DDRKirby(ISQ) has composed an absolutely obscene amount of quality tunes over the past decade and a half, and is a long-standing member of both the OCRemix and chipmusic communities. Predominantly composing music for a series of themed game competitions called the ‘Ludum Dare’ series, DDRKirby(ISQ) and friends have created dozens of these small, entertaining, browser-based games. With this competition being held once every six months, a colossal amount of material has been composed; DDRKirby(ISQ) has graciously compiled what they consider to be their best hits over the past few years. From video game remixes to original compositions, the album is simply packed full of memorable music!
Hey there, ChipWINners! Joshua Morse, having produced chipmusic as early as 2007, has always been recognized as a pioneer of our ever-growing community. His music has been featured in several video games, such as ‘A Wizard’s Lizard’, ‘Onslaught!’, and ‘Lunch Bug’. Additionally, his long-running ‘Waveform’ releases are arguably some of the best chipjazz releases on the block, with each one showcasing Morse’s growth as a musician, not dissimilar to the ‘BLUE’ trilogy composed by chipfunk legend PROTODOME, or the progressively complex pieces written by Pieces of Eight. Just before the turn of the new year, Joshua Morse released ‘Waveform 5’, an EP of five chip-fusion-jazz tracks that’re sure to stick with you. Let’s get to it!
Hey, ChipWINners! Many of you are probably familiar with the prolific and talented VGM remixer Benjamin Briggs, especially all of you OCR veterans out there. Benjamin Briggs’ music is always of the highest quality, and his newest release – filled to the brim with completely new and unique music – is no different, and could honestly be one of his greatest releases thus far. Hot on the heels of his ‘Patreon EP’ is ‘FEARLESS LIVING’, an album based on the last six months of Ben’s life itself.
The album opens with the triangle bass-heavy ‘Recurring Dreams’. Kick-snare patterns common in electronic music are combined with octaves, string voices, square-tone melodies, and several unique chordal sequences in order to achieve a very mysterious sounding tone. The album’s namesake and its fourth track, ‘Fearless Living’, introduces the listener to a simple chromatic note progression, and builds on it with a glitchy, breakbeat-esque drum pattern before segueing into its sawtooth bassline and eerie, danceable tones. The track changes in mood close to the two-minute mark, and Ben’s musical prowess really shows with a flawless key change to go with it, finishing off with a return to the main theme of the track, but slower, adding a slightly more relaxing feel to what was previously a tense track.
Influences from dance, funk, jazz, and game music can all be heard on ‘FEARLESS LIVING’. The album’s third track, ‘New Game Plus’, is a perfect meld of dance and game music, for example. The track’s melody may remind the listener of the end credits to an old game that they just can’t quite put their finger on. A looping percussive rhythm, the likes of which appear in many popular dance tracks, helps encourage the listener to pay more attention to some of the more intricate touches in the track, such as the quiet arpeggiated square chords behind the melody around the 2:18 mark, or the harmony played behind the same melodic phrase at about the 2:30 mark. Upbeat, swing and dance vibes abound in this track that’s sure to be a fan favorite.
As can be heard in tracks from his previous releases, such as ‘The Grinding of Isaac’ from ‘The Briggs Effect 2’, Ben’s music displayshints of jazz and funk overtones. One track where the influence really shines through is ‘Sweet Berry Wine with Flexstyle’, a mellow, melodic solo-driven song. Memorable chords in a bluesy key provide a backdrop for square-tone riffs and FM-esque synths that are sure to please. The chip melodies in ‘Selecting Continue’ are also reminiscent of jazz music, being laid over a very catchy rhythm. The album closes out with ‘We Could Quest Together’, featuring some seriously phenomenal guitar work that works very well with the chip and other electronic voices throughout the track. Improvization is a huge aspect of jazz music, and a majority of the track sounds improvised to a great extent, making this one of my personal favorites.
Ben Briggs isn’t the only musician to show his incredible talent on the album, however. Two guest artists provided remixes for Ben’s tracks, the first of which being ‘Methods (Flexstyle’s Mad Scientist Remix)’. The track screams house and electro influence, and an extremely aggressive bassline in this remix helps to bring this danceable track to an awesome climax at the three-minute mark. The second remix, ‘We Could Quest Together (General Offensive! Remix)’, changes a number of the voices and solos in the track and gives it a much more heavy metal feeling, but not before faking the listener out with a calm, acoustic opening, making for a flawlessly expectation-shattering introduction. Chip instrumentation is prevalent, and the snare roll buildup morphs the track into a headbangingly excellent ballad.
Each individual track holds a lot of meaning to Ben Briggs, as was hinted at near the beginning of the article. The album details his own journey for the last six months of his life, and you can really feel the emotion and love put into every song. The album is available as a pay-what-you-want download on Bandcamp, and this is definitely something that every avid chipmusic enthusiast should pick up. Keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive interview with Ben Briggs himself about ‘FEARLESS LIVING’ soon, right here on The ChipWIN Blog!
