achieve over a lifetime. I can’t speak for all the fans, but as for myself, wanting more felt greedy. Yet it was still so hard to see such a pillar of the chiptune community and beyond come to an end! Fortunately for everyone, it is as much a part of this musicians nature to create and explore as it is for a bee to make honey.
At the time of this writing, we are already 3 EPs in on a new adventure with Tri Angles! And just in case there’s anyone out there with any trepidations about the new project, let me allay them for you right now. Mr. Angles delves further into new realms of sonic excellence, using chip sounds as a launching pad and adeptly blending multiple styles and genres in order to create something magical. But really, was there anyone who thought that their ears weren’t in good hands?
Right out of the gate of his first release ‘STARGAZER’, energetic guitar riffs merge with soaring, high-pitched vibrations to create a track full of invigorated ambience with a side of badass in ‘RENEGADE’. ‘SLIPSTREAM’ follows suit and features 2 leads that ebb and flow from dueling with each other one moment, to working in perfect harmony the next. The album closes on a tranquil note and exhibits a delightfully playful interplay between the leading melodic tones and the bassline of the title track.
Tri Angles takes things down a notch and ups the chillwave in his second EP, ‘OUT THERE’. The title track stirs up an ethereal mixture of wailing guitar and groovy bass. It then promptly ends my heretofore silence on the masterful percussion found throughout this music. The intricate beats are endlessly interesting and form a solid foundation to Mr. Angles’ sound. At the 3:00 mark, they take center stage and encase the soundscape like a shell, forming what feels like (with headphones) an overhead wall of sound that is buckling under pressure. ‘NOWHERE’ featuring Karle Moulden takes us further into new styles with subdued chiptune forming the backdrop to an extremely soulful and plaintive blues guitar. ‘DISCONNECTION’ drifts and recedes into the listener’s subconcious before gently ending the transmission.
The final piece of the trifecta is ‘VENTURE’, and it does just that. ‘AFTERBURN’ blasts off with controlled intensity; a sharp static effect is joined by growling bass and an increasingly frenetic beat, culminating into a glorious glitchfest! ‘BUSINESS’ ventures even further off the beaten path, adopting a world music vibe and incorporating acoustic guitar with click-clack percussion that seriously sounds like sampled kitchenware. Brilliant! In the title track and album finisher, another beautifully rich tapestry of sound is created. Little sonic stars shimmer in the background throughout this piece, creating an atmosphere that is just mesmerizing. Also, there is something about that *pop* sound at the 44 second mark when the song starts to take off that is just so satisfying!
The difficult part about reviewing Tri Angles’ music is that it may be easy to describe, but hard to fully convey. There is still something missing here… You, the listener, are a vital participant in the experience! You must bring your own thoughts and feelings to the journey and form your own meanings. What I can do without hesitation is wholeheartedly recommend that you take the trip and support this treasure of an artist. You can be sure that all of us here at ChipWIN HQ will be locked to Mr. Angles’ frequency for the foreseeable future, excitedly looking forward to his next transmission.
Hey there, guys and gals! We’ve made it to the final five tracks of the Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 compilation, and what a journey it’s been. I had the honor of writing about the first tracks on the album, and now I also have the honor of providing a (hopefully) fitting closing set of track reviews. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Track #47: Drop – [GUN], Equip – [COOKIES] by Ethan Rex
Ethan Rex’s ChipWIN debut is one of those tracks that just makes you smile as you listen to it. The mood is set at the beginning of the track with a bright melody and skillfully accentuated percussion. Static-sounding effects feel like waves crashing on a shore, and helps the listener experience a kind of euphoria that would be experienced on a long-needed vacation. The song transitions into a more excited swing close to the end while still maintaining the overall vibe of the song. My favorite part of ‘Drop – [GUN], Equip – [COOKIES] would have to be the calmer midsection; it provides a pretty big contrast to the other parts of the song, and provides a really nice segue into the ending.
Track #48: Prom Fight by Weird Bananas
Swedish chipartist Weird Bananas has been producing music for some time, but ‘Prom Fight’ marks his entry into the ChipWIN community. A quieter percussion lets the hard-hitting leads develop throughout the song, although I thought at times the percussion was maybe a little bit too quiet for my tastes. The melody is incredibly catchy; I found myself humming along to it without even realizing I was doing so at first. I really enjoyed the differences in rhythm between the solos and the main melody of the track. Weird Bananas’ other works can be found on both his Bandcamp and has previously maintained a presence on 8BC; I’d highly recommend checking out some of his other tracks.
