Hello dear readers! I’m Pixel Syndrome, and if you love anthropomorphised Game Boys, rainbows and cool characters with green hair, then you may already know me from my colorful entries to the ‘Chiptunes WIN: Volume 7’ alternative covers!
I’m stoked to introduce my monthly international artist focused column titled The Overworld. Of course, being a fan of classic style NES games like Adventure Island II and Legend of Zelda, when trying to find a suitable name I could not shake the concept that sometimes when playing, we cannot see the bigger picture, and so it’s helpful to see the interconnection of all levels and locations of a videogame that’s an overworld map. Hopefully this international column will help everyone discover hidden areas in places we normally wouldn’t even think about; hidden locations and bonus levels of the world of Chiptune music as we know it.
This Chiptune auteur was born in the cold lands of Trelew (Rawson department of the Chubut Province), in southern Argentina. Growing up in this small, desertic climate city, with lots of wind, where the ocean dominates the horizon, and southern winds cause sudestadas (a.k.a. Intense wind storms that may bring heavy rain) has definitely left an imprint on her art.
¡Hola y gracias por leer el Blog de Chiptunes = WIN!
La última vez profundizamos en la infame actualización 5.1.0 y revisamos la teoría que trajo a la mesa. Para acortar, podría reducirse a un rediseño del comportamiento del pitch. Algo que no esperaba la comunidad fueron las ramificaciones y curvas que tendría y que terminaría siendo una actualización bastante controversial y a la que muchos terminarían por elegir el ignorarla.
Si no lo han hecho aún, recomendaría que lean la primera parte de este artículo antes de adentrarse en este; solo para que se familiaricen con lo que estaba en juego. En esta segunda parte primero dedicaré un tiempo a las especificaciones del nuevo comando L, que también se introdujo en la versión 5.1.0. Después abordaré el cómo yo veo la anatomía de lo kicks y, finalmente, trataré de llevar esto al terreno práctico dando algunos ejemplos de cómo trabajar con el LSDj 5.1.0 y versiones superiores utilizando estas nuevas funciones al máximo.
Hello all and thank you for reading The ChipWIN Blog!
In the last issue of this column, we tackled the infamous 5.1.0 LSDJ update and dwelled on the theory of what it brought to the table. To cut it short, it all boiled down to a complete redesign of Pitch behaviour. What the community did not expect, was all the ramifications and ripples it would have, and it ended up being a highly controversial update, to which many would actually choose to turn a blind eye.
If you haven’t already, I suggest reading the first part of this article before delving into this one, just to get familiar with what’s at stake. In this second part, I will first spend some time going over the specifics of the all-new L command also introduced in 5.1.0. Then I will go over how I view the anatomy of Kicks. And then, finally, I will try to get more practical, and give several examples of how to work with LSDJ 5.1.0 and above to utilize all these new features to the fullest.
My my my, ChipWINers! I see that your eyes & ears are due for their second dose of Chip Treatment the Professor Oakes way! Here, read up!
While I’m sure you’ve all been recuperating from either 8Static Fest or Nerdapalooza, dreaming about MAGFest, or been stuck at work for incredibly long hours with no end in sight, I’m sure you’ve all been auditorily stimulated for weeks to come, am I right? While I’ve felt at the center of a mighty whirlwind of recent chiptune releases these past couple of weeks, I stumbled upon a very Godly late October release by Tampa-based producer Adrian “Zantilla” Shegstad entitled ‘Encounters’ that I’ve been dying to write about!
J. Allen Hynek—United States astronomer, professor, and ufologist who developed the ‘Close Encounter‘ classification system—provides inspiration for ‘Encounters’, a 7-track high-quality album released by Ubiktune on October 25, 2013. Coupled with album artwork by Rufus Blacklock—aerodynamic animator, illustrator and space music follower—Zantilla takes his listeners on a journey through space and time through melodic synths, epic programming, masterful mixing and drum sequences. While ‘Encounters’ screams Ubiktune release, Zantilla’s quality progressive chiptune sound is sure to be a fan favorite for months to come.
