Sup y’all? =) President Hoodie here, back once again to wrap up The ChipWIN Blog reviews of our latest Volume compilation! Read on for my energetic ramblings on the final 6 submissions of the V.4 roster. #EnjoyChiptunes (more…)
Welcome back, ChipWINners! Are you enjoying your guided tour of our fourth mainline compilation? I hope so, because now that my dude Wayne is done with his part of the trip, it’s time for me to play captain on the SS Chiptune! So sit back, relax, grab yourself a drink, and put those headphones on, ’cause these next five tracks are some of the most lush, dynamic, and eclectic tracks on the entire album!
And just like that, another ChipWIN Volume submission period has come and gone.
Now on to the really tough part: THE JUDGING & ROSTER SELECTION.
Rest assured that, for the next week or two, the ChipWIN V.4 Judges Team will be working really gorram hard to get everything squared away as swiftly as we possibly can without sacrificing the integrity of the project (appx 2-3 weeks).
And, of course, as soon as the roster is 100%, we’ll announce it here on the blog & fire out it through all ChipWIN social media salvos!
SO STAY TUNED TO CHIPWIN CHANNELS YO!!!!
In the meantime, here’s a very terribly blurred WIP of Nate’s Volume 4 album artwork. #SuchATease ;)
(Movie trailer guy voice) In a state ruled by guitars, one determined president, his first lady, and 8 talented artists set upon an epic quest: to bring live chiptunes to Arkansas. Armed with gameboys, laptops, kazoos and cookies, they descended upon the Smoke & Barrel Tavern. Arkansas would never be the same.
That’s right friends, in what can be considered to be the first *official* Chiptunes = WIN live show (at least the first with ChipWIN in the show’s billing), history was made in Fayetteville on the night of Sunday, 3/23/14. Boasting a kickass roster of chip musicians with varying styles and hailing from parts far and wide, this event promised to be something truly special. Upon realizing that I was off from work on this day, and craving more live chipmusic since MAGFest 12, I knew that the 8 hour pilgrimage from my state of Louisiana had to be made. (Huge thanks to Leah Romero for the transportation, you rock!)
Arriving at the venue a bit early, we had time to get some drinks and prepare our bodies for a night of great tunes and friends. The anticipation was palpable. Then Hoodie, Erin and all of the artists involved arrived on the scene. In a flash, the barren table we’d been sitting at was transformed into a cornucopia of chipWIN merch: shirts, CD’s, flash drives, posters, buttons, stickers and cookies, highlighted with the most magnificent banner my eyes have ever seen. Even a NES was set up near the stage with a huge selection of games for everyone to enjoy. Needless to say, they didn’t fuck around!
First to take the stage was Orion Reilly. What first struck me about this particular chip musician was his setup; he used a laptop to provide the foundation for his tracks while simultaneously controlling a mixer and a full-sized M-Audio keyboard to perform the lead melodies. After a brief and unassuming introduction, he unleashed a jaw-dropping hour-long set upon the audience comprised of original tracks which can be found on his soundcloud as well as many tracks from his recently released Frogatto and Friends OST.
The second thing that struck me was that this guy has some serious skills! Offering up a highly technical baroque style that is unique to the scene, he is one of those artists with enviable ivory-tickling skills who makes it look easy, which it most certifiably is not! From the gorgeously ornamental ‘Demonic Baroque 2’, to the breezy and contemplative ‘Chiptune a la Fauré’, Orion Reilly turned me on to his sumptuous style of classical chipmusic as well as many others who were there to witness it.
This was confirmed to me when one of the locals walked up to me during the set and asked, “Have you ever listened to Bach?” “Yes,” I replied. “Sounds familiar, it’s really great,” he said, and turned to continue enjoying the show. Indeed, random guy. Indeed.
8 Bit Jin
Up next was another keyboard ninja, 8 Bit Jin, who flew all the way from Los Angeles to bring his jazz-infused chipmusic to the stage. 8 Bit Jin via 8bitLA is one of the main driving forces behind this show, meaning that if it wasn’t for his meeting up with Hoodie at Frequency 3.0, this event would not have happened, and for that he deserves huge thanks! His set consisted of a mix of cover songs as well as original tracks from his album ‘Millenium Bits’.
Now we’ve all heard 8 bit cover songs of varying degrees of quality, but 8 Bit Jin’s song selection and execution of these covers was truly remarkable. He nailed Big Band/Swing era classics such as Duke Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’, Louie Prima’s ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’, Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ and more with aplomb. The man has impeccable taste and really showcased his versatility by moving effortlessly between these unique cover songs to his own original house music that had the crowd cheering after every track. The tones of his lead instrument had a very jazzy, Rhodes-like quality to it which gave everyone no choice but to dance and swing.
