ChipWIN Comps Historical Context: Year Five & Beyond…?
Welcome to the final entry in this 5 part series of ChipWIN compilation crazy tales, wild stories, and occasional insights (previous entries here: 1, 2, 3, & 4). If nothing else, it’s felt really good to me to just get a bit more about all this craziness out and about for folk to read. For additional project info, don’t forget about our FAQ and Mission Statement docs as well. The stories in this series are a bit better tho. (^_−)−☆
At any rate, I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey with me. Feel free to dive into the final set of tales (for now!) after the break.
So I’ve covered the last Three Years of our comps in the last three days (read ’em all at 1, 2, & 3), and now it’s time for Year Four aka the”Mad Max” period. Learn all about the furious road after the break.
Sup y’all? =) Keeping the mental health awareness train rolling here on the blog, I’m back with another guest to talk about the tricky topic on Hoodie Highlights!
As is the custom, today’s guest is another ‘doer’ in and around the chiprealm. If you’ve been tuned in at all these past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve either heard his music (including a couple of ChipWIN subs!) or something he’s had a hand in publishing. Kuma even talked to him here on The CWB back in 2013! (…where in the world has the time gone?). He’s also a member of our newly created mental health support & awareness Facebook group, “It’s Still You”, which you can find more about here.
Everyone welcome to the blog Jesse Martin aka FLOOR BABA of DESKPOP!
Hey everybody, Glenntai here again with another round ofhype and opinions loosely based on minor credibility and experience passing off as expertise album review! This time, we’re going to a subject very relevant to most of the internet forum subcultures as a dedication to the shenanigans of old and respectively new… or for those familiar with the term, old/newfa… arts. DAMN IT, those terms are just too offensive to innocent people. I can’t say it. We should be more careful of the words we use these days. After all, this is going on the internet, and the internet is…
Chiptunes = #SrsBsns (Serious Business) is a 22-track compilation comprised half of veterans and half of newcomers to the compilation series dedicating songs to a meme of their choice. That was the only guideline aside from no direct covers (an exception being made for one song in particular… you can most likely guess which one.)
We know you’ve been asking for every artist’s information, so we made sure to add all of their links to each specific song’s info section. If you dig the jam, you can…
Click on the track name on the bandcamp page!
Click on the lyrics/info link for each song to keep it all on the same page!
Google it if you’re too lazy to click links yet somehow not lazy enough to google it! <3
Now enough of my rambling, let’s get onto some reviews and opinions on each track!
Glenntai – FUUUUUUUUUUUU (Apple Day Surprise)
The smooth, alternating jazz chords at the beginning with the monologue seemed appropriately cheesy for a compilation based on memes. What he then brought was something completely different than what we would expect from this fan of funk and swing beats… he broke out his first attempt at chip thrash. wait wait wait, this is about Glenntai?
He gets the award for the only two references to SomethingAwful made throughout this album, though.
coda – PLS GO FAST
A highly-respected musical machine in his own right, as well as a veteran musician from the *chan pre-popularity-peak era (as well as the originator of the 8bit cover of Chocolate Rain… youtube it, you’ll thank him later;) Coda hardly needs an introduction to people who have known him from his soundtracks or some of the finer pieces now stored within the /f/ archive.
If you haven’t, be introduced to his very tempo and syncopation-shifting FM track based off of primarily Sonic-series instruments in only OpenMPT (and as he specifically states in the info section, “No VSTis.” Purists rejoice!) With elements of anything from funk to ragtime and your average four-bar EDM track, coda has proven almost timelessly that he can deliver even some of the hottest jams.
YZYX – I nyaned for hours ( ‘ w’)‼ YZYX has somehow managed to take the monotonous, almost droning earworm associated with Nyancat and made it actually listenable. Nyancat has been a tried, true and tired meme for a few years, and there are plenty of covers that take it towards an EDM route (ahem, guilty as charged, your honor;) but YZYX has offered enough variation to the song to make a tiring and repetitive track into something danceable, not repetitive in nature and playable in clubs that play more than Avicci’s “Levels” eight times in a row and try to bank their money off feigned-nerd clubber culture.
Here Between You and Me – Forever Alone HBYM has rhythm expected from the early 2000’s-era pop rock bands and made a song exceptionally fitting to both the mood and spirit of the Forever Alone meme. Plenty of us can relate to the feelings (not necessarily the tales) within the lyrics while feeling the encompassing NES pulse channels’ vibrato and pitch slides that make one reminiscent of older Anamanaguchi tracks.
Theory of N – Bow Chippa Wow Wow
This electronic slow jazz with two-step percussion by Theory of N will keep you nodding your head the whole way through, especially with that deep square channel bass. It almost sounds like it could be a solid original track until you realize that it shares the same key as Careless Whisper and Sunstroke Project’s Run Away (sigh, yes, the epic sax guy song,) leading into some humorously well-timed licks of the famous sax solos.
Fun fake facts: 89% of people don’t recognize Run Away is Moldova’s only publicly-recognized hit. 99% of the people that did don’t know its originating country is Moldova. However, 100% of the people surveyed could see why kids love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I’m predicting 100% of you will also thoroughly enjoy this track.