Track #49: Atomic Jill by Kommisar
If I had to pick one track on the compilation that could be considered my personal favorite, it would be this one. Yet another fellow member of the FlashFlashRevolution community, Kommisar also makes his ChipWIN debut in ‘Atomic Jill’. A heavy kick, intricate drum patterns, and absolutely phenomenal melodies are the bulk of the first half of the track. In the second half, Kommisar crafts a blistering solo that transitions seamlessly into a key change, and ends on a sudden, exciting note.
Track #50: Horus by Vegas Diamond
Vegas Diamond’s ‘Horus’ has an extremely distinct feel from the other tracks on the compilation. A majority of the songs on ChipWIN: Volume 2 are energetic and fast-paced. ‘Horus’, on the other hand, takes it down a notch and adds a layer of complexity in its peculiar, progressive-influenced melodies. Hip-hop inspired percussion also helps to give the track a truly unique sound. The track was, admittedly, a difficult listen for me the first time through. However, after having listened to it a second time, I realized just how much I appreciated its strange and mysterious tone.
Track #51: FM Galactic Girl by PROTODOME
The Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 compilation closes in a similar manner to Volume 1 – with a short, calming track by chiptune artist PROTODOME. This track, in my opinion, is a perfect ending to a marvelous album. The bouncy bassline to the track complements the main melody, and PROTODOME’s construction of arpeggios is something that I particularly enjoy throughout this track. Strangely enough, ‘FM Galactic Girl’ and ‘Four Color Hero’ – the closing track from Volume 1 – both run for 1 minute and 36 seconds. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!
This concludes The ChipWIN Blog team’s review of the Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 compilation. On behalf of the CWB, I’d like to extend our thanks to both everyone who made this compilation possible and to all of the members of the Chiptunes = WIN community for being so fantastic. I would personally like to thank each of the ChipWIN blog writers for the hard work they put into reviewing this compilation and keeping a steady stream of content for our wonderful readers like you, who deserve the biggest thanks of all! Stay tuned, as there’s plenty more goodness to come!
Howdy, ChipWINers! Professor Oakes here to administer the initial dose of Chip Treatment for your eyes and ears! It is a great pleasure to write my first edition on ‘Noisechan & Nugget: Adventures in Chiptunes’ album, which debuted on Bandcamp April 12th, 2013.
Released by Ubiktune, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ was a yearlong labor of love that Kris ‘TrueStar’ Kaufman helped catapult into the chip scene through her diligent project management and love for anything chip. Produced and mastered by Jake ‘Virt’ Kaufman, video game music/chiptune aficionado and Kris’s husband of 5 years, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ is surely a contribution to this kitschy community to be remembered for years. Gracing Bandcamp with 12 memorable tracks and delightful album artwork by Kabakism, the album opens with ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ composed by Virt, who also makes an appearance later on in the album in the track titled ‘The Artichoke King’. It is revealed in the album credits that the ‘Artichoke King’s’ identity is Nugget Kaufman, Jake and Kris’s 5-year-old Puggle, fan favorite, and Noisechan Radio’s mascot. With a catchy melody and heartwarming lyrics, ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ alludes to Virt’s heavy roots and passion for chiptunes. To no surprise, he was capable of masterfully creating a memorable introduction to the album itself, and of course a track that many listeners of Kris’s radio show ‘Noisechan Thursdays’ on Arecibo Radio are well acquainted with.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ continues with TQ-Jam’s track ‘Promise’, whose dreamy rhythm pays homage to his recognizable Famicom craft and quality release titled ‘September Air’. Starting off with a mellow introduction, the track picks up speed around the :14 mark and takes his listeners on an euphoric ride to chiptune land with stunning key strokes and classic 8 bit background buildups that can’t help but make you fall in love. With a soothing melody, ‘Promise’ is certainly a track you’d expect to soundtrack a couple’s first dance, or even one’s dream of flying through the air as its pop-ish sound becomes an earbug that you just can’t help to forget or hum throughout the day.
