I’ve always had a fascination with how sounds are interpreted by other people; is it too rough, too high or too intense? Why do people like it? That’s because, in the end, and as almost everything else, music is communication. Sometimes, even without noticing it, I have ended up with my nose between sounds I didn’t fully comprehend at the first listen. Of course, the wrong context could ruin your enjoyment of some music, but there are some albums that seem to remain unchanged regardless of where you listen. That is the case with Ca5’s music. The urban landscapes with shades of drum and bass stand by its own and go straight to the point; whether you are at a rave, in the waiting room of your dentist, or enjoying the afternoon coffee. So let’s take a look over ‘City EP’ by Ca5 released through Esctrax.
Hey there, ChipWINners! Welcome back to Quick Shots: the album review column in which I pick the latest and greatest the scene has to offer, and dissect it to help you determine if it’s worth your attention. This time around, I have two EPs for you from two names that should be very familiar to you. The first is from an artist I’ve featured previously on the blog who has upped their game considerably, and has fully embraced the simplicity of the Game Boy as a synthesizer. The other is a certifiable legend who has composed music for titles that helped define childhood for a generation the world over. Let’s not delay any longer. Sit back, relax, and enjoy as I take the time to review the latest from SuperStranger and Ryuichi Nitta.
Hey, what’s up ChipWINners? It’s your boy BronxKuma, welcoming you back to the blog. This time around, we’re going to be doing something very special, as today I’ll be joining forces with Viridian Forge & Chris Krogsgard to cover the latest release from the label: ‘Forest = ВИН‘!
‘Forest = ВИН’ is a truly noteworthy release because it represents continued success for our collective. Taking the opportunity to work with Kubbi and Agri, the founders of the Russian based Forest net label and long time supporters and partners of ChipWIN, we’ve put together a collection of aria that is truly wonderful. This is something we’re all very proud of, as this stellar accomplishment is the 18th album ChipWIN has released in five years! Consisting of thirteen phenomenal tracks from all over the globe, ‘Forest = ВИН’ is a labor of love that is so absolutely resplendent that we just can’t wait to share with you. So let’s not waste anymore time: sit back, relax, and plug in those headphones: it’s time to go wandering into the Forest.
Splendid album artwork by Anatoly Sazonov, vk.com/anatolysaz
Hey toys and joys! It’s your boy Kuma back from his hiatus fighting gorillas and asking people to tell me their secrets! And in turn, I’ve learned so many things. So, so many dark and terrible things about all of you.
But that’s not what this is about! This article is about us pushing to get these ChipWIN Volume 1 write-ups written & released so we can make way for the upcoming Vol. 2!
So with that being said, let’s get started!
Founder of the BitMasters netlabel — which has produced work by artists such SMILETRON, Whitely, StarPilot and Kedromelon — the Canadian who calls himself Jake Deadbeat is incredibly skilled at what he does. Whether you’re into jungle dnb, ambient breakbeat or thematically epic chiptune, if you enjoy music that both inspires intense moods and visuals as well as makes you want to get up and bust-a-move, this is an artist you should definitely pay attention to. You can check out deadbeatblast’s other work (including my favorite song by him, Hyperspace V. 1.2) on Soundcloud, or follow what he and several other artists are up to through his netlabel.
Founder of 8bitSF and co-counder of monobomb records along with minusbaby, Morgan Tucker may arguably be the most prominent and passionate promoter and producer of lo-fi electronic music and chiptune on the west coast, and his love for both is evident in everything he does. Having rocked a of wide array of abandoned tech from modded Gameboys and C64s to Vocoders and 808s, crashfaster has crafted some of the catchiest chiptune as an artform that the genre has to offer. Creating songs with incredibly dancey rhythms and drum lines to reflective lyrics like those of the song “time” to instrumental grooves such as “ascension”, Morgan knows how to get a crowd moving (even if it is to lyrics that are sometimes heartbreaking as hell).
Perhaps the most notable aspect of crashfaster is its transformation from being a formidable solo act to being a 4 person hivemind with the inclusion of Ryan Case on guitar, Devin Nixon on drums, and Amy English with her incredibly sultry vocals. The result has been an act that has gone on to rock some of the coolest venues across the country, including the DNA Lounge in San Fran, I/O Chip Music showcase in NYC, PAX East Jamspace 2013, and, most importantly, MAGFest 11 this past January. If crashfaster is your thing, you should definitely keep up with them on Facebook, and check their homepage for upcoming events.
