If you’ve been following the Chiptunes = WIN: Vol. 2 writeups so far, you’ve heard some incredible talent covering enough styles of chipmusic to make your head spin. Can you believe that we’re only halfway through this beast of a compilation?! Let’s do this!
Track #22: Gravity Distortion by YZYX
Coming off the heels of the soothing “Miami Lights”, YZYX pulls a bit of a fake out on the listener. For the first 15 seconds, it seems that we have another light and breezy track on our hands. Then BAM!: In an instant, the song launches into lightspeed with furiously kinetic kicks and frenetic, jazzy melodies. This is YZYX’s ChipWIN debut, and he does not hold back. He has stated that this song is inspired by the the universe, dark matter, black holes, and the theory of relativity. It definitely shows! One could easily lay this track over 2001’s Star Gate sequence and it would be a perfect fit. The song is called “Gravity Distortion”, but I think a more appropriate nickname is “Gameboy Destruction”. This track had to be made on an overclocked Gameboy Color, as it crashes any DMG it touches. YZYX is definitely living on the edge of hardware limitations, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Track #23: Infinite Skyline by Beatscribe
Beatscribe is a freelance musician who has composed many incredible tunes for a number of great indie games. He brings his A-game to ChipWIN and showcases his fakebit mastery using the extremely authentic sounds of the Plogue Chipsounds Audio Unit. A strong, determined melody is punctuated with a bouncy bassline. About halfway through, Beatscribe mixes things up and everything gets deliciously circuit-bent. The track starts bursting at the seams with glitched percussion and effects that cut like a buzzsaw. An effortlessly graceful diminuendo returns the song to its original beauty. Upon hearing this, it immediately brought to mind images of Space Harrier; always running towards a horizon that is just out of reach…
Track #24: Dreamscar by Foil Variant
Trying to choose a favorite track from ChipWIN Vol. 2 would be a fool’s errand. “Dreamscar”, however, is most definitely up there for me. Dreamlike arpeggios form the backdrop of the luscious soundscape that this song creates. Foil Variant gives his song and the listener time to breathe and reflect, resulting in a track that is gorgeously downtempo and rich with atmosphere. It’s a truly remarkable highlight of Vol. 2, to be sure. To date, Foil Variant has only released a few tracks, but there is no filler in his Soundcloud. Every composition has been crystallized with loving care into things of beauty. It’s amazing that with only a few tracks under his belt, he’s managed to create one of the most critically acclaimed songs from Vol. 2. If “Dreamscar” is anything to go by, something tells me that our bodies won’t be ready when his first EP drops.
Track #25: DEADPAN DA by Mr. Foetus
The parade of incredibly talented ChipWIN newcomers continues with Mr. Foetus’ “DEADPAN DA”. He lays down an infectious, head-bobbing beat and a groovy bassline. The hook-laden melody is perfect and just when it seems that it’s about to loop, it just keeps building onto itself. There’s a rising intensity to this track while still remaining relaxed and chilled throughout. The whole track has this happy-go-lucky vibe to it, yet percolating beneath the surface one can sense Mr. Foetus’ delightfully twisted aesthetic. I’m not sure how he pulls this off exactly, but he does it with gusto, making this one of those tracks that worms its way into your skull and stays there long after the song is over.
Track #26: Infinite Overdrive by Brick Brker
Brick Brker’s “Dusk Runner” was one of my absolute favorite tracks from Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 1. Therefore, I was pleased to discover that he makes a glorious return here on Vol. 2. Well, he’s proven that he’s no one trick pony! We have another track of unbridled LSDJ bliss on our hands here, guys. “Infinite Overdrive” absolutely rocks your socks from beginning to end. And with a 4 minute running time, the song manages to pull off that jealousy-inducing feminine gift of multiple climaxes.The guy’s only 16 and was born well after the NES was “dead”, yet he somehow carries the formula for Capcom levels of chiptune awesomeness in his DNA. A must listen!
That’s all for now, stay tuned for the next batch of amazing tracks from ChipWIN Vol. 2 next Wednesday! As a matter of fact, keep watching the blog all week for all the latest chiptune info, as well as all kinds of unexpected awesomeness to surprise and delight!
[Turtle Princess] Hey guuuuuuurl. [/Turtle Princess] I know you guys are itching to get through more of these dope chiptunes, so let’s not stall any longer, hmm?
