Posts Tagged ‘Chiptunes = WIN \m||m/’

Kuma’s Quick Shots: Round 3

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Sup everyone!  Welcome back to Quick Shots!  This time around I’ve got albums up for review that are sure to catch you off guard with their diversity. Not only are these albums stylistically expansive, but they feature the largest array of artists ever covered for Quick Shots! So grab your butts and hold on tight, because we’re going on a ride through four awesome records that are sure to hold you over nicely til the 2015 winter festival season!

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Snooglebum’s “8-Bit Zoo 2”

My first target this time around is 8-bit Zoo 2 by Matthew Wasik aka Snooglebum.  Now if you’re wondering why that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s been featured on two consecutive ChipWIN releases, and for good reason.  Snoog’s got a combination of skill, variety and brevity seen in very few composers, and all of that shines through in his latest offering.

A follow up to an EP he released almost a year ago, 8-bit Zoo 2 follows the tradition established in its prequel as he busts out jams that are groovy, twerky, and just all around good fun. Whether its high energy work-out tracks like the opening song–“Epic Cheetah”–or the two stepping urban vibe of the deceptively named “Silent Swan”, Snooglebum is an artist who rarely disappoints. Which is both a shame and a boon because while it speaks volumes about his skill level, it also means that I really don’t have anything bad to say about this album.

Bottom line: if you’ve not heard any of Snooglebum’s music til now, or have only heard the tracks he’s contributed to ChipWIN, I highly recommend starting with 8-bit Zoo 2 and its older counterpart. Both are exemplary of why Matthew’s such a beloved contributor to ChipWIN and the scene as a whole.

Fave song: Reggae Moose
Price: Free
Bang for Buck: 5/5
Replay Value: 4.5/5
Overall Grade: 4.8/5

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Half A Person’s “Billy EP”

Up next we have a new chiptuner named Billy Murphy, aka Half A Person.  A composer hailing from New York, what’s bodacious about Billy (aside from the fact that he’s yet another up-and-coming New York chiptuner) is that while he is a relatively new artist to the scene, Billy EP is hardly his first album. In fact, it’s his third EP in just as many months. That level of productivity is one to be admired, especially in a new artist, but does Half A Person’s gumption mean he has produced a good album?

Sort of.

This EP certainly isn’t bad, but  I can’t help but be reminded of another neophyte I reviewed earlier in the year: Dream*Eater. Billy EP shows that, much like Dream*Eater, Half A Person is an enthusiastic composer who has moments throughout the album that shine and reveal his potential, but often falls short of making something magnificent.  Moments such as the opening 15 seconds of “You Can Tell I’m New…” or the breakdown in “Son, Don’t Touch That Record Player” are great examples of this nascent talent.

On the other hand, songs like “Swing Your Hips/Swing Your Fists” and “Is it OK to Overwrite?” feel like they’re lacking something. That missing something is worsened by the fact that those songs aren’t bad, they’re just average. A shame, because average is often forgettable, and as part of the next wave of chiptuners coming into the scene, HAP is not someone I think should be overlooked.

So, Billy Murphy, if you’re reading this, I’m gonna tell you the same thing I told Dream*Eater:

“Keep making music at the consistent clip you do, but when it comes to putting out an album, give your stuff time to simmer so you can really bring out its full flavor.”

This EP wasn’t bad, but you’ve got serious skills, so get back to the studio and make something worthy of those talents!  I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from you!

Fave Song: Driving To My Girlfriend’s House At 1 AM To Help Her Kill A Spider
Price: Free
Bang for Buck: 5/5
Replay Value: 3.3/5
Overall Rating: 3.7/5

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I Thought You Were A Marxist Records’ “Operation Fuck The Moon”

Our next album up for review is one that really caught me off guard, as I not only had never heard of the record label that put it out, but I haven’t heard of any of the artists that contributed to it, either!  Created because he felt the need to have a chiptune album under his label’s belt, Andrew Robbins of I Thought You Were A Marxist Records has put together an unexpected delight of an album with one of the most awesome names I’ve ever heard!  If that title alone somehow doesn’t give you a raging fist-pump boner, I can assure you the music featured on this record will!

From the simple joy the opening track by Ozark Soundscape (from which the album takes its name) to the surprisingly groovy, begging-to-be-remixed “Go Radio” by Collection Get!; the creepy, industrial banger that is lain2097‘s “VGGB” to the surprisingly emotional roller coaster that is Taylor Fang‘s “The Burning of the Royal Crops Part I: The Magician”, this album has done two things successfully I’ve seen other labels try to do but fall short of.

