This month’s edition of ‘What’s on Tap?’ combines three of my favorite things into one deliciously awesome cornucopia: video games, breakfast, and beer. VGM veteran Pete Ellison returns to the soundtrack world with #Breakforcist, a breakfast-themed brick breaking collaboration with Kevin John at Lucid Sheep Games. Demonic waffles fall from the sky and your task is to destroy them by any means necessary, augmenting your ball with bacon lasers and pancakes. #Breakforcist is currently available on iOS devices, with an Android port coming in the near future. In addition to the soundtrack, Pete did the artwork for the game and you can unlock iMessage stickers by progressing through the levels. Play this game for ten minutes and the only person more enthusiastic about breakfast than you is Leslie Knope:
Musically, #Breakforcist sits squarely in an uncanny valley between retro gaming and contemporary music production. Soundfonts resembling the SNES and Dreamcast-era classics mix freely with Absynth-like patches and filters, wrapped up in a tight and clean package. Although designed for handheld devices, the #Breakforcist soundtrack plays well through laptops, headphones, and normal speaker setups – a testament to Pete’s solid production skills. The soundtrack has a common theme of uptempo, danceable grooves to keep the player’s energy high, but there are a surprisingly wide variety of sounds from beginning to end. The more ambient tracks function well as both background music and standalone pieces, with several standout melodies and funky basslines to keep the listener engaged. Perhaps the most unique portion of the soundtrack are Pete’s tracks that utilize the sexy vocaloid known here as Cyber Diva. If you are having trouble envisioning this sound, imagine Laurie Anderson’s ‘O Superman’ with a thumping backbeat and lyrics about waffles instead of nuclear war.
Now, let’s bust out the maple syrup and dig into some of these sweet tunes, shall we?
Welcome back to ‘What’s on Tap?’ where we explore all sorts of pleasurable sensory experiences and pine over the last days of summer. This month I have the pleasure to review an artist whose work I really enjoy (Petriform) and a beer style that is in perfect season right now (Oktoberfest). Combining these two will be certain to please, and I hope you will seek out both the album and some of the beers listed at the end of the review.
Released in August, Petriform’s latest album ‘Don’t Worry, You’re Great!’ is an uplifting and cheerful collection of 13 tracks packed to the brim with catchy melodies. One of the things that makes this release unique in the realm of chip music is the artful combination of chip sounds from Famitracker with guitar and vocoder-laced vocal tracks. Not every song features the voice – and Petriform includes the instrumentals in the full album download – but those that do contain lyrics that tell interesting stories, and the voice blends among the chip synth in a beautiful tapestry of sound.
Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here again to intro another lovely multi-writer full review of our latest compilation, ‘Celt-tunes = WIN‘! Got four different writers on the glorious task this time, bouncing around from track to track to share their thoughts on this delightful collection of tunes. What are you waiting for? Get to readin’! #Cheers
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!!
MAGFest 12 has come and gone, leaving in its wake the usual horde of happily exhausted nerdy folk (my newly engaged self included of course! ♥).Tho I’ll be damned if I fall prey to PMD (Post-MAGFest Depression)! Got WAAAAY too much awesome to do this year!! =D
And on that note, time to rock on with today’s most excellent beer & chip pairing:
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout &
While admittedly few in number, most of the “chocolate” brews I’ve sampled have not been much to my liking (generally a bit too chocolately, sweet and/or rich). That said there’s something about Young’s Double Chocolate Stout that gets it just right for me.
I am totes a fan. *TOTES*. #Totes
It’s a genuinely smooth, flavorful stout with just enough chocolate added to give it a bit of extra magic. The chocolate isn’t overpowering though; it’s present, sure, but it doesn’t take over the entire brew (the “Double Chocolate” part of the name is derived from the mix of chocolate malt & actual dark chocolate added to the brew). Honestly, the chocolate is more apparent in the aroma than it is the actual flavor, which is fortunate because it smells just a tad too sweet, chocolately, and rich for my tastes. When it hits the tongue, though, you get a really fair balance of pretty much all of the elements that make up this positively delightful brew.
The intertoobz are overwhelmingly approving of this tasty stout as well; Ratebeer.com gives it an astoundingly high 98 overall. For a notoriously picky group of beer nerds (and on the internet for that matter) that’s one helluva consensus!
While Young’s Double Chocolate Stout isn’t a brew that I’d want to drink everyday (would be the fast track to a solid beer gut!), it’s a sincere pleasure when I’m in the mood for it.
