Pixel Syndrome Digs into ‘ひきこもり・Hikikomori’ by Pterodactyl Squad

- Posted May 28th, 2020 by

In Japan, where the term of ‘Hikikomori’ originated, it refers to either adults or teens who withdraw from society, and whose only purpose is to be alone by their own volition and live as post-modern hermits who are nevertheless still connected to their virtual lives. In this post COVID world, a chill chiptune compilation centered around isolation is just one of the ways in which our scene, which has been called “the most pandemic proof”, shows its resilience and its way to thrive within this new normal.

This brand new compilation, released on the month of April by Pterodactyl Squad, aptly named “ひきこもり・Hikikomori” has a total of 32 tracks. They are diverse sounding and super fun to listen to within the confines of your home, maybe even dance frantically to, all while basking in this brand new collective hikikomori pact we’ve established in the western civilization.

And I’m super happy to be here to review some of these amazing tracks, so let’s get started!

Album artwork by Bryony Hopkins.


The Tandematic’ – Tenfour

The song ‘The Tandematic‘, by Tenfour, has some luxurious, vaporwave vibes and it’s very lounge-like. This relaxing, chill track that’s a mish-mash of chiptune and french vocals has you enthralled until the end, and I’m getting the feeling that these vocals were probably lifted from a french commercial that instructs you on how to program a washing machine. ✧٩(•́⌄•́๑)

The instrumental version of this track, also included in this compilation, maintains these qualities, but also makes me pay more attention to the tight percussion and some soft trumpets that were all over the second part of the track but were slightly overshadowed by the vocals in the previous version. Talk about being a social recluse, but with style!

‘Surf’ – Cheapshot

The track ‘Surf‘ by Cheapshot brings the concept of “aquatic” to the next level. There’s some great use of the noise channel to mark the beat of the song, and the bleeps and bloops that follow are very fun to listen to. As the name implies, it has a beach music feeling and there’s a very cool effect that makes you feel that the waves pass you by around the third minute of this track. Some other water reminiscent sounds are sprinkled throughout, as if through each part of this song the artist makes you venture deeper into its own fascinating landscape.

Fortitude’ – Nmlstyl

Oh my gosh, Nmlstyl is not pulling any punches! This double version of the song ‘Fortitude‘, that’s on this same compilation, showcases the chiptune side as well as the band version which is richly infused with chiptune. A definite treat for our ears. It’s very interesting to see how both can coexist in the same record, and it makes you revisit the chiptune track after you hear the band version. Just another example of how music is a universal language that can be interpreted in so many different ways. 

In the band version, you can hear how the elements that were on the chipversion still remain. Encountering the raw sounds coming from the guitar to be refreshing. Also, it’s very interesting to hear the dynamic of the beats accompanied by drums and synths with a fantastic bridge. Solid track!

Pale King’ – Please Lose Battle

Even though the song ‘Pale King‘ by Please Lose Battle starts with some discrete percussive elements, the headbanging definitely starts in the middle of the track. Its haunting melodies will show no mercy. There is an added analog bass guitar to the mix that just reinforces the strength of the composition and makes it sonically richer in texture. Please Lose Battle makes an excellent use of rhythm, but also adds some strategically placed short silences in the track that serve to add suspense and interest to a fierce heroic theme.

Daisy”- (T-T)b

“Do you wanna hangout?” asks the (T-T)b band in ‘Daisy‘, and I guess that my soft side is crazy about this song – a story about a person pining for their object of desire. Their point of view unfolds as we listen to their pleas to get that special someone’s attention. The interplay between guitar and chip is pretty spot on, and there is a pleasant humming sound that serves as a base with several repeating notes that help bring out the theme of the song and glues the track together.

Hero’s Lament’ – Videogame Orchestra

Get ready to be transported to a faraway fantasy land in the exciting track called ‘Hero’s Lament‘ by Videogame Orchestra! I got some major Zelda and Final Fantasy flashbacks while listening, and I’m sure you will too. The use of flute-like sounds within the intro and outro adds so much richness to the mix of melodies that also have emulated strings and give it a very medieval tone, as if you were about to enter a King’s court in an 8-bits world.

Mothership’ – City Guys

The track by City Guys called ‘Mothership‘ comes with a feeling of longing for a videogame that you never played, yet feels so familiar. It’s like the hundreds of boss levels you played on the NES all wrapped into one! I hope you have your controller ready, as the dynamic electronic drums and synth action build up in this track until, in the middle part of the track, the mayhem ensues and then their fast paced melodic hooks will make you feel the heat, up to when the final decay dazzles out.

There are so many surprises and raw talent in all of the tracks that are part of this compilation, and honestly it comes with a bit of everything for everyone, so I most heartily recommend you to check it out!

Until next time, this is Pixel Syndrome signing out, stay chippy and stay safe~! (・ω<)☆

Pterodactyl Squad
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