First, it lovingly showcases an incredible array of skills in a way that, when played from end to end, does each artist justice.  Each song, regardless of style or method, fits nicely against one another when played in track order, as no one artist feels overshadowed by another when played straight through. That in and of itself is amazing, but the second thing it’s done correctly is that it’s made me aware of several people I didn’t know were lurking in the shadows all along.

Admittedly, lurking may not even be the correct term, as Andrew Robbins himself states he recruited these people from /r/chiptunes and cm.o, but even in a community as small as chiptune, people tend to fall into their own circles and tend to communicate primarily in preferred locals.  Having been a part of ChipWIN for so long, it seems I’ve almost forgotten there is a world out there beyond the 2800 members of the Faceboook group I’ve come to call home.

So Andrew Robbins, if you or any of the astoundingly accomplished artists featured on this compilation are reading this, thanks for reminding me there are others out there.  It’s a wonderful reminder to know there’s always something new to be discovered.  Also, feel free to come to ChipWIN to chat, derp around or make yourselves more known.  I know I may have to get out of my “house” every now and then to meet you guys, but just know that at ChipWIN, our doors are always open, and you’re more than welcome hang out at ours.  Just…don’t do any “Is this chiptune?” posts.

Favorite songs: Go Radio, The Burning of the Royal Crops
Price: Free
Bang for Buck: 5/5
Replay Value: 4.7/5
Overall Grade: 4.8/5

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TommyTSW’s “Moments In Time”

Our last album up for review is Moments In Time: a record from an artist I’ve adored since I first reviewed his work in my first Quick Shots article.  Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, Tommy Fullerton, aka TommyTSW, has released another prime album full of incredible music that hits the sweet spot every single time.  Combining familiar retro sounds with various samples and instruments as he’s done before, Moments In Time (alternatively titled TSW3 due to the cover art) sets itself apart from it’s first predecessor in several ways.

First, Tommy’s increased use of strings. While TSW’s work has always been eclectic and atmospheric, this album goes one step beyond as TSW has clearly taken the time to really study and practice his use of orchestral samples, allowing for a lush, vivid experience that ties directly into the second improvement Tommy has made, which is establishing mood.

While I’ve always lauded Tommy’s ability to create stirring aria, being able to make songs that move the soul and being able to make an album that does that are two different things. While Tommy’s album TSW certainly did move me, it moved me less as a whole and more as a sum of it’s parts. Having seemingly learned from that experience, Tommy has made an album that flows through seamlessly and also breathes, which is important as that’s another aspect he’s grown in.

TSW was an album that, for all intents and purposes, played like a musical portfolio to showcase Mr. Fullerton’s skills.  While those skills were formidable, the result was music that wasn’t allowed to be fully explored and didn’t offer chances for either Tommy or the listener to really take in everything he crafted.  The exact opposite is true with Moments in Time, as not only has the average song length gone up from roughly 95 seconds to three and a half minutes, but each one stands out on its own, allowing them to be individual experiences unto themselves.

The culmination of all these attributes result what is Tommy’s greatest achievement date. Tommy has finally made an album that feels like an album and not like display case for his talents.  That alone deserves praise.

In fact, Tommy’s garnered so much praise from me on this effort that I only have one complaint about this album.  While certainly not expensive by any means, it’s strange to note that compared to TSW, which was $2 when I first reviewed it and is now pay-what-you-will, Moments in Time/TSW3 is $4 for an EP that has exactly a third of the amount of tracks as it’s predecessor.  A strange decision, to be sure, but despite that choice, Moments in Time is undoubtedly a treasure worth adding to your collection.  If you do have the money to shell out for it, I strongly recommend doing so, as it’s not only a great listen, but it’s proof that Tommy is bound to achieve his dream of becoming a highly sought after game composer.

Favorite Song: Have Faith
Price: $4 (Austrailian)
Bang for Buck: 4/5
Replay Value: 5/5
Overall Grade: 4.8/5

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Well, that’s it for this round of Quick Shots! If you liked any of the artists you’ve heard, don’t forget to follow them on social media to keep up with their latest shenanigans. Also, don’t forget to check the ChipWIN blog regularly for other articles such as album reviews, artist interviews, recipes, and all sorts of hype we got going on here! Last but not least, if you’re an artist who’s struggling to get noticed in the scene, don’t be discouraged, cause you never know when I might take a shot at ya!  Keep doing what you do, and remember: Kuma loves you!  Peace!

