Hello and welcome to the return of “Jredd’s Hidden Gems”! This is the first in a series of articles for ChipWIN where we take a look at some lesser known chip musicians. Now obviously, who counts as “under-rated” differs from person to person, however I tend to go by the following guidelines:
- It needs to be someone who does not have a whole ton of followers on Soundcloud.
- They rarely, if ever, top the charts at various chiptune sites.
- Or, they have yet to release an album with a well known chip-based netlabel.
With that said, let’s get started with our first pick:
While he has made music using programs like famitracker for PC and Rytmik Retrobits on Nintendo DS, he is arguably most well known for his work with the Korg DS-10.
What stands out to me about his craftmanship is that many times his music seeks to emulate other sound chips ranging from NES, to Gameboy, to even C64 and Sega Genesis which he does with surprising accuracy. His style is a blend of vintage and modern chip influences which, in my humble opinion, bridges the gap between those who’d like to throw down with an upbeat dance track and those who remember the nostalgic blips of yesterday with fondness. He has an excellent mastery over the DS-10 and deserves your support. Keep up to date with his latest works via his Soundcloud.
Next up, we have NESMETAL. His name in all caps isn’t just for show. The best way to describe his sound is to imagine if a dark progressive metal band of various sound chips came together and composed the most intense boss battle music they could muster. By combining what sounds like Sega Genesis on the drums, Turbo Graphix/PCEngine styled sounds on guitar and bass, and SNES-like orchestral strings filling out the high end, what results is a blend unlike any other chip musician I have heard. The most interesting thing about him is looking deeper into his music reveals that he more than an awesome one trick pony. Check out his tracks entitled “hotdog city” and you’ll see a whole other side to him. In contrast to his usual darker tone, these songs are almost light and whimsical by nature.
What does he use to compose all his music with you ask? Fruity Loops 3. You heard right, it’s not a tracker, nor is it the latest version of a DAW. It’s something that he has held on to all these years and continues to push it to the max and stick with it. When I consider his results, it is all the more impressive and proves that it isn’t what you use, but how. You can find his music below:
Finally, I have a musician who continues to surprise me with his experimental nature despite the fact that some may consider me a veteran with VGM Music Maker. His many finished songs and works in progress alike all have sound design tricks in them that quite frankly leave me scratching my head and wondering just how exactly he managed to make a Sega Genesis make that sound. Even so, he remains humble and continues to learn and grow. At times, like many of us, he too is unsure of his own sound. Yet that humility proves to be his strength in that it drives him to improve rapidly. He is not afraid to ask for help, looks at the work of others, and eagerly absorbs the information like a sponge. Then he takes what he learns and applies it, shocking everyone with a brand new sound. Check out his solo and collaborative works below:
So in conclusion, what have I learned from these 3 artists?
- From Drexegar, I learned that the Korg DS-10 is capable of some truly amazing mimicry and to never judge a music program on what appears to be a limitation. Chip artists are the type to push boundaries and break expectations. Nintendo DS or not, he carries the very essence of what it means to delve into a sound chip and push it to the max. His example continues to inspire me in my own work and I am glad he is here to show everyone just what the Korg DS-10 is really capable of.
- From NESMETAL, I learned the importance of throwing away convention and what is expected of you as a chip musician in favor of using what you have to carve out your own sound. This is another lesson learned that is very much chip in spirit regardless of the program used. In essence, he is using what someone might consider an “obsolete” version of a music program to create his own sound. The end result is that nobody sounds quite like he does. To me, this is really remarkable and inspires me to do the same and sculpt out my own sound as well with my program of choice.
- From Dropbit, I learned a new perspective on a program that I once thought I had a mastery over. He showed me that I should never think I’ve learned it all. Because of his fresh viewpoint, I have gained knowledge about composing chip music that I might never have gained from working alone. He is one of the many musician friends I have that continues to show me the value of working together to create something new and I am grateful that innovators with unique minds like his exist so that I never lose my zeal and enthusiasm for what makes chip music as great and rewarding to create as it is.
Thank you all for your inspiration, and remember to keep digging and searching for new inspiration. Who knows? Perhaps you too are a diamond in the rough just waiting to become yet another one of…
“Jredd’s Hidden Gems”