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.
Sup, ChipWINners! Welcome back to Quick Shots: the album review column in which I break down the finer aspects of an album, then give a quick and dirtyTL;DR at the end to help you decide if a new record is worth your time. This month, I’ve got two albums up on the chopping block. One of them is from an artist I’ve reviewed previously whose work has taken a very drastic shift, the other is from a well respected name in the scene who’s decided to do something a little different from their usual fair. Let’s not waste anymore time. Sit back, relax, and turn up the volume as I take the time to review the latest from Slothfella and Ovenrake’s side project: Boys Club!
Hey wassup ChipWINners! Welcome back to Quick Shots: the album review column in which I break down the highs and lows of new releases, then give you a numerical TL;DR to help you decide which new releases give you the most bang for your buck! This week, I’ve got two albums that are very much skirting the fringes of what can be considered chiptune. But, they’reboth incredibly bodacious records from two rad artists thatyou guys should be paying attention to. So if you’re in the mood for something new, straps yourselves in and take a ride with a black guy as we check out new music from Hyperultra and Slothfella!
Hey toys and joys! It’s your boy Kuma back from his hiatus fighting gorillas and asking people to tell me their secrets! And in turn, I’ve learned so many things. So, so many dark and terrible things about all of you.
But that’s not what this is about! This article is about us pushing to get these ChipWIN Volume 1 write-ups written & released so we can make way for the upcoming Vol. 2!
So with that being said, let’s get started!
Founder of the BitMasters netlabel — which has produced work by artists such SMILETRON, Whitely, StarPilot and Kedromelon — the Canadian who calls himself Jake Deadbeat is incredibly skilled at what he does. Whether you’re into jungle dnb, ambient breakbeat or thematically epic chiptune, if you enjoy music that both inspires intense moods and visuals as well as makes you want to get up and bust-a-move, this is an artist you should definitely pay attention to. You can check out deadbeatblast’s other work (including my favorite song by him, Hyperspace V. 1.2) on Soundcloud, or follow what he and several other artists are up to through his netlabel.
Founder of 8bitSF and co-counder of monobomb records along with minusbaby, Morgan Tucker may arguably be the most prominent and passionate promoter and producer of lo-fi electronic music and chiptune on the west coast, and his love for both is evident in everything he does. Having rocked a of wide array of abandoned tech from modded Gameboys and C64s to Vocoders and 808s, crashfaster has crafted some of the catchiest chiptune as an artform that the genre has to offer. Creating songs with incredibly dancey rhythms and drum lines to reflective lyrics like those of the song “time” to instrumental grooves such as “ascension”, Morgan knows how to get a crowd moving (even if it is to lyrics that are sometimes heartbreaking as hell).
Perhaps the most notable aspect of crashfaster is its transformation from being a formidable solo act to being a 4 person hivemind with the inclusion of Ryan Case on guitar, Devin Nixon on drums, and Amy English with her incredibly sultry vocals. The result has been an act that has gone on to rock some of the coolest venues across the country, including the DNA Lounge in San Fran, I/O Chip Music showcase in NYC, PAX East Jamspace 2013, and, most importantly, MAGFest 11 this past January. If crashfaster is your thing, you should definitely keep up with them on Facebook, and check their homepage for upcoming events.
Surprisingly young for someone in the chiptune scene, Frostbyte — the artist formerly known as Iamcloud — is a classically trained guitarist whose tutelage has provided a strong musical foundation for an artist who has gone on to rock the monthly Ustream concert series Clipstream by producing electrical, vivid, colorful music that invokes as much passion aurally as it does visually. The result is a synesthetic experience that can only be described as awesome. So awesome, in fact, that even more prominent musicians such as Br1ght Pr1mate have taken the time to personally express their amazement at how deftly skilled Frostbyte is, as he and other young contemporaries such as Vince Kaichan and Dire Hit (other young upstarts who are also still in high school) have come to represent the full promise and potential of the next generation of chipmusic. But don’t let Harmonix be the only evidence of his awesomeness: head on over to his Bandcamp and let albums such as SHUT IT AND DANCE 2012 EP speak for themselves.
Patrick Phillips aka Fraktal Face is a regular attendee/participant of events like Pulsewave, I/O Chip Music and Control Flow in NYC as well as an artist on the Jellyfish Frequency netlabel and a staple of the New York City chipscene. Whether he’s performing or composing, Pat brings a combination of videogame nostalgia and love of DnB, trance, 80s house, and techno to the chipscene and does it incredibly well. The result, while sometimes lengthy (Patrick has become notorious for being the guy who needs more than 5 minutes at open mic) is always worth it. Fraktal Face is one of the few musicians I’ve found in the chip scene that know how to not only build up to an awesome experience with each song, but know how to wind it down and end it just right, as well. While “Did You?” is definitely a strong example of the amazing skill set he has as an electronic musician, “Battle Face” is a noisier, more frenetic example of this same skill that’s highly reminiscent of music from games of the 32Bit era of gaming, particularly games such as Zero Divide. Its unusually pleasing pitched noise frequencies, heavy bass and glitchy rhythms just make you wanna get down. If you wanna keep up with Fraktal Face, Soundcloud is the way to go. He doesn’t post frequently, but when he does, it’s always worth it.
A skilled musician who’s been honing his craft for 12+ years and has produced soundtrack work for various computer games, Sean combines his classical sensibilities with the passion of his inner gamer to create music that appeals to a wider audience than expected. Whether it’s a foray into darker tones with industrial pieces such Trant Raznor, more traditionally sounding chip/vgm work he’s done for games such as Laser Bombs 2.Bro, or vocal tunes such as Lost the Deposit–a song that reflects on a relationship gone awry– NickelPUNK is an musician that consistently delivers powerful, thought provoking music with each release he puts out.
For those of you who are digging Stardrive, or for those of you who enjoy vocals with their chiptunes, I do highly recommend downloading I Miss Boston or his surprise release EP, All I Could Do (which features a track with vocals from our very own Ryn!). I also recommend checking out his work on Soundcloud, as you can also listen to music he’s contributed to video games such as Bosses Forever 2.Bro, as well as a preview track off his soon to be released EP, The Image of Cool.
Taking their name from the signature puzzle game of yesteryear, this young trio of upstarts from Rochester who have helped define the upstate New York chiptune scene deftly combine their skills to make aural awesomeness. The fusion of Karl von Steuben’s hard hitting drums and joyful synths and chips coupled with the rhythmic chords of Zach Sigmund’s guitar and groovaliciousness and topped off by the syncopated licks of Ben Wheeler’s bass result in instrumental mayhem that would make lovers of Rush’s YYZ turn their heads and say “Woah”. From tracks such as “One More Step“, which is reminiscent of post rock legend Maybeshewill’s “I’m in awe, Amadeus!”, to their signature self proclamation song “We are Chip’s Challenge”, this mathematical trifecta has crafted a formula that consistently results in infectious, face melting music to party hard to! Don’t take my word for it: hit up their Soundcloud or better yet, their Bandcamp and download their live album Chip’s Challenge Live(s)!, and marvel at the fact that this is one band that’s just as amazing in person as they are in studio.