Two and a half years ago, I had the honor of reviewing an album that heavily altered my perception of chipmusic. That album was ‘GLITCH’ by LukHash, and its smooth fusion of genres blew me away; so much so that it became a permanent addition to my playlists. While I missed reviewing the musical artisan’s October 2018 release, ‘GHOSTS’, he’s quickly come out with yet another mindblowing, genre-defying release with ‘BETTER THAN REALITY’. Plug in your headphones and prepare yourself…this is one hell of a ride.
Cityfires’ latest release is fire.That pun is too easy not to make, but I really mean it. With buoyant emotional synthpop, some of the most magnetic sound design I’ve heard all year, and fascinating lyrics – this album’s spirit is most deserving of the title “adventure” out of all that I’ve written about. It’s full of surprises and seriously fine-tuned, with tracks like ‘The Tangle’ trimmed down to interesting ideas, while others such as the titular song take the time they need for a core feeling to hit home.
Full to the brim with electric melody lines, immersive sound design, and creative mixing decisions, this fifteen-track masterpiece never sacrifices quality for quantity. Tight vocal tracks are infused with textured electronica, and organic instrumentation as well. Instrumentals are just as diverse: ‘Daybreak Apparatus’ echoes the peppy videogame joy of earlier ChipWIN comps, while ‘Dreamshifting’ feels like some more recent chiptune which draws from mathrock. Alternatively, ‘Mothfold’ defies description. The whole album is kinetic, and really integrated, a trip through clear landscapes and sights to behold.
With two releases in the same month you would expect this to be the latter of a two-part series. Even so, ‘Am Happy’ is Pulsing’s debut on Japan-based international net label Cheapbeats. Pulsing, a trio based out of Illinois, brings live guitar and drums into their pieces to create a raw energy that feels like a mix between harder grunge and the early works of fellow chip band from France, Please Lose Battle. What we get as a result is an upbeat album full of heavy guitar, melodic exposition and accompanying arp blips; one of the first ways I could describe it was as ‘a manic pixie dream-rock concert’. If that sounds like a fun time to you, keep reading after the jump for some examples.