Greetings fellow dwellers of the Chip Realm, and welcome back to the Forge! This month, my interest was piqued by a new EP I stumbled across as I delved the depths of the Bandcamp Sea composed by a name that had never crossed my radar before, Nul Nestao.
Psychedelic Supercomputer EP is a mix of original work and well-worked covers, and is Nul’s first Bandcamp release. Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Nul is a self-described musician, film-maker, and programmer.
Anamanaguchi. To some, that would mean nothing, but to the crowd at the 8BitSF show last Sunday, it was enough to create a line around the block to get in. I’ve been to many shows at DNA Lounge here in San Francisco, both in the big room and the space above, but never have I see what amounted to a solid mass of people, all jamming out to the sweet sweet tunes being played on-stage. This was easily the biggest crowd I have ever seen in that space, so much that I had some trouble finding a place to watch it all. Of course, this was 8bitSF’s 5th anniversary show, which also marked 5 years since Anamanaguchi played their first show in San Francisco.
OMFG 5 Years indeed!
Since then 8bitSF has grown tremendously, to the point of having monthly shows complete with open mic every third Thursday of the month, featuring artists from around the scene such as virt, Danimal Cannon, Dj CUTMAN, Mega Ran and Metroid Metal, to name a few. And, as such, there was no better event to be my very first Anamanaguchi show. Since I’ve never had the pleasure to catch them live, I still need help with titles from time to time, but rest assured that I’m not completely clueless about the songs themselves. I can also tell you how the show felt, the atmosphere, the feeling, and the massive levels of hype and energy present at the scene. But that’ll have to wait, because there were other acts that performed too. Kicking the night off was crashfaster, debuting their new album ‘superchroma‘, which releases next month. ‘superchroma’ covers a broad spectrum of feelings, ranging from joy to anger to bliss and everything in between. A highlight of this fresh batch of music was the self-proclaimed attempt at writing an anime theme song. A rather successful attempt, I might add, because it was very well executed and the audience was quite into it by shouting GO! at the appropriate times. This was a perfect example of the high-energy style crashfaster has going these days, and the rest of the album followed suit, even if the energy was utilized in different ways fitting the varying styles of each song. After the stupendously superb superchroma section stopped, crashfaster finished their set with ‘collapse‘ from their last album, ‘further‘, and topped that off with the always-popular ‘time‘ from their first album, ‘disconnect‘.
During their new song GO! As evidenced by the screen.
After a short break between sets as is the norm, Una took the stage. This was her first ever show in America, and it was quite a memorable debut performance here. The crowd had swelled between sets, and every person in it was obviously enjoying her happy and bubbly style. She also had fantastic stage presence, utilizing every inch to her advantage. Admittedly, I didn’t have the best view of her set, but even from my less-than-ideal vantage point the high levels of energy were quite infectious. Overall, it was a quite solid set, and came to an end rather quickly… It was a full set, but it was so good and so engaging that it felt rather short.
Una using the stage to her advantage as a captivated crowd looks on.
Even if I wasn’t interested in Anamanaguchi at all, this show would’ve changed my mind instantly. I found my way atop a subwoofer in the corner, and had a view of the whole stage. And I’m glad I did, because that was one of the best shows I’ve been to in some time. Lots of people were into it, lots of people were crowdsurfing, it was insanely fun. There was even a guy in a flying squirrel suit crowdsurfing; I guess that’s as close as he was going to get to flying. He did that several times, and I hadn’t really seen a show where crowdsurfing was actively encouraged. I even got in for a bit of crowdsurfing during what was seeming to be their last song, and it was rather exhilirating. As the crowd chanted one more song (or five more songs) after this, the request was granted. The drummer, Luke, came down after the chanting to buy time for the rest of the band to take a short break and, after a failed attempt at a joke, the show was back on for two final songs. It was a rather amazing experience, I must say, and I can’t wait for the next one I get to see.
Anamanaguchi in the midst of Meow as a giant kitten surveys the area.
After that, some 8bitLA folks (including our very own Professor Oakes) came on-stage to throw giant inflatable bananas to the crowd. Because that is the logical follow-up to a great Anamanaguchi set, apparently. Grimecraft also DJed for the remainder of the night, playing a great set including selections from his release, PokÉP. As usual, he was very engaging, talking to the crowd and generating hype in those who remained. All in all, it was a fantastic show, and definitely made me want to follow up on Anamanaguchi. Until next time, rock on!
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
In the past, I have helped write a couple FAQs when dealing with different levels and bosses, but once you have become a seasoned player, you might be looking for a more tailored experience. There are many methods for achieving this, from button combinations to sound test codes, but my personal recommendation is finding the closest warp zone to you and navigating through the mayhem! My recent adventure led me to the realm of PAX EAST, located in world Boston-MA. Although I kept a detailed log of all my encounters in this mysterious yet familiar land, sadly I only collected 3 OUT OF 20 pages, which detail some of my exploits.
