Archive for June, 2014

Aydan Appreciates: ‘Nadir’ by 4mat

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Hey, ChipWINners! Aydan here, ready to do some more appreciating on the newly rehosted blog!

4mat is a long-time resident of the chipmusic community, and many fans of chipmusic have either heard of him or his work before; he’s been producing music since the year 2000, if not earlier. In late May, 4mat released an album that has been composed piece by piece for about a year and a half. Titled ‘Nadir’, which literally translates to “the lowest possible point”, 4mat explores the themes of “…legacy, memory, and…self doubt” and takes his listeners along with him for a truly memorable ride.

The album opens with ‘Vampires (A through Z)’, a track with abundant polyrhythms, a catchy melody, and plenty of intricate touches to keep the song sounding fresh with each new listen. 4mat doesn’t quite stick to one particular tone or set of tones throughout his tracks, and as a result is able to create truly beautiful soundscapes for his listeners with each new song; this is certainly no exception. Dynamic changes, occasional use of octaves and arpeggiated chords, and stuttered, “sloppy” drum loops, as he calls them, make for a unique track.

Stuttered instrumentation, delay, and the usage of off-sync voices and polyrhythmic techniques are prevalent in a number of the tracks on ‘Nadir’. For example, the album’s namesake track features a melody in the beginning with an intentionally off-sync piano loop coming in not long after the main melody is established. A higher pitched, delayed version of the melody is layered over not long after this, and it creates for a gorgeous, artistic effect. The ending of the track catches the listener by surprise the first time around; the “poppier” sound to the last minute of the track works to provide a stark and well-composed contrast to the slightly less energetic tones of the earlier part of the track.

The eighth track, ‘Daisies’, is another excellent example of 4mat’s use of delay and polyrhythmic techniques. During a majority of the track, a quieter, panning voice with its own unwavering rhythm takes a comfortable spot behind the lead voices, which play out and are greatly strengthened by this particular technique. In his liner notes for the album, 4mat states that ‘Daisies’ arose “almost by accident” when he was stuck on the ending for ‘Vampires’. However, nothing in the track sounds accidental. Everything is calculated and perfect, from the dual rhythms of the melodies to the stuttered hi-hat. 4mat also states in his liner notes that he feels this track is his greatest personal success on the album.

Many of ‘Nadir’’s tracks give off a distinctly French vibe in terms of their composition. One of the tracks, ‘Oil on canvas’, calls to mind the work of legendary French electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre, one of the pioneers of the early worldwide electronic music movement. ‘Oil on canvas’ in particular also takes on a bit of a neo-classical tone close to the end, with a solitary piano bringing the song to a close with a number of descending notes, leading into a slow, ascendent decrescendo. Ambient, avant-garde tones can also be heard in ‘Waves rush to shore’ and the last track, ‘Solitude’. Permutations on simple chord sequences played on the piano are used to great effect, and are later combined with sawtooth waves and an instrumentation meant to imitate the sound of a choir in order create a simply beautiful tone.

‘Solitude’ is essentially a solo piano piece with an orchestral backing; no ‘chip’ is present in this track, but it’s the perfect ending to ‘Nadir’. Calm, soothing notes are played, with a minimal amount of chord usage in order to give the song a quiet, calm, and reflective nature. The entire album resolves on a major chord, and as one of the moods explored by 4mat throughout ‘Nadir’ is self-doubt, this could symbolize a positive resolution – reflecting on oneself and having a new outlook on life and affirmations about oneself.

‘Nadir’ is available as a free download on Bandcamp, and, as usual, I highly recommend a donation should you have the ability to do so. Memories are explored throughout the album, both in mood and through the riffs and samples used throughout the album. With a solid mixture between energetic, danceable hits and powerful, moving compositions, this album is further proof that 4mat is truly a talented musician, and this album was well worth the wait between his previous release, ‘Sans Titre’, and itself.