SingkongBalado – IDOUBLEDAREU SingkongBalado starts off softer with a vocal sampling and duty-cycling arps providing a melody to soft chords right before SingkongBalado went full-force aboard the glitch/grime train to deliver a heavy, tension-focused track; appropriate for the meme. One could even imagine a dramatic scene, suspense building as you await the reaction to someone being double-dared.
Professor Shyguy – Helix Prophecy Any fan of Clipstream (</shamelessplug>) might be familiar with this fantastic artist’s performances both on our web series and at our live showcase at MAGFest, leaving those uninitiated to Professor Shyguy’s golden voice and expertise on the simple pop song (as well as more complicated, not-as-pop songs) to enjoy this fantastic song giving tribute to Lord Helix and the prophecies within.
Maxo – Top Doge
Such Maxo. So doge. Much top. Wow.
On top of using chip elements to comprise the majority of the song, Maxo incorporated a similarly avant-garde and equally-painstaking practice of the K.K. Slider soundfont. In fact, the incorporation of K.K. genuinely puts the meme theme to the song, which is an otherwise light and bouncy, staccato-filled happy jam.
James Landino – lol, Chiptunes
A delightful reference to the only thing that people remember from YTMND except for its constant ripping-off of /gif/, James Landino brought Running in the 90’s back to life by keeping the Running in the 90’s rhythm and incorporating lyrics to replace the verse melody, returning to a simple and pure Running in the 90’s chorus. Although short, it was a fantastic moment to reminisce to times I almost received speeding tickets to this song.
Urizen – Ask Not for Whom the Jimmies Rustle (They Rustle for Thee)
When originally approached, it was expected that one member of Urizen was to do a track. Then I was presented with this track with the entire band portraying the dramatic tale of a valiant hero’s quest to prevent his Jimmies from rustling. The entire track is very reminiscent of a NES era action game, but the part I feel that really takes off in the song is once the rest of the band starts accompanying in lyrics, then immediately everything drops into the trollapalooza known as Guile’s Theme.
Rustle in peace, little jimmies. 4/1/2014 – 4/1/2014. There was no need to be upset.
Also, on a personal note, thanks for the free remaining handle of whiskey at NatsuCon, Urizen. If we cross paths again I’ll try to return the favor. I still don’t know why they scheduled me after you guys. <3
An0va – President Hoodie’s Theme
If you need an introduction to one of Philadelphia’s finest and busiest in the American chiptune scene, go find any of his tracks and prepare to feel silly for being left in the dark.
This track is a delightful little ditty depicting the light-hearted, adventurous follies of a mid-1900’s cartoon character opening tune. A notable difference is that, unlike the rest of the tracks, an0va specifically recorded his track to be at a lower quality. In addition, this track has no specific meme referenced to it, unless you count Hoodie’s typing language to be a walking meme in itself. I could almost imagine Hoodie himself replacing everyone in Steam Boat Willie, if it weren’t for the immediate anxiety of the idea of having more than one of that crazy man around in this world.
Watashimo – tfw no gf
For those of you who knew watashimo under his previous alias, shanebro, you’re in for a wild ride through the inner-workings of LSDJ. A two-channel chorused pulse echo leads the introduction and takes a step back to let the wav channel take lead, interchanging at different points. The song overall brings a reflective, sometimes nearly sad and nearly dreamy atmosphere, as if one was lost in thought absorbed over their own loneliness.
1000 Needles – Lost Lobos
When I was told this was about Insanity Wolf, I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for all, 1000 Needles doesn’t disappoint. Period. I was pleasantly surprised by a lyrical verse encompassed by heavy guitars and noise that almost felt like it could keep you from being able to concentrate if you let it. The lyrics were humorous in nature by asking about Insanity Wolf’s child-stage history as if he was being evaluated.
K.O.M.H. – Y U NO PLAY 128 BPM Kitty on My Head is a great example of playing with typical electronic music forms and putting them where he sees fit, all while maintaining a smooth transition from one to the other. This is a track filled with deep bass kicks and an infectious sliding WAV channel bass while the two pulse channels compete for which is the catchier melody. Once again a solid track from KOMH! Sam Mulligan – The Coolest Story Bro Sam Mulligan’s delightfully bouncy chip rock has taken on a life of its own in the last few years, but you can hear the polished results of his efforts in this song about a story that went nowhere. The sarcasm may have been lost on him, but his use of other popularized ironic phrases weren’t lost on me nor did they ever lose their charm coming from Boston’s resident Nerd Rock expert.
Shyabeetus – Chiptune Poop
I don’t care what anybody says, Shyabeetus is Philadelphia’s LSDJ WAV channel wizard, and if anyone tries to prove him wrong they’ll be smote by the barrage of custom kit instruments he has put into his tribute to the popular concept Youtube Poop.
Whether you’re all about Japanese Ronald McDonald, Pingas, Spaghetti, Gentlemen, Octagons or countless other YTP references, Shyabeetus has managed to put them all in there and manipulate each sound as if you were watching the video directly on youtube, itself.