Receiving wide support from Dan Behrens (Danimal Cannon), a listening party on Noise Channel (Arecibo Radio), and a review from the crew over at Destructoid, ‘Encounters’ opens with ‘1st Kind’ as Zantilla creates an out-of-body experience within the first minute of album introduction. As he invites his listeners to experience this auditory narrative of communication between humans and extraterrestrial beings, Zantilla uses a wide array of FM sounds and 2A03 additions throughout ‘Encounters’. Through his inspiration from Dream Theater and Jake ‘virt’ Kaufman, Zantilla makes use of exquisite metal recording techniques through live drum sounds, velocity layers and kicks and snares stacked together which gives ‘Encounters’ a very rich sonic vibe. While Zantilla mentions that he makes his own drum samples out of “layering shitty drum sounds together,” I call it absolute chip heaven.
While I could talk about my love for this album for HOURS, two songs in particular really catch my attention…Zantilla, well done. While each of the tracks have their own distinctive sound, ‘2nd Kind’ and ‘3rd Kind’ are all Professor Oakes A+++++ 10/10 certified chip. ‘2nd Kind’ is very reminiscent of a dream sequence. I remember listening to this, very appropriately, right before drifting off to sleep one night.With a hypnotizing key pattern, ‘2nd Kind’ has a very haunting melody that is far from anything I’ve ever heard before. With a drum pattern that kicks up around the 30 second mark, each second of this track is anything but what one can anticipate, as Zantilla blends his Sci-Fi aesthetic into synthesized riffs toward the middle of this track. ‘3rd Kind’, on the other hand, is completely opposite—an ‘evil twin’ to that of its preceding track—heavy, metal, and completely beastly with no time to breathe by the 8 second mark. While I can’t help but head bang, ‘3rd Kind’ is a wonderful whirlwind of chord progression and catchy drum kicks that takes you on a wild UFO ride to the very end as it literally feels as though it dissipates into space.
While the album sure rings sweet bells in my ears, it is also an insane steal and easy on the wallet! While the quality of production throughout is expected in that of a full-price album, ‘Encounters’ can be downloaded on Zantilla’s Bandcamp for a minimum $2 (though I surely recommend contributing more!) You won’t regret it.
That’s all ChipWINers! Until next time on Chip Treatment — Professor Oakes signing off!
Howdy, ChipWINers! Professor Oakes here to administer the initial dose of Chip Treatment for your eyes and ears! It is a great pleasure to write my first edition on ‘Noisechan & Nugget: Adventures in Chiptunes’ album, which debuted on Bandcamp April 12th, 2013.
Released by Ubiktune, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ was a yearlong labor of love that Kris ‘TrueStar’ Kaufman helped catapult into the chip scene through her diligent project management and love for anything chip. Produced and mastered by Jake ‘Virt’ Kaufman, video game music/chiptune aficionado and Kris’s husband of 5 years, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ is surely a contribution to this kitschy community to be remembered for years. Gracing Bandcamp with 12 memorable tracks and delightful album artwork by Kabakism, the album opens with ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ composed by Virt, who also makes an appearance later on in the album in the track titled ‘The Artichoke King’. It is revealed in the album credits that the ‘Artichoke King’s’ identity is Nugget Kaufman, Jake and Kris’s 5-year-old Puggle, fan favorite, and Noisechan Radio’s mascot. With a catchy melody and heartwarming lyrics, ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ alludes to Virt’s heavy roots and passion for chiptunes. To no surprise, he was capable of masterfully creating a memorable introduction to the album itself, and of course a track that many listeners of Kris’s radio show ‘Noisechan Thursdays’ on Arecibo Radio are well acquainted with.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ continues with TQ-Jam’s track ‘Promise’, whose dreamy rhythm pays homage to his recognizable Famicom craft and quality release titled ‘September Air’. Starting off with a mellow introduction, the track picks up speed around the :14 mark and takes his listeners on an euphoric ride to chiptune land with stunning key strokes and classic 8 bit background buildups that can’t help but make you fall in love. With a soothing melody, ‘Promise’ is certainly a track you’d expect to soundtrack a couple’s first dance, or even one’s dream of flying through the air as its pop-ish sound becomes an earbug that you just can’t help to forget or hum throughout the day.
Coda’s ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’, the third track of the album, is a perfect segway from TQ-Jam’s ‘Promise’. His kinetic, space-like intro is a great accompaniment to the song as a whole as he brings to life the child in us all with MIDI guitar riffs and foot tapping kicks. With a sensational introduction, ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’ is a totally tubular release that is very reminiscent of a vintage game show introduction. By the latter half of the track, Coda has done a fantastic job at packaging it all together with the addictive double bass that we all crave as we’re left in a galactic trance bobbing our heads.