4mat:
Bandcamp | Facebook | Soundcloud | Twitter | Tumblr

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ChipWIN-tern Spotlight: ‘3P’ by Chipocrite

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You know, I find it amusing that Philadelphia and Richmond, VA have done a secret back-alley exchange of musicians recently. an0va is down here now, working at my alma mater, and Chipocrite decided to head back to Philly. And while who knows what an0va gets up to with his Amiga and hoard of floppy disks, we have pretty quantifiable evidence of what Chipocrite is up to – in addition to working on a new album and playing events like TooManyGames, AnimeNEXT, and the occasional Hard Rock Cafe appearance, he’s also composed the soundtrack to the upcoming game ‘EarthNight,’ coming to PS4 and PSVita next year. In honor of the game’s announcement at E3, as well as as a teaser for his upcoming album, he dropped ‘3P’ the other day – a three track EP showcasing some differently arranged versions of some songs that will appear in said game and new album.

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‘Truce’ is the track in the trailer for the game. It’s pretty standard Chipocrite – combination of rad guitar and tight chippy goodness. Listening to it evokes a pretty strong feeling of floating through space – which, from what I’ve gathered, is basically what you do in the game aside from pulling a Goku) and running along the backs of dragons and punching things. It just goes to show ol’ Paul knows how to use a Gameboy and a guitar to make you feel what he wants you to.

‘Little Computer People’ is a fun little high energy track that Paul has been playing live but has never actually featured on an actual release. I’m super jazzed about this being on here – I think he’s played this every time I’ve seen him live, but couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find it online, and apparently I lack the common sense to ask. But failures of common sense no longer prevail! It’s light, it’s fun, it’s got some pretty well crafted drums (something you may recall I like to praise people for when they do it well).  All in all, this track is definitely something you’ll want to slap on your workout mix to get you pumped!

‘Astronaut High School’ is an all-new track written just for the game, complete with INTENSE SOLO FUN TIME. It’s a song that tricks the listener – if you just focus on the melody, you start thinking “Wow, there’s not really a whole lot going on here.” If you take a second though, you’ll realize that the subtle drums and arpeggios in the background are filling in the gaps and that there’s a really solid song going on here. It definitely strikes me more as a soundtrack piece and less of an album piece. There are just certain songs you know are meant to be background music in a level as opposed to be taken on their own, and this is one of them. It definitely has lots of good energy to it, and rides the line between high energy and extremely chill.

As a side note, Dino Lionetti and Chris Burke helped produce this album, because of course they did, right? If you were Paul and you just happened to have two extremely talented friends willing to help you fiddle with your EP, you’d ask them to help too, wouldn’t you? So give it a listen. It’s got me pumped to hear everything else Chipocrite has got going on this year and into next year, and hopefully we won’t have to wait too much longer!

That’s all for now, folks – SEATS OUT.

Chipocrite Links
Bandcamp | Website | Twitter | Facebook

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8-Bit Banter with DjjD: ‘Helix’ by Casshern

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Hello hello everyone, been a while! Time for another DjjD review, specifically ‘Helix’ by Casshern.

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Debuting back in May of 2013, Casshern has been progressively been moving around the chiptune scene pushing the limits of what just one single DMG can do. His tracks consist of rich, deep melodic content; it’s truly amazing how not one track sounds similar to another. Sure, it’s all done with the same interface, but the way each track progresses is distinctly different from another. While some of the tracks might hit the ground running with fast tempos, Casshern shows a softer side towards the middle of the album.

Aureole

The first track of the album is quite the energetic toe-tapper. The fast paced drums keep the song driving while not being too overwhelming. The vibrant arpeggios in the background give a sense of euphoric frolicking and overall it’s a great way to begin this collection of tunes. The song switches up around 1:20, causing an almost alarming panic mood to the soundscape. A sense of urgency is enacted, and you’re left in the frenzy tumbling for safety. Very energetic, very awesome.

Dreamscape

A bit slower paced, this tune allows the listener to chillout a little. It explores another side of Casshern’s music and while it’s not made for the dance floor, it’s equally complex utilizing panned percussion, automated leads, and small stutters that makes for an intricate and dynamic arrangement. This is quite possibly my favorite track of the album. Whenever I hear a track like this, I begin to ponder the wonders of the universe within the deepest fathoms of my mind. One track comes to mind when I hear this.

Helix

The title track of the album, this one stands out on its own. Like the previous two entries, it displays a sense of expertise with the amount of variation and production techniques utilized. For the first minute, panning and automation take the front seat as the song unfolds. As I’m a sucker for long tracks, this is the longest one of the album. It has the most time, therefore it has to do more to keep the attention of the listener, and it definitely does. Smooth arps to a plucked lead, I begin to notice a pattern with Casshern’s music: He’s damn good with intros. He draws you in, and explores the range he can produce with one gameboy. It’s really incredible.

