Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here, excited to introduce our multi-writer, full track-by-track breakdown of our latest compilation, “CheapBeats = WIN“, a fantastic collaborative release between CheapBeats & ChipWIN!
Yes, it’s another all-in-one review featuring multiple writers from the blog, much like we did for TWG’s ACC release. In other words, time to review ALL OF THE THINGS. 8-)
My silly little introduction completed, let’s move onward to the first 5 track reviews by the decidedly dashing DjjD! Enjoy!
1. ‘Go Rocket Shoes!’ by Please Lose Battle
Wow, so much energy in this track by Please Lose Battle. ‘Go Rocket Shoes!’ calls for an intense ass bike ride, like damn. I can’t help but feel like I’m cruising down some long stretch of highway going 95 MPH while blasting this on my stereo. For real, how many cups of coffee did this one take? This tune is pure brilliance, featuring some excellent writing and direction. I’d never heard of Please Lose Battle before this release, but they’ll definitely be a go to artist for me from now on. 10 outta 10.
2. ‘Cool Story Bro’ by Mykah
This marks the first time I’ve listened to Mykah’s music since his release on Gamechops’ ‘Triple Triad’, and it does not disappoint! Showcasing an original song on this joint comp, Mykah demonstrates his skills in a minimalist fashion, implementing sharp plucks and pops, loud percussion, and detailed drum fills. This is both a very solid tune and a great reminder to stay tuned for Mykah’s future releases!
3. ‘Momentum Space’ by Alex Lane
Following in the same vein as ‘Go Rocket Shoes’, this song is insanely energetic and upbeat. Despite it’s short length – clocking in at 2:30 mins exactly – it’s action packed with all sorts of audible goodies. Chirpy intro to drums, large vocalized bass to complicated arpeggios patterns, there are so many little nuances in this one that complete the ride. And then suddenly, it ends. Not a bad thing by any means, as the abrupt end lends itself to the chaotic, yet controlled nature of the song. In summation,
‘Momentum Space’ ROCKS.
4. ‘A Little Tincture For the Knees’ by Musho
With its otherworldly vibe, Musho’s contribution to this comp is pretty fitting for the upcoming Halloween season. I love the way it starts out with that spooky sounding vibrato; it’s some straight up theremin status for real. At 43 seconds in, however, that reggae influenced groove is so down to earth that it makes down look up from how low you just got down (…wut?). To sum it up, I’ll make the questionable decision of quoting Keystone Light (the beer of choice, for this particular moment): “So smooth…”
…I’m sorry (not sorry).
5. ‘Lunar Escape’ by H-Pizzle
Out of the five I’m covering, H-Pizzle’s ‘Lunar Escape’ has the most unique introduction. Creating a weird, plucky buzzing murmur to get things started, the song quickly picks up into a full phrase, introducing square wave arps and some SID-sounding leads around
1:40. What a cool, dynamic track! While I don’t quite feel like I’m on the moon with this one, I’ll be darned it if I don’t feel like I’m soaring through space at lightspeed as it plays! This is a really outstanding track; I highly recommend it.
Ready to rock the next 5 tracks is the meaningfully marvelous Mirby!
This track by Japanese chipartist とぼけがお (Tobokegao in English) is a pretty sweet song. While it doesn’t really get started until about 15 seconds in, once it does the jovial vibe is quite infectious. The well-maintained balance between variation and consistency keeps it interesting, yet solid. The “drop” fake-out is absolutely hilarious and fantastically executed; definitely a highlight. The only thing that I don’t like about this happy little tune is that it ends, although at least that means it’s time for the next great song!
7. ‘1982 – 6581’ by xyce
That “next great song” being ‘1982 – 6581’ by the European power duo, xyce, of course! This C64/SID track has a wonderful, adventuresome feel to it. For some reason it gives me the visual image of ninjas having a very serious/not-so-serious dance battle with a basketball while it plays in the background; I have no idea why. Overall, it’s a bouncy fun composition that makes for an enjoyable romp for your ears!
8. ‘Terminal Code’ by Brick Brker
And here we have TM31, er… I mean, Brick Brker. There’s a terrific backing rhythm to this young Arkansan’s tune that adds an upbeat energy to the song, driving it along nicely as it develops and variates. It’s rather hard to not dance to this song, and that’s coming from a person who doesn’t really dance! I sincerely appreciate the well-executed shift shortly after the four minute mark; it elevates ‘Terminal Code’ to another level as this potent anthem determinedly marches onward to a strong close.
