Hey, ChipWINners! We’ve covered more than half of the amazing songs and artists who’ve been featured on Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 4, but we’ve still got quite a ways to go before we wrap up our track-by-track review series of this phenomenal compilation! So far, we’ve seen a venerable collective of chipmusic all-stars from around the globe, but even more talented artists have yet to step up to the challenge that is THE CHIPTUNES = WIN: VOLUME 4 TRACK-BY-TRACK REVIEW WHILE I PROBABLY EAT PIZZA OR SOME OTHER DELICACY. So let’s see what the next five tracks have in store for us!
36. Zantilla – Wurmcoil Engine
Zantilla’s contribution to Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 4, ‘Wurmcoil Engine‘, is named after a particularly nasty creature in the famous card game Magic: The Gathering. What the card does, in essence, is start out as a very hard to kill wurm that splits into two more once it’s actually defeated. This song embodies the brutal nature of this monster perfectly. The track opens rather ominously and quietly before bursting at the seams with a distinctly progressive metal tone. An absolutely brutal variant on the track’s introductory melody takes over the entire track and lingers until the very end, save for the second breakdown, which I believe to symbolize the Engine’s splitting into two. Stuttered guitar effects are used to great effect during this breakdown, and the rest of ‘Wurmcoil Engine’ is essentially an incredible extended guitar solo with chip elements taking more of a harmonic role. Zantilla shows an absurd amount of musical expertise within ‘Wurmcoil Engine’, and demonstrates why his music is lauded as some of the best within the chipscene.
37. FM-Possible Turbo – 8 Ball
Where can I even begin with this track? For starters, it’s an extended chipfunk solo, with some seriously amazing riffs showcasing the capabilities of the Genesis’ sound chip. Secondly, the name is just so apt; a total of eight different artists, lead by Jredd, contributed to this amazing FM synthesis masterpiece, which is arguably the best of its kind. Aside from amazing solo compositions throughout the entirety of the song, staccato percussion and record scratching effects are also used to great effect. Numerous different time signature changes, key signature changes, and a lack of adherence to common musical conventions, such as a consistent melody, make ‘8 Ball’ truly a wonder to behold.
38. Ap0c – Präludium und Tanz
Ap0c’s contribution to Volume 4, ‘Präludium und Tanz’, is extremely unique in that it follows the style of baroque music, which may be quite difficult to imagine in a chip voicing. Having an extensive background in a classical instrument – the tuba – it can’t be said that this kind of music eludes Ap0c’s expertise. This poetic and melodic FamiTracker-composed piece is a bit of a rarity, with very few musicians being able to rise to the challenge and even fewer being able to execute it as successfully as Ap0c demonstrates here. Initially, a simple melody is established and then extrapolated upon in numerous ways, such as an alternate melody playing over the original, in addition to an ever-present bassline providing another important facet of the track. Being somewhat characteristic of baroque music, this helps to solidify the overall classical vibe of ‘Präludium und Tanz’. Midway through, ‘Präludium und Tanz’ goes through a slowdown to a sudden increase in tempo, giving the track yet another new aspect that listeners can highly appreciate. The final quarter of the song is a hectic, run-laden segment that only increases in intensity as it moves to this prelude’s simply stellar conclusion. Ap0c’s latest piece is a heavy departure from the rest of the material on Volume 4, and it’s much appreciated by casual listeners and critical reviewers alike.
39. Hylian Lemon – Sandbox Town
Hylian Lemon’s submission, ‘Sandbox Town’, is a head-bobbing, melodic masterpiece. Clever usage of portamento – note sliding – abounds in this track, be it through quick pitch bends or slurs utilized in the main melody. Sixteenth-note octave runs provide an interesting backdrop around the 0:47 mark of the track, and the change in emotion at this point from slightly hectic to indefinitely optimistic is much appreciated. Usage of triplets and heavy noise kicks are notable as well, and the slight change in the melody’s voicing and variance in notes around the halfway point are executed perfectly. Hylian Lemon proves that he can write alongside the best chipmusicians with his nostalgic and optimistic compositional technique in this chiptune jam.
40. Stig – Corridor of Blades
7/8 is a marvelous time signature and, innately, provides somewhat of a stuttered effect at the end of a musical phrase. Stig uses this to great extent by opening the track with a mellow, stuttered bassline and building upon it with numerous effects that could be comparable to those used in chill-out music. This track almost defies genre classification in my eyes; all that can be said of its style is that it’s a progressive track with ambient vibes, which is contradictory in nature by default. Stig definitely makes this unique juxtaposition work to his advantage, and the ringing of square chords over a tone-changing bassline very much provides a calming effect on the listener. Minimal percussion is utilized in this track, and it’s in the form of a noise snare at the end of certain measures, a clicking effect, a few noise channel runs here and there, and punchy bass. Stig has been around for ages, but listeners of ‘Corridor of Blades’ are sure to want to check out some of his older work, dating back as far as 1996.
That wraps up our coverage of tracks 36-40 of ‘ChipWIN: Volume 4’! You may be asking yourself, ‘What’s next? These five tracks were so awesome, there’s no WAY this compilation could really be packed to the brim with such radical chiptunes! Maybe if I try hard enough, I can learn how to skateboard!’ Adam Seats steps up to the plate on Monday to cover tracks 41-45, and he’ll BLOW YOUR MIND. Yes, every track is seriously just THAT awesome. And YES, he will teach you all the coolest tricks that you can show to your local hooligans. They’ll be like, ‘dang’ or something.