No story is complete without encountering something a little darker, a little more sinister. An adventure just wouldn’t be an adventure without something to send tingles down your spine. For that, my dear readers, we have the newest chapter in our story… (more…)
You know, it’s not every day that the kindness of friends can take you on unforgettable journeys filled with laughter and memories to last a lifetime, but when those times come, you relish the moment and cherish all that’s given to you. This especially rings true to my latest adventure with my dear friend Bertrand Guérin-Williams (also known as their pseudonym Russellian) to BRKFest 2014, which took place from July 25-27 in Cincinnati, OH.
Starting as a casual idea thrown around our Facebook pages, Bertrand and I both expressed interest in attending this third annual chipmusic festival, an event conceived by Curtis Ware in 2012. Quickly striking the idea down as physically impossible (due to a number of monetary constraints and traveling distance), Bertrand and I took to the idea of a fundraiser as a way to raise funds to get one another to this up and coming Midwest event.With an equally silly fundraiser campaign over on Kickstarter to make potato salad being wildly successful (and still raising money), we swallowed our fears and crossed our fingers.
And it happened.
Bertrand and I received half of our funding goal within two days, and then two-thirds several days later. Within a week, we were fully funded.
Unable to comprehend the generosity of the donors, the tweeters, and the ‘likers’, our once casual and thrown-around interest became reality. Through the help of 18 people (YES! only 18!), our donations were ranging around $20, and the highest being $250 (which was donated by Ken Gould, Andrew Gould [event co-host]’s father). Through the help of some great friends, anonymous donors, and complete strangers, Bertrand and I began solidifying our travel plans and booked my flight.
Flash forward to July 24, 2014.
This was happening. I don’t think I’ve felt that much excitement for an event since MAGFest, because in 7 hours, I was going to be touching down in Lexington, KY with my good friends Curtis Ware and Alex Wimmer welcoming me at the gate. With the cost of the trip paid for through the fundraiser, and free lodging at their house (with Max Dolensky and Tri Angles also crashing there), I knew this was a weekend I would never forget.
Without any doubt, all three days of BRK had solid lineups. With the visualists bountiful, and talent strategically dispersed, each day of BRK paved the way for my chip dreams slowly becoming a reality. With performers new and old, and two days of open mics, BRKfest kicked off with Chris ‘Storm Blooper’ De Pew with accompanying visuals from ohhainaifu. With his performance packing a powerful punch, De Pew spent the entire night beforehand writing new songs and finishing up others. His set didn’t suffer, however—he opened up BRKFest with much needed energy and a sappy cover of ‘California Gurls’ by Katy Perry; his performance was surely a great way to start off an even better weekend. Other acts of notable mention that performed the first night include Radiograffiti’s Illinois Amigacore artist CCDM (who, after conversation with him, mentioned he participated in an Amiga battle with Stagediver during the Shadowtravel tour in Chicago), the rockin’ Virginia bitpop/punk duo Square Therapy, Solarbear (accompanied by crowd surfing in a red button up dress shirt), and Tri Angles, a ‘wandering artist, dreamer, and storyteller’ whose music is a soulful, galactic, and out of body experience. With the first night coming to a close, BRKFest day one concluded with an official after party about three miles out. With DJ sets by Diode Milliampere (who was on the bill for the third night) and Max Dolensky, and LSDJ sets from Defiant Systems (also playing day three) and my cohort in this fundraiser, Russellian, this was surely the icing on the cake to close out such an eventful first day.
SKGB performs live at BRKFest 2014 on Saturday, July 26.
Day two rolls around, and it’s even better than the first. Despite some technical set backs that presented themselves early in the evening, performers and the crowd pushed through. Day two was by far the most intense, gear-heavy nights, with set ups being noticeably more intricate. With a surprise back-to-back in tandem performance from Sean ‘Awesome Force’ Baker and Bryan ‘Auxcide’ Dobbins (who used a DMX ‘X Gon’ Give It To Ya’ vocal sample and covered ‘Where My Niggas At?’ by Cassidy during their sets respectively), a live read of a meditation guide for spiritual travels to the anti-material planets during SKGB’s performance, slamming Game Boy Advance jams from Detroit’s boaconstructor, and a Trey Frey reactive light installation, day two was by far my favorite night. Muscles sore and body dehydrated, Curtis, Alex and I headed back to Lexington to prep for the third evening.
With the weekend coming to a close, the dawn of day three began. My cohort Bertrand (who again was staying closer to Cincinnati) enjoyed all that the city had to offer Sunday morning—with a group of chip musicians and friends (including ChipWIN’s own Hoodie and Chip Mom, Awesome Force and Auxcide), the group of them went to the Cincinnati Museum Center where they explored a fake cave system (and reenacted the Matrix Reloaded’s Zion dance scene), learned about evolution, extinction, and optical and microwave telescopes and the stars and galaxies of which astronomers have found. While I did not partake in this adventure, I’m going to make a wild guess that those folks had a wonderful time based on the information passed down to me. As for me, I make it to the venue, and the sadness started to set in. I could already feel it—I’ve come down with the BRKFest depression bug WELL BEFORE BRK was even over. It is always the hardest feeling having to cope with spending an incredible weekend making memories with friends, and then having to jump on a plane to go back to real life the day after. However, mopiness aside, I made every minute count. Hugs exchanged, laughs reciprocated, and outside patio relax sessions imminent, I spent most of the evening taking it all in (where as I raged the first two days).
