This time of year is special; everyone affected by winter’s chill thaws out with the earth once warmer weather hits. Every year at this time, I always try to listen to a new playlist to compliment being able to spend more time outside and enjoying nature. This month’s review is a special new release by DjjD (who was previously part of the ChipWIN staff!) called ‘Divergence’.
This album makes you think, it fills the silence in car rides spent driving through repetitive scenes, and it expands roots by using chip elements complimented with more atmospheric textures. DjjD not only demonstrates his compositional technique, but also showcases solid production chops, the gorgeous voice of Parvarthi Gopinath and live violin played by Jeff Ball. Taking these elements and creating it into one solid project, this album flows cohesively and reminds me of the perfect score for an advertisement.
Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie back again with another of my Hoodie Highlights interviews! Due to crazy life happenings (i.e. getting MARRIED <3 ), it’s been a few months since I’ve had the time to manage one of these enjoyable talks. And what better way to bring the feature back than with a follow-up chat with my good snarky Brit friend & initial Hoodie Highlights focus, Andrew Kilpatrick? Read along as we talk all retrospective-like, as Kilpatrick brings his 5+ years of awesome chiptune contributions to a close. Enjoy!
You might’ve heard of The Laohu through the grapevine, or via his track from ChipWIN: Volume 3, Bash of the Kaiju, or maybe you’ve just been a long-time fan of his since he started releasing music back in 2012. Regardless, it’s been almost three years since he last released an album through Bandcamp. In mid-March, he put out his latest musical endeavor through the Pxl-Bot label entitled ‘FROgs’, and the result is an eclectic mix of genres spanning progressive rock to electro. Without further ado, let’s take a look at The Laohu’s latest piece of work! (more…)
Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here. I feel like today’s a good day as any to debut my brand spankin’ new interview column, ‘Hoodie Highlights‘! As much as I’ve enjoyed writing my beer and chip column the last several months (which I do plan to continue as I find the time), a big part of what keeps me involved in the world of chip is my direct, personal relationships with artists & fans in and among it. I’m a fairly personable guy, it’s true! (provided you can overlook the occasion dickbutts…). And that lends itself to interviewing folk! Mostly, though, I enjoy it, and think that just maybe y’all might too!
On that note, let’s get on with this first interview. Featuring none other than the snarky Brit that everyone hates to love (but generally does anyway), Andrew Kilpatrick!!
Brandon L Hood (Hoodie): So we’ve “known” each other for, what? Around a year now? In that period you’ve pretty much (in my mind) gone from beiing “that snarky Brit on cm.o who did that cool cover of the Wintersun track” to “that snarky Brit who does ALL THE THINGS”. hahaha
Andrew Kilpatrick (AK) – haha, yeah, I think it’s like a (torturous) year and a half now? It’s been too long (￣□￣) . Originally it was just Pxl-Bot but then I flew the coop to set up TWG before rolling back and working on both. Then WeeklyTreats and eventually NTWRK came out of what we viewed as holes in the scene which could be doing with filling by dedicated peeps. and voila, all the things.
Hoodie – That’s… a *LOT* of projects. And that admission is coming from ME. haha I realize it’s a bit of one thing leading to another, but why so many things? Or rather, why so much involvement in and around the chiptune/chipmusic world?
AK– I can’t remember how I actually got into chip to begin with. I think it was something to do with little-scale links on a free album blog site. Anyway, eventually I got two releases for the oldie label Betamod together. Around then Alex Kelly and I were super pals at college, and I told him about it all and it turned out he was interested in chip too. Eventually he floated the idea of doing a label and about 2 months later we launched Pxl-Bot! After about six months of Pxl-Bot, often releasing between 2 and 3 times a WEEK, I was exhausted. I eventually left the label in the hands of Alex and went off to figure out what I wanted to do. TWG came out of this, out of a want to start blogging along with a set of releases which were more eclectic, as with Pxl-Bot in the start we were both a bit young and dumb and just released shit for the hell of it, like MONODEER’s debut alongside some piece of shit 1-day famitracker EP I spat out. Young and dumb.
Anyway, TWG started doing releases, I then began blogging in what I guess is now my trademark ‘blunt fairness’ style and the mission statement of TWG slowly became tied to experimentalism in chip.
