Every year, ChipWIN releases a compilation of 51 of the best chipmusic tracks of the year, and every year it continues to impress. In case you haven’t been tuning in over the course of the last week, here on The ChipWIN Blog we also happen to review every track from the compilation. A daunting task indeed, but it’s our way of saying thanks to the many people involved in this continuously expanding project. Shall we?
21. ‘Zealous Tide’ by Pouale
Enticingly enigmatic scales open up this piece by ChipWIN newcomer Pouale. This melody-dominated piece evokes imagery of never-ending shores and passionate, crashing waves with its diverse melodic phrases and adventurous, fluid rhythms. The second half of this track is particularly phenomenal; while the first half of the track establishes the piece’s motifs, the second half flips the listener onto their head and creates an air of tension by slightly affecting prior themes.
22. ‘SLICE AND DICE’ by Failpositive
This aptly titled piece opens with a frenetic, dynamic spark of energy. Every instrument – save for the backing chords – is staccato in the first half of the piece, and the sheer speed at which each phrase hits the listener is hard to keep up with! ‘SLICE AND DICE’ is over before we know it, and I’m sure I’m not the first to admit that this short and sweet piece got stuck in my head after the first listen!
23. ‘DRAGONROLL PALACE’ by dachampster
Chiptune legend dachampster gives us another amazing banger of a track in his Volume 8 submission, ‘DRAGONROLL PALACE’. The piece opens up with what sounds like a level select screen for a racing game, complete with a 3-2-1 countdown in aural form. The piece is predominantly uptempo, but at the 1:06 mark it slows down suddenly before building up to its original speed again. dachampster keeps the listener interested at every twist and turn of this labyrinthine castle of a track!
24. ‘8 = ∞ (Extradimensional Return Trip)’ by Petriform
Petriform returns to yet another ChipWIN compilation almost halfway through its songs with one of their most exciting pieces yet. This masterfully crafted song shifts seamlessly between 7/8 and 4/4 time signatures, giving it an adventurous tone and allowing for some really interesting phrases, one such example being the tension-building sequence at 2:14. This portion of the song layers a consistent rhythm and percussion beneath melodic permutations before culminating in an overwhelming, transcendent segue into the following return to 4/4. The final leg of this track is a truly marvelous cadence to one of my favorite tracks on the entirety of Volume 8.
25. ‘Outlaw’ by asinago
asinago’s Volume 8 submission opens with gusts of wind and a deep house vibe, and its sneaky vibe matches well with the track’s title. Robotic vocals enter before the synth-driven melody and deep kicks enter. The track lowers in volume for a few seconds at 1:26, but all of the previous gusto of ‘Outlaw’ returns before the listener can feel any pangs of longing for this electro-house song’s polished aesthetics. The second half of the track features alterations in a few passages, but mostly retains the head-bobbing vibes that we’ve become familiar with at this point.
26. ‘Chip Innuendos’ by JammerC64
The SID chip is capable of some seriously funky sounds, and JammerC64 throws us straight back into the 80s with their Volume 8 submission. Snazzy synths and sexy, smooth vocals are omnipresent. Utilizing slightly comical samples (‘Oh, that’s baaaaaaad’ had me cracking up on my first listen), fluid scale runs and minimal percussion, ‘Chip Innuendos’ feels like a continuous, coherent and masterful solo from start to finish.
27. ‘End of the Line’ by Joe Swensen
Joe Swensen’s Volume 8 submission, ‘End of the Line’, marks his first accepted submission to a ChipWIN compilation – congratulations! ‘End of the Line’ opens with a chugging hihat snare combination, succeeding in emulating the sound of a train traveling along its tracks to a destination unknown. Pensive and considerate in nature, Joe Swensen’s piece feels introspective and inviting, allowing us to share warmly wistful emotions with the composer.
28. ‘cherry sprinkles’ by posu yan
posu yan is yet another newcomer to the ChipWINiverse, having released a few tracks through the Materia Collective and OCRemix in the past. ‘cherry sprinkles’ is a short and sweet track that would be right at home in a Yoshi-esque platformer or even a puzzle game, conjuring imagery of candy cane fortresses and spearmint trees. A bouncy bassline is given as much focus as the nostalgic leads, allowing for a kind of push-and-pull dynamic between the instruments at times.
29. ‘Flip-Flap-Flop’ by あみる/Amir
あみる/Amir’s ‘Flip-Flap-Flop’ flaunt-flops its way into this flipping Volume 8 compilation! Guitars, piano, and 8-bit tones mesh together to create a piece with vibrant, tangible energy. Each couple of measures outside of the chorus, one instrument might rise in volume while another plays a completely new melody or rhythm. While ‘Flip-Flap-Flop’ sticks to its video game-inspired themes through its brief length, it changes just enough to keep us focused through its brief 3:14 stay.
30. ‘Contact’ by Game Genie Sokolov
‘Contact’ isn’t Game Genie Sokolov’s first submission to a ChipWIN compilation; you might remember their track ‘Wonder Force‘ from DESKPOP & ChipWIN! Game Genie Sokolov offers us a more minimalistic piece, with muted percussion and a static, ethereal melody. A twangy, aggressive bass enters at the 1:58 mark and lingers for half a minute before reintroducing the piece’s established chimes. ‘Contact’ is certainly one of the more experimental pieces on the compilation, and Sokolov has begun to develop a unique sound over the years that is really beginning to shine.
I’m honored to have had the opportunity to review these ten tracks, and extend my gratitude to these artists – and ALL of the artists – involved with the making of ChipWIN: Volume 8. Check back here on Thursday, when Pixel_Guy brings you reviews of the next ten tracks of this incredible chipmusic conglomerate!