On the other hand, today’s equally delicious & chocolate chiptune counterpart, D&D Sluggers, is always a pleasure. #AWYEAHBBY 8) In fact, I’d go so far as to label them as one of my favorite combos of chip (LSDj & DS-10), soulful vox, guitar, & keys yet!
Bringing the aforementioned array of instruments, D&D Sluggers merges numerous musical genres with fun, solid songwriting, and an engaging & entertaining live performance. This chipact is definitely a party. See their most recent full length release ‘This Album is a Party‘ for evidence of such.
Recorded at Red Room Recording in Leland, NC, this 10 track release from mid 2011 is a mix of interactive party anthems (‘Jam of the Year’, ‘Alive’, ‘She’s Got a Job’, ‘Johnny Depp’) soulfully funky joints (‘Gloria’ [DAT HARMONICA], ‘Walk’, ‘Very Direct’) and all around danceable jams (‘Wicked Touch’, ‘I Will Not Be There’, ‘Brodown’); overall, it’s a quality set of extraordinarily catchy tunes. While I didn’t stumble across it until mid 2012, it has quickly become one of my go-to albums, period. Particularly on craptastic days; it always brings me out of a funk. It’s just too damn fun to stay bummed while jamming.
If I had to pick a favorite track, it would easily be ‘Very Direct’. Such a damn groovy, chill jam. I HIT REPEAT EVERY TIEM. Specifically at 3 o’clock.
Also, I REALLY LOVE the handful of various VGM motifs that are carefully worked into several of the songs in various forms and fashions (chiptune taboos be damned!!); sometimes very subtly, sometimes not so subtly. I’d point them out, but I really don’t want to ruin the fun. Listen closely (sometimes not so closely) and you’ll surely catch ’em. ;)
Although to clarify once and for all (or not, lulz~), where D&D was once two crazy cats (Dustin Overcash & Tim “soultron” White), the current iteration is purely the soultron show (Dustin left the act mid-summer 2013 for work related stuffs, taking his keys & LSDj with him :*( ). And to be honest, it’s this version of D&D Sluggers that I’ve personally become the most familiar with; particularly the live aspect.
I caught Tim performing live a good handful of times in 2013 (at PAX East Jamspace, twice on the “This Tour is a Party” tour, at MAGFest: Game Over Durham, and, of course, at the recent craziness of MAGFest 12’s Chipspace party). Tim’s level of hilarious banter, tongue-in-cheek humor, & general interactivity with the crowd is levels beyond that of the typical chiptune perfromer. He brings an energy, and maybe even additional level of accessibility (the ability to sing along is always a plus there), that isn’t always found at a chiptune show. & I LOVE IT.
#REALTALK: I love Tim’s soulful singing voice a whole gorram lot. Everything about D&D Sluggers is super swell, but I could totes listen to him sing all damn day long (in fact, I did today while writing this article! -swoons- ). How often does one say that about a chiptune act? ;)
Regarding new jams, don’t be surprised to see a new EP and/or full length release from the now one man party sometime this year (hopefully? Tim? TIM???). It’ll no doubt be comprised of finalized versions of some/all of the demos found via thisSoundcloud set, which is fine with me as they’re some damn good jams. Most of them I’ve heard live performances of (‘About Time’ & ‘XX demo” in particular), and they’re some of Tim’s strongest compositions yet.
To summarize, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, BEYOTCH. 8)
And thus ends my first chip & beer write-up of 2014! It’s a pretty damn good combo of tasty chocolate chiptune & beer to start the year off right if you ask me. Which you didn’t. But I don’t care. 8) Until next month, cheers y’all!!
Weeeeelp, looks like it’s that time of the month again! Of course, I’m talking about some good ole beer & chiptune commentary with me, Prez Hoodie! =D
So turn up your speakers & grab your favorite drinking glass, and let’s get on with my seasonally appropriate December selections:
Dansk Mjød Viking Blod & Kubbi.
Yup. That’s right. This month I’m deviating from my normal selection of a beer type to review and instead featuring a Nordic honeywine (aka mead). All in honor of the Norwegian wonder Kubbi, of course (more on that cat further in).
In all truth, my quest began not for mead but for a bottle of akvavit/aquavit, a traditional flavored Scandinavian spirit often imbibed around the holiday season, which Kubbi recommended that I sample. Whilst I had no luck finding that imported drink in my region of Podunk, Arkansas, I did fortunately stumble upon a bottle of Dansk Mjød’s Viking Blod in the search. A more than worthy substitution to incorporate in this Skyrim-esqe pairing.
The front label describes Viking Blod as “Nordic honeywine with hibiscus and hops added”. If this seems like an interesting combination of ingredients, it’s because it is.
