Greetings and salutations friends! It’s that time once again for a massive postmortem on PAX East. This year, I’m joined by bory of geekbeatradio who was the head of the MAGFest Jamspace this year and also responsible for booking all of our amazing acts. As this article does traditionally cover both the music and gaming portions of PAX East, bory will be covering the music and I will be covering the games – and as per usual, you can navarkigate to each portion by searching #MUSIC or #GAMES. This time around we’ve got a big article for ya, so don’t hesitate to use those to jump around.
Another year, another MAGFest. Ho-hum. Just a bunch of nerds together playing videogames in an overpriced hotel, I don’t get what’s so sp-
GUYS. I’M SO SORRY. Someone locked me in a basement and sent a robot clone to sabotage this article -all in an attempt to make you think that MAGFest SUCKS! DON’T LISTEN TO IT. MAGFEST IS BEST FEST! The person who is Adam Seats and is definitely probably not a robot clone is here once again to give you the rundown on all the great music you missed because you weren’t there/were there but were doing something else/were there but can’t remember because of REASONS.
As I first came to know of Toni through ‘Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3‘, his first impression was a lasting one. I can count at least on 50 different occasions showing that track specifically to friends (who were really never too keen on electronic music in general) that there’s a lot that can be done in the genre. While most just turn towards popular artists and whatever is blaring on the radio, it’s amazing what you can find with just a little research. Now, being a part of this community, I guess it eases the amount of sifting through unpleasant tracks because, by and large, this place is filled with talented musicians and amazing composers. We come here to hear new tunes but we stay for the wealth of knowledge that gets passed around. Now then, ladies and gentlemen, I present Toni Leys.
With a cover like that, you can tell at least one of two things.
Based out of Melbourne, Australia, tiasu is an incredibly prolific chipmusician. His name should ring a few bells in the minds of avid fans of the genre, but especially in followers of the Chiptunes = WIN blog. ‘Rising’ is the most recent in his series of uniquely charged chipmusic albums, and can be considered the direct sequel to his last album, ‘Insomnia‘. Additionally, this album is his third full-length release in 8 months, and the quality is just as good as – if not better than – ‘Insomnia’. Combining elements of chipmusic, progressive metal, synthpop, electro, and other types of modern electronic dance music, this album is truly one of a kind. Let’s explore it in a little more detail. (more…)
Hey, ChipWINners! Many of you are probably familiar with the prolific and talented VGM remixer Benjamin Briggs, especially all of you OCR veterans out there. Benjamin Briggs’ music is always of the highest quality, and his newest release – filled to the brim with completely new and unique music – is no different, and could honestly be one of his greatest releases thus far. Hot on the heels of his ‘Patreon EP’ is ‘FEARLESS LIVING’, an album based on the last six months of Ben’s life itself.
The album opens with the triangle bass-heavy ‘Recurring Dreams’. Kick-snare patterns common in electronic music are combined with octaves, string voices, square-tone melodies, and several unique chordal sequences in order to achieve a very mysterious sounding tone. The album’s namesake and its fourth track, ‘Fearless Living’, introduces the listener to a simple chromatic note progression, and builds on it with a glitchy, breakbeat-esque drum pattern before segueing into its sawtooth bassline and eerie, danceable tones. The track changes in mood close to the two-minute mark, and Ben’s musical prowess really shows with a flawless key change to go with it, finishing off with a return to the main theme of the track, but slower, adding a slightly more relaxing feel to what was previously a tense track.
Influences from dance, funk, jazz, and game music can all be heard on ‘FEARLESS LIVING’. The album’s third track, ‘New Game Plus’, is a perfect meld of dance and game music, for example. The track’s melody may remind the listener of the end credits to an old game that they just can’t quite put their finger on. A looping percussive rhythm, the likes of which appear in many popular dance tracks, helps encourage the listener to pay more attention to some of the more intricate touches in the track, such as the quiet arpeggiated square chords behind the melody around the 2:18 mark, or the harmony played behind the same melodic phrase at about the 2:30 mark. Upbeat, swing and dance vibes abound in this track that’s sure to be a fan favorite.
As can be heard in tracks from his previous releases, such as ‘The Grinding of Isaac’ from ‘The Briggs Effect 2’, Ben’s music displayshints of jazz and funk overtones. One track where the influence really shines through is ‘Sweet Berry Wine with Flexstyle’, a mellow, melodic solo-driven song. Memorable chords in a bluesy key provide a backdrop for square-tone riffs and FM-esque synths that are sure to please. The chip melodies in ‘Selecting Continue’ are also reminiscent of jazz music, being laid over a very catchy rhythm. The album closes out with ‘We Could Quest Together’, featuring some seriously phenomenal guitar work that works very well with the chip and other electronic voices throughout the track. Improvization is a huge aspect of jazz music, and a majority of the track sounds improvised to a great extent, making this one of my personal favorites.
Ben Briggs isn’t the only musician to show his incredible talent on the album, however. Two guest artists provided remixes for Ben’s tracks, the first of which being ‘Methods (Flexstyle’s Mad Scientist Remix)’. The track screams house and electro influence, and an extremely aggressive bassline in this remix helps to bring this danceable track to an awesome climax at the three-minute mark. The second remix, ‘We Could Quest Together (General Offensive! Remix)’, changes a number of the voices and solos in the track and gives it a much more heavy metal feeling, but not before faking the listener out with a calm, acoustic opening, making for a flawlessly expectation-shattering introduction. Chip instrumentation is prevalent, and the snare roll buildup morphs the track into a headbangingly excellent ballad.
Each individual track holds a lot of meaning to Ben Briggs, as was hinted at near the beginning of the article. The album details his own journey for the last six months of his life, and you can really feel the emotion and love put into every song. The album is available as a pay-what-you-want download on Bandcamp, and this is definitely something that every avid chipmusic enthusiast should pick up. Keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive interview with Ben Briggs himself about ‘FEARLESS LIVING’ soon, right here on The ChipWIN Blog!
Composer, arranger, performer, health nut, net streaming personality.
Quite the character, Ben has been composing and producing music for the past decade in an effort to achieve super stardom. Starting out at OverClocked ReMix, he moved up the ranks of remixers with an impressive collection of re-imagined video game tunes; sometimes collaborating with fellow artists and creating newbands in the process.
Yes, Ben has been around for quite a while. Having worked with the guy in the past and coming to know him as a great friend over the past 2 years, I can certainly tell you he was determined about one goal throughout the years, far above the others: being a video game composer. Ben has picked up quite a lot with his time spent in FL Studio. Utilizing his abilities to create originals and video game remixes alike, his skills grew exponentially. When he had told me he got a gig as a video game composer, I knew one of his lifetime achievements was met. (more…)