Many chiptune composers and enthusiasts alike will reminisce about their favorite video games and their soundtracks; oftentimes because of their soundtracks bringing such a large breath of life to the gaming experience. Fortunately, thanks to a huge effort of many groups of people celebrating video game music, we have come to a point where we are celebrating the music and composers that helped shaped our youth, imaginations, and lives. However, most to all of the contributions have been to primarily video game music, be it tributes to old or new content for (equally amazing) games. While you would never find me complaining about this, part of me had wondered what would happen if one of the composers of what I considered “the golden age of video game soundtracks” were to make a new chiptune (or at least chip-inspired) album?
Apparently, legendary Famicom-era pioneer, composer and (coincidentally) an influence of my own personal musical tastes, Keiji Yamagishi (along with director Mohammed Taher) were already a few steps ahead of me, and after the jump I will explain to you how it feels to be given a gift by a legend.
Hey there, ChipWINners! Joshua Morse, having produced chipmusic as early as 2007, has always been recognized as a pioneer of our ever-growing community. His music has been featured in several video games, such as ‘A Wizard’s Lizard’, ‘Onslaught!’, and ‘Lunch Bug’. Additionally, his long-running ‘Waveform’ releases are arguably some of the best chipjazz releases on the block, with each one showcasing Morse’s growth as a musician, not dissimilar to the ‘BLUE’ trilogy composed by chipfunk legend PROTODOME, or the progressively complex pieces written by Pieces of Eight. Just before the turn of the new year, Joshua Morse released ‘Waveform 5’, an EP of five chip-fusion-jazz tracks that’re sure to stick with you. Let’s get to it!
Our current chapter presents a twist in our wandering tale of discovery. On the surface, we have what appears to be an extremely talented and eclectic jazz fusion group, but, as we dig deeper, 8-bits emerge from the musical depths! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Chapter Four: The Reign of Kindo
Hailing from New York, The Reign of Kindo is, for me, a little indescribable. You see, I don’t have a whole lot of formal education when it comes to music, I don’t know what the “right” words are to describe things. It’s a lot like that quote: I may not know art, but I know what I like. Well, listening to Reign of Kindo is similar to looking at an impressionist piece of ‘Whistler’s Mother‘, painted by Seurat while he was blindfolded, taking direction from M.C. Escher, which was then saved in 16-bit in Microsoft paint. The band’s musical styling is described on their Facebook page as “music with words”, but it is so much deeper, so much more engaging, and so much more gloriously unique than that description implies.
While the band’s usual fare is, if I were forced to pigeon hole, more akin to Jazz Fusion with a pop/funk/Latin twist, two members, Steve and Mike, have managed to translate it all into two flooring revisions in 8 bits. ‘This Is Also What Happens‘, released in 2010, was the first such offering. What struck me was the faithfulness with which they were able to capture the original tracks, from the booty-swiveling Latin rhythms of ‘Now We’ve Made Our Ascent’ to ‘Soon It Shall Be’s slow, melancholy, Fiddler on the Roof-esque feel. Each of the songs captures the spirit of the original. The offerings all conjure a distinct image, as if you are transported vividly to another place and time. When listening to one of my favorites from this album, ‘Blistered Hands’, I can almost taste the salty sea air and feel the sand between my toes!
‘Play‘, which is a rearrangement of Reign of Kindo’s latest, ‘Play With Fire’, is just as varied and deliciously fun as the first. (And that cover artwork, right?) This album feels more like an OST, transporting you not into reflections of your reality, but to distant fantasy. Something about each song feels like I’m being pulled through a story. The unlikely hero sets out on their quest with the opening track ‘The Hero, The Saint, The Tyrant & The Terrorist’. With ‘Dust’ you are beaten down, but not beaten. Battles are won (‘Make a Sound’, ‘I Hate Music’), adventures had (‘Romancing a Stranger’), and new friends made (‘Sunshine’). By the end you are left feeling fulfilled and excited for more!
Also of note is their remix album ‘8 bits’ which features tracks by the artist Sleeping at Last. This album is a completely different texture from the upbeat bleep bloops found in ‘Play’ and ‘This Is Also What Happens’. Pulling from a completely separate array of textures, Mike & Steve offer an experience reminiscent of sleepy, sunny days, laid out in the grass, filled with child-like wonder. My favorite track is ‘Porcelain’. Listening to it, I’m overwhelmed with memories of running through the sprinkler until I was too tired to stand.
I was so surprised and blown away by the proficiency of their unconventionally conventional music; the instrumentalism and vocals are spectacular. I was equally impressed by the chiptune remixes on both of the albums, which are eclectic, exciting, and beyond expectation. The Reign of Kindo is a must listen for fans of either style!
And remember: the little things count. Show your love to the artists! Post, Share, Like, Give <3