Track #17: SUPER MANLY BROS. X by Phonetic Hero
First up we’ve got Super Manly Bros X by Phonetic Hero, AKA Pete Lepley! You may remember his previous work with us, or perhaps his jamming along with other ChipWIN contributor Theory of N, but if not, you should definitely get out there and check his work on Bandcamp (handy links provided for you at the end of the article!).This track is reminiscent of the first Mega Man X title – which is good because Mega Man X is amazing and had a soundtrack that everyone wishes was the soundtrack to their own life.* I could honestly imagine this being Idris Elba’s theme, were this for the soundtrack of a Pacific Rim SNES game – it’s badass-flavored, with a lot of drive pushing it forward.
Track #18: Oynx by Zef
Oh man Zef! You know, Zef AKA Chris Penner! Another return ChipWINner Zef continues to bring the pain. And by pain, of course, what I mean is sick beats. Zef is known for good dance music, and good dance music is what you get with Onyx. He eases you in, gets you headbobbing, and then suddenly you’re po-going and you have no idea why but you’re sure as hell not going to stop. It’s a nice mix of low and high energy music all in one track. It’s a song that conveys motion: while some songs are just kind of there, as an ambient cloud, Onyx makes the listener feel like they’re traveling – like they’re moving along towards the end of the song, instead of just waiting for it. And at four minutes, the track is long enough to suck you in and make you a part of it without feeling like you’re left unfulfilled and wanting.
Track #19: Face Nation: A Nation of Faces by S.P.R.Y.
S.P.R.Y. (AKA Narayan Choudury) is a newcomer to our compilations – but he’s already become part of the family, having been responsible for mastering the Pxl-Win album. Back to the track, though,the percussion usage here is really fun – S.P.R.Y. makes heavy use of what I like to call “maniac drums,” by which I mean the kind of drums that if you were watching a live person do it, you’d think they were a maniac because their hands would be flying all over the place. This is a perfect example of one of those songs that has both fast parts and slow parts functioning at the same time which makes the song almost seem like clockwork, with each speed functioning as a gear to move the others. You’ve also got a repeated loop as the head, but it ends up changing voicing every few repeats, so the song actually ends up having a lot more depth to it. It’s fried gold, it is.
Track #20: Silverfish Riot by Snooglebum
The mysterious entity known as Snooglebum may be a newcomer to ChipWIN but he’s been quite busy when it comes to making chiptunes – his Bandcamp boasts quite a few albums, which you should go apply to your eardrums. Silverfish Riot is super fun – it’s simultaneously slow, but high energy. I’m not really sure how that works, but it’s quite good. Strong, punchy bass drums always make a song feel tough, and while the melody is a mid-length loop, it ends up being punctuated with a few variations. The song exudes the purest extract of danceyness – while some songs are labeled “dance music,” it takes a lot for a song to actually move someone to move themselves along to the beat more than just tapping their feet, and this song’s got it.
Track #21: Miami Lights by Masikus
The final track here, Miami Lights by Masikus (AKA Angel Hernandez), is nice and trip-hoppy. I love trip-hop. I love chiptunes. So getting them both in one go is pretty fantastic, in my opinion. It’s great chillmode music, and serves as a nice counterpoint to the past several more high-energy tracks. With much slower beats, it’s got this soothing groove going on, and with the nice airy section starting ~1:10, it’s got this nice, wide-open and relaxed feeling to it. It’s just…soothing. Soothing is not normally a quality I ascribe to chiptunes, but this track is just that.
That’s all for this time! Tune in next time, where we will all be covering this album on Brandon’s assorted collection of jaw-harps.** And keep an eye here on the blog, because big things are coming! I know that sounds like the normal blog rhetoric, but I actuallymean that!
*Don’t sass me, boy, you know it’s true.
**I’m joking, we’re not going to do such a horrible thing to you!
…Ahem. Anyway, I’m sure I don’t have to introduce you to our next artist…
Track #46: Active Knowledge – Lucidosity
…Boston chiptune hero Active Knowledge! What we’ve got here is a slice of his self-titled album for all to enjoy, chock-full of dripping square waves and a series of triangle basslines that are so well-executed they make my inner tracker weep tears of envy and joy. This lucid trip is grounded by the repetition of elements that somehow never get tiring, and I really do mean that as a pure compliment. Halfway in, the drums cut down steadily only to resurface stronger than ever alongside some very interestingly layered harmonies. Making a six minute track takes dedication. But making it work takes SKILL.