Coda’s ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’, the third track of the album, is a perfect segway from TQ-Jam’s ‘Promise’. His kinetic, space-like intro is a great accompaniment to the song as a whole as he brings to life the child in us all with MIDI guitar riffs and foot tapping kicks. With a sensational introduction, ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’ is a totally tubular release that is very reminiscent of a vintage game show introduction. By the latter half of the track, Coda has done a fantastic job at packaging it all together with the addictive double bass that we all crave as we’re left in a galactic trance bobbing our heads.
Hally’s ‘Bgrusko Meow’ leads you on a cat and mouse chase (pun intended!) through its addictive, frenetic build up to a sudden BPM decrease in the second half of the song. Reminiscent of a classic 16-bit side-scrolling adventure game, ‘Bgrusko Meow’s’ catchy melody and extreme high energy is one of my favorite tracks on this album, as its bright and pop-ish sound brings a new and innovative composition to the album at large. Rekchadam’s ‘Catch That Girl, She Stole My Heart!’ is very reminiscent to Masato Nakamura’s memorable contributions to ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’. I can’t help but think of grinding through each level at warp speed to collect as many rings as I can to be awarded those sweet, sweet Chaos Emeralds because of the track’s enticing melody and double bass pedal kicks that build up your heart rate.
Fear of Dark’s ‘Noisechan Inspection Theme: On the Case’, Norrin Radd’s ‘Rejection’, Surasshu’s ‘Midnight Stroll’, an0va’s ‘It’s Only a Doghouse Right?’, Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’ and Blitz Lunar’s ‘Hidden Heaven’ also make appearances on ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’. Displaying the high-quality craft we’ve come to expect from these talented artists, each of these tracks are unique and impressionable as not one sounds like another, but they certainly have one thing in common—a recognizable, addictive sound and a chiptune all star vibe. Ranging from a classic, 1970’s funk-esque feel in ‘Noisechan Inspection Team: On the Case’, to a side scrolling shoot-em-up style similar to that of ‘Contra 4’ in Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’, the latter half of this high quality album finishes strong.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ can be downloaded through Bandcamp at ‘name your price’ (scroll past the links below to find it at the bottom of this write-up!). All album proceeds are fully given to Child’s Play Charity, which seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through video games.
This concludes today’s inaugural edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! If you enjoyed it, be sure to tune in again next month (or maybe sooner??) as this monthly column continues! And in the meantime, enjoy the rest of this month’s upcoming lovely articles! Professor Oakes signing off!
Yo! Welcome back to Raw Cuts With Kuma! This time around, I hit up chipmusic.org to scope out some talent to interview, and oh lawd, did I find someone special! A young man with skill to spare, this underrated chiptune artist shattered his silence to great acclaim when he popped his performance cherry earlier this year at North Door! This highly adept musician recently took the time to sit down with me and talk about his music, the people who inspire him, and the dedication he has to the craft of chiptune. So without further ado, I present to you my interview with Matthew Rodriguez, aka Star Fighter Dreams!
Kuma: So before we get started, there’s something I gotta say. I spent time listening to your music on SoundCloud and I gotta admit, not only did I like what I heard, but I’m now saddened by the fact that I missed your open mic session at Blipfest last year!
Star Fighter Dreams (SFD): oh no that one was from 2011! I was on the roster open mic 2012 but never got called. I was disapointed but no worries
Kuma: Well at least now I can say I didn’t miss an awesome set I could have made it to, ’cause god damn man! Your stuff is good, bro! It’s lively as hell, and it’s got more polyphony to it than a lot of other chip I’ve heard, but I take it that’s on account of your set up! Tell me, what exactly do you use to make your music and how’d you get into chip in the fist place?
SFD: Okay. Let’s start with getting into chip music.
I got into chiptune around early 2008. March, I think, while I was browsing around on the then relevant MySpace for electronic powerpop bands, I came across a profile picture of Sabrepulse jumping off a table.
I thought to myself “What is this guy all about?”. So I clicked on his profile and when it loaded up, some of his early chiptune works started playing. At first I was pretty meh because I had no idea of what the process was.
Kuma: I think I know exactly which picture you’re talking about. What was it that was the turning point for you? When did you go from saying “meh” to “whoa”?
SFD: There was link to the 8bitpeoples website on his profile, so I clicked on that. At the time, 8bitpeoples and 2 Player Productions had just finished their collaboration documentary called ‘Reformat The Planet’. On the 8bitpeoples website, the first page was the trailer for the documentary that was being premiered mere weeks away in Austin for the SXSW film fest.