\m| (=^(T)^=) |m/

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Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3 [Tracks 27 – 31]

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Hey what’s up, ya’ll! It’s your boy BronxKuma, and today I’ll be taking the reigns as we continue our coverage of Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3, which is the ninth compilation album we’ve put out in the past three years! Crazy, ain’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun though, and today, we’re gonna continue our fantastic aural voyage as I guide you through tracks 27-31 of this immaculate collection of music! Let’s get to it!


Vince Kaichan — In The Stars

This song is Vince’s third contribution to Chiptunes = WIN (technically 4th if I include the fact that one of those songs inspired a tear-jerking postrock cover by Cory Johnson) and there is a damn good reason for this. From the first time I heard him perform live during Frostbyte’s album release party in 2012 to the various tracks he’s contributed to ChipWIN, Vince has proven himself to be a deftly skilled composer, and this song is further proof of said musical aptitude. Diverging from from the playful, pure chip melody of his last contribution, In The Stars is a thoughtful, urban, subdued track that made me swear I was listening to Joshua Morse album. Perfect for unwinding after a long day, if In The Stars doesn’t fill you with mellow, you and I can never be friends.

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Shinoboy — Detruire

Proving that even the purest, simplest means of composing can produce high quality music, Shinoboy’s first contribution to ChipWIN lives up to it’s name in that it destroys everything! Starting out with a nostalgic arpeggio straight out of Link’s Awakening, the song opens up and becomes a fist throwing, shoulder thrusting, I’m-sorry-I-almost-gave-you-a-concussion-in-the-moshpit-at-8statifest-last-year-Auxcide head banger that feels like equal parts Unini and FearofDark. If you like your chiptune hard, dirty, and full of BRKs like it’s giving your day job the finger, blast this on repeat and revel in all the fucks you don’t have for anything.

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Polygon Horizon — Breath

Polygon Horizon’s offering to the compilation is another song whose title perfectly embodies what this song is in and of itself as well as what it is in relation to the tracks before and after it. Offering a brief reprieve after a few moments of pure idgaf, he has crafted a song that not only allows a moment of stillness, but slowly escalates into a song that inspires hope. In fact, the song does it so well that I had to ask during the listening party if this was the last track on the album, because the amount of nostalgia, tears and optimism it invokes is so striking it rivals even PROTODOME’s offerings for ending tracks on the previous annual compilations. Quite an accomplishment for an artist no matter who you are.

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Auxcide — Fateful Encounter

Another unfairly talented individual who is contributing a fourth time to ChipWIN, Auxcide’s track is the musical equivalent of a meeting between Yojimbo and Kozure Okami. On its own, it invokes the sense of desperation to cut down another, as well as the hatred two must have towards duel to clash so passionately. Combined with the songs before it, Fateful Encounter acts as the second slice of bread in a tasty, thoughtfully made sandwhich that allows one to enjoy the sharp tastes of the moshpitstravaganzas both this and Detruire have, but further accentuates itself and the subtle pallet cleanser that Breath was. This allows all three songs to stand on their own and truly seems unique, despite being part of a larger whole. If you were looking for another reason to throw elbows, let Auxcide take you to the promise land.

By the way, Auxcide, I’d like to apologize again for almost giving you a concussion last year at 8staticfest.  Sorry.

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sleepytimejesse — ❁♡Kawaii Implosion♡❁

Gracing us with his second appearance on a Chiptunes = WIN compilation, sleepytimejesse shows off his creativity with a song that combines a sense of humor, style and even a nod to a classic R&B hit all rolled into a nice lil morsel of a tune.  From the pleasantly unexpected urban flair that strays from his normal compositional style to the use of everyone’s favorite musical canine–K.K. Slider– this low tempo chiptune is the kind of stuff I’d really love to hear more of in the scene.  The kind of song that, despite some of its sillier flairs, resonates with fashionable goodness such as Vince Kaichan’s aforementioned “In The Stars” and Joshua Morse’s “Just Missed You” off of Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 2.  If you haven’t listened to sleepytimejesse before now, I highly suggest changing that pronto.  The man is not one to disappoint regardless of what genre he chooses to dabble in.

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Well guys, it’s time for my leg of the tour through ChipWIN Vol 3 to come to an end. I hope you enjoyed your time with me and that I helped make this part of the album as memorable as the one’s before it. I now bid you adieu, and would like to remind you to check back with us tomorrow as my friend Aydan takes over as captain of our musical escapades, as he’ll be guiding us through tracks 32-26 with considerably more skill than me. I hope. >.>;

Keep on chippin’, and don’t forget: Kuma loves you.

Peace!

\m| (=^(t)^=) |m/

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So You Wanna Make A Chiptune #2: Computer Trackers

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Welcome back to SYWMAC, guys and gals!  It’s great to have you joining me again.  Now last time I posted an article, I focused on showing the highs and lows of tone matrix apps, got some positive feedback, and also received some insightful criticism that I’d like to reflect on a bit before beginning this article in earnest.