Track #47: Nario – Hallucinogenic Ethics
Did anyone intend for this chunk of the compilation to be so…uh, ethical? But I digress. We can’t stop here…this is bat country. Nario’s EXCLUSIVE track is a great head-bobber, at parts something I’d consider to have a strong VGM feel but with a rocking kick. I absolutely love the melody beginning at the 0:58 mark, and the way things pick up from there as the lead finally climbs up to a perfect wail. If Nario doesn’t compose on a dance pad, he sure as hell knows how to make you move vicariously. Very cool.
Track #48: Brick Breaker – Dusk Runner
The opening notes inspire flashbacks of Sunsoft’s golden era of video game soundtracks and, yes, that is a really good thing. Brick Breaker brings a flat-out ROCKING track to the table and flips that baby completely upside down. I absolutely love the drum sounds in this track and, while it’s a short one, it’s so very sweet.
Track #49: Sean Monistat – This Computer Can Read Lips
AWW YEAH. Great rhythm? Check. Tight snare? Check. This computer can read lips and then some. Establishing a setting that would feel right at home in any city prefixed by “Neo”, Sean Monistat proves himself here as a talented architect of dystopian vibes. Closing out with some killer glitching, this is one contribution that begs repeat listens…especially for the nicely understated FM-esque synths.
Track #50: SKGB – Infinite Cheap Death Tricks
This is the Konami Code of Neo Killadelphia if ever there was one. Trying to summarize anything SKGB does is a task and a half, and here’s why: He can do so damn much, do it so well, and completely change up an entire song’s game in an instant. This death trick can crunk and thrash with the best of them and everything after the blastbeats around the 3:01 mark dives so far into the realm of completely insane LSDJ wizardry that I could spend literally two weeks fumbling for the words to even describe what I just heard. Easily one of my favorite tracks on the compilation. BASSCHIPTHRASH FTW.
Track #51: PROTODOME – Four Color Hero
It’s a bittersweet reminder that all good things must come to an end, masterfully executed by the always-spectacular PROTODOME. In brilliant technicolor, PROTODOME crafted what is easily the ideal bookend for this massive project, styled ingeniously in the form of what could easily be the end credits of a legendary video game. And true to the spirit of chiptune, sometimes four colors and a wealth of vision is all you need to create a masterpiece. A perfect sendoff, really…one that invites you back to visit its world time and again.
Not even gonna waste time describing MAG at this point (YOU SHOULD KNOW BY NOW!!!). What I AM going to mention are THESETHINGS:
1) – I will be livesharing my location regularly via the ChipWIN Twitter Account, Fb Page, and Fb Group. Wanna find me? THEN DO IT. We will hang. We will party. We will ROCK OUT. I will bear hug you. IT WILL BE GLORIOUS. Especially if you catch my set with Lords of Thunder on Friday at noon. THAT WILL BE ESPECIALLY GLORIOUS.
THERE WILL BE AN OFFICIAL/UNOFFICIAL CHIPMUSIC/DJ JAMSPACE AT MAGFEST!!!!! AWWWWWWWWW YEAAAAAAAAAH~ 8)
Thanks to Nikola Whallon, we have the PA needed to make this happen, so HAPPEN IT SHALL!!! =DDD It’ll be happening in the hall outside the Potomac Ballroom (Hallspace?? LOOOL), & similar to the original Jamspace, will have 10 minute sign-up slots (unless no one is playing/waiting in line; in that case KEEP ROCKIN~). Not 100% when it’ll start going on Thursday, and there will be some shut-down during some of the shows, BUT IT’S HAPPENING IN SOME FORM OR FASHION. So bring your music AND DO IT TO IT!!!
