Hey folks! It’s ya boi rhyphte here with some more great summer tunes to talk about. In the midst of V8 submission prep, a very special member of our community was working hard on his first feature length release with his new label! I meant to put this out sooner (closer to the album release and farther from V8), but moving sucks (Editor-in-chief’s note: 100% AGREED), traveling sucks, and doing both in the same week is a gigantic pain in the ass.
I like Catskull Records because of its position as the nucleus of the Midwestern scene. There’s a lot of action on the coasts but the great interior of the states is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Toasterpastries, aka Jack Danial Young, has officially been inducted into the same cabal as the likes of Immortan and ChronoWolf, and I’m glad to see it because he’s definitely been on the come-up for a hot-ass minute now.
I also want to point out the awesome fucking album art. Jack took a picture of the solar eclipse (you know the one) with a GAMEBOY CAMERA. What a badass power move, am I right? The font chosen is very recognizable to the LSDJ goonsquad, of which I am a card-carrying member.
Normally I’d say it’s a little late in the game to be bringing out a “Game Boy/LSDJ-themed” album (it’s INSERT_YEAR_HERE, after all), but Jack has a strong argument for reminding us what these tiny old computers are really capable of. Not that any of us here at Chiptunes = WIN have ever actually forgotten. (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
I’m starting with ‘MATHLUV’ because it’s my favorite track personally. Borne of Jack’s research into the ghost channel, ‘MATHLUV’ is at times impressively technical and at others relaxed and daydreamy. The song features extensive and complex noise channel sound design as well as exceptional channel blending. The whole track just feels so cohesive and deliberate. The dreamlike atmosphere dripping out from between the pitch slides and staticky percussion really creates a strong mood. At 1:30 it practically becomes a lullaby until the percussion kicks in again. The inclusion of an oriental melodic motif around 2:55 really makes for an excellent climax as the song goes into its second lap. This track is incredibly chill and I fuck with it super hard.
‘DOS’ is a real thumper. A good ol’ technical vidyagamey blast, to put it lightly. This could definitely be the backdrop of a beat/shoot em up. It’s lively and committed to itself, boasting strong percussion and instrumentation, filling space effectively and catchily. The breakdowns in ‘DOS’ are what really distinguish it, complimenting the “hit and run” style of the track with gripping builds and intricate, dancey sequencing. Like in every other track on this dang album, Jack’s control of the wave channel in ‘DOS’ is superb. This is one fulfilling track – from the gentle introduction to the electrifying climax to the dramatic conclusion, it’s got everything you could want from an LSDJ track and more.
‘PWRMEOW’ is a great example of the power behind sequencing a DMG with other hardware via arduinoboy. The track kicks off with a filtered intro which leads smoothly into the driving backbeat and melody. The wave channel and pulse arps come out swinging and remain dominant throughout the course of the song. The application of effects and samples with the KAOSS pad (that Jack never misses an opportunity to mention) is really noteworthy in this track, with filters and reverbs appearing myriad times throughout. Like in most of the tracks I’ve talked about, Jack’s use of panning here is extremely compelling. While a tad bit repetitive in certain sections, ‘PWRMEOW’ more than makes up for that with its raw gusto. This is a song that just demands to be listened to.
‘MCHASHVA’ is my other favorite track. This track is swollen with minute, technical details and a determined, uplifting energy. A powerful bassline gives the steady beat a lot of character, especially at 1:45 and 2:15. At 3:15 the central melody is emphasized with a chorus of squarewaves at various octaves. I’m getting strong Auxcide vibes from this one, specifically from Fateful Encounter, Auxcide’s submission to the Volume 3 Chiptunes=WIN compilation. Which isn’t surprising, really, as Jack and Auxcide’s compositional methods aren’t all that far apart. The use of octave-scaling arps alongside the primary motifs gives the choruses a dramatic flair. The ending leaves nothing to be desired, with unique variations of the central melody scattering until the song naturally just sort of breaks apart.
All in all, ‘(Empty)’ is full of bangers. It’s heavy yet dancy melodic chiptune and while it’s certainly not doing any trailblazing, it’s an excellent indication of where chipmusic is going in this day and age. And it’s a pretty fucking excellent direction to move in, if I do say so myself.