I’ve sampled a couple varieties of mead before, but never one with a gorram flower added to it! As one might expect, it adds a notable floral element to the already rather complex flavor. Combined with the hops and honeyed sweetness, it brings an almost ginger like aftertaste to the drink. It’s certainly… different, but undeniably quite nommy!
Seeing as how this is a fairly unique beverage, I for once followed all of the back label’s suggested methods of imbibing (which also includes an interesting, albeit brief historical account of mead!). Quaffing both on the rocks and in a slightly chilled glass served it well (with chilled glass being the superior method), although my #1 recommendation would be to drink it thoroughly heated. It turns Viking Blod into a delightful winter beverage akin to something like wassail, perfect for warming the insides as Jack Frost howls fiercely outside (or, in my case, maybe stirs up a chilly little breeze here and there…). I could also see it used to great affect in cooking, particularly a reduction with pork or a really tasty ham glaze. Heeeeeeeey Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip Mooooooooooooooooom!! ;)
The internet is quite fond of Viking Blod as well! For instance, Ratebeer.com gives it a 92 overall score, accompanied by a multitude of favorable reviews. My summation would have to be something along the lines of, “YOU CAN TASTE THE FORESTS OF NORWAY IN EACH GORRAM SIP.” Yup, that’ll do. ;)
Kubbi sez, “Gi meg mjød!”
Moving onto the equally complex & delicious chipartist known to the internetz as Kubbi, we find just as delectable a sonic treat for the ears.
Quite the prolific artist, Kubbi has both a thorough & musically diverse discography spanning the past three years. While his initial forays in 2010 were primarily found on cm.o & the now defunct 8bc, the bulk of his releases can be found in the form of singles on Soundcloud and EPs and full length albums on Bandcamp. And just so you know, every single gorram track is worth indulging in.
To give a little background on his compositional methods, Kubbi uses the tracker inspired DAW Renoise to create his chipmusic, and employs a solid library of samples that he’s collected & tweaked over the years. His goto plug-ins include YMCK’s Magical 8bit Plug, Plogue Chipsounds & U-he Zebra, all of which he highly recommends. Although on his more recent releases he also incorporates the talented guitar-work of Jonas Dam (featured on ‘Gas Powered EP’ & ‘Something New’) & the beautiful vocals of Live-Andrea Rasch (on tracks “Concrete” & “Circuithead”), further fleshing out the already dynamic soundscapes found in his music.
It’s no secret: 2012 was definitely the most prolific year of Kubbi’s career thus far, during which he released three different full length albums (‘Transmittance‘, ‘Sleet‘, & ‘Circuithead‘). While all three merit a good solid listen/download/purchase, ‘Circuithead’ is probably the most standout among the three (note the “probably” snuck in there, as dammit, they’re all quite standout!). It’s the most cohesive release among them, sounding almost like a concept album of a sort. Although to be honest, there’s an overarching theme/feel of wistful melancholy and driven determination interwoven into most of his music. Maybe it’s natural by-product of drinking mead & practicing dragonshouts in the snowy mountains of Norway all the time, I don’t know. ;)
Regarding recent singles of note are his fantastic Renovation Mixes. They’re essentially re-instrumentations of some of his previous works, and really do breathe new light into the tracks. There are only three at the moment, but I have a feeling that’ll change in the coming months.
Kubbi’s latest single “Something New” does an excellent job of displaying the current state of his musical evolution & where he’s aiming for; it combines his signature chip stylings with an even more grand & ethereal, almost orchestral sound-set. Check it out right here:
To kick off 2014 with a MAGnificent bang, Kubbi is debuting his first live performance with both Jonas & Live at MAGFest 12. If you’d like to catch a very rare treat (and who wouldn’t?!?) make sure to get your ass to MAGFest & come down for the Saturday Midnight Chiptune Blowout! That alone is gonna be worth the trip to MAG this year!
Seriously, I could write endlessly about this exceedingly talented young chipartist. Everything he composes is simply extraordinary; each track takes you on a fantastic journey as you listen to & experienceit. All that and the fact that, well… HE’S DONE A LOTTA STUFFS!! :O All the same, whether you’re a fan of chipmusic or not, Kubbi has something to offer you.
And this finishes up yet another edition of my monthly beer & chip specials! Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed the read, the delightful Kubbi-music referenced in it (a handful of his music embedded below!), and are fortunate enough to stumble across a chance to sample this very tasty beverage (maybe I’ll bring a flask to MAGFest 12 for this very purpose. Who knows? ;).