That’s it. Nothing else to say. Except BRING DAT ASS. Oh and…
Ho-Ho-Holy Shit. If the holiday season wasn’t exciting enough, the wonderful/not-workshy/probably mentally unstable people over at Chiptunes = WIN have graced the world with the first in a series of promised themed compilations, starting with the theme of winter. Sounding like a condensed audio personification of Christmas, if this doesn’t get you in the mood for mince pies, roast dinners and eggnog (is that actually a thing or have years of US Sitcoms been lying to me?), then nothing will. You utter Grinch. So without further ado, here is where we break it down:
BR1GHT PR1MATE – Linux and Lucy
Returning for their second bout on a Chiptunes = WIN comp, James and Lydia start proceedings with a sweet and sour swirl. Delicate melodies and jazz/funk fm influences swamp the track, and coupled with sampled voices which narrate, the track jumps between sugar and spice repeatedly; the sugar hook will stay with you for eons.
Having appeared on Fox News, released the acclaimed ‘Night Animals’ earlier this year and been credited for countless game OST’s, the Br1ght Pr1mate freight train appears to be doing the very opposite of slowing. Frequent live performances and an e-performance on the upcoming uber-web-show ‘WWCW 12’, keep a look out for this duet’s fantastic live show too.
Vince Kaichan – Midnight Snowflake
Soft and subtle seem to be the thematic qualities of this compilation, and if so then ‘Midnight Snowflake’ is the template. No jarring dynamic shifts or unannounced jolts, just blissful frolicking through winter tundra and the feeling the melodies could be icicle tendrils. Harmonically robust and beautiful, this track can be added straight to Vince’s long catalogue of fantastic tracks.
With releases as VCMG on Pxl-Bot and others on Noisechannel, Vince has shed his newcomer badge long ago and has since become a well-established name in the chiptune scene. If this is your first experience of Mr. Kaichan’s work, you’re in for an early Christmas treat.
Professor Shyguy – We Three Kings
Convention frequenter and pedlar of pop rock chiptune, Professor Shyguy brings his rather nice (trying not to sound emphatically romanticised here) to a cover of ‘We Three Kings’. How Christmassy does this sound? All of the Christmas.
Not one to do things simply, the climax breaks from the mould to provide a darker and far more Pink Floyd take on the classic carol, with screeching distorted guitars and acoustic fiddling aplenty.
With a full length and a new single both released this year, you’re more than spoiled for material to keep you happy(er than you would otherwise be) over the Christmas period.
Mark ‘TDK’ Knight – Sunrise
The prolific game music composer and BAFTA winner (!) TDK is returning to grace the chip world with his masterful compositions. With a single coming out soon on the deity house that is BleepStreet Records, Mark reintroduces himself here with a chilled and icy jam that melds eastern melodies and jazz elements into a consistently surprising and enjoyable track, with frequent nods to his previous soundtrack work.
With more skills, projects and awards than I can ever hope to cover in this short passage of text, it’d be wise of you to check out the huge repertoire of this brilliant composer and sound wizard. 20 pounds if you don’t see a game you recognise.
Storm Blooper – The Stellar Dendrite
Having been around originally as Sub-Woofer Special since 2008, the reincarnation as Storm Blooper has thus far brought with it two full lengths, a single earlier this year and plenty of live performances, morphing to a more standard chiptune affair to his present day dub inspired grooveathon. And here we arrive and Blooper’s magnum opus, The Stellar Dendrite.
You’ll have noticed the emission of anything even slightly wobble-influenced (now that I’ve pointed it out) and not one to displease, Storm Blooper handles the job solo and with gusto. Whilst not a wobble track per se, the grooves and dub flirts will have you chomping at his hyper sweet bit through the pieces duration and beyond.
Glenntai – Snowfall and Snowballs
With the fondly remembered EP ‘Silly Hats Only’ from 2010 and a new EP in the works and his hands full with the planning and leader of the newly formed and already respected ‘Clipstream’, a monthly online chip festival (it is as brilliant as it sounds), seeing Glenntai’s name appear on this compilation will likely have excited many.
And here is why: complex and experimental melodic tinkering laced into an upbeat and wintery socket, carefully crafted to the smallest degree. Feeling fuller and longer than its mere four minute play time, this masterfully conceived track is a refreshing take on the hyper-happy chiptune of ye olde.
ABSRDST – Let Me Freeze
Since July ABSRDST has released the mammoth-sized ‘Home Sweet Home’, the brilliantly received and diverse ‘Sugar Blossom and the Space Cadets’ and most recently his albumette ‘Rigby Wearing Shades’. Definitely a busy fellow.
