Happy New Year ChipWINners! Welcome back to my column, So You Wanna Make A Chiptune! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Normally, I’ve reserved SYWMAC for the review of hardware and software related to the production of chiptune to help you determine what would be best suited for you. However, with this being the first article of the new year, I thought I’d talk about something just as important: motivation.
I’m sure a great many of you have made resolutions to become more active, steadfast and prolific with your creative endeavors. Just like with any other resolution, I know you’re going to need help staying focused. It’s okay: concentrating on new goals, New Year’s resolutions or otherwise, can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources within the scene to help you stay motivated! If you’re willing to work towards your larger goal by doing smaller goals, you’re guaranteed to make your dreams a reality in no time. Let’s not waste any more time. Come along with me as I guide you beautiful unicorns to pristine waters that I hope you will drink from!
Robot Unicorn Attack is TM and C of Adult Swim Games
It’s time to get classy tonight on The ChipWIN Blog! And by that I mean, of course, I’m going to do my first “manifesto” with a focus on booze & chip from Great Britain. Aren’t you thankful you can’t hear the extraordinarily terrible British accent that I’m absolutely affecting on this entire article as I write it? Because I totally am. In my head. Jolly good show & all that rot. Sounds just like the beer fox actually (don’t worry; you’ll meet him soon).
At any rate, Beer & Chip Vol.6 is going to be all about…
Morland “Old Speckled Hen” Ale & Mark ‘TDK’ Knight
I initially picked up a sixer of Old Speckled Hen on my brother’s suggestion. While we don’t always see eye to eye on beer choices, this one was a pretty good call!
Old Speckled Hen is a smooth, easy drinking, refreshing ale with some tasty malty flavors. Just the slightest bit of sweetness, but not enough to “ruin” it in my mind. With that rich amber color, it’s a beautiful looking beer as well, especially poured into a tall pint glass and left sitting in the window for the sun to shine through (which is a terrible damn idea; your beer will get warm way too gorram fast!).
Classy, classy Hoodie.
This could easily become a go-to beer for me, particularly in the warmer months; except as an import it’s a bit too pricey to be a regular grab (around $12 for a sixer in my neck of the woods). I expect I’ll still buy it on occasion, and would definitely be willing to try its counterparts (“Old Golden Hen” & “Old Crafty Hen“) were I to run across them.
But nevermind what I think about this tasty ale! Why should I waste words talking about it when you can listen to a fox puppet tell you all about it?? (brilliant advertising campaign).
Truth be told, while I like this English beer pretty well I mostly purchased it to assist in making a smooth segue to my UK chipartist, the demoscene legend Mark ‘TDK’ Knight (nevermind the fact that his chosen alcoholic beverage isn’t beer of any kind…).
If you’re unfamiliar with that name (or have only seen it popping up around the intertoobs within the last year-ish), don’t feel bad. TDK has only recently returned (2012) to making chipmusic after a considerably lengthy hiatus (approximately 19 years!!!). And while I could delve into his considerable back story of early chipmusic creation (he began in 1984), in depth demoscene involvement (google Anthrox and Melon Dezign) & subsequent video game music composition (skim his Bandcamp bio for that impressive list), I’d rather focus on his current efforts! In particular, his aptly titled full length album ‘Reawakening’.
This excellent 11 track chip album is a combination of brand new jams & revisited tracks from his past, all created using a mix of his well established Commodore chip savvy and modern music production skills appropriated in more recent years. As a whole ‘Reawakening’ screams of compositional experience and refined talent; covering a gamut of musical styles, every single track is an engaging and addictive listen. Were I forced to choose a favorite from the release, I’d likely go with ‘Erethism’; there’s something about the crazy, happy energy of that jam that gets me grinning like an idiot every time!
In addition to this powerful comeback album, TDK also managed to lock-in Henry Homesweet to do a killer remix of his track ‘Nicotine Pang’, which is released separately via Bleepstreet Records here:
To complement his return to chipmusic, TDK has begun performing it live as well, incorporating his talented & frenetic fiddle playing. This unique addition enhances what is already a quality live set. In a short time, TDK has performed at a solid handful of European events over the past year, up to and including SuperByte 2013, with a spot at NINTENDOOM 3.0 coming up the last weekend of February.
TDK chip-fiddling up a storm at SuperByte 2013.
To top it off, Mark’s a genuinely delightful character (sorry to out you, bro! <3 ). The 8 Bit Power Hour release party we held for ‘Reawakening’ is still one of the most enjoyable shows we’ve had to date (as well as one of the snarkiest; damn Brits!! ;). And working with him on both ‘chipWINter’ & ‘Volume 2‘ was an absolute honor & a joy. Check out the most excellent end result of both of those contributions below:
I say, I suppose that wraps up this unusually British edition of my beer & chip review! Here’s hoping you get a chance to sample the tasty brew, preferably while listening to TDK’s excellent jams. If you need more British-ness for the night, just go watch a Doctor Who marathon or something, I dunno. Cheers!!
Classy statements, for a classy album. However, this fantastic Bleepstreet release does for me what I have not been able to find in other recent collections: pure, unadulterated vehemence. In a number of ways, cTrix manages to conceive extreme twists and turns in an immensely enjoyable and thrilling expedition down memory lane back into the early 90s. How he manages to pack such nostalgic, complicated rhythms and such wonderful, prodigious leads in each song, off of an Amiga 500, is just beyond words. The radical melodies generated from this machine (and its user), are just incredible.
When I saw this first, I had flashbacks of After Burner.
To really understand what the background of ‘A For Amiga’ was, I asked Chris Mylrae (cTrix) for a few moments of his time to explain how he got to this concept and how he carried out his project:
“A for Amiga is a project which started life as an “album-on-a-floppy” Amiga musicdisk. The Amiga’s tracking system was what had launched me into the world of digital music production when I was a kid. The aim was to make tunes using samples from the original floppies which came bundled with “The Ultimate Sound Tracker” which was one of the first Amiga trackers (late 80’s). I also decided to use some of the samples I spent weekends of my childhood finding at computer swap meets. Pre-internet / pre-sampler that’s how I got my sounds!”
“…I’d love to give you a philosophical reason to why I made these tunes – but it was mainly a technical challenge purely for fun. Once I got going I spent a long time on some of the melodies and chordal structures… but it all came down tunes that were fun to make.”
No deeper meaning than that, folks. He did this because he wanted to test his limits and make something badass. Personally, I can’t stop listening to “DX Heaven”. It’s super smooth, has some really great dynamics, and this is probably just me, but it totally reminds me of Epic Pinball.
I can’t speak highly enough of this album; it’s just THAT good. Each track is a descent farther and farther into a simpler, far more pleasant past. You’ll be thinking about those good ol’ days where all you had to think about was games, sipping on lemonade, and occasionally treading outside of your dungeon/castle/fortress (yes, your house) to hang out with friends. You owe it to yourself to listen to some damn good music, Christmas was tough.
…and no I’m not just saying that because I waited until the day before Christmas to buy gifts. (don’t judge me)