Volume 7 is a thing ChipWINners, and what a thing it is, am I right?
With this release refusing to buck the trend of each Volume being a new flavor of amazing, I’m honored to be here to bring you the first ten track reviews. So honored that I’ll cut the rest of the standard opening poppycock and get right to work.
Sometimes you want something sweet and you’re short on time. Sometimes you want something yummy and you’re short on ingredients. And sometimes you are Chip Mom, you are sick, and your kitchen is a mess. Whatever your pinch, today I offer you a delightful two-ingredient recipe that is as fascinating as it is delicious…
As a huge fan of all things chipmusic and a writer for this blog, I’m consistently spoiled for choice with amazing new listening material from this prolific community. Even so, one fact that remains steadfast is that among my personal chiptune consumption, Breakbeat Heartbeat’s gorgeous music will always be one of the major food groups. Being a ChipWIN compilation contributor who has just released her fifth album, you may already be familiar with Eve Turnbull’s beautiful atmospheres. If not, get ready to fall in love.
Good afternoon Chiprealm, this is Viridian Forge, coming to you live from Internets with our continuing coverage of the Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3 epic release of epicness. Today we’re delving into tracks 12 through 16 of the compilation, continuing with a numerical order that has no organizational value whatsoever. Know going in that each of these tracks is amazing in its own way, and each is worth your ear’s attention.
As a writer for ChipWIN, I strive to stay on top of the near-constant stream of new chiptune releases. It’s an enjoyable struggle to say the least, but sometimes an album comes along that you instantly click with and know from the start that it’s the beginning of a long-term relationship. I think we all have at least a few of those “default albums”, and for me it was definitely Breakbeat Heartbeat’s ‘Hold On’. Since its release in August last year, it garnered praise here on the blog in Morgan’s excellent review. ‘Hold On’ then went on to inspire some beautiful fanmade videos, as well as a killer mashup with Shirobon by DJ Cutman!
Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to ‘Kids’, the latest release from UK-based Breakbeat Heartbeat (Eve Turnbull). These 11 tracks continue to showcase her masterful fusion of chiptune and acoustic sounds. Once again the perfect balance is struck, resulting in a work that is simultaneously exuberant and meditative; chilled melodies sit comfortably alongside frenetic breakbeats. Themes of nature, nostalgia, companionship and solitude are conveyed without saying a word and having fun all the while.
The opening track ‘Sunrise’ utilizes harp and woodwind sounds to perfectly establish the tranquil tone found throughout ‘Kids’. This leads into one of my favorite tracks from the album, ‘Arcade’. This track both celebrates and longs for the arcade’s heyday of the 90s. While the song is short and sweet, Breakbeat Heartbeat enters some new territory here with some excellent sample work featuring Chun-Li and Zangief. The serene and infectious melody coupled with intense breakbeats results in a track that is nigh impossible to listen to just once.
The two tracks that follow bring smooth funk to the forefront, and seem to be dedicated to all the lovers out there. In ‘Waterfront’, a sweetly swaying chip lead is backed up by classic funk guitar and slap bass that makes the head bob and the hips move. ‘Stay With Me’ follows suit using similar instrumentation as well as introducing orchestral-like strings to create an atmosphere that is extremely heartfelt and frankly, romantic. Having slow danced to these tunes with both my girlfriend and cat, I can attest that it’s one of those experiences that you didn’t know you needed in your life until you’ve done it. Top-tier MAGProm material right here!
At no expense to its beauty, ‘Kids’ adopts a more somber and melancholic tone in its second half. ‘Snowy Theme’ combines chip sounds, gorgeous harp and a slowly plodding piano to recreate the feeling of staring out the window at the falling snow while nestled in a warm place, mug in hand. ‘Lamplight’, being the longest track on the album, takes a while to percolate before the rising tension gives way to a soaring lead and bass-heavy drums that are somewhat muted. The final track ‘Elsa’ goes out with a bang, however, bringing all of the diverse instrumentation from the album together to form a rousing finisher that contains some of the most stimulating stuttering that I’ve ever heard, slicing and dicing not just the percussion, but the lead and supporting melodies as well.
I cannot stress enough just how adept Eve is at crafting extremely catchy melodies and compositions that truly touch the listener. Her sound has evolved, yet all of it is unmistakeably Breakbeat Heartbeat. Everything about it adroitly juxtaposes the peaceful and the upbeat. This is music without ego, and it would also serve as a perfectly palatable primer to chipmusic for the uninitiated. ‘Kids’ is available on Breakbeat Heartbeat’s bandcamp page, name your price. In my humble opinion, her music is very valuable and will give you endless hours of comfort, beauty and inspiration.
Hi peeps, my name’s Morgan and I’m SUPER STOKED to join the bloggers for Chiptunes = WIN and help get more awesome tunes onto your radar. Pleasantries = DONE. Let’s get to the music!
Can chiptune be integrated with acoustic instrumentals for the betterment of ear-holes everywhere? For the answer, look no further than Breakbeat Heartbeat’s latest release HOLD ON.
Hold On has a chill, funky feel. There are no power ballads, no hard-core wub-wubs. What we have here is an album of 9 uplifting tracks melding together a unique blend of chip-funk with classical elements making for an intriguing release that is absolutely worth your time.
What impresses me the most about HOLD ON is how Breakbeat Heartbeat has delivered a musical bob-and-weave of acoustic with electric that ensures both sounds have their day in the sun, but never at the expense of the other. Make no mistake, the choice to combine chiptune bleepy-bloops with deep acoustic sounds is a risky proposition. Too much chip and the instrumentals sound forced. Too much instrumental and the chip comes off as a gimmicky afterthought. Chiptune has the tendency to sound harsh when forced to play nice with traditional instrumentals, but that’s simply not the case here. The result is a unique mix that is polished, elegant and deserves some serious name-your-price love.
HOLD ON shines in the center of a chip/acoustic venn diagram playing off the lighthearted nature of chiptune and a natural depth drawn from classical instruments that offers a lot of room for exploration. Some tracks do less to innovate than others with “The Time Is Right” and “On My Own” offering a consistent loop of chill beats without pushing the envelope. Tracks “Night”, “Roads” and “Flashback” act as the tentpoles of the album, taking the fusion to its peak with an intriguing use of classical violin, piano and bass guitar respectively for a classical/funk/chip mix that underscores Breakbeat Heartbeat’s ability to combine wheelhouses.
(I just Googled wheelhouse and discovered the term is in reference to the individual swinging range or sweet spot within a baseball player’s strike zone. THE MORE YOU KNOW.)
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re unfamiliar with Breakbeat Heartbeat, there are two previous releases that also explore the fusion of chip with acoustic styles available on Breakbeat’s Bandcamp titled 22:06 (which, interesting fact, was originally released on Andrew Kilpatrick’s blog/label The Waveform Generators) and DELTA. It’s fascinating to be able to listen to those two albums and hear the leaps and strides Breakbeat Heartbeat has made honing this unique style. With such growth apparent from these three releases, Breakbeat Heartbeat is definitely a rising talent.
I love the pay-what-you-want business model, by the way. I personally believe that there should not be a financial barrier between people and experiencing music. Supporting the artist if you have the means is absolutely vital and if you can afford it, you should pay them. But with the pay-what-you-want model, that payment is more than a transfer of funds for a product, it’s a “thank you”. I think that’s an important distinction. Music as “the gift given” instead of “the product sold” bridges the gap between artist and fan.
Breakbeat Heartbeat’s HOLD ON is a gift given. Take a listen below, then go say thank you.
Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love :)