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.
Sup, ChipWINners, and welcome back to Quick Shots: the album review column where I break down the highs and lows of an album, then give you a numerical tl;dr to help you determine if something’s worth the bang for your buck. This time around, I have two very unique albums for you coming from opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. One is an experimental noise album that shifts between groovy, funky, and haunting. The other is a highly polished concept album that aims to soothe, please and inspire as it constructs a vision of a progressive not-too-distant future. If both of those sound intriguing, hop on in and take a ride with the big bear, as we explore music from Corkscrew No. 4453556 and 01100001 S.T.A.R.D.U.S.T. Subsidiary.
Hey everybody! Welcome back to Quick Shots, the album review column where I take aim at some new goodies at you and let you know if you’re getting some serious bang for your buck! This month, I’ve got two snappy EPs that together make a nice little tray of auditory tapas for your every growing aural palette! So please, sit back, relax, and allow me to play waiter as I offer you a few specials from Libla and Klutchmusic!
The ending of one journey manifests the beginning of another. As many of our readers may know, the performance at BRKFest 2013 marked the end of SMILETRON; one of the most beloved and prolific artists in chipmusic. It was an amazing, bittersweet set filled with emotion. But you don’t have to take my word for it, Hoodie and Chip Mom gave an excellent firsthand account in their post-BRKfest interview with Kuma on this very blog.
Shortly thereafter, the SMILETRON archives was curated and released through Noisechannel. It’s an absolutely staggering body of quality work spanning 26 albums over a period of 6 years; an accomplishment that many artists strive to achieve over a lifetime. I can’t speak for all the fans, but as for myself, wanting more felt greedy. Yet it was still so hard to see such a pillar of the chiptune community and beyond come to an end! Fortunately for everyone, it is as much a part of this musicians nature to create and explore as it is for a bee to make honey.
At the time of this writing, we are already 3 EPs in on a new adventure with Tri Angles! And just in case there’s anyone out there with any trepidations about the new project, let me allay them for you right now. Mr. Angles delves further into new realms of sonic excellence, using chip sounds as a launching pad and adeptly blending multiple styles and genres in order to create something magical. But really, was there anyone who thought that their ears weren’t in good hands?
Right out of the gate of his first release ‘STARGAZER’, energetic guitar riffs merge with soaring, high-pitched vibrations to create a track full of invigorated ambience with a side of badass in ‘RENEGADE’. ‘SLIPSTREAM’ follows suit and features 2 leads that ebb and flow from dueling with each other one moment, to working in perfect harmony the next. The album closes on a tranquil note and exhibits a delightfully playful interplay between the leading melodic tones and the bassline of the title track.
Tri Angles takes things down a notch and ups the chillwave in his second EP, ‘OUT THERE’. The title track stirs up an ethereal mixture of wailing guitar and groovy bass. It then promptly ends my heretofore silence on the masterful percussion found throughout this music. The intricate beats are endlessly interesting and form a solid foundation to Mr. Angles’ sound. At the 3:00 mark, they take center stage and encase the soundscape like a shell, forming what feels like (with headphones) an overhead wall of sound that is buckling under pressure. ‘NOWHERE’ featuring Karle Moulden takes us further into new styles with subdued chiptune forming the backdrop to an extremely soulful and plaintive blues guitar. ‘DISCONNECTION’ drifts and recedes into the listener’s subconcious before gently ending the transmission.
The final piece of the trifecta is ‘VENTURE’, and it does just that. ‘AFTERBURN’ blasts off with controlled intensity; a sharp static effect is joined by growling bass and an increasingly frenetic beat, culminating into a glorious glitchfest! ‘BUSINESS’ ventures even further off the beaten path, adopting a world music vibe and incorporating acoustic guitar with click-clack percussion that seriously sounds like sampled kitchenware. Brilliant! In the title track and album finisher, another beautifully rich tapestry of sound is created. Little sonic stars shimmer in the background throughout this piece, creating an atmosphere that is just mesmerizing. Also, there is something about that *pop* sound at the 44 second mark when the song starts to take off that is just so satisfying!
The difficult part about reviewing Tri Angles’ music is that it may be easy to describe, but hard to fully convey. There is still something missing here… You, the listener, are a vital participant in the experience! You must bring your own thoughts and feelings to the journey and form your own meanings. What I can do without hesitation is wholeheartedly recommend that you take the trip and support this treasure of an artist. You can be sure that all of us here at ChipWIN HQ will be locked to Mr. Angles’ frequency for the foreseeable future, excitedly looking forward to his next transmission.
Greetings, everyone! New writer Chris Krogsgard here, ready to spread even more chip love to all you beautiful people and overtake Kuma and Kilpatrick as the most bizarre K-name on the blog. It’s an honor and a privilege to increase my involvement with one of the greatest communities of artists and fans on the planet here at the ChipWIN blog. I don’t plan on stopping until everyone around the world comes to love and appreciate chipmusic and all of the wonderfully varied styles contained within. Get comfy, it might take a while…
Less than two months after releasing the superlative ‘Melancholy’, ever-prolific WMD has graced us with a new EP. In the decidedly lo-fi ‘Songs About Ruby’, WMD employs rich, dark textures and a reduced emphasis on chip elements. What results is a deeply personal and evocative experience.
A searing soundscape reminiscent of Boards of Canada gives way to the subaquatic tones of ‘Ocean Dream’. The dreamlike atmosphere created here and throughout “…Ruby” is stirring and ethereal with a strong sense of longing. One gets the sense while listening that each song is a new and meaningful insight into the artists’ thoughts. In ‘We Were This Close’, bongos punctuate a warm groove and the interjected voice sample used is poignant.
The melancholic atmosphere adopts a broader, more cosmic tone near the second half of this EP. Headphone users are particularly rewarded with the pulsating vibes throughout ‘Deafening Whispers’, as well as majestic synth pads in ‘Where Are You Going’. The sonic imagery here evokes shooting stars and vast expanses, while the overall sound remains grounded and genuine. Each new track creates soothing waves of sound which lull the listener into a chilled and hypnotic state. It is the album finisher ‘Coastal Forest’, however, that reverberates and continues to seep into the subconscious. The expressiveness and sonic imagery contained within this track is such that you can sense the morning fog and the lone buoy in the distance.
‘Songs About Ruby’ has a forlorn beauty that absolutely must be heard. Its ambience encourages quiet introspection; no other chip artist leaves me feeling quite the way that WMD does, and he absolutely deserves your attention. Tightly focused and hauntingly expressive, his voluminous output has never suffered a dip in quality. This isn’t music that you just listen to, but rather music that you connect with.