Surprisingly young for someone in the chiptune scene, Frostbyte — the artist formerly known as Iamcloud — is a classically trained guitarist whose tutelage has provided a strong musical foundation for an artist who has gone on to rock the monthly Ustream concert series Clipstream by producing electrical, vivid, colorful music that invokes as much passion aurally as it does visually. The result is a synesthetic experience that can only be described as awesome. So awesome, in fact, that even more prominent musicians such as Br1ght Pr1mate have taken the time to personally express their amazement at how deftly skilled Frostbyte is, as he and other young contemporaries such as Vince Kaichan and Dire Hit (other young upstarts who are also still in high school) have come to represent the full promise and potential of the next generation of chipmusic. But don’t let Harmonix be the only evidence of his awesomeness: head on over to his Bandcamp and let albums such as SHUT IT AND DANCE 2012 EP speak for themselves.
Patrick Phillips aka Fraktal Face is a regular attendee/participant of events like Pulsewave, I/O Chip Music and Control Flow in NYC as well as an artist on the Jellyfish Frequency netlabel and a staple of the New York City chipscene. Whether he’s performing or composing, Pat brings a combination of videogame nostalgia and love of DnB, trance, 80s house, and techno to the chipscene and does it incredibly well. The result, while sometimes lengthy (Patrick has become notorious for being the guy who needs more than 5 minutes at open mic) is always worth it. Fraktal Face is one of the few musicians I’ve found in the chip scene that know how to not only build up to an awesome experience with each song, but know how to wind it down and end it just right, as well. While “Did You?” is definitely a strong example of the amazing skill set he has as an electronic musician, “Battle Face” is a noisier, more frenetic example of this same skill that’s highly reminiscent of music from games of the 32Bit era of gaming, particularly games such as Zero Divide. Its unusually pleasing pitched noise frequencies, heavy bass and glitchy rhythms just make you wanna get down. If you wanna keep up with Fraktal Face, Soundcloud is the way to go. He doesn’t post frequently, but when he does, it’s always worth it.
A skilled musician who’s been honing his craft for 12+ years and has produced soundtrack work for various computer games, Sean combines his classical sensibilities with the passion of his inner gamer to create music that appeals to a wider audience than expected. Whether it’s a foray into darker tones with industrial pieces such Trant Raznor, more traditionally sounding chip/vgm work he’s done for games such as Laser Bombs 2.Bro, or vocal tunes such as Lost the Deposit–a song that reflects on a relationship gone awry– NickelPUNK is an musician that consistently delivers powerful, thought provoking music with each release he puts out.
For those of you who are digging Stardrive, or for those of you who enjoy vocals with their chiptunes, I do highly recommend downloading I Miss Boston or his surprise release EP, All I Could Do (which features a track with vocals from our very own Ryn!). I also recommend checking out his work on Soundcloud, as you can also listen to music he’s contributed to video games such as Bosses Forever 2.Bro, as well as a preview track off his soon to be released EP, The Image of Cool.
Taking their name from the signature puzzle game of yesteryear, this young trio of upstarts from Rochester who have helped define the upstate New York chiptune scene deftly combine their skills to make aural awesomeness. The fusion of Karl von Steuben’s hard hitting drums and joyful synths and chips coupled with the rhythmic chords of Zach Sigmund’s guitar and groovaliciousness and topped off by the syncopated licks of Ben Wheeler’s bass result in instrumental mayhem that would make lovers of Rush’s YYZ turn their heads and say “Woah”. From tracks such as “One More Step“, which is reminiscent of post rock legend Maybeshewill’s “I’m in awe, Amadeus!”, to their signature self proclamation song “We are Chip’s Challenge”, this mathematical trifecta has crafted a formula that consistently results in infectious, face melting music to party hard to! Don’t take my word for it: hit up their Soundcloud or better yet, their Bandcamp and download their live album Chip’s Challenge Live(s)!, and marvel at the fact that this is one band that’s just as amazing in person as they are in studio.