Everyone has a high-pitched scream reserved for something, and I have to confess I had one especially loud waiting for this moment. That’s right; the time has come for me to write about some quality tunes. So let’s put the long introduction aside and let’s take a look over ‘Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 8’, tracks 31 to 40.
It is very rare that I get to announce that one of my favorite acts has come back from the dead, but mark my words – like a sleeper agent activated by a numbers station broadcasting for the first time in years, The National Broadcast Network has started transmitting again. And my friends, the signal is strong.
My mom is a professional muncher. A nibbler. A grazer. She doesn’t eat much at a sitting, preferring to make something yummy in large quantities she can piecemeal out over the week, something that gets better as it sits in the fridge. That’s why it was of no surprise when she introduced me to the odd salsa-like concoction known as…
Greetings and salutations, chip brethren! While you’re munching on some cake cookies, why not sit down and listen to the penultimate group of ChipWIN Volume 2 tracks?
Track #42: Guantanamo-A-Go-Go by National Broadcast Network
I’m quite thankful to ChipWIN for introducing me to National Broadcast Network, because hot damn! This song is. Just. So. RAD! It has all the punchy glory of oldschool punk mixed with chiptunes, and as the Internet says, it has taken away my ability to even. I cannot even. When I say this song leaves me speechless, it isn’t just some sort of trite cliché – it’s just something you need to experience and angrily bop your head to, possibly while punching someone. Also, very good blend of traditional instruments and chiptunes – some acts don’t pull that off well, but NBN absolutely does.
Track #43: Ascension by Viciosul SID
‘Ascension’ is an excellent follow-up to the last song – a very calming wind-down, if you will, but with enough movement in the drums to keep you interested. As difficult as it is to place things into the myriad subgenres of electronica, I’d say this one leans a little into trip-hop. (Which is great! That genre doesn’t get enough love.) If it were a little slower and had a bit more reverb, I’d say it would be reminiscent of an ice cave theme in a videogame (like Donkey Kong Country 2), but as it stands it maintains enough speed and brightness to make one think skyward. Ascension is actually a perfect name for this song, because with the slow and bright choral-sounding chords under the melody, it certainly sounds like the perfect theme music for someone ascending to Heaven, or maybe just gaining UNLIMITED POWER – but in a calm way, not with the whole lightning-ing your apprentice way. This choral effect is really underused these days – it makes me happy when artists use multiple programs to compose their tracks so they can do cool stuff like this.
Track #44: Shadow Mainframe by The Syntax Sin Tax
Maybe it’s just because of the word Mainframe in the title, but ‘Shadow Mainframe’ immediately sets my mind in the area of over the top hacker movies. Maybe that’s just me though – but it certainly sounds like music appropriate to be played only in epic circumstances (that is, the Ancient Greek sense of the word epic, not in the Internet circa 2010 sense). It has that nice fat sound you get when people go for the really punchy stuff in LSDJ. It reminds me of all the best parts of the Castlevania soundtrack because of how it builds over time to get you focused and pumped for the level at hand.While some tracks you listen to and you can tell they’re meant to be enjoyed sitting at home (and if you’re Hoodie, drinking summa dat Cherry Wheat!), this track has the ability to draw you in. It’s a meant-to-be-heard-live track – one where you can sway and headbob with other sweaty nerds in a cramped room, which is obviously how all of us like to experience live shows.
Track #45: Journey Through Galaxies by DjjD
If I had to describe ‘Journey Through Galaxies’ in one word, it would be “swag.” If I had to do it in two, it would be “hella swag.” It definitely does all the things it needs to to make me think of space, via big airy chords and using the heavily electronic sounds we’ve established as being “stereotypically spacey sounds” over the past thirty to forty years of electronic music. The marimba in the beginning was certainly an interesting choice, but it totally got me into the song. And what’s more, though, is that it’s all done in FL Studio with a bunch of different VSTs. Like I mentioned with ‘Ascension,’ when an artist branches out of just using one program and one sound to make a song, the result is (almost always) better, or at the very least more robust. It’s like using one section of the band for a piece of music – yeah, sure, people love the brass section, but when you’ve got brass and woodwinds and strings and percussion, then you’re cooking! I feel the same about chiptunes – one voice, be it that of the 2A03 or the VRC6 or whatever, will sound less robust than multiple voices and effects acting in tandem.
Track #46: Under The Moon by Ap0c
Wrapping up this block, we’ve got ‘Under The Moon’ – and what a note to end on. This song makes me think of what if someone took Kirby and Megaman (read: the best soundtracks), shook them up, strained them out and got this. The fact that this song can juggle both having a coherent melody and having crazy breakdowns is so sweet – it’s a song that keeps you guessing. Also, I commend Ap0c on his use of drums, because making convincing drums in Famitracker isn’t horribly easy until you get the hang of it, so the fact that he pulls it off flawlessly is a great credit to his skill.
And that’s it for this time! We’ve only one more of these left, and then the Volume 2 reviews are done! But hey, with that mission accomplished we’ll have empty room in the schedule for you to meet all the wonderful new writers we’ve been picking up lately! Not to mention new content every M-W-F (plus bonus stuff on the off days), so don’t split just because these are done! HYPE TRAIN JUST KEEPS ON CHUGGIN’!