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.
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? ;).
Sup y’all? =) Prez Hoodie here with yet another edition of my beer and chiptune column! Surprisingly enough, it’s survived to a third iteration! Well I’ll be damned….
I mean, uh… That’s awesome! I knew it would all along! :3
Silly introduction out of the way, let’s get on to this month’s beer & chip combo! This time around I’ll be glorying in the delightfulness of the following selections:
Ghost River Golden Ale & Roboctopus.
I decided to go local on this month’s brew selection, snagging a sixer of Memphis, Tennessee’s own Ghost River Golden Ale for my review.
What we have here, is a mighty fine beer!
From among seven different choices (four being seasonals), Golden Ale is Ghost River Brewing’s staple brew. Consequently, it’s also their only offering available in bottles
(the other six can only be found on draft at local pubs and/or purchased in kegs from the brewery). Pretty solid offering for a craft brewery, especially in this region!
Regarding the Golden Ale, it’s a rather light, very refreshing ale, complemented by a mildly sweet flavor (not overpowering) and just enough hoppiness to feel it in the back of your cheeks. Quite honestly, it’s a dangerously drinkable brew for any time of the year; a 6 pack of this tasty goodness has the nasty habit of disappearing far quicker than it has any right to! While the Glacial Pale Ale is probably still my favorite Ghost River brew, their Golden Ale is definitely worth trying out. Many times.
Michael Allen aka Roboctopus, the ale loving chipartist pairing to this month’s brewskie, is both similarly local to me (somewhat: appx. 4 hours away) and responsible for creating some quality chipmusic that is also dangerously addictive!
The many faces of Roboctopus. If 4 is many I suppose.
While this fancy tie wearing, occasional guitar playing, Gameboy dance-pop musician has been composing chipmusic for a handful of years now (his first two tracks debuted on 8bc in 2006), his four Bandcamp releases (+ some notable one-offs) of 20+ LSDj jams hold their own against some of the more longstanding hallmark albums of chipmusic, period.
From the ultra catchy LSDjx1 chiptune of his first three EPs – ‘The Landscape Has Been Erased’ (Oct. 2011), ‘Victory Lapse’ (April 2012) & ‘Tidal Bout’ (Dec. 2012) – to the gloriousness of what is both his first full length release & first LSDjx2 album, ‘Disco.txt’ (which successfully released this summer via the Cheapbeats netlabel) this sharply dressed chiptuner consistently creates some of the most infectious dance grooves that modern chipmusic has to offer. Totes a regular winner of the#FEELSGOODMAN award.
While somewhat of a rarity (although rumors of a future album comprised of such do exist), I’m a huge fan of his chip + other instrument(s) work as well. You only need listen to the diverse, yet fantastic mix of instrumentation in his ‘ChipWIN Expansion Pack’ entry “Lights Out For the Invisible Girls” to hear exactly why:
On top of everything else, the robotic octopus (or is he an octopus named Rob? #DeepQuestions) also manages to pull off a damn satisfying live performance. Having personally caught both his BRKFest & Future Night (indie art/music showcase in Nashville, TN) sets this year, I can totes attest to this something fierce. Even the most reluctant, dance-shy nerd struggles to remain still as Roboctopus regales the room in chiptune glory. Favorite tracks such as “Disco.txt” and “All Outta Bubblegum” shine in a new light, blasting from event loudspeakers with an almost tangible energy, as if they were truly designed to make butts move on the dance floor (hint: they were).
While he comes across as soft-spoken, thoughtful individual in person, Michael speaks so incredibly loudly through his exceptional, feelgood chipmusic. As a lover of excellently crafted, danceable LSDj chiptune, or just damn good music in general, you owe it to yourself to check him out if you haven’t yet. If his tunes don’t stir something in (or outside) of you, chances are you’re probably dead.
And that concludes this month’s volume of my beer & chip column! Hope you enjoyed the read, and that you get a chance to enjoy both the beer (come visit & I’ll buy you one!) and the music of Roboctopus (you have zero excuse for missing the music; embeds to ALL THE OCTOALBUMS are just below this). Until next month, cheers to all of ya!!