I came up with the idea of WeeklyTreats in a shower…
Hoodie – Best ideas ALWAYS happen in the shower.
AK – …phoned Alex Kelly, and then about 3 hours later we were in a Subway fleshing out what is now WeeklyTreats 2013. With artists, we wanted a mix of the ‘big guys’ we’d not worked with before, ‘smaller guys’ we thought were talented and a bunch of people from the TWG/Pxl-Bot rosters (in fact WeeklyTreats often opened doors to label releases!).
And then NTWRK is us being older and dumb I guess. realizing that these three ideas were disparate enough we decided to give them a ‘conglomerate’ name. NTWRK isn’t a fusion of the three at all, really it’s a ‘name tag’ to Alex and I as a production/curating team, and an arm of promotion that links the three for better synergy. The mixes are as promo for people from the three projects and beyond AND something to prepare people for NTWRK’s end goal; live shows.
Hoodie – Yeah, I see that now (regarding NTWRK). And it makes sense! Almost a way to “brand” the collective of projects so to speak.
More or less, this.
AK – Ps Aviel Brown says hi.
Hoodie – Hi Aviel!!
You referenced something you’ve become a bit infamous for via your album reviews & Volume 2 judging: as you said it, your trademark “blunt fairness” style. It’s stirred up some flak here and there, sure, but all in all I think most folk have appreciated the honesty. I know I have!
AK– I’ve been ‘blessed’ with a headstrong belief that my opinions matter or are in some way objectively ‘right’. They aren’t, obviously, but when it comes to being critical in my opinion there is absolutely no room for compromise, or to consider any work-relationship context when looking at another’s stuff. TWG was never meant to be a PR blog, it’s a critical blog through and through because that’s the type of journalism I want to do, and what I’ve learnt from writing on TWG has been invaluable to me from a career’s point. Not only that, but it’s that type of critical outlook that actually benefits the artist; if you’re only being told you’re great, you aren’t going to move forward as fast as when someone is telling you what’s wrong, and I’ve had many people come to me privately after I’ve reviewed and panned their release thanking me. As long as you’re not being critical as a means to get personal, I think there should be far more of it going on in the scene.
Hoodie – Honestly, from what I’ve observed the artist responses from some of the more “harsh” reviews seemed to be more appreciative than even those of the positive reviews! I think most folk do appreciate the constructive criticism when it’s delivered in such a manner: straightforwardly and without bias.
Outside of that, it *IS* ultimately just one man’s opinion after all. Grain of salt and all that jazz. ;)
AK – ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ yh but 1 well boss man yo
Hoodie– ｡◕ ‿ ◕｡
Regarding NTWRK transitioning to it’s end goal of live shows, anything to report on that yet?
AK– Yes! We’re sponsoring a gig in Southampton in the end of June! More info on that will be around soon. Also we’re planning a very special opening to the NTWRK live shows hopefully for the end of this year!!
Hoodie – Now THAT’s exciting! And I knew it was only a matter of time until y’all started getting involved live. haha It’s a fairly different creature, but a real blast to be involved in. Particularly to me, since live chiptune is what really pulled me in anyway.
AK– Yeah, it’s a fucking travesty it’s taken this long for us to knuckle down and go for it. Super huge big ups to Connor Fowler who asked us to help and sponsor the Southampton gig, as without him I don’t think things would be moving as fast as they are. I mean, at this point we have contacts from 3 years of Pxl-Bot, 2 years of TWG and the countless WeeklyTreats too, it seemed like such a waste not to exploit those in a live setting!
Hoodie– I can relate with that 100%. It’s one thing to rock some bombass projects (…did I really just say “bombass”…?) on the intertoobs like a BAMF, yet completely different to bring it IRL. And rather intimidating! Although I’ve found the transition isn’t quite as jarring as you might think, especially when you have other BAMFs to work with for the live shows. That makes *ALL* the difference in the world. And it looks like that’s the case for y’all too!
So best of luck pulling that off, and growing that venture into the next big thing! Will be yet *ONE MORE THING* for me to jump across the pond for. ;)
AK– oh yay. <3
Hoodie– Seriously, teleporation nodes, man. I NEEDS ‘EM.
AK – I want a jet so I can fly to all the gigs.