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I contacted Casshern (Daniel Park) about his album with a few questions to ask just what exactly inspired him to create this compendium of tunes.


DjjD: What was the first track you completed for “Helix” and did it inspire what the other tracks would sound like?

Casshern: Out of all the tracks on Helix, I ended up writing Exosphere first, and rather ironically, in the final production checklist, Exosphere ended up being the last song I did minor fixes to. My sound is derived from plenty of different sources, so it’s really unlike me to stick to a common theme in my music. I find that when I’m able to create many unique songs, I have a much better feel about the project as a whole than if I do when I have several songs that have the same motif or general theme. I reckon I will go into that mode of thinking for another release, but that’s news for a different day, I think.

DjjD: How long have you been composing/producing?

Casshern: I’ve been composing for many years, upwards of 15 years just coming up with different styles of music that I enjoyed writing, outside of my chiptune stuff, I have a small side project called Minished which is kind of a Post-Rock/ambient take on my unique writing style, where everything I tend to do flies in the face of conventional thought processes. That is going to be my main focus once I finish writing everything I want to for Casshern.

DjjD: Any reason behind the name Casshern?

Casshern: The project name itself came from the 1970s anime of the same name (also known as Robot Hunter Casshern). I absolutely love the premise behind it as it is literally the main basis for Mega Man, my childhood gaming hero. I just chose it for no other reason than it just sounding cool. I reckon because it’s the name of an anime I should probably change my name in the near future, but I want Helix to play out its life before I make any major changes to the project.

DjjD: What got you involved with using LSDJ?

Casshern: My start with LSDJ came when a good friend of mine, Pat Koch (Craphazzard) gave me an old bleepbloop cart which I now have locked away never to be touched because of how important it is to me. It took me a while to actually get into it though as at first I thought it was the toughest thing in the world to learn, tracking was, but that changed when I visited 8static, Philadelphia’s premier chiptune monthly stage, for the first time in September of 2012 and rediscovered chiptune. I fell in love immediately and by next January’s show, I had written my first LSDJ track. Mind you, everyone starts off horribly, and I was no exception when it came to my first foray into chiptune. Now I find it very easy to use, yet I’m always finding new things to do with it, which is why I love the platform so much. The possibilities are endless.

DjjD: Anything else you’d like to add or say to your fans?

Casshern: If there’s anything anyone can take away from my experience, I’d say never give up. You can take a break on things, but never be afraid to keep trying to reach your goals. You gotta take the first step before you can take the second and third, and the same goes for chiptune or any kind of music composition!


‘Helix’ is a well crafted, fine tuned piece of audible bliss. Working under very limited parameters, it’s a testament to the creativity of the artists who hold this piece of software above all others. Despite the amount of digital audio tools at the disposal of every person who lives on the internet today, sometimes it’s just best to remember the roots and stick with the classics. Great stuff!

I highly recommending checking out the rest of the tracks as some of these tracks were just some of my favorites, not necessarily yours.

Check out the links at the bottom, and thanks for reading!

Stay Classy,
DjjD

Casshern:
BandcampFacebook

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Hoodie Highlights… James York!

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Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here with the next installment of my new monthly interview series, ‘Hoodie Highlights’. Going to kick off a special series of interviews with this one, focusing on the folk that are part of the ChipWIN Volume 3 judges panel! (sans Dj CUTMAN, as Kuma just interviewed him recently). First up on that list is James York aka cheapshot of CheapBeats.net! ENJOY! (also, prepare for lots of goofy links… ;3 ).

Cheapshot live in action. Photo credit to Chiptography, chiptography.com

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Stoking the Forge: DataPort

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Another month has passed, good knights of the chiprealm, and that heralds the time in which another musical adventure is shared with you. I recently got wind of DataPort, a monthly chip show held in Portland, Oregon.  This month I managed to scrounge enough free time to hop in my car and drive north to check it out.  In short?  Totally worth it.  Everyone within carshot of ol’ stumptown ought to head on over and check it out.

