Hey friends! It’s been a good ol’ while since I published a new interview here on our blog. While working on ‘A Fistful of Chiptunes‘, however, I had some lovely conversations with one of the artists that lead to my unpause-ing of this column. The fellow responsible for this is talented multi-media composer, a dual project chiptune wizard, and an all around fantastic Swede. Everyone, welcome to the blog, Oscar Rydelius!
[Editor’s note: I nearly un-retired from review writing to cover this magnificent new release composed by one of my original childhood inspirations; Tanaka-san’s Metroid OST is largely responsible for initially engaging my interests in both VGM and chip, if not music in general! I’m glad I didn’t, however, as Paul has done a marvelous job conveying his own enthusiasm and appreciation for ‘Django’ as a chipmusic composer himself. Regardless, please enjoy this lovely take from a member of the new chiptune generation on one of the forefathers of chipmusic’s latest works! ~Brandon L. H.]
If you’ve read any of my previous reviews, you know how laudative and enthusiastic I can get. But today is a bit different. Here I am, listening to this album again, reading up on Tanaka-san’s bio to research the article, recalling the mind-bending experience that was seeing him live at Square Sounds Tokyo last September. Here I am, writing about the article, instead of the album or the artist, trying to sound meta and smart, keeping my composure, because I don’t want you to know that words are failing me.
I don’t want this article to be a string of enthusiastic platitudes and generic descriptions of the music. I love this album and I want my review to do it justice, beyond the fact that I’m still starstruck and not in any fit state to be objective.
And even if this album refuses to fit nicely in a traditional 2k-word album review, which it probably will, I’m still gonna give it my best shot. Here we are. Let me tell you about Chip Tanaka, and his album, ‘Django’.
This beautiful cover art shows the many qualities of Chip Tanaka’s music: Eclectic, goofy, organic, multi-facetted and good for your health.
This month, I chose to shed some light on an album hosting home to 26 tracks called ‘Decent Company’, created by a New Jersey based artist, releasing under the moniker of ‘Catthew O.’. Also known as ‘Bubblegum Octopus‘, Catthew O. prepared a wonderfully eclectic final product containing music created specifically for Weekly Beats.
Weakly Beats, which was recently held in 2016, is an online site that previously allowed composers to upload original music once a week, every week, for the entirety of the year. While I did not personally participate in WB, I found it to be a great forum for creativity and I do hope it opens up again in the next year to come; it’s a fantastic place for musicians to congregate, and outcomes like ‘Decent Company’ are always fantastic to come by.
This month, I came across a release by Ben Prunty called ‘Music Workbench’ – a series of improvisations performed by Prunty weekly – is featured live on Twitch every Saturday at 2PM Pacific Time. Taking advantage of a live streaming platform not only gives the opportunity for real-time performances, but it also creates a platform for viewers to inquire about technology and creativity in real time.
Artwork by Amora Bettany, of Studio Miniboss (studiominiboss.com).
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?