Hoodie– I suppose owning a jet w/limitless fuel would also suffice. :3
Or a dragon. Maybe Kubbi could lend us a couple? Pretty sure they have those in Norway.
AK– They’re not quite as practical though. Where do you park a dragon even? Can you valet a dragon?
Hoodie– Hmm… Clearly, you’ve thought this through a bit better than me.
AK– You don’t get 4 projects on swole without some overthinkin’ yo.
Also, MAGFest 13? You’re coming, right? COMMIT TO IT. RIGHT NOW. IN THIS GORRAM NTERVIEW. PINKY PROMISE IT. OR WE’RE GETTING A DIVORCE.
AK– No I wanna go Pax South. hur hur hur
Both will be damn good times, no doubt about it, but still… WE’RE THROUGH, BUB.
…after the interview is done. :3 Continuing on with such, tell me a bit about how y’all choose artists for/curate your releases/compilations/etc?
AK– First off talent. Obviously. From here it depends on the project. Overall Alex and I have always been really pro-newguys, Pxl-Bot’s main aim was always to put really new people and debuts next to more established people (Monodeer, AndaruGO and HunterQuinn and probably countless others all released their debuts with us on Pxl-Bot!). For TWG they’ve got to have that experimental edge, that ‘TWG sound/style’, but also because the site doubles as a critical blog they’ve also got to be as close to perfect as possible, hence TWG’s roster is entirely hand-picked. And then with WeeklyTreats they’ve also got to be reliable, especially last year, as it’s one of those projects that can really fall apart if an artist we’re working with isn’t into it 100%. I consider myself really lucky to work with the people I have though, ESPECIALLY on TWG were I consistently get the chance to release music by people I respect immensely. Also, this year on WeeklyTreats and NTWRK I’ve been able to work with Sebastian Tomczak aka little-scale aka the guy that got me into chiptune, and it’s been an overwhelming honour to do so (not to mention the TOMES of other incredible talent we’ve put stuff out with this year or curators that have helped out with WeeklyTreats!)
Also sending pastries helps.
Hoodie– If sending pastries fails, send beer. #NeverFails
AK– Not that cherry shit doe. Who wants to drink bread-like cherry? Why?
Hoodie– -shrugs- MORE FOR ME.
Outside of your other ventures, what’s up with Andrew Kilpatrick: the chipmusician? Anything planned?
AK– Yes actually! Minus the two recent releases under my ‘spaceaser’ alias, ‘Tangelo‘ and Singular, I’m working on a third ‘colour’ EP for the aforementioned Betamod label! Beyond that: a few more comp tracks, planned split with Vegas Diamond, continuing WeeklyBeats (managed every week so far!), hopefully putting together a super trippy live set and also Alex Kelly and I have been talking about doing a collab project for years… so watch out for ‘yumikumi’ too! ^_^. Also another alias called ‘thrones’ which is apparently cursed is making a move…
Hoodie– hahhahhahha Real secret to your success: you just get bored too damn easily, right? ;) <3
AK– hahahahaha so unbelievably close to the truth. If I had an xbox or a nice guitar then WeeklyTreats probably wouldn’t have happened.
Hoodie– I’ve said it all before, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t mention yet again how (last year) you were also both instrumental in helping me successfully reboot The ChipWIN Blog and contributed a good deal on the judges panel for Volume 2 (your “blunt fairness” definitely helped me open up and be a bit more… honest haha). Pxl-Win was a damn fun side-release too!
AK– Thanks, working with the blog was a lot of fun and an absolute ton of useful experience for me, and while I was soppy to have to leave to focus on other things I think it was for the best and the blog is still growing! Pxl-Win turned out surprisingly well I think! The Pxl-Win release sounded oddly like a compilation Alex and I would have put together anyway, and that plus the incredible mastering by S.P.R.Y made it not sound like a mixture of ‘rejects’ and ‘oddities’ And, to be honest, most of my favourite entries were on Pxl-Win, and it opened the door to work with some incredible artists too, I really enjoyed the experience and I think it went better than it could ever possibly have gone! As with the Vol 2 judging, yeah, I loved it, but it was such hard work. Part of me is sad I won’t be able to do it again this year, but then again, I know I’ll be using the effort to focus on less stressful things and my place is being filled by some INCREDIBLE talent, so, probably for the best for everyone. ;) (Also working for Brandon for another summer? EWW).
