Happy Pride Month, everybody! To fit the theme, I’d like to cover a very special release from Business Pastel that is quite literally a rainbow of expression.
With a vast array of technical styles and moods, this album is just jam-packed with content. All of the tracks flow into one another seamlessly, and serve as little windows into the depth of the character of Billy Murphy, better known as business pastel.
Cityfires’ latest release is fire.That pun is too easy not to make, but I really mean it. With buoyant emotional synthpop, some of the most magnetic sound design I’ve heard all year, and fascinating lyrics – this album’s spirit is most deserving of the title “adventure” out of all that I’ve written about. It’s full of surprises and seriously fine-tuned, with tracks like ‘The Tangle’ trimmed down to interesting ideas, while others such as the titular song take the time they need for a core feeling to hit home.
Full to the brim with electric melody lines, immersive sound design, and creative mixing decisions, this fifteen-track masterpiece never sacrifices quality for quantity. Tight vocal tracks are infused with textured electronica, and organic instrumentation as well. Instrumentals are just as diverse: ‘Daybreak Apparatus’ echoes the peppy videogame joy of earlier ChipWIN comps, while ‘Dreamshifting’ feels like some more recent chiptune which draws from mathrock. Alternatively, ‘Mothfold’ defies description. The whole album is kinetic, and really integrated, a trip through clear landscapes and sights to behold.
It’s finally summer, and I’m finished with college and coming out of hiatus. The last few months have been crunch, and I’ve had muchless time to produce or review, but I’ve still been able to hear so many of the great new titles that have been dropping this year. Among them is yet another excellent indie-chip hybrid, a subgenre of a subgenre I’m starting to notice I have a weakness for.
‘We Were Once Called Spring‘ is Azuria Sky’s experimental and significant expansion into the constantly blending realm of folk and indie. It’s an eclectic assortment of LSDJ riffs, folksy chord progressions, and poignant, sentimental lyrics backed by acoustic guitar.
Back in 2011, before I had been formally introduced to chiptune, I listened to a lot of folk and indie artists. Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Tree People, and AJJ (then Andrew Jackson Jihad) dominated my playlists and YouTube history. I listened to that music so often that as I got older I had to start taking breaks from it because it felt too familiar. But nevertheless, those records maintained their value to me over the years, acting as my go-to answer when asked about the kind of music I like.
So what does all that have to do with ‘.--. ..- .-.. .-..’ by null? Well, there’s a special feeling you get when you hear a song that sounds enough like your favorite band to make you do a double take. When you find yourself wondering if you didn’t get the memo about their early-years alias. When you realize you’ve discovered something completely new, but so similar to what you’re fond of. It’s a good feeling – and when you hear chiptune in it, it’s an even better feeling. And here’s where I tell you all about it.
I turn 28 this month, in fact a week from today. At this age, I find myself wishing I had the ability to go back in time and change a number of things that led my life to be the way it is today. And honestly, not only that, but there are certain parts of my life I wish I could live over again, like the parts of my childhood I spent playing my Super Nintendo and my friend’s Playstation 1 after school, jamming out to the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night OST.
This will never happen, of course. I don’t have some kind of time machine to go back, and I’ll never be able to experience Michiru Yamane and Koji Igarashi’s masterpiece again for the first time. What I do have, however, is the next best thing: Timespinner, the first game by Lunar Ray games with an amazing soundtrack by Jeff Ball of Tiny Barbarian DX and Steven Universe fame (among many others), which follows the story of Lunais – a woman who must travel between the ancient past and ruined present of her world to put an end to the tyranny her people face from an intergalactic empire. Funded on Kickstarter back in 2014, this was one of those games I backed and hoped and prayed it would actually come to completion, having been burned by a number of other very promising retro-inspired campaigns in the past – and lo and behold, at the end of September of this year I got my hands on my pledge and devoured the game immediately. Instead of my normal “music only” review column this month, I’d like to actually talk about the game as well – and as with my occasional event coverage, I’ll give you the handy #MUSIC and #GAME tags to Ctrl+F back and forth to if you only want to read one of those reviews.
Happy New Year ChipWINation! There are two things that are innate to the start of another recognized turn of our giant ball of mostly molten metal about the sun. The first is New Year’s health resolutions, and the second is motherfucking MAGFest. Now, as a reader, you’re probably thinking those two things have almost nothing in common, and frankly, you’d pretty much be right. In fact, after my first trip to MAGFest last year, I’d go so far as to say they’re negatively correlated. See, the key component to getting and staying fit is good nutrition. I’ll get into defining that below the fold, but I’m sure we can all agree you’ll be hard pressed to find it at MAGFest.
That’s okay. Get yourselves to MAG, party your asses off, and then come back to this article. Seriously, its on the Internet now. Its not going anywhere.