A lot of the chipscene is based in eitherthe Americas, Europe, or Asia. So many talented artists come from these four continents that we often forget about good ol’ Australia. With the recent influx of interest in Square Sounds Melbourne 2018, and a steady flow of music coming from Australian chipmusicians over the last few years, now seems like the perfect time to review one of the most recent works to come out of the region. Calavera is known for his down-tempo bass-filled bangers of tracks, and his most recent work, ‘Kintsugi’, certainly delivers them. We’ll be looking at three tracks from this album in-depth, so buckle up for one hell of a ride.
IDecade—yet another amazing Italian chipmusician—is a relative newcomer to chiptune. You may have seen him posting his LSDJ tutorial videos around the Facebook group recently, but he started in 2015 using Milkytracker. Since his transition to LSDJ in 2016, he’s been making catchy dance tracks in various genres, and he’s made an immense amount of progress in the 2 short years he’s been releasing musi. With his latest album, ‘Sinergy’—released this past December—he’s ready to set the international chip community on fire.
Hey y’all! =) Been a spell since I published an interview here on the blog; the final quarter of the year rarely shows me any quarter. haha That said, I’ve a really good one to kick off 2018! Featuring a cat that’s been involved in and around chiptune longer than probably most of us, and in various ways: composing his own music, performing live, modding gear, and managing various communities. Everyone welcome to the blog, Timothy Lamb aka Trash80!
Greetings, readers. Under normal circumstances, I’d have a review lined up as an article, and maybe even an interview to cap it off and give you folks a little bit of insight into the artist’s creative process. However, unforeseen hurdles caused me to scrap the review I had lined up, and I went into a creative slump. This article was supposed to publish two weeks ago today, for perspective, but now I’ve worked up the motivation to write again. So, rather than doing a traditional review or interview-review combination, I’d like to talk about something else: the community we’ve fostered for the last six or so years, and what it’s done for me in terms of my personal growth as both a writer and a human being. So, let’s start from the beginning.
Happy New Year ChipWINners! The artist that’s firing up my auditory nerves this month really needs no introduction. chibi-tech is a legend in the scene, and someone who’s work was instrumental in sinking Chiptune’s hooks into my heart. Her December release, ‘Psycho Somatic Generation’, was originally an exclusive Kickstarter stretch goal for Bitmap Books’ “NES/Famicom: a visual compendium” 2016 funding drive. Now its available for the whole world to hear, so hop past the fold to get a taste of how delicious these tunes are.
Straight away, it is self-evident that ‘Beyond Bounds‘ was the correct choice to open the album with. Soft, twinkling plucks combined with dreamily flavored square waves conjure a feeling of purposeful centering. A palpable feel of bringing one’s self to rest in light of excitement to come. That peacefulness gives way to a heart fire stoking breakaway mixing that uplifting wind with a crushing bassline and thick snares deeply reminiscent of the NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s soundtrack. Together, their breakneck speed is given an surf twinge, spurring an exciting adventure feel. These two motifs juggle back and forth for the duration of the track, not only mixing well, but serving as palette cleansers for one another and preparing a listener for wonderful compositions to come.
‘Sapient Amphibians on ATVs‘ elicits a very interesting sort of nostalgia. That fondness for the past mixed with a healthy amount of bitter frustration. Battletoads’ Turbo Tunnel was singularly one of the most infuriating levels I threw myself against as a child, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that feeling. However, the music kept pulling me back in for repeated high speed face splattering collisions with concrete walls. chibi-tech’s style and composition in this track ripped those memories up from the depths violently and wonderfully. The rapid clip to the drums, the jazzy bass tones, the bright and evenly paced melody mixes the obvious homage with chibi-tech’s own unique contributions into something so good that I almost want to play Battletoads again.
‘Smugface Mafia‘ is an excellent complete switch up of style, keeping that toe tapping pace alive, and adding an interesting Prohibition era flavor atop it. Fitting to the title, the track takes a turn for the nefarious, introducing minor chords, strained tones, and plenty of tension. These elements are mixed with enough contrasting lighthearted energy that an element of comedy pokes through in places. The strength of that light-hearted energy ebbs and flows throughout the track, leaving me wondering just how seriously one should take these self-satisfied ne’er do wells. Are they expert rum-runners who will sink you to the bottom of a river, or bumblers just barely staying out of the reach of Johnny Law? Either way, a good bit of music here.
As excellently chosen as its counterpart, ‘Return to Bounds‘ makes for a beautiful close to the album. Not just because it hearkens to the lovely closing of a hard-fought Metroid game, but because chibi-tech’s unique additions to that underlying theme leave a track that is as hopeful for the future as it is a closing to the past, especially when mixed with her signature pacing and crisply hitting instrumentation. This is just shy of five minutes that evokes a tinge of sadness that the album is over, but almost more-so encourages that the ending be accepted with energetic dance. By the end, the phrase ‘See you next mission’ can be seen in a much more eager light.
That’s just a handful of tracks from the album, and they’re all worth listening to. I’d highly suggest ‘Meta Within Meta‘, and ‘Young Crescent‘, as a couple honorable mentions. Regardless, I highly encourage anyone and everyone to pop on over to chibi-tech’s Bandcamp page and pick yourself up a copy of this album to enjoy extensively and repeatedly.
With that, I’m closing the Forge – so get out there, share the love, and enjoy yourselves some Chiptune!