Hoodie – Ima gonna miss u 2, bby. :*
Any other thoughts, plots, shenanigans, dickbutts to mention before we wrap this up?
AK – Got a plethora of releases out on TWG soon including new stuff from barbeque and Love Through Cannibalism, Pxl-Bot is going to re-launch sometime in the nearish future and WeeklyTreats is gunna keep on trundlin’!
Thanks for having me you dick. butt.
Hoodie– Awesome. Looking forward to pretty much all that. Almost as much as I’m looking forward to being done talking to you (j/k ilu bby 5evar <3 ).
Ahoy there, ChipWINners! Welcome back to the blog! Now as I’m sure many of you are aware, we’ve recently outdone ourselves again with the release of our second epic annual compilation! Having enjoyed continued success with it, we danced, drank Cherry Wheat and made merry with all of our friends!
Then, as with all great celebrations in life, we woke up the next morning in a state of panic as we realized our terrible predicament: we had 99 problems, and all of them were songs! (Well, 95 to be exact…but I wanted a Jay-Z joke.) Needing to do something with at least some of this residual music (which was mostly pretty damn good), we here at ChipWIN made a deal with the devil and agreed to allow our Editor-in-Chief to create a joint release with us to handle some select tunes from the surplus. In turn, the mighty Kilpatrick, in all his Satanic might, used his silver tongue (by which I mean he spoke plain English with an English accent) to bend the rules (which, technically, did not exist for side-releases!) to allow two additional songs of his choosing that weren’t part of the bundle to be included with album. We acquiesced, and soon thereafter, Devil Kilpatrick, along with his cohort Alex Kelly (who’s a pretty swell guy, actually) turned out what would be Chiptunes = WIN first joint release with another netlabel: PXL-WIN!
Now I know what you’re thinking: should I listen to this… bedeviled album? Is it worth risking my soul to listen to an… abomination these English demons have wrought upon chiptune?
The answer, quite simply, is yes. But don’t fear, for I, Kuma, the bear in a black man’s body, will lead the way through the 17 layers of WIN and prove to you this is a journey worth taking.
Track #1: Deeksha by AlexOgre
First up to the plate is Alex Ogre, a young man from Russia who busts out some incredible stuff on LSDJ. Taking full advantage of the program’s capabilities, Alex has become one of several artists whose work has progressed to the point that it has become exemplarychiptune, and that isn’t a bad thing at all.
A nice, steady bass line, strong use of snappy snares and arps, and a simple, dream like melody all combine to make a song that kicks off PXL-WIN in strong, confident fashion. Put bluntly, this song is a dancer’s dream. Its the kind of song that, when the chiptune community goes out to a venue like 8static, I/O chipmusic or Pulsewave, we expect to hear, and that’s exactly what Alex Ogre wants. He wants to keep you on your feet, and quite frankly, if you don’t want to get up while he’s playing this track, well keep listening to this album, because clearly you’re dead inside and you need chiptune to work its magic on you!
Track #2: C-Side (Tetanus In My Connector Pins) by AutoReMi-PK
Speaking of derpy chiptuners and dickbutts, this second track is one I’m especially fond of as it’s by my friend AutoReMi-PK. You might know Remy from his blog posts here on ChipWIN, or for his level headed attitude in the ChipWIN group, or, most likely, his derpy antics with Ryn and Hoodie in my interview with them about BRKFest! Regardless of where you know him from, or if you didn’t know him at all, one thing that you do know now thanks to PXL-WIN is that he’s also an adept chipmusician!
Specializing in Famitracker composition, Remy takes heavy influence from numerous genres, companies and franchises (most notably Megaman, Super Smash Bros, Kirby, and anything Motoi Sakuraba has touched), which he then uses to craft tunes that run the gamut to fun and quick to lengthy and full of emotion. With its broad pulsewaves, militaristic snares and arpeggios that compliment the melody perfectly, Remy’s “C-Side (Tetanus In My Connector Pins)” is a fine example of the perfectionist lurking inside this affable young man.