Hey all, DjjD here. Whether you’re a chiptune fanatic or someone who prefers massive, epic sounding anthems, there’s probably a very big chance you’ve heard of Jimmy Hinson a.k.a. Big Giant Circles. As a major influence of mine, this is an article I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. His music? Excellent. Those who know him have nothing but high praise for the man. For over a decade he’s been contributing numerous video game remixes and original material; his presence in various communities has not gone unnoticed. He has been a judge in OverClocked Remix and worked on major AAA games, all while contributing to various groups such as Desert Bus for Hope and Songs For The Cure.
Back in Sept. 2013, Jimmy unveiled his plan to unleash a Kickstarter campaign to crowd-fund his new album. The concept was sound and the album was already finished before the campaign had begun. This allowed him to create various perks and a promotional video. However, ‘The Glory Days’ being a spiritual sequel to ‘Imposter Nostalgia’, I’d be lying if I said my expectations weren’t ridiculously high. That being said, with BGC what we see with every album he generates are the products of a dynamic, evolving artist. Sure, this isn’t strictly chiptune but, this 21-track compendium of rich, thick, and slick tunes is sure to fill your nostalgic appetite with a wide array of melodic bliss.
Taken from Ubiktune: “As Jimmy explains, “The Glory Days, as the name suggests is a 2-way perspective of game music and life. Naturally, the first part is reflecting back on those days where my daily worries consisted of getting past the boss on level 4 or collecting enough coins or beating the game with a record number of extra lives. And as I relive those Glory Days, I remember that back then I used to sit and fantasize about what life would be like in 10 or 20 years.”
To me that implies, it was his intention to create a sentimental trip down memory lane and explore the human connection with how video games are an integrated part of life. Ideas to memories, story-driven albums are a powerful thing. When you spark an idea, and travel down the paths it leads you, you’ll be amazed to find out how complicated and intricate that one concept can become. I genuinely believe this album brings people together in a special way.
There’s such a huge lineup of awesome songs here. It’s no coincidence, there’s some straight up tributes to specific video games here. “Wintory Fresh,” while bearing the last name of another video game composer, took me to familiar aqueous environments for at least a few brief moments. With all this said I can’t really decide on a favorite track and I’m sure if you’ve yet to listen, you’ll share this same dilemma soon enough. There’s just so much good in this, it’ll require multiple playthroughs. If I absolutely had to choose though, it would be between “Houston” and “Vindicate Me“. One of them is an growing phenomenon that, to me, feels like an evolution of sound. It’s an ever-changing entity for just over 5 minutes; a euphoric narration of organic, subtle development.
This is – hands down – one of the best albums I’ve heard this year so far, and as it’s been for the past several years, I always look forward to what Jimmy is coming up with next. This is one of the longest albums I’ve reviewed and it was a pleasure to listen to. Track by track, I was amazed by how much diversity was presented in every single tune. None of the tracks ever felt like a hassle; it was all smooth as butter. I highly recommend this album to anyone taking a long journey or for looking back at your life; reminiscing on the good times, the once in a lifetime opportunities, and thinking about the people you’ve met along the way. Take it from me, it’s how I felt 2 days ago when I went to Video Games Live for the first time in 9 years.
Many members of the chiptune community have heard of halc’s work. No stranger to the chipscene, halc has been featured on many albums through OverClocked Remix and has been remixing music on the site since late 2009. Tuberz McGee, on the other hand, is a relatively new name in the community. His earliest Bandcamp release, ‘Discordant Existence’, dates back to April of 2012, but his talent really shines through in his many productions, particularly Fatalism and Estimation. You might be asking, “What do these two artists have to do with each other?” Well, the two of them released an absolutely amazing collaborative effort called ‘Menagerie’ just last month. You folks are in for a real treat this week.
‘The Beginning of a Beautiful and Highly Sexual Relationship’ is an excellent opening to the album. The use of arpeggios throughout the track is fantastic, and the melody to the song is quite interesting; it sounds mysterious at the beginning of the song, but by the end of the track is transformed into something entirely different, but with only a few subtle changes. Another track on the album with quite an interesting introduction is ‘Psychedelic Panda Pounding’. The song opens with a quiet percussion, and suddenly throws the listener into some seriously awesome riffs. Adamant use of arpeggios is present again throughout certain points of ‘Psychedelic Panda Pounding’, and I really enjoyed the floaty feeling the track gave me as a result. Also of note in this track is the false ending; this is a highlight of the album, in my opinion.
