Hello everyone! Whilst I was extremely busy these past few weeks, I still managed to find the time to write about this small chiptune EP called, ‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber’ by ‘Portopak’. The last time he was featured on the ‘Chip Bit Sid’ blog, was two years ago, covering his album, ‘Monsters’ as I first started out. If you haven’t heard of him before, Portopak is a Pittsburgh based chiprock musician, and his style is a combination between chiptune and shoegaze music, using a lot of echo on both his guitar as well as his own vocals. ‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber’ is a first for ‘Portopak’, as it’s his first song that’s actually included lyrics with his vocals, and I’m excited to explore it past the fold.
The song begins with ‘pulse wave’ arpeggio, running up and down, before going fully fledged into guitar, bass and drums. Whilst the bass and drums are handled by the Gameboy, the guitar is fully live, its bright tone masked by wet delay and echo, the sound resonating throughout. This goes on until both the melody and guitar stops, with the bass and percussion going on. At 0.40 Portopak’s vocals kick in and are covered in delay & reverb as like the ‘guitar’. The vocals, whilst not the best, still float across the structure of the song, helped along with the extra layer of effects. Whilst the song focuses more on the vocals and lyrics, ‘Portopak’ still adds strong instrumental parts where the guitar takes the lead; a good example of this can be heard during the ‘2:28’ mark, where the guitar takes to the front with a slow solo that leaves a big impact. ‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber’ was a great progression from Portopak’s general style of music, and the inclusion of vocals adds another nuanced level to the song.
As well as ‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber’, there’s another track included in the EP, ‘The Unfriendly Dreamer’, an instrumental song. Whilst this song doesn’t include any vocals, its music is much more fleshed out. The melody is stronger; the guitar, padded out with many little different effects; the bass thick and fat, and the drums – recorded so well that they come across fantastically crisp. Some of the melody is also coupled with guitar, providing added emphasis on the sound ‘Portopak’ is trying to achieve. It’s something you don’t usually hear in chiptune and an intreresting coupling, rather than the traditional pulse and wave being put together. ‘The unfriendly dreamer’ is a nice finisher for the EP to end with and the progressive structure between the guitar & chipmusic, beautifully balanced.
‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber’ was a nice EP to review, and it was welcoming to listen to Portopak again, after so long since the last review. ‘Bull Inside the Echo Chamber is available to buy as a cassette’. Check it out his via Bandcamp below!
This has been a blog post from Chip Bit Sid, a UK based Chiptune Blogger. Along with monthly features here on The ChipWIN Blog, I post once a week on my own blog. To get in touch, please message via the social media links below! I also do my own music under the banner as ‘Kojin’.