Posts Tagged ‘monobomb records’

So You Wanna Make A Chiptune #4: Motivation

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Happy New Year ChipWINners!  Welcome back to my column, So You Wanna Make A Chiptune! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these.  Normally, I’ve reserved SYWMAC for the review of hardware and software related to the production of chiptune to help you determine what would be best suited for you. However, with this being the first article of the new year, I thought I’d talk about something just as important: motivation.

I’m sure a great many of you have made resolutions to become more active, steadfast and prolific with your creative endeavors. Just like with any other resolution, I know you’re going to need help staying focused. It’s okay: concentrating on new goals, New Year’s resolutions or otherwise, can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources within the scene to help you stay motivated! If you’re willing to work towards your larger goal by doing smaller goals, you’re guaranteed to make your dreams a reality in no time. Let’s not waste any more time. Come along with me as I guide you beautiful unicorns to pristine waters that I hope you will drink from!

Robot Unicorn Attack is TM and C of Adult Swim Games

Robot Unicorn Attack is TM and C of Adult Swim Games

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Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘Ghost Stories’ by Together We Are Robots

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Through my stay here on the ChipWIN Blog, I’ve written many album reviews about a handful of talented musicians, and thus a plethora of eclectic coverage has emerged. Through this journey, where I once started as a novice but passionate listener, I feel pretty confident in my ability to decipher the thoughts in my head as to why I think something sounds great. While I am not a classically trained musician, or studied music theory, or even identify as a musician (…yet), I have become much more constructive when I listen to an album. Leading up to this very album review today, I tend to gravitate toward releases that satisfy a minimum of three requirements: Personality, Composition, and Mixing—and I can very confidently say that these very three things are ubiquitous throughout ‘Ghost Stories’, Together We Are Robots’ first studio album released through Bandcamp on March 11, 2015. (more…)

ChipWIN-tern Spotlight: ‘Nebulae’ by Space Town Savior

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Here we are in a post Leonard Nimoy world, and all I (or anyone else it seems) can think about is space. People are constantly talking about Mars and what new things they find on it. Or there’s the dwarf planet Ceres, or this Earthlike planet Kepler 186-f. Hell, even ‘The X-Files’ is coming back to TV – so how fitting that Space Town Savior’s new (and final!) release ‘Nebulae’ is hot space-on-space, atmospheric trancey electronic goodness. You may, remember Space Town Savior from Volume 1 of our compilations – how wonderful it is now to get to talk about a full album instead of a single track!

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Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘superchroma’ by crashfaster

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crashfaster. You know them as that rockin’ Bay Area quartet with unforgettable stage presence, and you know that pseudonym through association of high quality releases that do anything but disappoint. Every. Single. Time.

If you recall my last crashfaster album review, which you can read HERE, ‘further’ was an album that emerged from ‘the ashes of discarded technology’ in a thoughtfully composed narrative arc. As a whole, ‘further’ is a metaphor for the never-fleeting feelings of isolation, numbness, and emptiness that one may encounter throughout their life, and is largely an autobiographical commentary by Morgan Tucker, crashfaster, 8bitSF and monobomb records’ frontman. Envisioning an explorer, Tucker remarks that the entirety of ‘further’ is a metaphor of the contemplation of his life and eventual journey to find the truth by ‘casting aside his former life and shedding each layer of his humanity.’

Transpiring from the personal anecdote alluded to throughout the course of ‘further’ is ‘superchroma’, an EP whose energetic presence and masterful evolution from the album prior is one that can’t go far from unnoticed. Released fresh on Bandcamp on July 22, 2014, ‘superchroma’ pays homage to what crashfaster had been, but also sets the stage to what the band WILL become. Despite what such a busy man he is, Morgan was very gracious to answer a couple of questions that I had about the evolution of the band, the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’, influences, and the future of crashfaster—because I love all of you, read on for the interview with the man himself!
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Professor Oakes: Hey Morgan! Thanks again for being able to do this!

Morgan Tucker: No, thank YOU! I really appreciate you interviewing me!

PO: Psh, I do all the easy lifting ;) But seriously, thanks again for taking the time. I know how busy you are with being a father, frontman of crashfaster, 8bitSF and co-founder of monobomb records! You certainly sound like you never take a breather.

Can you tell me a little bit about crashfaster and the significance in the pseudonym?

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llustrations courtesy of Phylissa Li, 2014

MT: crashfaster is meant to infer to both technology (ephemerality) and physicality. I’m fascinated by how much we rely upon technology to feed our souls. I believe we must strip away distractions and excess in both the physical and spiritual realms in order to discover our true nature. crashfaster is a call to action – destroy both your digital and physical selves to reveal the truth that lurks beneath the surface.