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Kuma’s Quick Shots: Round 1

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Sup y’all!  It’s your homeboy Kuma comin’ at ya with something a little different this time around!  Quick Shots is my new review column that focuses primarily on lesser-known and up & coming talent, a handful at a time!  Here’s how it works: each album listed is given a paragraph or two of breakdown, emphasizing their strengths and weaknesses.  These paragraphs are then followed up with a couple stats, such as cost, replay value, and an overall grade that reflects the thoughts expressed in the breakdown.  All that info is designed to help you determine if an album is worth your time and your money, because while all the artists I’ll review deserve some recognition, I know damn well that #thestruggleisreal and #timeismoney!  So let’s not waste any more time!  Come join me as I review work by Tommy TSW, Toni Leys, Jonocade, MissingN0 and Yerzmyey!

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Tommy TSW’s ‘TSW’


TSW’s self-titled debut album is a surprisingly enjoyable ride.  An LP composed of 17 songs, most of  which are 2 minutes long, the album comes across as Tommy’s attempts to catch fireflies in a mason jar and share the nostalgia-inducing luminescence with everyone, and he succeeds in doing so!  Many of the songs on the album mimic that special magic lightning bugs have: their glow enchanting those who witness them briefly, only to fade away, leaving you in awe.  Similarly, each melody triggers its intended emotional response successfully, but all these moments pass quickly, so as not to be overwhelming.  This allows TSW to use the album as a sort of portfolio, allowing him to showcase his various talents so that he can pursue his dream of making a game soundtrack.  From the playful opening track ‘Back Again’ to the very Adult Swim sounding ‘Pop Pop Game Start!’, TSW is an astoundingly diverse producer who’s definitely worth a listen, even if he himself feels that he has a lot more hurdles to overcome.

Fave song/s: Pop Pop Game Start!, Xvenus, Moving on
Price: $2 AU ($1.85 USA)
Bang for Buck: 5/5
Replay Factor: 4/5
Overall Grade: 4/5 

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Toni Leys’ ‘Thiele’


What’s presented as a concept album about an ancient and powerful ship via a dramatic intro track is actually a deceptive cover for Toni and his numerous friends featured on the album (a solid two thirds of the album feature guest artists!) to have fun making the kind of chiptune I’m a sucker for: chiptune you can fucking party to!  The album does this by blending traditional fare many of us grew up with in our vgm, such as r&b and new jack swing, with more modern offerings such as trap, electro and trance.  The result is an EP that’s highly reminiscent of releases like Joshua Morse’s Lunch Bug and Ben Briggs’ Mystery Gift.  You can just as easily groove to this awesome album on the dancefloor as you can just chill and bob your head to it on the train ride back home from work!  That said, this album purposefully (to my chagrin) suffers the shortcoming of brevity, mirroring the tragic, mysterious fate of The Thunder Launcher!  It’s a shame too, because there’s clearly an awesome world looking to be more fleshed out via Toni’s music, but you won’t be getting any more of it from the last remaining artifact of that legendary ship: the mysterious AI known as Thiele.

Fave song/s: Seventh Town
Price: $5
Bang for Buck: 4/5
Replay Factor: 4.5/5
Overall Grade: 4/5

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Jonocade’s ‘Our Last Trip’


Jonocade is an artist who, by his own admission, has only been producing chiptune for about a year.  While I don’t know if he has any prior musical experience, what is apparent is that Jonocade has talent.  Building on his first EP of the same name, this LP features strong melodies that are complimented by very solid, basic bass lines, subdued rhythms and stunningly restrained drums.  The result is an album that shows off Jonocade’s versatility, but also reveals that his talents lend themselves to crafting pop rock chiptune that’s reminiscent of Square Therapy’s work: a truly pleasant revelation that helps separate the album from other recent offerings the scene has produced!  That said, with the exception of the final track on the album (a remix of Eagle Flyer), production value isn’t very high on this release.  The sound is grainy, and while not disturbingly so, it is noticeable enough that it may turn some people away. Despite that complaint, this album is a very fun ride, and I would encourage fans of Square Therapy to give ‘Our Last Trip’ a listen.  Jonocade has clearly put a lot of sweat into making it, and I look forward to hearing more from him.

