By the time you read this, everyone should be home and happy, well rested, without the MAGFlu and otherwise readjusted to real life. While I’m WRITING it, however, I’m drowning in posts from people in transit back to the dark corners of the world they crawled from so that they can go heal themselves. While this year’s MAGFest might have been the biggest one so far, it also seems to have taken the most from us in terms of bodily health, but only because everyone was incapable of having any degree of chill. Everyone basically just kept going until they were physically unable to go anymore, and even then they just kinda propped their bodies up in chairs so they could at least look like they were still going like some kind of knock-off ‘Weekend at Bernie’s.’ It was amazing. But enough talk – let’s have at this highlight reel!
The UK may have Superbyte, the Netherlands may have EINDBAAS, but here near the United States’ capital, we have a little thing called MAGFest, and we like to think it does alright. While many of you came out and attended MAGFest with us from all over the globe (attendance surpassed 17,000 people this year!), I know there are many of you who were not able to. And if I’m honest with you, even those of us who DID go couldn’t have gone to everything that there was to do there unless the Ministry of Magic had given out Time Turners to the lot of us. That’s where this post comes in – I’ve done my best to assemble all the links, videos and pictures of the most happening happenings to have happened. Those of you who remember my Post-PAX PAX Post should be familiar with how I’m going to format this: As this was the Music and Gaming Festival, we’re going to have a #Music and a #Gaming section as well as a #Closing Thoughts, tagged as such for easy navigation within the post.
Hey, what’s up everybody! Welcome back to RCwK! I’m BronxKuma — Kuma for short — and this time around I managed to get a hold of a bonafide legend! A founding father of the Philly scene, this guy’s been making tracker music for nearly 20 years and is proof that time, dedication, and hard work doing something you love can pay off in the long run. Here to talk to us about his journey through chip, some of his more recent and notable projects, and the future, I’m proud to present my interview with one of the very best artists the community has fostered: Alex Mauer!
Hey what’s up, ya’ll! It’s your boy BronxKuma, and today I’ll be taking the reigns as we continue our coverage of Chiptunes = WIN: Volume 3, which is the ninth compilation album we’ve put out in the past three years! Crazy, ain’t it? Time flies when you’re having fun though, and today, we’re gonna continue our fantastic aural voyage as I guide you through tracks 27-31 of this immaculate collection of music! Let’s get to it!
Vince Kaichan — In The Stars
This song is Vince’s third contribution to Chiptunes = WIN (technically 4th if I include the fact that one of those songs inspired a tear-jerking postrock cover by Cory Johnson) and there is a damn good reason for this. From the first time I heard him perform live during Frostbyte’s album release party in 2012 to the various tracks he’s contributed to ChipWIN, Vince has proven himself to be a deftly skilled composer, and this song is further proof of said musical aptitude. Diverging from from the playful, pure chip melody of his last contribution, In The Stars is a thoughtful, urban, subdued track that made me swear I was listening to Joshua Morse album. Perfect for unwinding after a long day, if In The Stars doesn’t fill you with mellow, you and I can never be friends.
Proving that even the purest, simplest means of composing can produce high quality music, Shinoboy’s first contribution to ChipWIN lives up to it’s name in that it destroys everything! Starting out with a nostalgic arpeggio straight out of Link’s Awakening, the song opens up and becomes a fist throwing, shoulder thrusting, I’m-sorry-I-almost-gave-you-a-concussion-in-the-moshpit-at-8statifest-last-year-Auxcide head banger that feels like equal parts Unini and FearofDark. If you like your chiptune hard, dirty, and full of BRKs like it’s giving your day job the finger, blast this on repeat and revel in all the fucks you don’t have for anything.
Polygon Horizon’s offering to the compilation is another song whose title perfectly embodies what this song is in and of itself as well as what it is in relation to the tracks before and after it. Offering a brief reprieve after a few moments of pure idgaf, he has crafted a song that not only allows a moment of stillness, but slowly escalates into a song that inspires hope. In fact, the song does it so well that I had to ask during the listening party if this was the last track on the album, because the amount of nostalgia, tears and optimism it invokes is so striking it rivals even PROTODOME’s offerings for ending tracks on the previous annual compilations. Quite an accomplishment for an artist no matter who you are.
Another unfairly talented individual who is contributing a fourth time to ChipWIN, Auxcide’s track is the musical equivalent of a meeting between Yojimbo and Kozure Okami. On its own, it invokes the sense of desperation to cut down another, as well as the hatred two must have towards duel to clash so passionately. Combined with the songs before it, Fateful Encounter acts as the second slice of bread in a tasty, thoughtfully made sandwhich that allows one to enjoy the sharp tastes of the moshpitstravaganzas both this and Detruire have, but further accentuates itself and the subtle pallet cleanser that Breath was. This allows all three songs to stand on their own and truly seems unique, despite being part of a larger whole. If you were looking for another reason to throw elbows, let Auxcide take you to the promise land.
By the way, Auxcide, I’d like to apologize again for almost giving you a concussion last year at 8staticfest. Sorry.
Gracing us with his second appearance on a Chiptunes = WIN compilation, sleepytimejesse shows off his creativity with a song that combines a sense of humor, style and even a nod to a classic R&B hit all rolled into a nice lil morsel of a tune. From the pleasantly unexpected urban flair that strays from his normal compositional style to the use of everyone’s favorite musical canine–K.K. Slider– this low tempo chiptune is the kind of stuff I’d really love to hear more of in the scene. The kind of song that, despite some of its sillier flairs, resonates with fashionable goodness such as Vince Kaichan’s aforementioned “In The Stars” and Joshua Morse’s “Just Missed You” off of Chiptunes = WIN Vol. 2. If you haven’t listened to sleepytimejesse before now, I highly suggest changing that pronto. The man is not one to disappoint regardless of what genre he chooses to dabble in.
