Heya folks! ( ´ ▽ ` )ﾉ Brandon here to introduce our full review of the latest ChipWIN compilation, ‘Chips = FLIPPED‘!
In case you’ve been living under a rock with no wifi the last few weeks, what we’ve got for you here today in this ‘Chips = FLIPPED’ review is a full track-by-track breakdown of an amazing new cover compilation; it features a litany of extraordinarily talented artists from in and around the VGM & chip communities covering previously released tracks from the increasingly vast ChipWIN discography. Sound crazy? Wait until you actually get it in your earholes. ಠ‿↼
On that note, take it away, Viridian Forge!
1. ‘Can’t Stop Us’ by Ailsean [originally by Chipzel]
Alisean’s cover of Chipzel’s classic wastes no time in capturing the original spirit of the track; just as much zest for life, heart swelling hope, and firm motivation are exuded from every note of this track. The guitar and drums enhance the experience by adding additional weight to the track. That additional mass sticks to the heart, drives feet to move, and fills limbs with a need to flail in an awkward approximation of dancing.
2. ‘Maggie’s Quest’ by Super MadNES [originally by Zantilla]
Through Super MadNES’ interpretation, ‘Maggie’s Quest’ has gone to a darker place. Easily as inspired as Zantilla’s original, Super MadNES’ superb guitarcraft fills the low end of the track in a way that adds a new sense of danger, urgency, and need to the track. This comes to a brilliant head in the redux of the shredding breakdown in the final minute of the track is a thing of musical beauty. Interpreted here with an extremely solid guitar breakdown, every emotion conveyed by the original feels that much more gut punching.
3. ‘Dolphins In Space’ by Dj CUTMAN [originally by Kubbi]
This cover is truly a track to be experienced, with Dj CUTMAN applying his extremely well-honed skills to one of Kubbi’s legendary compositions. Where Kubbi’s original is rather low-key and meditative in its energy, CUTMAN’s translation enhances the track with his signature vigor. The result is an interpretation that transforms a great introspective piece of music into an equally good dance track.
4. ‘Rural’ by FamilyJules [originally by Knasibas]
Knasibas original composition of ‘Rural’ was sleepy, with a lulabye-esque construction to much of the instrumentation and composition. Honestly, the original is quite reminiscent of my own experience of years spent living in the sleepy rolling farmlands of the North American midwest. FamilyJules turns that entirely on its head, with an interpretation that screams “title cards to an epic adventure anime”. For every moment of “kick back and enjoy the amber fields of grain” in the original, there’s a moment of “run headlong across the farmlands into adventure”. Its amazing to experience such a shift in the tone of the original music with none of the quality being lost in translation.
5. ‘Divided Skies’ by Makeup And Vanity Set [originally by Trash80]
In summary? Wow. Makeup and Vanity Set have taken an already solid track in ‘Divided Skies’, and completely transformed it into a cyberpunk masterwork. With a variety of themed layers, the word “divided” rings exceptionally true. The haunting vocals that permeate the track serve almost as an buffer between the dark and stormy bass of the track and the bright and bubbly high end of the track, bearing multiple listens. Each component is practically a track onto itself, combining together into a truly memorable piece of music.
And now to pass things off to Guérin for the rest of the review!
6. ‘La Villa de Salvadera’ by William Reyes [originally by Hylian Lemon]
William Reyes of the legendary OneUps takes Hylian Lemon’s driving, funky original version of ‘Sandbox Town’ and sits it down for a little R&R. With its calm vibe and acoustic instrumentation styles, this song acts like a nice little break between the more heavy hitters on this compilation. Reyes trades in his more typical jazz and prog style rhythm guitar for a more Spanish-style theme this time around. The masterfully plucked acoustic guitar is accented beautifully by quiet hand claps and quickly strummed chords. Even on his own, Reyes is able to maintain the complexity and levity of the original.
7. ‘Tetropolis’ by Alexander Brandon [originally by 4mat]
Brandon started making music with Ad Lib and, later, on Amiga. He has soundtrack credits for Unreal and Deus Ex (!!!), so it’s no wonder this song feels so tonally and emotionally deep. Tension builds nicely as guitar riffs heavily over smooth, flowing synths. Everything about the production of this song is understated and subtle, but the builds, solos, and breakdowns all keep the song pulsing along. It’s an instant classic, just like 4mat’s song from Volume 1.
8. ‘Lights Out for the Invisible Girls’ by Cory Johnson [originally by Roboctopus]
Roboctopus is already one of my favorite artists, so seeing a reimagining of one of his best songs on this compilation by his fellow Alabaman Cory Johnson is a treat. Soft and mellow guitar and synth play back and forth during a long buildup as other instruments slowly add to this densely layered track. Once the distortion kicks in, you know you’re in for a treat. As the song finally builds to a blissful crescendo, the tempo kicks up just a bit and Johnson just lets loose on his guitar. It wails and warbles around over a cymbal-heavy drum beat. Short and sweet, this song will leave you wishing for more as it quickly fades out.
9. ‘Nihilanthropist’ by PirateCrab [originally by KRVKT]
The title of this cover really says it all. The claustrophobic, oppressive, and overall doomed vibe PirateCrab drew out of the original’s hardcore dubstep style is given freely. Rarely giving the listener a chance to breath, this track keeps the energy high with chugging guitar riffs and chest-caving kicks and snares. I usually don’t listen to much djent, but PirateCrab’s use of some light synths and chip fills give their cover a fresh sound. You can’t help but headbang to this one. Seriously, I can’t…stop…headbanging… \m/ (>_<) \m/
10. ‘Downpour (feat. Viking Guitar)’ by Stemage [originally by Purely Grey]
The man who mastered this album dragged his friend from his amazing metal band over to record the most awesome cover of the most awesome opening ChipWIN track, and this song is the result. It is pure, unadulterated metal in its finest form. The ridiculous drop from the original is here in all its glory, but wailing guitars duel over each other to determine who is better at making you weep tears from the cathartic riffs they throw at you. If you can make it through Stemage’s well crafted facemelting of the first half, you can hear Viking Guitar just shred the hell out of a guitar in a solo that leads into deceitfully calm breakdown. It brings it all back around to the beginning with another round of gnar before slipping off coolly via some wistful synths.
11. ‘Geneva OverDrive’ by Machinae Supremacy [originally by Auxcide]
Okay, so I did ask to review this one. Hey, can you blame me? Auxcide is already arguably one of the best musicians Chiptunes = WIN managed to shake out of the chipscene, but Machinae Supremacy covering one of the best songs he’s ever made? Now that’s a combination I couldn’t pass up. This cover weaves together the emotional roller coaster with the epic composition these Swedes are known for. Employing some of the chip from the original in the background, Machinae Supremacy have some fun with the instrumentation that they layer over it, often harmonizing guitars with the chip. This is definitely a song I’ll be listening to on repeat for a long time, and I couldn’t think of a better song to bring this already crazy compilation to an end.
Well, that’s it from Wayne and myself. Unlike its announcement, this compilation brought some incredible surprises and delivered some of the best music Chiptunes = WIN has been host to since its inception in 2011. Except for that *real* last track. (Why Steve? WHY!?) It makes me so happy to see VGM and chiptune artists alike come together to make something so awesome in a way only ChipWIN could provide. This album wouldn’t have been possible without the originals made by you amazing musicians. If you’d like to join in on one of the main Volumes, submissions are now open! Who knows? Maybe one of these amazing artists will cover your track on the next one of types of compilations? ;3