A lot of the chipscene is based in eitherthe Americas, Europe, or Asia. So many talented artists come from these four continents that we often forget about good ol’ Australia. With the recent influx of interest in Square Sounds Melbourne 2018, and a steady flow of music coming from Australian chipmusicians over the last few years, now seems like the perfect time to review one of the most recent works to come out of the region. Calavera is known for his down-tempo bass-filled bangers of tracks, and his most recent work, ‘Kintsugi’, certainly delivers them. We’ll be looking at three tracks from this album in-depth, so buckle up for one hell of a ride.
[Editor’s note: I nearly un-retired from review writing to cover this magnificent new release composed by one of my original childhood inspirations; Tanaka-san’s Metroid OST is largely responsible for initially engaging my interests in both VGM and chip, if not music in general! I’m glad I didn’t, however, as Paul has done a marvelous job conveying his own enthusiasm and appreciation for ‘Django’ as a chipmusic composer himself. Regardless, please enjoy this lovely take from a member of the new chiptune generation on one of the forefathers of chipmusic’s latest works! ~Brandon L. H.]
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know how laudative and enthusiastic I can get. But today is a bit different. Here I am, listening to this album again, reading up on Tanaka-san’s bio to research the article, recalling the mind-bending experience that was seeing him live at Square Sounds Tokyo last September. Here I am, writing about the article, instead of the album or the artist, trying to sound meta and smart, keeping my composure, because I don’t want you to know that words are failing me.
I don’t want this article to be a string of enthusiastic platitudes and generic descriptions of the music. I love this album and I want my review to do it justice, beyond the fact that I’m still starstruck and not in any fit state to be objective.
And even if this album refuses to fit nicely in a traditional 2k-word album review, which it probably will, I’m still gonna give it my best shot. Here we are. Let me tell you about Chip Tanaka, and his album, ‘Django’.
This beautiful cover art shows the many qualities of Chip Tanaka’s music: Eclectic, goofy, organic, multi-facetted and good for your health.
Hello! It’s my first review of the year so I thought I’d begin with a compilation straight from down under. Released on 18th January, ‘The Great Australian Barbecue Bash’ compilation is the first of its kind featuring an all aussie line up with all the artists, covering an fellow artist from the country. It’s a fantastic line up, with prolific artists such as Ctrix, Tomfoolery and The Family Jewellery, Calavera, and many more!
Hey y’all! =) Been a spell since I published an interview here on the blog; the final quarter of the year rarely shows me any quarter. haha That said, I’ve a really good one to kick off 2018! Featuring a cat that’s been involved in and around chiptune longer than probably most of us, and in various ways: composing his own music, performing live, modding gear, and managing various communities. Everyone welcome to the blog, Timothy Lamb aka Trash80!
Happy New Year ChipWINners! The artist that’s firing up my auditory nerves this month really needs no introduction. chibi-tech is a legend in the scene, and someone who’s work was instrumental in sinking Chiptune’s hooks into my heart. Her December release, ‘Psycho Somatic Generation’, was originally an exclusive Kickstarter stretch goal for Bitmap Books’ “NES/Famicom: a visual compendium” 2016 funding drive. Now its available for the whole world to hear, so hop past the fold to get a taste of how delicious these tunes are.
Straight away, it is self-evident that ‘Beyond Bounds‘ was the correct choice to open the album with. Soft, twinkling plucks combined with dreamily flavored square waves conjure a feeling of purposeful centering. A palpable feel of bringing one’s self to rest in light of excitement to come. That peacefulness gives way to a heart fire stoking breakaway mixing that uplifting wind with a crushing bassline and thick snares deeply reminiscent of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s soundtrack. Together, their breakneck speed is given an surf twinge, spurring an exciting adventure feel. These two motifs juggle back and forth for the duration of the track, not only mixing well, but serving as palette cleansers for one another and preparing a listener for wonderful compositions to come.
‘Sapient Amphibians on ATVs‘ elicits a very interesting sort of nostalgia. That fondness for the past mixed with a healthy amount of bitter frustration. Battletoads’ Turbo Tunnel was singularly one of the most infuriating levels I threw myself against as a child, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. However, the music kept pulling me back in for repeated high speed face splattering collisions with concrete walls. chibi-tech’s style and composition in this track ripped those memories up from the depths violently and wonderfully. The rapid clip to the drums, the jazzy bass tones, the bright and evenly paced melody mixes the obvious homage with chibi-tech’s own unique contributions into something so good that I almost want to play Battletoads again.
‘Smugface Mafia‘ is an excellent complete switch up of style, keeping that toe tapping pace alive, and adding an interesting Prohibition era flavor atop it. Fitting to the title, the track takes a turn for the nefarious, introducing minor chords, strained tones, and plenty of tension. These elements are mixed with enough contrasting lighthearted energy that an element of comedy pokes through in places. The strength of that light-hearted energy ebbs and flows throughout the track, leaving me wondering just how seriously one should take these self-satisfied ne’er do wells. Are they expert rum-runners who will sink you to the bottom of a river, or bumblers just barely staying out of the reach of Johnny Law? Either way, a good bit of music here.
As excellently chosen as its counterpart, ‘Return to Bounds‘ makes for a beautiful close to the album. Not just because it hearkens to the lovely closing of a hard-fought Metroid game, but because chibi-tech’s unique additions to that underlying theme leave a track that is as hopeful for the future as it is a closing to the past, especially when mixed with her signature pacing and crisply hitting instrumentation. This is just shy of five minutes that evokes a tinge of sadness that the album is over, but almost more-so encourages that the ending be accepted with energetic dance. By the end, the phrase ‘See you next mission’ can be seen in a much more eager light.
That’s just a handful of tracks from the album, and they’re all worth listening to. I’d highly suggest ‘Meta Within Meta‘, and ‘Young Crescent‘, as a couple honorable mentions. Regardless, I highly encourage anyone and everyone to pop on over to chibi-tech’s Bandcamp page and pick yourself up a copy of this album to enjoy extensively and repeatedly.
With that, I’m closing the Forge – so get out there, share the love, and enjoy yourselves some Chiptune!