Confession time: I’m a sucker for fighting games. The button mashing action, visceral visuals and especially the adrenaline pumping music just make me excited in ways I can’t describe but can be seen at MAGFest for yourself. So when I first heard irq7’s “Twisted”, I couldn’t help but smile the biggest, shit eating grin the world has ever seen! From the moment the perfectly timed build up leading to the sinister words “I try to scream…GO!” drops into the hook, irq7 drags you into the ring and doesn’t let go until he’s knocked you out.
I’m especially fond of this song as it represents a nice compliment to cheapshot’s “Jambo“, a song I’m fond of as it, too, is evocative of a fighting game theme. But while “Jambo” is reminiscent of music heard in Tekken Tag Tournament, “Twisted” takes a more Street Fighter styled approach, reveling in its use of aggressive kickers, heavy, pulse pounding bass and rhythm, and a melody that begs to have a Chun-li style “Yatta!” thrown in over it for good measure!
Very few artists in the scene live up to their name, as most seem to be puns or names of things from yesteryear, and others are just Solarbear. Some, however, let you know from the get go what they’re all about, and no one does that quite as well as AciDnB. Having been inspired after seeing a bevy of Korg synths at an expo in 2010, AciDnB took his love of those sweet, artificial sounds and turned it into a serious passion. The result is music that combines the decadent sounds of KorgDS10 and the finishing touches of FLStudio to create lush tracks such as the song you’re listening to now.
Replete with perfectly timed snares, a fuzzy ass bass line, and some of the coolest and most refreshing non-wub drops I’ve heard in quite a while, “Alien Friendship” invokes stark imagery of flying saucers as disco lights at the most happening party in the galaxy! In a scene that is heavy with dance monsters, AciDnB takes his music a step further by embracing that he is part of a community that loves to boogie on down and runs with it, solidifying himself among artists such as LukHash and Whitely as one of the best beat makers to grace lofi music in the past five years.
As we say goodbye to the stylish and funky “Alien Friendship”, we shift our attention to a song that, admittedly, I wasn’t sure I liked at first. Most of the songs on this album stick out right away and you can tell you’re gonna just be into them the moment they open up. However, when it came to Gab Pearson’s “alcaline pizza”, I wasn’t so sure what to make of it.
It certainly wasn’t a bad song by any means, I just didn’t have any compelling inclination towards it. Over time, however, I found that the song’s strength came from its ability grow on you. Further more, I found that Gab Pearson’s execution in crafting such a song is one of the most deliberate decisions I’ve encountered recently in music, as he’s a musician who switches up his style as often as he eats poutine. Considering that he’s 1) Canadian and 2) he has a song named after the stuff, that means he changes it up a lot.
Making music that ranges from hip hop to chillout to the kind of funky, lofi new jack swing you’d hear in the genesis Sonic games, Gab may be one of the most versatile and understated artists I’ve ever encountered.
Track #6: The Mysterious Shapeshifting Dog by Jay Tholen
What’s this? A slowed down tempo? A dream like rhythm? All accompanied by a masterfully composed lead that could easily be replaced in a live performance by a trumpet or saxophone? Oh yeah, we’re definitely back in Jay Tholen territory. One of a handful of artists to return to ChipWIN on this joint compilation, I don’t think much needs to be said about Mr. Tholen that I haven’t already covered previously in my interview with him. A talented and prolific renaissance man who excels at both visual and musical art, Jay seems to have done everything from dream like music videos to crafting his own video game.
This time around, Mr. Tholen seems to have channeled his love of the Mother series once again to make “The Mysterious Shapeshifting Dog”: a track that sounds like what would have happened to Boney had he eaten the hallucination mushrooms along with Lucas and the rest of the crew in Mother 3. The distorted synth noise, steady, droning snare hits and a rhythm that create an atmosphere that simultaneously mimics a bad trip and an endless walk through a desert, Jay Tholen succeeds once again in leading his audience through another bizarre adventure.
Often times, when art is created, its intended message gets lost, changed, or misconstrued because while its creator may have had one intended message, the observer perceives something very different altogether.
This isn’t possible with monotron’s “Far From Home”. From the moment the pulsewave builds up like a foreign sunrise on a strange horizon, this song makes it very clear that you’re not where you belong. More importantly, it reminds you to make haste finding your way back to familiar ground. In short, “Far From Home” invokes a feeling of fear.