Lending his expert meanderings to chipWINter, ‘Let Me Freeze’ takes six minutes of your time to lead you through multiple genres and styles, coaxing out memorable and tightly constructed melodies at every intersection, giving the track an unparalleled flow. Building to an incredible climax with one final violently adrenaline-coaxing twist, ABSRDST sure knows how to do ‘epic’ as well if not better than most.
Daniel Capo – Frosted Over
Featured on multiple compilations including a past Chiptunes = WIN and the fantastic Perelandra Records compilation ‘Tide’, Daniel, has been carving himself a name for professional sounding and presented chilled chiptune. ‘Frosted Over’ is no different.
Mixing EQ manipulation with subtle breakbeats and sporadic melodies, ‘Frosted Over’ has an almost glitch-like quality to its wintery demeanour. The rising a falling of the backing synth’s pitch and volume help add the dreamlike qualities of the understated piano and unimposing harmonies, creating a track that truly embodies the term ethereal.
Jay Tholen – Justice Delivers Its Death
There is a lot to say about Mr. Tholen. The prolific progressive rock and chiptune connoisseur has graced labels as respected as Pause and Ubiktune, with plenty, and I mean plenty, of self-released pieces in between. With his game Dropsy in development under the Tendershoot studio name, Tholen is truly a man of many talents.
And creating catchy chipfolk is one of said talents. Backed by female vocalist(s), the slow crescendo of chiptune and acoustic builds to a tightly woven and emotional end. The lyrics, whilst at times slightly unsettling in an obviously deliberate way, work cohesively with the music to create Tholen’s truly unique and remarkable atmosphere and style.
Vegas Diamond – The Ghost Of Christmas Dance
Featured on the Spanish equivalent of 8bitpeoples, LowToy, Vegas Diamond’s bittersweet jams having begun to tease the ears of chiptune fans everywhere, and here is no different.
Scales flow over each other jumping from major to minor to create that bittersweet tinge of sweet and sour. Starscream (Infinity Shred/Whatever) influenced chords rain from this, sending astral snow into your speakers (I’ve always said the line between space and ice themed is only a contextual one). Featuring one of the most memorable melody and chord progression dualities on this compilation, Vegas Diamond has continued their thus far unblemished record for great music.
The Bitman – Next Stop, Detroit
Visitor on the release pages of Noisechannel and with two other Eps under his belt, Bitman’s dance LSDJ boogies this time go for winter’s thorax. Pulsating drums and scales carry the first half of the track gracefully, before the mid-break switches up the formula into a wide-eyed melodic call and response as scales dance around each other in a hypnotic cycle. Memorable 3/4 hooks and dragging drums help the track stand out from the LSDJ pack, and dissonant bleeps help create and uneasily sub-zero atmosphere. Apparently Detroit is cold this time of year.
shanebro – A Chipwinter Stroll
Winter drum pumps fill the space left between the rising and falling scales of the tracks beginning. Flowering into a melodic to and fro with the beats, Shanebro spends the rest of the track experimenting with constantly shifting melodies and brief motif reprisals. The mid-drum break has a real 80s ad-vibe about it, primed to tug at the nostalgia toggles on anyone’s hearts.
With the release ‘The Sky Is Ours’ over on Noisechannel and a full length in the works, look out for this up-and-comer taking over this place.
an0va – Christmas Time Is Here
Frequenting stages in the US and teasing the general populace with only one released EP thus far, the fantastic ‘The Teaching Machine’, an0va is already a well-known name and unique talent in the chiptune field.
‘Christmas Time Is Here’ starts, sounding eerily similar to a lost song from The Snowman soundtrack, an0va uses a blend of chiptune, guitar and expert atmospheric control to create an audio personification of the festive season. Even before the jazz guitar begins, the track’s slow lounge croon carries the listener, only heightened by the presence of lucid and fluid guitar playing.
Kubbi – Polar Bear Rides
Chiptunes = WIN’s very own Master Of The Tracklisteh provides another track for another compilation in the wake of his fourth full length release, ‘ Circuithead’. With a progressive twist to the melodically founded chiptune, these 80’s-esque synths bring to mind Drive during the winter months, snow drifting and cold stares. Melancholic and with the spirit of the festive months etched into its psyche with great force, this winter paradise stands out starkly in Kubbi’s extensively eclectic as another choice cut.
If you enjoyed this track, definitely check out his other release from this year, ‘Sleet’, and last year’s full length ‘Transmittance’.