That trailer changed my life.
In it was the framework for me to find out what kind of music I wanted to make and the ethos I had been looking for all along. It didn’t glorify nostalgia for video games, it glorified people and their creative abilities to make this technology do what it was never designed to do.
After I saw that trailer I began collecting. Information, trackers, albums, anything that could help find out more about this awesome creative force seemingly brimming beneath the surface. After much deliberation, I bought a Game Boy and my first LSDJ cartridge in late August/early September 2008
Kuma: Wow. That’s quite a story. I’m glad you took that from that movie. While, admittedly, I’ve yet to get around to seeing that documentary myself (gasp!), that philosophy behind the tech we use to make the music is one I’ve always held: that we as a disposable society aren’t pushing our tech to it’s fullest potential. Chiptune represents us pushing to the edge.
When you finally picked up that Game Boy, how did it feel in your hands? Was using LSDJ intimidating or did you have prior musical experience you could carry over into chiptune production?
SFD: I had used an emulator to run a demo of LSDJ to try and figure out the controls. Trackers have a huge learning curve, and I admittedly had no idea what I was doing most of time using the emulator, but I eventually figured out how to input notes and move between screens.
Other than that, though, I was working from a non-music perspective. I hadn’t used an instrument or read music since I was in 8th grade so it was also daunting in that respect. Luckily, I took a music theory course in college and that laid a good ground for me to experiment with music theory while also learning it
Kuma: Very nice. Now, when you first started to feel confident with what you were making on LSDJ, did you decide you wanted to play live soon after, or did you feel there was still something missing?
SFD: I had my first full set as Star Fighter Dreams this June so I guess you could say there was something missing. Lurking on 8bitcollective and CM.O, I’ve learned there were plenty of people willing to get into chip and write music but only because they thought it was cool.
I felt that my music should show respect to those that came before me and at least make people feel good, which is I have only just started playing shows and still haven’t released any proper EP or album.
Kuma: I noticed that, actually. I scoured the net for more music of yours beyond what was on your SoundCloud, such as Bandcamp, NoiChan, ucollective, CM.O, and even Myspace. Nothing. Nothing at all. But from what I did hear, it was definitely very cool.
Who would you say are your biggest influences musically? Is EDM something you were always into prior to chiptune or did it take chiptune to get into it?
SFD: I was definitely a fan of electronic music before hand, but I really got much more into it once I started making it. My biggest influences currently are: IAYD, Bit Shifter, Rage Against The Machine, Bath Aide, Saskrotch, Arcade High and many more artists.
Oh just fyi, I have song on TX Chip Compilation 1 and there is a super old song still on MySpace somewhere. That one I believe is like the third song I ever wrote on LSDJ! LOL! Memories.
Kuma: Oh, I’ll have to look up the Texas chip one, but when I went looking on Myspace, it gave me a broken link page. That, in turn, resulted in profound sadness.
Is there anything we can expect to see of you in the future? Any appearances at major festivals, or perhaps an album form you in the near future?
Kuma: Nice!!!! After having seen IAYD recently, as well as listening to your music, I can definitely say this is a show I wish I could hit up!
SFD: It’s in December, so save up and come on down and see how we do it down here
Kuma: Oh man! December? That’s so close to MAGFEST! Oh man, don’t do that to me, bro!
SFD: Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Y’know you wanna!
But yeah man, next time I’m in New York, the drinks are on me dude.
Kuma: Like wise, bro: next time I’m down south and I know you’re around, all the pabst 5 dollars can buy…I’m pretty sure that’s all of it! Anyway, is there anything you’d like to say in closing to our readers out there?
SFD: It’s Star Fighter Dreams here saying it’s three words, not Starfighter Dreams, that’s dumb.
But in all seriousness, expect some pretty cool things coming up and remember TX Chip is alive and we have some stellar talent here so don’t overlook that Lone Star State when thinking of chiptune.
Love from here in San Antonio,
Kuma: Awesome, bro! Thanks for doing this interview! This was a lot of fun!
SFD: Haha! Same here, man. You take it easy and keep being awesome.
Thanks again for tuning in with me here at Raw Cuts! Don’t forget to follow SFD on SoundCloud and like/follow Lazybit Collective so you can keep up with all the cool happenings in TX!