9. ‘Tropical Werewolf’ by Nitro Pulse
Nitro Pulse follows up nicely with ‘Tropical Werewolf’, which is quite possibly one of the best song titles I’ve seen in some time. The song itself, an addictingly happy little diddy, is equally as good! The bubbly, driving rhythm throughout really adds to the exciting energy that pervades the song in general. All in all, a fantastic effort from this relative newcomer, adding yet another dose of awesome to this awesome compilation. WOOF!
10. ‘Myths, Legends’ by Galaxy Wolf
Finishing off my set of 5 reviews is this delightfully dirty jam from UK’s own Galaxy Wolf. His track sets up a mystical feeling from the start, matching the title quite well. Visually, it strikes me as something you might hear while exploring the ruins of a lab from some long-forgotten technologically-advanced society of ages past. A powerful groove pervades the entirety of this song, causing at very minimum some serious head nodding. A viscerally compelling track, no doubt.
Next in line to tackle his section of 5 is the ever-jubilant Jredd!
11. ‘Dead Lucky’ by Robot Sex Music
With a name like “Robot Sex Music” you’d expect something amazing to transpire. Well, you’d be right. The sheer mastery of LSDJ here is readily apparent. RSM blends a perfect marriage between strong melodies that harken back to the best of the 8/16 bit era with the technical prowess to execute sound design trickery that gives modern electronic producers a run for their money. It’s as if Battle Toads and Double Dragon are throwing a house party with Daft Punk and all of us are invited. So dawn on your best robot helmet and dust off that Power Glove! It’s time for a radical over sized boot to your sound system!
12. ‘Hot Daniel’ by Autoremi-PK
Well, I don’t know who this “Hot Daniel” is, but he’s got some fantastic theme music! It sounds like the NES musicians over at Konami and Epyx collaborated; I get visions of that surfer from California Games rockin’ the spread shot from Contra. I feel bad for any sharks in the water because they don’t stand a chance. Make room for the new king of the beach. His name is Hot Daniel, and he’s totally throwing a massive shindig.
BBQ’d shark fin anyone?
13. ‘H-Bomb’ by H33llxz
I honestly don’t know what kind of sorcery is responsible for the fascinating sounds emanating from ‘H-bomb’, but I am guessing it has something to do with plutonium. I would suggest everyone clear a 5 mile blast radius because this Game Boy is about to explode! Seriously, H33llxz’s contribution to this comp is some powerful stuff. From the low growling bass, to the menacing and deliberate percussion coupled with that foreboding alarm sound filling out the high end, it’s as if the Game Boy is getting ready to transform. You might want to check on your PS4. I think it just wet itself and is cowering in the corner.
14. ‘Force 51’ by Fufugaga
Any track that manages to sneak in Street Fighter 2 sounds is a-ok in my book. This song has all the right ingredients to bring out that inner nerd in all of us, and I mean that in the best way possible. Next time I need to beat my high score and that Jolt Cola with the stale bag of Doritos just isn’t enough, I know it was because I neglected to have this song playing in my ear drums. What more needs to be said? It’s energetic, infectious, and is apparently endorsed by Ken Masters. My summary of this song might be a little ridiculous, but that’s because the music is so good that my brain melted. SHORYUKEN!
15. ‘Dragon Phoenix’ by Arcade Machine Emulator
Uh-oh. I think I just hit a random encounter and the enemy is freakin’ huge. Well, at least the battle music is awesome. I’d so summon/defeat a Dragon Phoenix to this. It’s the type of music you hear after hours of level grinding and buffing stats, after stalking your inventory to the brim with healing potions, and talking to every NPC for any hidden clues you can find. You even talked to that creepy old guy that sent you on a fetch quest to return his favorite pet chicken (poor bird thought he was finally free…). You did it all, you’ve maxed out everything, you get the the final castle gate and this music starts and… you realize that it wasn’t enough. I don’t think I can beat this dragon by normal means. It’s time to bust out the Game Genie.
Seriously, you know this is a damn good album when a song that could easily fit for a last boss is somewhere in the middle of the track list. Color me impressed. Also, someone get Arcade Machine Emulator a gig composing soundtracks for indie games or something already.