Defiant Systems performs live at BRKFest 2014 on July 27. Visuals by Formidable Witch
Popping inside for Shitbird’s chipthrash set, Defiant System‘s lo-fi, dark FM jive (with INCREDIBLE visuals by Formidable Witch using NES hardware), and glomag, who emerged in the community at the dawn of the 21st century, day three concluded on an incredibly high note, an ending that any music festival could ask for.
All in all, this festival was surely unforgettable, and it was quite an adventure to experience this as an event attendee rather than behind the scenes (like I did for Frequency 3.0 with my cohorts in 8bitLA). Artists, albeit visualists or performers, put their heart and soul into their work, making for an incredibly exciting weekend getaway. The vibe was great—the friends magnificent. Thanks for a stellar time, all, and thank you from the bottom of Bertrand and I’s heart, for donating/sharing the fundraiser around.
Just 7 months since his double-album release of ‘Pixel’ and ‘Speck’, the incredibly talented and prolific artist Auxcide has done it again! Released via the Japan-based netlabel CheapBeats, ‘Omnia’ is structured as an epic 2-disc soundtrack to a fictional (read: should be funded and developed immediately) video game. Within its 28 tracks reside lush and cinematic atmospheres in which Auxcide (Bryan Dobbins) further refines his signature style of spacechip electronica, using 2 x LSDJ as a launching pad that’s further enhanced with additional synths and effects processors. What results is a sonic experience that’s ripped straight from the heart of the universe.
Auxcide performs at BRKFest 2014.
In the 2 years since his debut ‘Of Atoms and Stardust’, Auxcide’s sound has solidified itself as a cathartic force to be reckoned with, and ‘Omnia’ is no exception. The opening trio of tracks merge with and build upon one another, climaxing in ‘Deep Space Dreaming’ to form an intense intro befitting of such a grand collection of tracks with vast soundscapes. ‘Miranda (World’s Theme)’ combines skittering percussion with a heartbreaking and harmonizing melody that evokes imagery of barren planetary surfaces. The pace is then quickened in ‘Starship Nova (Outrun the Universe)’, a frenzied and hypnotic jam that perfectly exemplifies Auxcide’s uncanny ability to move feet while simultaneously melting faces.
Elsewhere on Disc 1, ‘Horizon Lines’ is bursting at the seams with white-hot energy and soaring arpeggios. ‘Spectrum (Decisive Battle)’ musically relates the struggle of a boss battle, complete with a fist-pumpingly triumphant refrain. ‘Heavy Cannons’ continues the theme of hard-hitting and foreboding battle music where the fate of the universe hangs in the balance, but this then gives way to the lighthearted, “You’re winner!” vibe of ‘Riviera (Victory)’. The title track ‘Omnia (End)’ gracefully closes the main musical narrative with a bittersweet melody that is both peaceful and contemplative.
Auxcide rocks the Kaoss Pad.
Disc 2 offers a more stripped-down, pure LSDJ collection of tracks including new originals as well as compelling demakes of choice tracks from Disc 1. Notable highlights include the blissfully serene opener ‘View From Above’, the hard-hitting, growling bass of ‘Oblivion’, the beautifully paced and composed chillout track ‘Nihil’, as well as the dreamlike rise and fall of ‘Echoes’ main melody. Some tracks, including ‘Urbem’ and ‘Ublique (Space Mall)’, can be taken to be quick and delightful interstitials meant for menu music. Auxcide wisely bookends the ‘Omnia’ opus with a de-synthed rendition of its godlike intro, which is one of ‘Omnia’s finest moments.
Overall, ‘Omnia’ is a trip that I highly recommend you take but keep in mind, it isn’t something that you just jump into, but rather strap in for. Auxcide’s sound can characteristically be a slow burn (his ChipWIN Vol. 2 track ‘Realms’ is a perfect example of this). This plays in ‘Omnia’s favor; uncovering its many layers of nested climaxes is part of the fun. ‘Omnia’ ranks amongst the most cerebral releases to fall under the chiptune banner, and has to potential to infuse the attentive listener with a higher level of cosmic understanding. In addition to all of this, it is CheapBeats’ first pay-what-you-want release, though I think you’ll agree that the high production quality and value of such a huge album is hard to deny. Auxcide’s ‘Omnia’ definitely deserves your love and support, and if you aren’t sold on the album by now, here’s an image of our dear President Hoodie at the height of Auxcide’s blisteringly kickass BRKFest 2014 set, need I say more?
Weeeeeeelp, I reckon it’s about that time of year again! What time of year is that you, ask?
Full artist roster (updated 7/5)! Poster by Andrea Shfr.
Full visualist roster! Poster by Andrea Shfr.
What is BRKfest you say? Well, if you didn’t gather it from the SEXY POSTERS ABOVE, it’s an annual three day chiptune festival – July 25, 26 & 27 – happening in Cincinnati, Ohio, & it’s zombofurkin JAMPACKED with AMAZEBALLSperformers and vizualists!!!
To top things off, expect quality vendors, multiple open mics, & even a couple of workshops. Don’t believe me? That’s fine. BELIEVE THE OFFICIAL SCHEDULE THEN!
And you can catch it for only $10 (single day pass) to $25 (three day pass). That’s so damn inexpensive that it’s almost insulting!!! Nevermind the $15 BRKshirts you can preorder as well (although jump on that if you want one, as those are a limited time offer!).
Honestly, there’s only really one thing left to say…
SEE YOU THERE!!!
(& here you thought it was probably going to be “#dickbutts” or ZOMBOCON or something, didn’t you? Shame, shame… :3 )
President Hoodie Founder & Project Manager of Chiptunes = WIN