Kuma’s Hype Train #1: Skybox and S.P.R.Y.

- Posted March 11th, 2016 by

Hey, what’s up, ChipWINners! Welcome to a new column I like to call Kuma’s Hype Train! This one will be in a similar vein to my Quick Shots articles, in that I’ll be picking apart albums for your listening pleasure. However, what will differentiate Hype Train from Quick Shots is content. Because Hype Train is meant to build anticipation for new releases, articles in this column will, at best, only feature teaser tracks and preview medleys of upcoming projects. Don’t let that get you down, though, because as soon as these albums are released, these articles will be updated to feature links in the descriptions for you to get a hold of the sweet, audible candy for yourselves.

Let’s not waste any more time. Sit back, relax and take a trip into the future with me as I gush over new albums from Skybox and S.P.R.Y.!

In the name of all that's unholy....

‘STARDUST’ by Skybox

He may have changed monikers once again, but it doesn’t change the fact that Michael V. knows how to make chiptune that’s as sugary and scrumptious as a Saturday morning of cartoons and breakfast cereal. Continuing his proud tradition of using LSDJ to craft upbeat, heartfelt and charming music that belies his shoegazey physique and aesthetic, the artist formerly known as The One Electronic, Shoujo Eyes, and Shoujo Kiss has a remarkable EP coming up on the horizon that’s soon to be released by MADMILKY Records! Featuring five original tracks, as well as a remix from Slime Girls and a track ft. Tobokegao, ‘STARDUST’ is sure to be the treat needed to get you off your lazy butt and into the shining sun as Spring dawns upon the horizon this year. While the album does consist of six tracks, we’re going to spend our time indulging in the two songs Skybox has previews of on Soundcloud: ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘Sky Runner’.

‘Northern Lights’ opens with a succulent lead over a simple melody that is vaguely reminiscent of the opening notes of ‘We Go Together’ from ‘Grease’. While that effect can be somewhat jarring, by the time the drums kick in and the melody goes into full gear, you have a song that is exemplary of what you can expect on ‘STARDUST’: music that is unabashedly chiptune. Between it’s playful breakbeats, quirky vocal samples, and light-hearted melody, ‘Nothern Lights’ sets a high standard for the album, and this standard is followed up skillfully by ‘Sky Runner.’

‘Sky Runner’ also oozes positivity and the transition from the previous track to the current one shows off Michael’s improvement as a producer, as the importance of track placement doesn’t go unnoticed. What also doesn’t go unnoticed is just how remarkable it is to hear music like this from Michael again, as the EP of his I listen to most often — ‘April Showers & May Flowers’ — is miles apart from the offerings that will be up for grabs when ‘STARDUST’ drops on April 1st.

‘STARDUST’ is a good bowl of cereal: it’s dulcet, succulent and just hyper enough to bring out the kid in you. ‘April Showers & May Flowers’ was a picnic for two underneath the languid shade of a sturdy oak in the middle of Central Park. The contrast between a more youthful expression of Spring and a more romantic one is remarkable, and makes ‘STARDUST’ a welcome return to form from Skybox.

If these two tracks have caught your attention, I definitely recommend picking up Skybox’s ‘STARDUST’ from MADMILKY Records on April 1st, when both digital downloads of the album and physical purchases will be made available. The album will contain six tracks, will be available for free as a digital download, and will also be available in a physical form for an as-of-yet, undetermined price.

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Adept by S.P.R.Y.

A master of synthesis, prince of post-production, and genius of combining experimentalism, mathematics and multicultural aesthetics into one smooth product, S.P.R.Y. has an album coming out March 15 that shows he truly is ‘Adept’ at anything he puts his mind to. My last encounter with the Cincinnati native included work he did with his friends sp00ked and Disabletron in their sinfully talented trifecta known as SSD Engage.  Having had the pleasure of seeing perform live at the first 8static Festival, I since have not allowed myself the time to adequately keep up with the trio, let alone S.P.R.Y.  But time has not stopped Mr. Choudury from advancing his craft, as his album shows off years of honing his talents in splendid form. From mixing chiptune with binaural beats, hip hop, trance, deep house and drum-&-bass to his ability to rework old ideas into something new, ‘Adept’ is an album that takes incomplete aria from previous years of Weekly Beats submissions and turns them into a cohesive experience. An experience that Narayan impressively, by his own admission, recorded in a continuous take. This is in large part due to his desire to make a set of music he could play at shows off his laptop while actively editting and adding to with his Game Boy or other synthesizers for perfomance purposes.

Furthermore, S.P.R.Y. sought to test the limits of his capabilities, and took the time to not only craft several instruments by hand within Ableton, but worked to actively add effects during and after production to create a fluid auditory experience that would balance out the different sources of audio. The result includes music that seamlessly flows together upon initial listens, but also sometimes has nuances of purposeful imbalance between sounds, creating for a textures that are highly intriguing. This keeps what would otherwise be a rather droning album fresh, vivid, and euphoric. Moments in songs ‘Liquid Methane’, for example, will feature subtle, rippling arpeggios from S.P.R.Y.’s LSDJ cart dancing along a fuzzy, reverberating bass line and spacey melody that will ebb and flow within the overall atmosphere of the song. It will usually meld together quite nicely, but occasionally, you get a chunk of tone that sticks out like a stray cloud on a clear summer day. It’s enough to catch your attention, even if you’re listening to it in the background while multi tasking, but never to the point where you stop altogether and wonder for an extended length of time as to why that was. Other songs later in the album, such as ‘Crunchy Time’, feature melodies of bipolar sine waves crafted in Ableton that sound remarkably like the sounds made in Rolling Tones, a tone matrix app for Android I’m rather fond of. This produces a stark contrast that sounds deceptively simple against the subdued, cerebral beats and foreboding rhythms of the rest of the song, but works together in a way that’s pleasantly curious.

All in all, the album is a masterpiece of experimentalism and a testament to what S.P.R.Y. is capable of putting his mind to. If ‘Adept’ sounds like the kind of album that would be to your liking, I highly suggest picking it up when it drops on March 15. The album will be available simultaneously on multiple platforms, including Bandcamp, Itunes, and ReverbNation. It will be priced at $9 for either the digital download or physical copy. However, if you needed further incentive to buy this album, I would strongly recommend picking up a physical copy, as S.P.R.Y. will be hosting a raffle among the patrons that purchase physical copies of his album within the first month of it’s release. That prize being the original canvas of the gorgeous cover art you see posted below, which he painted himself for the LP.

Adept Album Art A Full Rez

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Well, folks, that’s it for this edition of Hype Train! If you liked what you read, be sure to check back within the coming weeks as the article will be updated to feature links and embeds to listen to and purchase the albums previewed here. Be sure to follow any artists you’re intrigued by, as well, on your prefered poison of social media. Last but not least, for the latest happenings in chiptune from around the world, be sure to check in with us at The ChipWIN Blog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as we put out content nearly every week of the year on those days.


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