Well guys, it’s time for my leg of the tour through ChipWIN Vol 3 to come to an end. I hope you enjoyed your time with me and that I helped make this part of the album as memorable as the one’s before it. I now bid you adieu, and would like to remind you to check back with us tomorrow as my friend Aydan takes over as captain of our musical escapades, as he’ll be guiding us through tracks 32-26 with considerably more skill than me. I hope. >.>;
Keep on chippin’, and don’t forget: Kuma loves you.
Press play below to fall in love with this powerful foray into 80s electronica, ‘Distant Reality’ by Shirobon.
Released to the masses on Bandcamp February 4th, 2014, Shirobon’s ‘Distant Reality’ is a compact, delicious delve into cyberpunk that infuses you with flowing 80s-inspired synth, weighty bass lines and thoughtful lyrics.
The improvisational nature of the tracks in ‘Distant Reality’ do so much more than simply keep you guessing, they weave inspired transitions together with tell-tale 80s synth to set a mysterious cyberpunk mood that will make you wonder the results of your Voight-Kampff test.
‘Distant Reality’ is a set of 5 killer tracks that waste no time getting down into an 80s groove, embracing it with every single note. This is not a gimmick tacked onto a hacked-together string of ideas, the precision of execution and respect for the era come through loud and clear.
Impressive vocals across the album truly add to the atmosphere including Shirobon himself lending his own robotic vocals to “Regain Control”, “Perfect Machine” and “City Patrol (Stage B)”. “Immune”, however, introduces you to the world Shirobon has created with the unexpected and absolutely alluring vocals of Camden Cox. The weight of the lyrics equal the depth of the bass lines, and the result is beyond immersive.
‘Distant Reality’ tows melodies through inspired funk and synth elements with a directed, yet unpredictable approach to its composition: each change and volley into each new element during a given track on ‘Distant Reality’ feels like the most appropriate direction to shift into, but you simply don’t see it coming. Polished, experimental, and focused, ‘Distant Reality’ is a refreshing exploration of tone and theme in a sea of heartless electronica that deserves your £3 investment.
Shirobon was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his experiences building ‘Distant Reality’, and that interview continues below:
PixelRecall: Camden Cox’s vocals on “Immune” are gripping. How did the opportunity to work with her come about?
Shirobon: Thanks! I have actually known Camden Cox for quite some time. She also did vocals some time ago on my song “Running My Head“. She is a very talented vocalist! I have also produced a group of songs for her which will be released throughout the year!
PixelRecall: Where did you draw inspiration for your lyrics across the album?
Shirobon: These days I like to look up a lot of imagery before starting work on songs. I wanted to go for a Cyberpunk/Futuristic feel while keeping cool and introducing chiptune elements (More of the c64/Sega style) so naturally the lyrics reflect on that.
PixelRecall: The songs on ‘Distant Reality’, most notably with “Cyber Party”, have an engaging, almost improvisational feel to them. What is your creative process like when composing your music?
Shirobon: Well, when I work on a song I like to consider it jamming with myself (or in the case of “Cyber Party” with Radix!). So I would usually come up with some drums or a melody idea and then just jam over them. If it starts to sound good then I hit the record button and take it from there!
PixelRecall: Are you performing the vocals on “Regain Control”?
Shirobon: Yes, I’m a sucker for robotic vocals and love to use my voice when I can! (Also, it’s my voice on “Perfect Machine” and “City Patrol (Stage B)”.
PixelRecall: Did you have a “eureka” moment during the creation of the album you may not have expected to have?
Shirobon: I was having some trouble with “City Patrol (Stage B)” and couldn’t get it to feel good. It started off as a guitar/electro disco number. Before I gave up I thought I would make some changes and plugged in my modular synth and made some chip sounds, from there everything fell into place!
PixelRecall: Do you have a favourite memory from your experiences performing live?
Shirobon: I have had a lot of really fun times performing live and the crowds are always pretty intense, but i think one that stands out the most is when I had a large wall of death and saw this massive dude drop kick a girl in the face! But thankfully she was fine!
PixelRecall: Do you have any shows coming up?
Shirobon: I have a few! Playing at Nintendoom in Belgium which will be a lot of fun. I have quite a few coming up around Europe but i have yet to announce those…
PixelRecall: Any advice for aspiring chiptune artists?
Shirobon: Do it because you love it, not because you wanna make it (big). Popularity in the scene comes and goes but the artists that people love are the ones who have always loved to make (music) and not felt to give it up.
PixelRecall: What was your main goal when you set out to create Distant Reality, and do you feel like you accomplished it?
Shirobon: I just wanted to make something a little different from the generic releases that are out there at the moment, and not to try and jump on a trend and make some kind of bass music! I reckon I did a good job!
PixelRecall: Any final thoughts or news you’d like to share with the Chiptunes = WIN community?
Shirobon: Back Tracking and Distant Reality I consider to be warm up releases to show people what my sounds is like now. With them released I’m going to start work on an album! Still planning what sort of songs I want on it but it’s gonna be a journey that crosses over the sounds of chiptune and synthesizers!
Big thanks to Shirobon for taking time out for the interview!
Now go grab your copy of ‘Distant Reality’ on Bandcamp right now before the next time you hang with your friends so that when they’re like, “Have you heard of Shirobon?” you can be like, “Know him? I have Distant Reality on repeat!”
Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love