8 Bit Jin’s set also featured a special, previously unannounced guest about 16 minutes in, hip-hop/nerdcore extraordinaire Lucio Baldomero! Lucio brought the house down with a stunning freestyle rap that had every head in the house bobbing. His impressive stream-of-consciousness performance added yet another layer of talent to the night’s already amazing lineup.
10 minutes and a round of Irish Car Bombs later, it was time for Kansas City native Thunder Fox to take the stage. Donning full fox regalia of a fuzzy tail and Kazoo Hero T-shirt, this young talent embarked upon a set which I can only describe as 100% FUN. In his live debut, Thunder Fox kicked off the foxiful festivities with ‘Dunce Dance’, a rousing electro-chip dance groove both calm and intense with seriously catchy beats. He then moved into infectious chipstep remakes of video game favorites such as Mega Man X Subterranean Base and the Super Mario Bros. theme. And then, it happened.
AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION! Handing out kazoos to every member of the audience, Thunder Fox led us through a rollicking kazoo-along to the carefree earworm ‘Party Stomp’, complete with cowbell. Add to the equation a room full of tipsy adults trying to keep up with the Benny Hill theme on kazoos as well as Barney’s ‘Apples and Bananas’ (yes, the dinosaur), and the picture becomes clear that this was one hell of a good time! Thunder Fox ended the performance with the sickest chipstep I have ever heard, inspired by Luigi’s Mansion and littered with humorous voice samples and cliffhanger drops. Seriously, we just had Mardi Gras down here in Louisiana, and Thunder Fox’s performance was 50x as fun.
Theory of N
In yet another previously unannounced, late addition to the show, Theory of N multiplied the WIN and then some. Theory of N performed a quick set that started out with his infamous track from ChipWIN Vol. 2, ‘Buttdawg Funk’. I’ve listened to this funktastic track so many times in its recorded form, and seeing it performed live was a huge treat indeed. This was merely a prelude however, as everyone was then privileged to experience the first public exposure to his excellent submission to the recently released compilation, ‘Chiptunes = #SrsBsns’. ‘Bow Chippa Bow Wow’ grabbed everyone by the loins and would not let go; there wasn’t a dry panty in the house by the time he was finished with this one. There’s no question in my mind that ‘Bow Chippa Bow Wow’ is chiptune’s ‘Bump N’ Grind’. (I’m obligated to give the disclaimer that 8bitLA and Chiptunes = WIN are not responsible for spontaneous pregnancy that may or may not occur from listening to Theory of N in a live or recorded setting.)
Bringing in awesome talent from the Mid-Western chipscene, AKADUNGEONMASTER embarked upon a rhythmically glitched-out journey. Hypnotically beautiful melodies merged with subdued percussion at first, then intermittently punctuated with powerfully experimental flourishes. His music gave an ambient sound-space to the night, and it was great to meet this guy after the show. He performs double duty as a dungeon master in real life, if you might not have guessed fro his stage name.
Getting to see Phonetic Hero’s first live show was a rewarding experience indeed. His video game-inspired tracks were some of the hardest-hitting that I’ve ever seen before. His set moved from fiercely melodic techno to groovy funk to straight up drum-n-bass. Phonetic Hero brings a strong, compelling energy to his live performance and his song structures and progressions are a force to reckoned with. Yet another incredibly talented young artist that makes me most excited for the future of chipmusic. I’m definitely looking forward to his future work, and If you haven’t yet picked up his album ‘Sliced Bread: UNCRUSTED!!’ on Bandcamp, you should seriously get on that.
I must admit that Awesome Force was also the driving force that pushed me over the edge to take the decision to take this trip to Arkansas and see this, well… AWESOME show! Having been a huge fan and friend of his, and having had my mind previously blown already by his cosmically destructive drum-n-bass, the thought of NOT seeing him crush it in Arkansas just did not compute. Of course he did not disappoint.
Lifting off with ‘The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean’, Awesome Force instantly engaged the audience in a time when more people than ever are coming to see and appreciate our place in the cosmos. Moving into the the sublimely revelatory ‘The Story of Everything and How it Will End’, it felt like I was living inside the physical embodiment of his ‘Live at BRKFest’ album, which I consider to be one of the finest live chiptune albums to ever be recorded. Awesome Force ended the night with a sonically intense and blisteringly emotional track in honor of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. If you EVER get the chance to see the incredible amounts of power that he can pull from a Game Boy, take it!
And thus ends the story of how chiptunes conquered Arkansas, a pleasantly surprising lightning strike of an event. But fear not! If you missed this show, it has been confirmed by Da Prez that with ChipWIN, lightning will indeed strike twice! Oh yes, there WILL be another Fayetteville show. You’ll just have to keep it locked here on the blog, and when it strikes, be sure to come out and have an incredible time. Honestly though, it’s worth the trip just for the hugs and cookies you’ll get from Chip Mama.
HUGE THANKS to Jason Roop for documenting the full footage of the performances!
Roop’s YouTube channel