PO: I’ve been a fan of yours for years, and I was very excited to see you evolve from a single-person band into a quartet. Can you tell me how the transition from a single act to a full-man band means to you? Are you happy with the sound now that you have extra hands (and friends) on the team? How did you meet one another, anyways?

MT: There are two aspects of working with a band that have had a significant impact on crashfaster. In the studio, songwriting possibilities multiply exponentially. Each one of us has distinct and disparate musical tastes and influences. This has made our sound more rich and varied. In a live setting, there’s a lot more energy on stage to play with and off of. It’s hard to be one guy behind a Gameboy and keep the crowd’s attention. There’s a lot more for people to connect with when there’s four of us thrashing away. crashfaster was always intended to be on the dancey side of things, but something interesting happened when we began writing as a band.

On “further” we each naturally fell into a rock mentality, and the music became more aggressive and a little less beat-oriented. On “superchroma” we’ve pulled the sound back towards something that will make you move. I think we’ve found the right balance in our new material.

As for how crashfaster formed into a four-person band, it happened by chance, mostly. A few years ago I wanted to start stepping up the impact of my live performance, and I thought the single best way to do that was to introduce live percussion. I met Devin through a mutual friend of ours (The Glowing Stars’ Lizzie Cuevas), and we had an instant bond. We both saw eye to eye on where the project could go and shared the determination and work ethic that could make it a reality. A little while later, we got a shot to open for Anamanaguchi, and I wanted the band to sound even bigger.

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The man, the myth… the Ryan Case. Photo by Lester Barrows

I asked Ryan (who was a coworker at the time) if he thought he could learn our songs in a week. He said yes, and he did! We met Keiko at the farewell show for our old singer. The rest is history.

PO: Wow! What a history and inspiring happenstance. While I certainly love the sound of old crashfaster, I love the direction you all have been going in now that there’s four of you. However, I especially LOVE the direction you went in this EP, and it has to be one of my favorite crashfaster releases. With that said, can you tell me a little about the transition from ‘further’ to ‘superchroma’ as a whole?

MT: “Superchroma” was meant to be more of an evolution than a departure. We wanted to both pay homage to what crashfaster had been, but at the same time set the stage for everything that we could become. Our musical influences are deep and varied, and I want the band to reflect that moving forward.

Working at Different Fur with Patrick Brown and Sean Paulson opened our eyes to new workflows and songwriting possibilities. As soon as we finished up “further”, I was ready to get back in there and do it all over again, but this time we’d be armed with new ideas that the studio experience had spurred. “Further” was very much a protracted labor of love…from concept to completion, the project was in development for more than two years. While this allowed us time to refine lyrics, hidden meanings and aesthetic synchronicity, it didn’t let us experiment much while recording. The album was more or less what we came into the studio with. It was only afterward that we realized how much this held us back.

On “superchroma”, we decided to come in sans preconceived notions. We had about 20 rough sketches of songs that Patrick immediately whittled down to 10. From there, we started messing around with each of them until we found the voice the track. We knew we had 10 days from start to finish, and the goal was to get as much done as possible, while reserving the right to chuck things out that just weren’t working. This process was incredibly freeing, and allowed for many happy accidents, serendipitous guest appearances and just more…fun. I think that really comes through in the recording.

PO: Now that we’re talking about production and the gift of group collaboration, what hardware and software do you use?

MT: crashfaster uses a Gameboy loaded with LSDJ, a Gameboy mGB (midi), a NES with midiNES, a SIDstation, sammichSID, a Commodore64 with MSSIAH, Plogue Chipsounds 707, 808, 909, VP330, a Juno 106 & Ableton Live.

PO: Such sweet, sweet tunes for my ears. This hard and software you use—do you have any formal training as a musician? The rest of the band?

MT: I don’t have any formal training as a musician. However, I went to art school for Audio Production. I worked on Foley/SFX/Sound design for several indie films before I started crashfaster. Devin is classically trained and the most experienced musician in the group. The rest of us are pretty much self-taught.

PO: If you could categorize crashfaster’s genre and place a finger on what the band sounds like, what would it be?

MT: Electronic/Industrial/Synth/Rock. Or something.

PO: I’d say that’s pretty accurate! No reason to have to straddle one genre! What would you say influences you all? Music? Movies?

MT: I’d say the biggest influences on our sound are probably Kraftwerk, Nine Inch Nails, Prince, ELO, Afghan Whigs and Neil Young (specifically the “Trans” album). We are big fans of horror movies and anime, and I think you can definitely feel that in our music.