Hally’s ‘Bgrusko Meow’ leads you on a cat and mouse chase (pun intended!) through its addictive, frenetic build up to a sudden BPM decrease in the second half of the song. Reminiscent of a classic 16-bit side-scrolling adventure game, ‘Bgrusko Meow’s’ catchy melody and extreme high energy is one of my favorite tracks on this album, as its bright and pop-ish sound brings a new and innovative composition to the album at large. Rekchadam’s ‘Catch That Girl, She Stole My Heart!’ is very reminiscent to Masato Nakamura’s memorable contributions to ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’. I can’t help but think of grinding through each level at warp speed to collect as many rings as I can to be awarded those sweet, sweet Chaos Emeralds because of the track’s enticing melody and double bass pedal kicks that build up your heart rate.
Fear of Dark’s ‘Noisechan Inspection Theme: On the Case’, Norrin Radd’s ‘Rejection’, Surasshu’s ‘Midnight Stroll’, an0va’s ‘It’s Only a Doghouse Right?’, Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’ and Blitz Lunar’s ‘Hidden Heaven’ also make appearances on ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’. Displaying the high-quality craft we’ve come to expect from these talented artists, each of these tracks are unique and impressionable as not one sounds like another, but they certainly have one thing in common—a recognizable, addictive sound and a chiptune all star vibe. Ranging from a classic, 1970’s funk-esque feel in ‘Noisechan Inspection Team: On the Case’, to a side scrolling shoot-em-up style similar to that of ‘Contra 4’ in Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’, the latter half of this high quality album finishes strong.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ can be downloaded through Bandcamp at ‘name your price’ (scroll past the links below to find it at the bottom of this write-up!). All album proceeds are fully given to Child’s Play Charity, which seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through video games.
This concludes today’s inaugural edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! If you enjoyed it, be sure to tune in again next month (or maybe sooner??) as this monthly column continues! And in the meantime, enjoy the rest of this month’s upcoming lovely articles! Professor Oakes signing off!
Yo! Welcome back to Raw Cuts With Kuma! This time around, I hit up chipmusic.org to scope out some talent to interview, and oh lawd, did I find someone special! A young man with skill to spare, this underrated chiptune artist shattered his silence to great acclaim when he popped his performance cherry earlier this year at North Door! This highly adept musician recently took the time to sit down with me and talk about his music, the people who inspire him, and the dedication he has to the craft of chiptune. So without further ado, I present to you my interview with Matthew Rodriguez, aka Star Fighter Dreams!
Kuma: So before we get started, there’s something I gotta say. I spent time listening to your music on SoundCloud and I gotta admit, not only did I like what I heard, but I’m now saddened by the fact that I missed your open mic session at Blipfest last year!
Star Fighter Dreams (SFD): oh no that one was from 2011! I was on the roster open mic 2012 but never got called. I was disapointed but no worries
Kuma: Well at least now I can say I didn’t miss an awesome set I could have made it to, ’cause god damn man! Your stuff is good, bro! It’s lively as hell, and it’s got more polyphony to it than a lot of other chip I’ve heard, but I take it that’s on account of your set up! Tell me, what exactly do you use to make your music and how’d you get into chip in the fist place?
SFD: Okay. Let’s start with getting into chip music.
I got into chiptune around early 2008. March, I think, while I was browsing around on the then relevant MySpace for electronic powerpop bands, I came across a profile picture of Sabrepulse jumping off a table.
I thought to myself “What is this guy all about?”. So I clicked on his profile and when it loaded up, some of his early chiptune works started playing. At first I was pretty meh because I had no idea of what the process was.
Kuma: I think I know exactly which picture you’re talking about. What was it that was the turning point for you? When did you go from saying “meh” to “whoa”?
SFD: There was link to the 8bitpeoples website on his profile, so I clicked on that. At the time, 8bitpeoples and 2 Player Productions had just finished their collaboration documentary called ‘Reformat The Planet’. On the 8bitpeoples website, the first page was the trailer for the documentary that was being premiered mere weeks away in Austin for the SXSW film fest.