Fave song/s: Let’s Find a World, Punch It
Price: $3
Bang for Buck: 4/5
Replay factor: 3.5/5
Overall Grade: 3.8/5

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MissingN0’s ‘Fallen DMG



I first heard of MissingN0 after a member of the band named Bailley responded enthusiastically to an encouragement thread I started in the ChipWIN facebook group.  Having been inspired and surprised by Bailley’s energy and some solo work he shared, I sought out more from him, eager to see what his band had put out thus far.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed with what I heard. ‘Fallen DMG’ shows that MissingN0 has potential, and it’s obvious throughout the course of the EP how much they’ve grown.  However, while there are some tasty offerings, the songs of note are too brief to truly enjoy.  This is primarily because, conversely to TSW’s short ditties, these brief tunes suffer from a lack of refinement, variety and polish.  Furthermore, while TSW feels like it’s meant to be a musical smorgasbord, ‘Fallen DMG’ feels like it is trying to be a solid, definitive statement about what the band is and what they’re about, but it can’t be what it wants to be as it was released prematurely.  MissingN0 has a great deal of spunk, and it makes me happy to see such young upstarts helping the scene thrive, but they need to be patient and nurture their babies more before letting them into the wild if they want to make a mark in the scene.  If they can do that, I’m almost certain they’ll be able to be part of a large scale chip festival within the next year or two.  Keep your chin up, MissingN0, Kuma believes in you.

Fave Song/s: Pluto Frost, Echo Off, Unfinished Date
Price: £4 ($6.75)
Bang for Buck: 2/5
Replay factor: 3/5
Overall Grade: 2.5/5

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Yerzmyey’s ‘Rave is Illegal!’



Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with Yerzmyey prior to hearing this album, but when I saw Vince Kaichan say he’s been waiting for this album for a long time, I knew I had to check it out, and God am I glad I did, ’cause jeebus freaking dickbutts made out of ice cream cones is it amazing!  Combining foot work, heavy bass, cheesy fun synths, and orchestra hits (OMG SO MANY ORCHESTRA HITS!), over a constant theme of simple piano chords reminiscent of stage 1-1 of Streets of Rage 2, this snappy EP is an example of brevity done right!  Each song flows into one another seamlessly allowing for all 20 minutes of the release to be full of party!  I’m honestly kicking myself for not being familiar with Yerzmyey sooner, because if this EP is any indication, he alone is worth a trip to see Europe’s chiptune/demoscene crews in action on stage.  I just hope he cranks out something more like this soon, because I am in dire need of this 90s style goodness, which honestly may be the album’s only shortcoming: it’s so classically 90s and early 00s in its approach to music that it may alienate some younger audiences who aren’t familiar or comfortable with the EDM scene of yesteryear.  But even if you are a youngin who’s used to wubs and electro over heavy DnB, breakbeat, and chillout, I implore you to give this album a listen.  It’s just that amazing and refreshing.  (note: Yerzmyey has only put a sample song–the one listed above– of the album on soundcloud.  If you wanna listen to the full thing, you can download the zip at the link listed in his soundcloud).

Fave Song/s: I honestly can’t pick
Price: Free
Bang for Buck: 5/5
Replay Factor. 4.5/5
Overall grade: Misfit Chris/5

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And just like that, Quick Shots is done as quickly as it started!  If you liked what you read and are looking forward to more, check back next month as I review several other albums!  I also encourage you to read my other column, Raw Cuts, in which I interview artists in the scene and get inside their heads and comfort zones!  Or you can just as easily follow my colleagues here on the blog!  Prof. Oakes, Viridian Forge, Pixel Recall, bAby f@ce, and all the others are pretty awesome too, and if you not showing them love, you’re doing it wrong!

Thanks again for tuning in to Quick Shots, and remember: Kuma Loves You!

♥ \m| ♥ (=^(T)^=) ♥ |m/ ♥

Quenching the Forge: Home Made Coffee Liqueur

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Good afternoon ChipWIN nation!  I’ve dared to show my face amongst you more than once this month to indulge in another one of our plethora of shared interests…alcohol!  Now, our fearless leader already has the beer market expertly covered here, so I’d like to take a look at sources of inebriation that are equally delicious, but not quite often as covered.

To start us out, I opted to mesh an experiment I’ve been wanting to try for some time, a fine liqueur made from Eugene’s many sources of locally roasted coffee.  Something dark, with just a hint of sweetness, that pairs well with a bit of Chipthrash.  To prepare you, I’ll borrow the classification system of ChipWIN’s own resident Master Chef, Chip Mom.

Coffee Liqueur  — Difficulty Rating
Newb          |         Apprentice         |         Journeyman         |         Master

Being of legal age in your area of residence is pretty much a requirement here. This recipe will require very little in the way of skill, but will require an abundance of patience.

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