Hello again, everyone! Another year has past, meaning it’s time for us to celebrate another Chiptunes = WIN volume! Volume 4 has continued to pull no stops and provide nonstop awesome content, and what better way for us to thank our friends and contributors than by reviewing their tracks?
11. Villainest – Evil Party
With a name and song title with more edges than a cheese grater from Hot Topic’s sponsored corner in Hell’s Kitchen, (I mean that in the best of ways. You’ll understand once you listen to the song) Villainest’s ‘Evil Party’ is a fun blend of pop rock and a motif that screams 1980’s synth cinematics. To give a more accurate description to how my brain registered this track, it’s like the bands HIM, Smashing Pumpkins and Ninja Sex Party had a crazy night with a Sega Genesis and the organ you hear in ‘Whiskey Bar’ by The Doors. Villainest manages to make one hell of a bass line from their GenMDM and excellent accompanying and accentuating notes and held duty cycle notes with their usage of FMDrive and SPSG VSTs. The vocalists have a tasteful amount of distortion and compression that gives extra personality to their voices, emphasizing a feeling of pained struggle in their lyrics. As fun as they are well thought-out, the lyrics give insight into a villain’s perspective in a demanding economy where their evil doesn’t pay, ‘Evil Party’ makes a pretty compelling argument for joining them (even if times are tough.)
12. Windfallen – Less Than 3
‘Less Than 3’ is a journey in itself through one’s own imagination drenched in reverb and a popularized combination of two-step and hip-hop drum patterns. The reverb sets a dream-like atmosphere in the beginning to allow for a larger, more prominent bass line to emerge from underneath the melody. The slow pace takes you through a progressive soundscape that builds up over time and disappears as gently as it arrives. The song’s ambient vibe makes this track great for active listening as well as background music, and sounds polished enough that it could have been easily fit into the dream sequence of a show, film, or video game.
13. nickelPUNK – StarDRIVE (Part II)
When I realized I was on this compilation with friends of mine like Radionarcotix and nickelPUNK, I expected some damn good rock, or damn good danceable music. What I didn’t expect out of nickelPUNK was military snare drum rolls following a repeating synth arp. When I realized he had taken a cinematic turn for his entry, I didn’t have enough time to prepare for what followed. This is legitimately the best example I have heard of a cinematic, electronic-based-genre incorporating chiptune. The song’s emotion carries into what I could only depict as a sci-fi/dystopian future rife with the fires and acrid scents of war. You can tell studious dedication was put into making the subtleties that construct such a cinematic vibe. Combined with nickelPUNK’s always-established ability to make symphonic chords shoot suspense and emotion, it is no surprise that this song has me excited to hear what’s coming next from him.
14. Radionarcotix – The Siren
Hearing a song come full circle is a singularly delightful experience. About two years ago, my friend Alex joined me for an open mic in Philadelphia. He went under the name Radionarcotix. He was coming up with an idea for a danceable sea shanty. He had his whole set up ready to go and perform, but something went off-timing and threw his open mic piece into disarray. It was the last I had heard of it, with the echoing memories of people in the crowd hearing bits and pieces and going, “whoa this is fucking cool.”
That is very much how I like to sum up Radionarcotix to anyone who hasn’t met him or heard his music yet.
RN delivers a track that precisely sums up a lot of the experience I have heard from him over the years. Beginning with a danceable measurement of chord pads and percussion rhythm still following to a 4/4 beat, leading into a rhythm reminiscent of his interest in metal that drives a harder presence than the typical house vibe that could have been assumed. The use of LSDJ as both accentuation between the lyrics and as the vocals (via an Iron Lung Vocoder) was an excellent and appropriate touch to keep the electronic presence. The lyrics themselves are not only catchy but humorous, but serve as a focal point to where the song doesn’t change. Note the tension in the buildup, the dramatic atmosphere brought in by the guitar within such a busy breakdown, and even the chord change to bring the drama of struggle to the end of the song. This is not just an enjoyable track, but one you can revisit and relive its story with a few changes on its interpretation each time. As full of representations as it is of talent, ‘The Siren’ is a very well-crafted tale, but beware of its melodies lest you risk your sanity.
15. Graz – Dragoon Underground
Graz made a stellar introduction to the ChipWIN compilations with this hybrid of hardcore, drum & bass and grime. Listen carefully, because despite its infectious rhythm and wide use of percussion instruments, every instrument Graz uses is remarkably clean. The result is a clear sound that almost sounds like a hybrid between the techniques one hears in artists such as Awesome Force and Knife City (the latter, as I surprisingly discovered, Graz has listened to “maybe once or twice.”) Even the WAV channel, by far the easiest channel to turn into a messy barrage of sounds without exacting attention to detail sounds clean. Graz properly fits it to the rhythm in spite of all of its tone embellishments and shape changes through the F command. This is a shining example of what the area of Seattle has to offer, and I hope to hear more from Graz as soon as possible.
… and there you have it, folks. Five more amazing tracks for you to check out and enjoy! If you need any reminders of what other amazing tracks are on here, feel free to check out the other reviews! Or, you know, you could go check out the album. I heard that song by JKLOL is pretty good and totally not about me at all whatsoever.
Until next time, I will see you… in a bit. 8)