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crashfaster performing ‘GO!’ live at the DNA Lounge, 6/22/14. Photo courtesy of Lester Barrows

PO: Oh, definitely! I feel like “GO!” is straight out of an actual anime—IT’S PERFECT and incredibly energizing! Would you say you have a favorite track on ‘superchroma’?

MT: It’s hard for me to pinpoint a single favorite, because I’m really happy with how the entire thing came out. But if I had to pick, it’d probably be “lost”, because I think we were able to pull off the emotional intent of the lyrics in a way that hits me every time.

PO: I’m curious of the conception of the album name. Does it signify anything in particular?

MT: We were playing with these visual concepts that were heavily inspired by early 90’s rave/cyberpunk culture and anime, and we wanted the music to *feel* colorful. When we were coming up with names for the album, we tried to find something that felt as hyper-kinetic as what was in our heads. Thusly…superchroma!

PO: This colorful and kinetic mood… it’s totally off the spectrum than that of its precursor ‘further’. Would you say the birth of your child had any affect on this newest album and your artistic vision as a whole?

MT: Yes! The idea for “further” was something that preceded my child, and I had been suffering from a loss of purpose and feeling in my every day life, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to find happiness. The construct allowed me to explore the concepts of duty, destiny, assimilation, isolation and self-destruction both lyrically and sonically. Once my daughter was born, I was overcome by a new feeling…not one of numbness, but a crushing awareness of time. I feel, now more than ever, that time escapes me at a pace that I find…unsettling. After all, my biggest fear in life is that I will have regrets (would’ve, should’ve, could’ve), and now I am extremely conscious of the fact that I don’t have forever to do all of the things I want to do while I’m here.

PO: Would you say there’s an overall theme of ‘superchroma’?

MT: Looseness. Ultimately, I wanted this album to act as a “mix cd that you’d have on in your car as you drove around at night in San Francisco.” This lighter construct allowed me to explore more varied types of music…things that I’ve been a fan of but never really found a way to make work within the context of crashfaster.

On this EP, we’ve got everything from a funky synth-pop tune to a faux anime theme song to an industrial club banger. Though the styles are seemingly unrelated, with the help of Patrick Brown, we were able to tie them together aurally in a way that works surprisingly well.

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‘superchroma’ by crashfaster. Album artwork by Phylissa Li, 2014.

PO: Now that your album is wrapped and now live, what does the future hold for crashfaster? Tour? What does it mean to you since you were the founding vision?

MT: More music, and more shows! Through crashfaster and 8bitSF, we’ve built up the community in the Bay Area to the point that I believe it’s one of the most vibrant and diverse scenes in the US. We recently joined forces with LA artists who formed 8bitLA, and we’re working together as sister organizations to bridge the physical divide in California chipmusic.

As far as crashfaster, we’re going on tour with Everything Goes Cold in late August, which will take us from San Francisco to Chicago. After that, we’re hitting the East Coast to play 8static Festival in Philly in October.

PO: I’m looking forward to your Los Angeles stop. You never disappoint! Just thinking about touring the country and doing what you love sounds so incredible. With that said, before we depart, do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

MT: Oh, absolutely! Be humble. Be persistent. If you’re in it for the music, you’ve got to be prepared for the long haul. Destroy all excuses. Stop talking about why you can’t do things…make do with what you have.

PO: Excellent! Thank you so much for providing those nuggets of advice—I’m sure our readers can relate. Anyways, that just about wraps it up for our interview. Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, and I’m sure I’ll be seeing you soon!

MT: Absolutely! Take care.
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That’s all for this (special) edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! Don’t forget to check out crashfaster’s music, and follow 8bitSF on ALL THE THINGS SOCIAL MEDIA for future events. Also, if you have some time, be sure to check out the series of music videos for ‘GO!’, ‘goodbye‘, ‘hi‘, ‘lost‘, ‘photograph’, and ‘tonight‘ created by Gabriel Roland, 8bitSF’s resident visualist and mastermind behind Noukon Films.

Until next time! Professor Oakes signing off!

crashfaster
Website Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

8bitSF
Website | Facebook | Twitter 

Monobomb Records
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Shop 

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Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes: ‘Further’ by crashfaster

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Howdy, Carbon based life forms! Professor Oakes is back to administer another dose of Chip Treatment – so sit down, strap in, and hold on to your butts! No, super serious pro tip… you’re going to need it.

