There comes a time in everyone’s adventure in music where one asks, “Is there such thing as ‘too much of a good thing’?” It’s easy to summarize your viewpoint on life in this question. This question, however, gets immediately muddled by the existence of Magenta by Seajeff (fka C-Jeff); founder of the gateway to a ton of excellent progressive jams known as Ubiktune. There’s literally so much content and so much quality that the answer is either “no, there’s no such thing as ‘too much of a good thing,’” or I’m now a self-declared hedonistic opportunist. Maybe the answer’s both at this point, but let’s save that quandary for another time. This album is a badass journey through time and demands a listen, and after the jump I’ll give some examples (and a music video) for you to understand why.
Album art by Taylor Crisdale (alt. cover by Diana Jakobsson).
One of the first albums I listened to during my transition from a hardcore VGM fan to a chiptune madman was Shnabubula’s classic ‘NES JAMS‘. The album combined many of theelements that I love in music – improvisation, soft piano tones, and a certain sense of nostalgia, even for games that I had never played. Shnabubula had already cemented himself in my mind as one of the most innovative artists I’d heard once I finished listening through the album for the first time. Fast forward to May of this year, five years from the release of this iconic album, and Shnabubula has unveiled his most extravagant work yet, ‘Cosmic Diaspora’, a progressive-fusion suite with heavy SNES-esque instrumentation. Let us witness this journey in all of its splendor together.
Keyboardist, composer, and chipmusician Yoann Turpin has seen a number of his works featured in the ChipWIN community, be it his submission to the ChipWINter compilation, 2014’s ‘FriendChip’, or 2015’s ‘Chip Songbook Vol. 6’. His music is known throughout our niche for its funky vibes, his phenomenal work on the keys, and jazzy, improvisational solos that’re all ingredients for truly gorgeous music. His latest release, ‘Random Smash Hits’, is a collection of three short weeks’ worth of Turpin’s aural artwork. As if the sheer quantity of music he’s released in the last two years wasn’t enough to turn heads, the speed with which this album was composed and mastered is astounding.
So let’s see what chiptune chart-topping pieces lie in wait!
For the March installment of Office Hours I have the distinct pleasure of reviewing the just-released ‘Lunaria’ by Danimal Cannon. This album is exciting to me on several levels, as I first discovered Danimal shortly after learning LSDJ. His Youtube videos of guitar + Game Boy showed me the incredible potential of chip music and helped inspire me to get started making my own. I am also excited to hear new music from him, as 2013’s superb ‘Parallel Processing’ collaboration with Zef feels like an eternity ago!
If you are reading this blog about chip music, it is unlikely that you need an introduction to Danimal Cannon. His shredding guitar blends seamlessly with the Game Boy, providing both melodic and solo material as well as rhythm accompaniment when the pulse and wave channels are pushed to their limit. He has performed shows with Metroid Metal, Armcannon, Weaponex, and solo around the country and abroad. Finally, prior to the official release of ‘Lunaria’, President Hoodie published an interview with Danimal Cannon – it contains several interesting insights into the composition of this album, and should not be missed!
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.