It’s uncommon to hear vocal work in chipmusic, and even then I dare say that it can also be rare to hear it done as well as Tuberz demonstrates in my personal favorite track on the album, the mellow ‘Squidzilla’. With a vocal sound that reminds me of Wolfgun, one of my favorite artists of all time, I couldn’t help but love ‘Squidzilla’. The lyrics to the track are enthralling, telling the tale of a squid who faces rejection and feels like a monster as a result of society’s views on him. Even though the premise of the song itself is quite silly, I can’t help but think there’s some kind of deeper message behind it. It could be interpreted as a message of universal acceptance and understanding, alongside looking past stereotypes and other things that could be construed as social barriers. Simply put, it’s a fantastic track.
And there you have it! ‘Menagerie’ is one of the best chipalbums of 2013, if not simply for the sheer variety and incredibly detailed tunes throughout the album. I highly suggest providing a donation to these two wonderful artists when you pick up this album. Hopefully, there’ll be more collaborative efforts between these two artists in the future!
HEY EVERYONE. It’s been quite a while since I did my first guest write-up on this blog, which was a review of Kola Kid’s “Afterparty” EP. Since then, a number of fabulous chiptune albums and compilations have come into being. However, I’m certainly not afraid to say, as a long-standing fan of chiptune, that Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 2 is quite possibly the GREATEST CHIPTUNE COMPILATION EVER RELEASED. I’m going to be discussing the first six tracks from the album, so bear with me as I find the words to describe the sheer amount of excellence contained within each of them!
Track #1: Starpilot – Just The Right Amount of Whelm (Qubert Dancing The PaisleyUnderground)
Ah, Starpilot. Your unique take on chiptune music has always amazed me. Ever since listening to “Experimentalist” , I’ve known that there isn’t anyone else who can quite do what Starpilot can. This track is upbeat; “Just The Right Amount of Whelm (Qubert Dancing The Paisley Underground)” is one of the many tracks on the compilation that just makes you want to get up out of your seat and dance. It’s a track that makes you feel like you’re at a rave in space. As the opening track of the compilation, it’s the introduction to another fantastic chiptune journey.
Track #2: Theory of N – Buttdawg Funk
I didn’t know about Theory of N before listening to the strangely-yet-aptly titled “Buttdawg Funk”. The track has a very bouncy sound to it, and as a listener it’s almost impossible NOT to tap your foot to the beat. The solos in the song stand out quite a bit; they’re all incredibly well structured. Having checked out Theory of N’s Bandcamp after listening to “Buttdawg Funk”, I can say that each one of his tracks are definitely worth a look. I also discovered that Theory of N is an OCRemixer who’s been around for quite a long time!
Track #3: Petriform – Heliofluid
“Heliofluid” is catchy, and makes great use of non-chip sounds as a support to the leads. Exciting and fast-paced, the music switches flawlessly from exciting to mellow and really entertained me as a listener. The minimal use of kick in the opening focuses the listener on the chip leads. Given Petriform’s hard-hitting, modern twist on chiptune, I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits it BIG in the future. Petriform has also delved into writing music for a number of different genres, including noise, drum ‘n’ bass, and IDM; his talents aren’t only seen in the chip community.
Track #4: Mark ‘TDK’ Knight – Hoovering With A Hangover
Mark ‘TDK’ Knight isn’t a stranger to the ChipWIN community; he previously appeared on chipWINter with his brilliant track “Sunrise”. “Hoovering With A Hangover” sounds like it could be a custom file you’d see in a rhythm game such as In The Groove. Mark’s masterful command of chiptune melodies really shines through in this song; the main melody is incredibly composed , and the build-up in the intro is extremely well done. Additionally, his musical composition skills haven’t gone unnoticed; he has been employed by a number of large companies, including Konami, Warner Brothers, and Crytek, just to name a few. To top all of that off, he has received a number of awards from BAFTA; his first was awarded to him in 2000, and he has continued to shine since.
Track #5: The One Electronic – ♥∞
A fellow member of the FlashFlashRevolution community and a notable artist within the Piko Piko Detroit community, The One Electronic (aka iPatcH) makes his ChipWIN debut on the Volume 2 compilation. His song, “♥∞”, feels slower and calmer than the previous tracks, which sets it apart from many other songs on the compilation. It’s mellow and happy, and the melody is quite catchy. The common changes in lead sounds are a welcome addition and really give the track its own unique feel.
Monomer’s presence in the chiptune community is not long-standing, but the quality of the music he’s produced is wonderful. His most recent album release, “Quite Operational”, was released through the massive chiptune netlabel Ubiktune, and garnered a massive amount of attention. His track, “Dastardly Deeds (feat. Yoann Turpin)”, feels funky and improvised, with a similar sound to fellow Ubiktune artist Shnabubula. The solos in the song are phenomenal, fusing perfectly ideas from chiptune and funk, whilst adding his own twist.
Keep your eyes peeled next week for the next installment of The ChipWIN Blog Volume 2 coverage! Stay classy, everyone.