That trailer changed my life.
In it was the framework for me to find out what kind of music I wanted to make and the ethos I had been looking for all along. It didn’t glorify nostalgia for video games, it glorified people and their creative abilities to make this technology do what it was never designed to do.
After I saw that trailer I began collecting. Information, trackers, albums, anything that could help find out more about this awesome creative force seemingly brimming beneath the surface. After much deliberation, I bought a Game Boy and my first LSDJ cartridge in late August/early September 2008
Kuma: Wow. That’s quite a story. I’m glad you took that from that movie. While, admittedly, I’ve yet to get around to seeing that documentary myself (gasp!), that philosophy behind the tech we use to make the music is one I’ve always held: that we as a disposable society aren’t pushing our tech to it’s fullest potential. Chiptune represents us pushing to the edge.
When you finally picked up that Game Boy, how did it feel in your hands? Was using LSDJ intimidating or did you have prior musical experience you could carry over into chiptune production?
SFD: I had used an emulator to run a demo of LSDJ to try and figure out the controls. Trackers have a huge learning curve, and I admittedly had no idea what I was doing most of time using the emulator, but I eventually figured out how to input notes and move between screens.
Other than that, though, I was working from a non-music perspective. I hadn’t used an instrument or read music since I was in 8th grade so it was also daunting in that respect. Luckily, I took a music theory course in college and that laid a good ground for me to experiment with music theory while also learning it
Kuma: Very nice. Now, when you first started to feel confident with what you were making on LSDJ, did you decide you wanted to play live soon after, or did you feel there was still something missing?
SFD: I had my first full set as Star Fighter Dreams this June so I guess you could say there was something missing. Lurking on 8bitcollective and CM.O, I’ve learned there were plenty of people willing to get into chip and write music but only because they thought it was cool.
I felt that my music should show respect to those that came before me and at least make people feel good, which is I have only just started playing shows and still haven’t released any proper EP or album.
Kuma: I noticed that, actually. I scoured the net for more music of yours beyond what was on your SoundCloud, such as Bandcamp, NoiChan, ucollective, CM.O, and even Myspace. Nothing. Nothing at all. But from what I did hear, it was definitely very cool.
Who would you say are your biggest influences musically? Is EDM something you were always into prior to chiptune or did it take chiptune to get into it?
SFD: I was definitely a fan of electronic music before hand, but I really got much more into it once I started making it. My biggest influences currently are: IAYD, Bit Shifter, Rage Against The Machine, Bath Aide, Saskrotch, Arcade High and many more artists.
Oh just fyi, I have song on TX Chip Compilation 1 and there is a super old song still on MySpace somewhere. That one I believe is like the third song I ever wrote on LSDJ! LOL! Memories.
Kuma: Oh, I’ll have to look up the Texas chip one, but when I went looking on Myspace, it gave me a broken link page. That, in turn, resulted in profound sadness.
Is there anything we can expect to see of you in the future? Any appearances at major festivals, or perhaps an album form you in the near future?
Kuma: Nice!!!! After having seen IAYD recently, as well as listening to your music, I can definitely say this is a show I wish I could hit up!
SFD: It’s in December, so save up and come on down and see how we do it down here
Kuma: Oh man! December? That’s so close to MAGFEST! Oh man, don’t do that to me, bro!
SFD: Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Peer pressure! Y’know you wanna!
But yeah man, next time I’m in New York, the drinks are on me dude.
Kuma: Like wise, bro: next time I’m down south and I know you’re around, all the pabst 5 dollars can buy…I’m pretty sure that’s all of it! Anyway, is there anything you’d like to say in closing to our readers out there?
SFD: It’s Star Fighter Dreams here saying it’s three words, not Starfighter Dreams, that’s dumb.
But in all seriousness, expect some pretty cool things coming up and remember TX Chip is alive and we have some stellar talent here so don’t overlook that Lone Star State when thinking of chiptune.
Love from here in San Antonio,
Kuma: Awesome, bro! Thanks for doing this interview! This was a lot of fun!
SFD: Haha! Same here, man. You take it easy and keep being awesome.
Thanks again for tuning in with me here at Raw Cuts! Don’t forget to follow SFD on SoundCloud and like/follow Lazybit Collective so you can keep up with all the cool happenings in TX!