And now to tag in the persistently plucky Professor Oakes to finish up this article!
16. ‘Bitrate’ by SolarLune
Indie game developer, pixel artist and musician hybrid, SolarLune graces CheapBeats = WIN with this very dreamy, intergalactic, and melodic track titled ‘Bitrate’. The track, which begins in fanfare fashion, is a wonderful musical shift from their electronic dance single ‘self.status’ released April of this year. Using an incredibly versatile, cross-platform, tracker-style DAW known as SunVox, SolarLune brilliantly makes use of this multi-pattern and multi-instrument driven interface to create a jazzy, calculated, and rhythmic piece of art that I assure will get you jiving in place for the duration of the track.
17. ‘Bubble Tea’ by Men of Mega
Bubble tea… boba… milk tea — whatever your hearts’ content wants to call it — this track is as delicious as it sounds. Using a DMG armed with LSDJ, ‘Bubble Tea’ has barged its way into being one of my favorite tracks of the year. Navigating listeners through this cheerful bitpop journey, Men of Mega is further solidification that the European chipmusic community DOMINATES and never disappoints. ‘Bubble Tea’ is unforgettable, as this is stylistically a type of track that makes you want to keep hitting ‘back’ to listen to it over and over.
18. ‘Drop It! (Bomberman Story)’ by Level -1
Hailing from Berlin, Germany, LeveL-1 is comprised of Kazuu (programmer/DJ) and Kamui (vocals) who, sharing a love of old 8-bit soundtracks and a passion for music, recently came together in an effort to create something new. ‘Drop It! (Bomberman Story)’ is the latest product of such.
Taking a stab in the past with non-vocal tracks such as ‘Sunrise’, ‘Drop It (Bomberman Story)’ is a nice spin off of Ylvis’ ‘The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)’. This electronic duo, with a similar aesthetic that some may compare to Professor Shyguy, contributed a track that is nerdy in all the right places, and it’s a real treat to see this vocal-heavy track grace the CheapBeats = WIN tracklist!
19. ‘Orange Soda’ by n00bstar
Who loves orange soda? n00bstar loves orange soda! My reference to Kenan and Kel aside, this chip musician from Montreal is no stranger to CheapBeats. Having just released ‘big wh00p’ in July, ‘operat0r’ and ‘Recycled Material’ in July and April of last year respectively on CheapBeats, ‘Orange Soda’ is a wonderful follow-up track. Using Klystrack, an open source chiptune tracker, n00bstar’s heavy FM influenced sound cannot go far from unnoticed — ‘Orange Soda’ has an immaculate oldschool demoscene chipfunk sound to it, and I love every ticking second of it.
20. ‘NIMBUS’ by Tri Angles
Sound creator, rebel soul, wandering artist and storyteller, as according to his Bandcamp, Tri Angles (whose earlier installments came to us under the pseudonym SMILETRON) beautifully graces this compilation with ‘NIMBUS’. Without fail, Tri Angles creates another soulful, galactic, and out of body experience, weaving an intricate lo-fi soundscape throughout the duration of this track. With a noticeable drum ‘n bass feel, ‘NIMBUS’ creates a sense of ambiance by blending soothing percussion and minimal vocals over a span of nearly three minutes. Having had the pleasure of seeing Tri Angles both play at and prepare for BRKfest 2014, his style of chip is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. This track particularly resonates with me, as it feels as though it can accompany me throughout my journey of finding myself within society.
21. ‘future’ by crashfaster
This San Francisco quartet has yet again released another high quality track! After just spending a week on the road with Everything Goes Cold (All hail the horse tornado! The horse tornado lives!), this electronic/industrial/synth/rock song, titled ‘future’, pays homage to the sound of crashfaster pre ‘further’ (2013), when it was just the one-man and Game Boy act of Morgan Tucker
Using an arsenal of equipment including Juno 106, Abelton Live, Commodore64, LSDJ, and midiNES, crashfaster’s inspiration from other musical acts, which include Kraftwerk, is ubiquitous throughout the duration of the track (and I mean that in the best way possible!). Donning an incredibly mysterious and haunting mystique, ‘future’ concludes CheapBeats = WIN, as one can say the one-word title itself opens up occurrences beyond our current knowing or those that we can control.