DataPort is put together by the immensely talented Matt Hunter, co-organizer Sasha, and a select team of powerhouse aides.  The show originally came into existence in mid 2011, with Matt giving 2 Player Productions (yes, THAT 2 Player Productions) a hand putting together the first shows in the Backspace.  Their mission?  To bring the love of Chipmusic to the fine citizenry of Portlandia.  The stories told paint a beautiful picture, but alas, the Backspace had its own issues, forcing it to close.  Left without a regular venue, the event floated in limbo until February of this year.  It happened that Matt found himself opening for the band Stepdad, and they loved the chipsounds he was throwing down. They suggested that Matt ought to try reviving DataPort to share the awesome with the world, which brings us to roughly where we stand today.

This month’s show was held at the Hawthorne District‘s historic Alhambra Theater.  I cannot stress enough just how welcoming this party was.  Before the venue had even opened, Matt spotted my partner and I (thanks fresh ChipWIN merch!) wandering Hawthorne Street, and gave us a heads up on how things would be going down.  Once we got inside, between the cozy quarters and the plush leather couch, it was hard not to simply feel right at home.  It wasn’t long before the barkeep was serving up beers and the show was getting underway.

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The Adventures of Danny Pryor: Pop Culture Expo

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Hello and welcome to “The Adventures of Danny Danny Pryor”, my brand new event review column! For about two weeks I have gone on a nonstop chiptune campaign, working with a lot of wonderful people along the way. Here is a quick summary of one of my adventures, the great people I came into contact with, and a few video game references along the way.

POP CULTURE EXPO (TACTICS)

World Map of Final Fantasy Tactics

On Memorial Day weekend, I found myself in Wilmington, MA for the Pop Culture Expo: an event focusing on celebrities, comics, and everything nerd. I arrived there with my fellow co-host Bory to setup what would be known as the geekbeatradio stage. With the help of our trusted sound wizard, we showcased some of the finest music this side of the Finath River.

I mean…
JUST LOOK AT THAT STAGE!!!

& LOOK AT THAT MC FACEPALM!!!

Glenntai at Pop Culture ExpoGlenntai held a tutorial on Famitracker, showing people young and old exactly how to make da chip while at the same time melting faces with his music.

Robotsexmusic at Pop CultureRobotsexmusic‘s class was a bit more impromptu, as people tend to just rush the stage when he starts to play.

Astro Logic and Remy PK at Pop Culture ExpoTwo people that I was EXTREMELY happy to see play were Janx and AutoReMi-PK since I don’t see much of them unless it is MAGfest season, and they did not disappoint! Janx played a few chip-hop tracks, while AutoReMi-PK played a version of Chai Kingdom that had me jumping up and down with joy! We were also graced by the sweet tunes of Astro Logic, Best Defense, and Bifflecup! Astro Logic played a lot of his classic tunes but a version of “Forgot about Dre” got people fired up like “dey was in da club”. Best Defense had the biggest setup, running a laptop, MPC, and of course, a game boy! He graced us with some tailor-made beats that he slowly evolved by the end of his set.  Bifflecup played a full set of his sonata chiptunes and even played a few new tracks he has been working on. His classical music style plus his Milkytracker skills make for a phenomenal combination.

On Saturday night, I was fortunate to have all these amazing people support me as I opened up the after party which was headlined by Kristen Nairn, also known as Hodor from the HBO series “Game of Thrones”. Special thanks to Glenntai for being the perfect hype man to announce me to the stage and to Best Defense for providing me with this SWEET YOUTUBE VIDEO of my performance.

GROUP PHOTO! at Pop Culture ExpoI am extremely thankful for everyone coming and everyone who stayed and helped take everything apart afterwords. Quite possibly one of the best weekends I have had in a LONG WHILE. Special thank you to Maddie and Pixel Pixie Apparel & Promotions for not only making the AMAZING geekbeatradio banner for us, but for supporting us no matter how crazy Bory and I may be.

BONUS PICTURE WHERE I TURNED INTO A SAILOR MOON CHARACTER AND REMY STARTED TO MALFUNCTION

Links Yo!

Pop Culture Expo
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter

geekbeatradio
Homepage | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr WEMF Radio

Boston8Bit
Music
| Merch | Facebook | Twitter

Astro Logic
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Merch | Facebook | Twitter

AutoReMi-PK
Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

Best Defense
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | FacebookTwitter

Bifflecup
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter

Diamond Machine
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

Glenntai
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Twitter

Janx
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter | HYPESQUAD!!

MC Facepalm
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

Robotsexmusic
Bandcamp | Soundcloud | Facebook | Twitter

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