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.
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.
It’s my final article of 2017, so I thought I’d write something special that has been a highlight of the year for me. First of all, this reviewis not associated with chiptune, but it’s probably my favourite album of 2017, mainly down to how it made an impact on me during the year. Released jointly by the artist and ‘neon city records‘, ‘わたしのYUME DIARY’ by ‘カヅキBIGWAVE’ is primarily a Future Funk album, and isn’t something I generally listen to. When I first came across the genre, I didn’t really take to it; mainly down to the constant slow downs & over saturation of funky samples. However, that didn’t stop ‘わたしのYUME DIARY’ fromgoing against those cliches that reside in Future Funk, and instead relies upon making great, catchy melodies that stick in your head for most of 2017.
Hello beautiful people and thank you for reading The ChipWIN Blog! Today let’s steer clear from technobabble, we’re here to burst Techno Bubbles together with the Marvellous Mizkai! Hailing from her northern homeland in Wales, Mizkai has been sort of a missing link between Japan and the Isles for a few years now, channelling Japanese and Internet hardcore-sugar-pop culture into her stage alter-ego, and distilling it into the strongest, sweetest cuppa teas ever brewed on this side of the globe.
Even though Mizkai has been around in the scene for quite some time already, dishing out some truly tasty jams on her SoundCloud, she never was much of a fan of “big” or “official” releases, nor did she seem to need it to ascertain her musical and visual identity as an artist. ‘Kiss/Corrupt/Kill’ is an updated, enhanced and somewhat more mature version of her EP ‘Nintendork’, previously published on Bandcamp and sadly, no longer available.
But long before these releases already, Mizkai had been a driving force in the UK Chiptune scene, and where she shone the brightest was live. Quite literally so, might I add. Having had the pleasure of sharing a stage with her and witnessing her awe-inspiring, relentless performance, I was very excited when I heard about this EP. As you know, good jams go well with toast, so I had to be the one to review it. Here’s a selection of my personal favourite tracks.
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?
Hey there, ChipWINners! Welcome back to Quick Shots: the album review column in which I break down the finer points of some of the latest releases in the scene, then give you a numerical TL;DR to help you determine if a record is right for you. This month, I have two albums up for review that explore spaces I’ve yet to discuss on the blog. One is a metal album that incorporates vocals via the Hatsune Miku Vocaloid software, and has incredibly powerful lyrics. The other is an album from an accomplished pianist who has composed a very stirring concept album using the tracker software in the Pico-8 virtual console. Both albums albums caught me off guard and have a lot to offer their respective audiences. That said, let’s not waste anymore time! Sit back, relax, and plug in those headphones as I take the time to review the latest from 8-Bit Hero and Gruber.