After a month off to focus on other matters, it feels good to be back reviewing music at ChipWIN. ‘Lost’ by Shortee was an album that slipped under my radar last year, but as soon as I started listening to it, ‘Guten Morgen’ immediately became one of my top 10 tracks of 2018. That said, the album has plenty more songs worth delving into, so I wanted to do a showcase on The ChipWIN Blog and dive into Shortee’s debut album.
The new year is in full swing – MAGFest has come and gone, Chipwrecked is preparing for another great lineup, and we’ve already got a few fun 2019chiptunereleases! But such an active community also makes for a lot you may have missed, and I’d like to give the last year a final sendoff before moving onto this one. I’m proud of the work I did in 2018, but there was a lot I didn’t get to talk about as well. This scene is bursting with music to enjoy and appreciate, so while I can only cover a small portion of it, I’d like to try and spotlight some tunes that deserve the attention.
Naturally, I will be doing this in the silliest way possible.
It’s last review of the year for me and I thought I’d continue the trend by reviewing absolutely no chiptune. Last year was no contest for me and I reviewed one of my favourite ‘Futurefunk’ albums of the year, ‘Watashi No Yume Diary’ by ‘Bigwave Mikazuki’. It was a wonderful release that I continue to listen to this day. This year however has been harder to choose. Originally I was going to review ‘Moe Moe’ by ‘Moeshop’, an awesome release with a variety of singers. Featuring a worldwide collection of artists from Manchester’s own ‘MYLK’ to Kyoto’s ‘Toriena’, ‘Moe Moe’ was full to brim with character.
However, as the year started to draw to a close, I came across another album; ‘Static Electricity’ by ‘Utsuro Spark’ (released by New Japanese Net Label, ‘Local Visions’). Whilst ‘Moe Moe’ was bubbly and colourful, ‘Static Electricity’ managed to instantly hook me, both through its mystical music and passionate vocals. Ultimately it was the heart of ‘Static Electricity’ that won me over, even when I compared both albums vigorously against one another.
Hey, ChipWINners! Long-time fans of ChipWIN may remember, on our very first compilation, a track called ‘Button Mash’ by a Detroit-based chipmusician named Snesei. With its high-energy percussion and cute melody, the track has cemented itself as a nostalgic trip down memory lane to the earliest days of my chipmusic blogging career. Every time I hear it, I can’t help but feel emotions rush over me as I recall my college years and the friends that I so cherished during that period. When I saw just four short days ago (as of the publication of this post) that Snesei released a short, 3-track EP with a guest remix included titled ‘Digression’, I was intrigued. Each track on this EP feels as though it’s been written from the heart, and with the central theme of growth, one can tell that a truly personal, loving touch is present throughout. But, I digress… let’s see what we have here.
Impulses’ Bandcamp description is simply “Emotional Underground Chiptune.” Started by Trevor Stafford at least a few years ago, their music is consistently calming, pretty, melodic, natural, and always makes me feel things. I haven’t stopped listening sinceI discovered them last month through the ChipWIN discord. Impulses’ sound is filled with the sincerity of 8-bit synths, and the occasional boppy modernity of edm, and I’ve enjoyed going through their full discography quite a bit. That being said, the latest release ‘L | \/ E EP’ easily stands out, with a polished cohesion, tightness, and clarity.
This year has been an excellent year for chipmusic using nanoloop. We’ve had a huge amount of releases ranging from the astounding ‘Geothermal’ by Classic Mistake, to the chilled as hell ‘Vanilla Dome’ by Glooms. This time we have Boaconstructor’s ‘Winds Of Null’. For context into ‘Boaconstructor’, he is a Seattle based musician who also runs ‘The Base bit’, one of the go-to net labels of chiptune. ‘The Base Bit’ have released a variety of accomplished albums such as ‘Refresh’ from Trey Frey, to ‘Steel City Zone’ by ‘HarleyLikesMusic’. It has been three years since ‘Boaconstructor’ has produced an album, with ‘Loop Dreams’ being released in 2015.
Whilst ‘Loop Dreams’ and ‘Winds Of Null’ were produced using Nanoloop, they are vastly different albums. ‘Loop Dreams’ focuses on using modulation to create weird and wonderful noises on a high BPM. ‘Winds Of Null’ on the other hand, focuses more on the bass, as well as detuning the melody and slowing down the music. For me I prefer Boaconstructor’s latest album, as I found it more accessible to listen to. The recording and mastering are also, in my opinion, much higher quality. Everything seems to pop better, with the levels balanced much better than ‘Loop Dreams’.