Sure, its got a phat beat and bass line you can boogie too, but if you really listen to your song, it’s very clear monotron is making a statement: that the light of day can only bring comfort for so long, but as soon as the sun sets, a universal fear fills us all. That fear is the fear of the unknown, and of the dark things in our hearts that we subconsciously fill the void with.
Maybe I’m wrong, though. Maybe I’ve mistaken monotron’s message and am just talking out my ass. Why don’t you take a listen and decide for yourself?
Following up monotron in masterful form is a chiptune artist from France named DJ-PIE. A musician who describes himself on his Soundcloud as a “MASTER PEANUS ZDEDEDEDE” (a reference to a ridiculous song he named P E N I S, as well as its various remixes), DJ-PIE busts out with some of the sickest synth play I’ve heard in quite a while!
Having crafted what I deem to be the greatest holiday song ever made for something that isn’t Christmas (even if it wasn’t his direct intent), “K1NG 0V TEH #D4RK” is the perfect Halloween anthem for the chiptune lover in you! Combining almost warlike drum rolls with yowling square waves and a lead that invokes images of a pixelated interpretation of “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the song instills a playful sense of devilishness in anyone who happens to be caught in its spell.
Much like when I first started listening to Gab Pearson’s “alcaline pizza” I wasn’t sure what to make of Orbital Strike’s “The M Word” at first. However, unlike Gab Pearson’s jawn, which took a few consecutive listens for me to feel, Orbital Strike grabbed me by the collar, and reminded me just who the hell we were talking about here as soon as they dropped the bass. I was sold.
A song with a dizzying, almost alien, sounding lead, drum complimenting noise effects, and a club worthy bass line, “The M Word” is a seizure inducing dance hit that’s sure to energize and remind everyone listening that Nate and Nick are the frenetic, dubstepping George and Jonathan of the Seattle chiptune scene! The wubs are something I have to compliment, in particular, because while wubs are certainly plentiful in chiptune, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone outside of Auxcide, DireHit, and Ultrasyd drop them with this much skill.
Following up on the awesomeness that was Orbital Strike is a young man who’s taken the west coast by storm. Having found a strong niche for himself in Seattle and Portland is Graz: a versatile EDM artist who may have put forth one of the coolest fakebit songs I’ve heard since I last saw Misfit Chris live over a year ago!
An artist I first encountered after winning a copy of RAVECORE MASTERS Vol 1 from Initial P of Diskowarp, Graz takes a little bit of everything, from chiptune to gabber, to bonk to electro, and crafts music that is, quite frankly, a raver’s wetdream, and Thunderlizard is definitely proof of his skill!
A song that — very similarly to irq7’s “Twisted” — works equally well on the dance floor as it does in a fighting game, Graz has made a track that continues his proud tradition of making pure party music. From remixes of Crazytown’s “Butterfly” to bass heavy eurobeat, Graz has joined the ranks of heavy hitting DJs in the Northwest such as Initial P/Kid Whatever, Jimni Cricket, and J-Mi & Midi-Dto keep the raver scene alive and well, constantly infusing it with anything from chipstep to happy hardcore.
Track #11: We Screw Up At The End by Mr Wimmer & Solarbear
Sometimes, when you least expect, life throws you a curveball. While that odd pitch is normally perceived as a bad thing, this time around it’s absolutely wonderful. You see, we all know Solarbear sucks. That phrase is as axiomatic on this planet as gravity. Or at least, that’s what I thought until I heard this song. I’d like to think it was Mr Wimmer, with his deep, mournful, distorted crooning, skillful guitar strumming, and beautiful face, is the only person that made this song as wonderful as it is. In all honesty, though, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this: I think Solarbear actually has talent.
I know, it’s a difficult pill to swallow, but listen to this track! Listen to it’s sinister noise, sad lead, and pulsing rhythm that seemingly rains down misery on these two poor saps! It’s almost as if Solarbear is acutely aware of how to craft atmosphere in a piece of music that sounds like someone’s spiral down the drain towards personal oblivion! These two bastards actually managed to not only enhance each other, but they managed to make a song that’s the embodiment of a strung out heroin junkie coming down from his fourth fix on a hot summer day in what used to be The Prodigy’s apartment complex in their video for “Breathe”! It’s…It’s…oh wow, they really did screw up at the end.