JOURNAL ENTRY #1
Boston 8 Bit has collected some of the finest artists for both the Jamspace and Chip Stage as they have done in the past, and the talent here is insurmountable! Sam Mulligan started off the day playing some of his famous hits and then OMG! SHARK PARTY! I didn’t think I would make it through until The World Is Square told me to “let go” and a fight broke out between myself and the flying shark boss. I managed to defeat it with my remaining flame rounds and a quick visit to what I like to call Knife City a.k.a. circling around it and swiping my combat blade. Note to self: Save more ammo.
I have finally arrived outside the city, at a location only known as Comicazi. Here I met the honorable Bifflecup, composer extraordinaire. My companions Astro Logic and Best Defense arrive with me, each of us carrying the sacred songs of our ancestors. We know we must all perform, each at a different time, in order to complete the quest and send the dragons/demons/evil things back from whence they came. Surrounded by ancient books and artifacts of days of old, I hope to find the courage to display my strength as I begin to slowly make my way towards fulfilling my destiny. I am nervous as I stand among everyone and I hope that…oh I’m sorry… They want me to stop writing now and play the songs. Nope…Nope…Seems a bit too late now…Demons everywhere…Stupid journal.
Hmmm…well then… I should probably get more than three journal entries next time. It’s those collectible achievements…I swear you can NEVER get them all in one go. You have to play the same game like 20 times in some cases.
Wellllpppp… GUESS I SHOULD HIT PAX EAST AGAIN NEXT YEAR!!!
She is new to me, but not new to music. A graduate of the Berklee College of Music and an indie game sound designer, this talented young lady began her musical journey with a “mix of cassettes by The Beatles I’d listen to in my parents’ old minivan; they’d take me and my five siblings out every Sunday and we’d just drive around listening to The White Album, Abbey Road, and more”. Beyond The Beatles, games like the Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, and Sonic showed her the possibilities of 16bits, and the immursive power of the orchestra and electronic music. Her initial album offering, ‘Bitcrushed Memories‘, came across my feed via the incredibly talented James Landino and I’m so glad it did.
Some folks in my boat (read as “newbs to chiptune”) might assume that all Chip has to offer is hyper, upbeat, Mario-at-a-rave, frenetic sound-scapes. Well, my dear readers, variety is out there, and Miss Jamie Billings, the heart and mind behind The Unicorn Princess, is proof of that. With an intensely personal vibe, the music on ‘Bitcrushed Memories’ is an ambient journey that evokes emotional memories. For The Unicorn Princess, this was her main inspiration:
“The album is essentially a heartbreak album in the form of a diary. It was my way of processing what I was going through. I’d say it was cathartic, but because I also worked with mixing and producing the album myself, it wasn’t exactly healing to re-listen to those tracks over and over again. I tried putting as much of my soul into the tracks as I could, and hearing the tracks now still brings me back to certain memories and I feel like how I was then, so I try not to listen to it too much myself, unless it’s to showcase something I did with the production.”
Driven by an impressive, self-reliant work ethic, Unicorn Princess recorded and produced ‘Bitcrushed Memories’ in just over six months at the end of 2013. The album is a mix of gameboy and musical instruments that were “recorded and DSPed the crap out of like wind chimes, bells, guitar, voice samples of mine”, a combination the artist calls ‘Folktronica’. The variety of sounds adds to the emotional power of the album, with each song being given texturing and mood beyond the simplicity of the individual samples. For instance, in the opening track ‘I Went to England‘, the use of church bells and wood-block textures helps to evoke not just the image of modern England, but also the rattling carts, town criers, and long trips at sea that are indicative of the country’s long history.
Each track helps push the story of the album further with its distinct feel. ‘Liar‘ follows ‘England’ and gives chip sounds the center stage which the artist uses to create a more driving edge. ‘Hanging On‘ trends more toward a floating ambiance. ‘Give in to Me‘ is sexy at first, but ends with certain air of desperation, of begging. ‘Everlasting‘ finishes the album with the lonely, sharp darkness of loss. With every passing track, the listener is able to connect with a part of ourselves that understands what The Unicorn Princess was feeling. If you open yourself to it, you can find yourself suddenly in a spot in your life where you were in the same vulnerable state as the artist. To me, this is the hallmark of a truly talented musician: the ability to transport you through memory itself, find your heart, and grab hold.
‘Bitcrushed Memories’ tells a special tale, one of happiness and heartbreak; one that is both the artist’s and your own. I strongly encourage you to listen, share, and support to spread this tale to the masses.
Whew! Well that was a pretty easy start to Level 1! Up until this point, we only had a few enemies that we had to come across, (think Goombas and Koopa Shells) but FINALLY we are greeted by the flashing lights and sirens that can only mean a new challenger is waiting for us in…The Chip Arena!
YES!! YES!! Brick BRKer has unveiled his super side-scrolling sub-boss ‘BRKout‘ upon the land, and it is very, very good. This thing has four BRAND NEW FORMS thrown into the mix, so you really feel like you get the most out of this downloadable content. With that said, time to start the walkthrough!