As I’m sure you’ve brushed up on your recent chip releases on account of my awesome colleagues’ (which include DjjD, PixelRecall, and Aydan Scott) write-ups, it’s quite likely that you’ve gotten all starry-eyed and forgot San Francisco’s up-and-coming electronic rock group crashfaster’s newest release ‘Further’, amirite? And if you didn’t, now is the perfect time to develop a little ear bug and listen to it SOME MOAR. ;)

Hitting Bandcamp with a stellar release on November 19, this bumping, 11-track album has been a two year work in progress for crashfaster’s frontman Morgan Tucker, who also heads 8bitSF and monobomb records (along with the help of Richard Alexander ‘minusbaby’ Caraballo). Interested in the coexistence of and how the quality of the production of music affects art, design, and technology, monobomb records is a multi-vocational ‘plastic arts collective’ based in San Francisco with a production annex in Brooklyn, New York, which, when boiled down, makes cool shiz.

Oozing with a bouncy, melodic rhythm, and dripping at the seams with 80s video game culture nostalgia through the use of analog drum machine core, ‘Further’ is a collection of tracks thoughtfully composed in a narrative arc that emerged from ‘the ashes of discarded technology’. As a whole, the never-fleeting feelings of isolation, numbness and emptiness despite tasks being accomplished served as a catalyst to ‘Further’ and helped to inspire Tucker to compose a beautifully written album. Envisioning an explorer, Tucker references the explorer ‘jettisoned into space’ and ‘forced to contemplate his own purpose while dealing with unending solitude, while casting aside his former life and shedding each layer of his humanity in order to find the truth.’ I don’t know about you all, but I know this feeling all too well.

With a wide range of styles and techniques and a wonderful blend of complimentary vocals, ‘Further’ is nothing quite like I’ve ever heard before. With a very suitable entrance for the album as a whole, ‘Launch’ is surely a track to take you on an intergalactic mission through the depths of space and time. While it’s a relatively short track (2:50), ‘Launch’ very perfectly intertwines mission control communication and a sense of countdown as the listener themselves feel like they’re ascending into space with each passing second. ‘Launch’, very appropriately, transitions into ‘Closer’, a track in which I feel to be reminiscent of the feeling when the shuttle finally breaks the thermosphere, reaches 0 G, and breaks off the shuttle boosters. ‘Apex’, which is one of my personal favorite tracks, is also ever so perfect—with incredibly memorable but haunting lyrics. I feel incredibly weightless as if I’m looking down at the sights before my eyes in absolute silence knowing no one can hurt me; however, I suddenly feel like my space travels are up ‘In Flames’ as my ashes are scattered across the universe by the end of ‘Further’.

Without the help of Different Fur Studios during the recording process, Patrick Bischoff-Brown’s production, collaboration with Unwoman, Eric Gottesman,  Mr. Spastic on some of the tracks, John Greenham’s album mastering assistance over at Infrasonic Sound, and of course the rest of crashfaster (Devin Nixon, Ryan Case & Keiko Takamura), ‘Further’ would cease to exist. ‘Further’ can be digitally downloaded on crashfaster’s Bandcamp for $7, or you can opt to purchase the compact disc (yes, they still exist)! Hot and fresh from the press and ships out to your door within two days, the CD contains a 20-page booklet featuring artwork from Kristen Adam and gorgeous package design by Minusbaby all for $12.

If that isn’t enough to settle your ear buds, crashfaster is also performing at the DNA Lounge in SF December 6, at Frequency 3.0 in LA on January 17, and SJSU February 7, so JUMP ON THAT.

That’s all folks! Until next time! Professor Oakes signing off!

crashfaster
Crashfaster.com | BandcampFacebook | Twitter

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ChipWIN Tracks: #18 – #23

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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.

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

Muhahahahahahahahahahaha!

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!

ChipWin Track 18:  Total Disaster by deadbeatblast

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.

ChipWin Track #19: The Out by crashfaster

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.

ChipWin Track #20: Harmonix by Iamcloud

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.

ChipWin Track #21: Did You? by Fraktal Face

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.

Chipwin Track #22: Stardrive by NickelPUNK

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.

Chipwin Track #23: Special Beam Cannon by Chip’s Challenge

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.

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Relevant Links:
Artist Facebook Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Artist Music Access Pages:
Deadbeatblast | crashfaster | Frostbyte | Fraktal Face |
NickelPUNK | Chip’s Challenge

Record Labels and Promotional Venues:
Rochester Chip | Jellyfish Frequency | 8bitSF | monobomb |
BitMasters | I/O | Chipmusic | Pulsewave | 8static