In the time I’ve been in this scene, I’ve heard chiptune be many things. I’ve heard it be dance music, I’ve heard it be rock; I’ve heard it take the form of folk and I’ve heard it take the form of haunting industrial. Indeed, I’ve heard chiptune used in many a genre and have heard it described it in many ways, but never before have I described chiptune with the adjective I’m about to use right now.
Sexy. KOOL SKULL’s “Lickwid Lazer” is sexy.
Not only is it the first song I’ve ever heard in chiptune that I can straight up consider sexy, but it’s one of the most lustful songs I’ve ever heard, period. Get past the noise, the snares, the static that fills background with dissonant chaos. Listen to that bass line and kicker. Listen to what KOOL SKULL did. Do you hear that? The man made a thrash song over a reggaeton beat, then sang a carnal, domineering lead over it a la Trent Reznor or Ogre of Skinny Puppy! You can just as easily mosh to this song as you can grind up against someone or tie them up to the bedposts and — *cough* I’m sorry I… I got carried away there.
The point I’m trying to make, though, is that surprises such as this are what make me fall in love with chiptune over and over again! Musicians like KOOL SKULL are the guys that make the work we do here at ChipWIN exciting! Between his visceral illustrations and guttural, raw music, KOOL SKULL is a talent that continually pleases and surprises.
Continuing the visceral noise trend that Kool Skull set is unini with his song “shortcut”. A track that lives up to its name, as it’s only rivaled in brevity by AutoRemi’s “C-Side”, “shortcut” may be short, but it certainly isn’t sweet. Striking hard and fast with a violent assault on the senses that deftly combines noise, off pitch pulsewaves, and frantic drum and bass, this song is an excellent example of unini’s style.
Interestingly enough, however, despite the fact that unini crafts music that’s a slam dancers dream, the man himself is incredibly quiet and elusive! In fact, unini is so mysterious that outside of this contribution to ChipWIN, he can only be found on Bandcamp and noisechannel, where he’s only posted on the forums twice!
If this enigmatic newcomer’s style is up your alley, I definitely suggest checking out his debut album on Bandcamp, and, if you’d like to learn more about him, I’d recommend trying to hit him up noisechannel. Just don’t expect him to say anything back. Bandcamp | noisechan
Track #14: That’s Fer Sure! by + Let’s Disinfect! +
My mp3 player has a tendency of putting tracks in alphabetical order as opposed to track listed order, so while the album actually starts off with the aforementioned “Deeksha”, my Sansa clipzip decided that + Let’s Disinfect’s! + “That’s Fer Sure!” was the first track on PXL-WIN, and as far as I’m concerned it made an excellent choice!
I say this because while a large part of what ended up becoming ChipWIN Vol 2 had to do with flow from one song to another, PXL-WIN seems to have done the opposite and gone back to ChipWIN’s roots by putting out a release that’s much more dynamic. That’s not to say PXL-WIN doesn’t have synergy, but when it comes to energy you don’t get much more dynamic than this!
Deftly combining his punk sensibilities and skills as a singer and multi instrumentalist, the prolific talent that is Sean Monistat (who has contributed to ChipWIN as + Let’s Disinfect! +, Sean Monistat, as well as with his bandmates in Thorazine Unicorn!) proves he is a force to be reckoned with in a song that’s not only full of life but catchy as hell! Between his clever use of the pulsewave being used as a rhythm guitar, his frenetic guitar solo, and mosh pit inducing lyrics, I dare you not to sing the lyrics along with him whenever you hear this jawn!
Honest. Derpy. An astute awareness of being both. These are things I appreciate in a person. Fortunately, Sam Mulligan is all these things and more, as he’s not only a talented musician and a vibrant DJ, but he’s charismatic enough to tell his seemingly never ending stories of failure as well!
Seriously, how can you not love a man who openly admits how damn stupid he can be! “I’m An Idiot!” is another in a long line of songs that is just quintessentially Mulligan. Fun, energetic, quick, and laughter inducing, this particular song earns extra points with me for sounding like “punk” groups I used to listen to in the 90s, like early Green Day a la Dookie and Insomniac, Blink182, and Sum41.
Chiptune gets accused of being a cheap trick that cashes in on nostalgia, and because there are people and companies that do take advantage of this I think there’s a sort of uneasiness about nostalgia being used as an adjective in the scene. While that’s an unfortunate truth we have to live with, nostalgia isn’t something to be ashamed of. In fact, if done properly, thoughts and experiences that invoke memories of yesteryear can be reveled in, and this does so in hilarious fashion. Breaking the mold that chiptune only conjures recollection of the late 80s and early 90s era of gaming, Sam’s tale of whimsical dumb fuckery and unfortunate events causes me to recall my asinine teenage years when I used to rip my favorite cds onto mini discs and get into arguments with friends about how they were the future of music.
As a writer and music reviewer, I strive to put out quality material for you guys to read, because even if not a lot of you read it, for those that do, you know that I put a lot of effort of into what I’ve produced and that means a lot to both of us in the long run. But sometimes, there’s not much to say about a song, and such is the case is shakaboyd’s “Morning Breeze”.
Now why is that, you may ask? Well, sometimes a song isn’t a deep metaphor for darkness in the hearts of man or a moan of carnal pleasure among basement party moshpit. Sometimes a song is just good and fun because its, well, good and fun. Filled with a playful melody, cheerful rhythm, wave hits that sound like a steel drum and a beat you can dance or work out to, shakaboyd has made a song that falls into that simply delightful category, along with song’s like chipzel’s “Can’t Stop Us“, Snesei’s “Button Mash” or Brick Breaker’s “Dusk Runner“.
In the end, for all the fancy adjectives I could try to use to describe this song, no amount of words can compare to the fact that, quite simply, it makes me smile.
I remember the first time I saw Corset Lore. She got up on stage to perform a song she was working on during an I/O open mic session and I was thoroughly impressed by what I heard and saw. I walked up to her and asked her if she’d be interested in submitting to ChipWIN. Little did I know, being very new to chiptune at the time, just how long she had been rocking the scene. I would later find out to great surprise and moderate hilarity that not only had she been kicking ass in the community for years, but that she’s one of the great vets of the East Coast chip scene!
Having performed at venues along side other heavy hitters such as minusbaby, Bitshifter, Kris Keyser, Bubblyfish and Glomag, I’m sure you can imagine my embarrassment at this situation! I like to think childlike enthusiasm must have worked (although I know it was really the work of Devil Kilpatrick) because she submitted the incredible track you’re listening to now!
Wrapping up PXL-WIN with elegance and style, “The Cloma” is a continuation of Tamara Yadao’s proud tradition of crafting music that’s both intricately melodic and easily enjoyable in way that’s accessible to the masses. With its fun beat, energetic lead and sweeping rhythm that combine in a way that make you want to listen to this song all day, Corset Lore manages to make a song that feels comfortable in any setting, regardless of tastes.
That’s a feat that’s certainly rare in a scene many already consider too obscure to be mainstream. I just hope that if I ever get to hear her play this live, that she plays a guitar over this incredibly lofi melody, because it’s just begging for some sweet riffs to be layered in with it a la Square Therapy’s “Miracle Max & The Cliffs Of Insanity“! If Ms Yadao’s music is your cup of tea (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be) I recommend checking out her home page so you can keep up with and learn about not only what she does as Corset Lore, but the various other audio/visual projects she’s invovled with, including foci + loci, frogwell and tu.
That wraps up this album review. I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me through PXL-WIN and that you’ll continue to stick with both Chiptunes = WIN and PXL-BOT. PXL-WIN is the 6th album we here at ChipWIN have helped release since 2012, and while we’ve certainly gained quite a bit of momentum over the past year, we don’t expect to stop doing what we do, and neither should you! So stick around and don’t forget to keep up with us and and all your favorite artists on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr. I promise you, you guys ain’t seen nothing yet.
Original Vol.2 artwork by Nate Horsfall; Pxl-Win revision by Alex Kelly.
Introducing the joint efforts of Pxl-Bot & Chiptunes = WIN, Volume 2’s companion compilation: PXL-WIN!!!
Featuring 15 of the 146 Volume 2 submissions + 2 special guests (17 tracks total), revised album artwork, & mastering from Cincinnati’s S.P.R.Y, this release’ll be another one guaranteed to please your chiploving earholes!
PXL-WIN releases next Saturday, August 17th on the Pxl-Bot Bandcamp after the 7pm EST Nerd Rock Radio listening party on 8bitx.com!