Together We Are Robots – Pools Closed A subject closely tied to several good memories of mine, Together We Are Robots manages to take the Habbo Hotel Raids and depict the story of many men’s struggles against MOD-Cleo and her band of (allegedly) racist moderators preventing their enjoyment of the pool, and later on protest due to the high levels of AIDS.
The use of a raspy voice to go along with guitar, wav channel bass, arp pulse chords and a highly effective hybrid between wav sample kits and the noise channel produce a very clean third wave ska element. The track itself is one of the few attempts of Chip Ska that have been made publicly available, period. I certainly wouldn’t mind more of this existing, friends, let’s get on this. 8BitJin – Click Here!
I only wonder what this could be, employing the tactic of click-baiting to reveal– DAMN IT. RICKROLLED AGAIN.
The evolution of the Duckroll, the Rickroll consisted of clicking a youtube link that promised one thing and then led you to the music video of Rick Astley’s pop hit “Never Gonna Give you Up.” This was highly over-popularized after it became not funny, as with every example the mass media has pretended to be “hip” with the “new crazy fads.” However, 8BitJin uses a wah lead that really takes precedence over the remainder of the track, much akin to how Rick Astley’s voice became a bigger focus of the song back in the 80’s. Very well-done cover, would click there again!
DJ McGranaman – Don’t Say His Name! DJ McGranaman has made a hauntingly catchy track out of the famous Freakazoid skit, managing to incorporate custom cricket noises and the noise channel to introduce the track with a deeply syncopated hip-hop rhythm. While this occurs, the melody slowly evolves into an ominous overshadowing of the dire consequences should you utter his name. The end is sure to remind you of a childhood nightmare, and it felt so uncomfortably good.
Michael Zucker – Unstoppable
The one thing I can say, without a doubt, is that Michael Zucker has channeled the spirit of a T-Rex with grabby-claws and put it into music. May it have mercy on your flesh-snack of a body once it finds you.
Extent of the Ham – You Spin Me Around Extent of the Ham (Jam) most certainly gets the award for the most challenging topic to spin a song from. Using VOPMex to bring in the tonal synths and a very funky bass line, it’s easy to get the feeling of an 80’s era pop song that was intentionally created to be too “weird” for audiences to follow. Regardless, Extent of the Ham did a fantastic job singing the stressed pleas of the misunderstood spider. However I will admit, much like the spider, I misunderstood the lyrics of the chorus for the first listen-through. At first I thought he was singing about Meatspin.
I’m incredibly glad I didn’t have to write about an ode to Meatspin. Thank you, Extent of the H/Jam. <3 D&D Sluggers – Slam Jam (of the Year) D&D Sluggers manages to take a tried-and-true Quad City DJs track and throw into it various references from the secretly-required Guiles Theme to Jam of the Year, Storm Blooper’s “Somebody Stole All the Icecream!”, another reference to Epic Sax Guy, to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, to Trolololololing until halted by President Hoodie in the “production” booth.
Final Thoughts This compilation is surprisingly delightful to all of those who would roll their eyes to all the abundant overusage of memes, a fantastic 22-track soundtrack to cause some shenanigans to, and a delight to all of us reliving days when the internet was a simpler (and easily much more offensive) time. Download it for free off of the Chiptunes = WIN Bandcamp, and make sure you have stairs in your household.
…DAMN IT HOODIE. I DIDN’T ADD THIS PICTURE. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.
Nostalgia is a word that gets overused when describing chiptune music.
nos·tal·gia [no-stal-juh, -jee-uh, nuh-] noun
1. A wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time: a nostalgia for his college days.
2. Something that elicits or displays nostalgia.
(I never understood dictionary definitions like #2. It’s like asking someone what they meant and having them just repeat their last sentence.)
Nostalgia is relative.
If you have never ridden in the cab of your mom’s (or dad’s) big rig during a cross country cargo run, you would never look at a big rig stopped beside you at a red light and feelnostalgic about it. To describe Dmitry “C-jeff” Zhemkov’s latest release ‘Big Steel Wheels’ as nostalgic is not only a disservice to the depth of the album but also relies on the fact that you’ve drenched yourself in the cartoons of the 80’s and/or the hair-metal rock ballads that served as their soundtracks. If you hear the words “hair” and “metal” together and think of this, or this, or this, then you are about to journey down a rabbit hole of awesomeness, the likes of which may add a whole new sub-genre to your musical tastes. There are those who will envy you for standing on the doorstep of their own nostalgic golden age. Cherish it. Enjoy the ride.
If you’re the kind of person who feels the warm-and-fuzzies whenever you dust off your copy of “The Transformers: The Movie” to re-experience its mind-blowing soundtrack, then buckle up because them nostalgic feels are incoming.
Film scores from the 80’s are a noted influence for Ubiktune founder C-jeff, as mentioned on the Facebook page for the ‘Big Steel Wheels’ release party, and his deep appreciation for them comes through loud and clear with a masterful display of control within his compositions. ‘Big Steel Wheels’ is much more than a love letter to hair-metal, chiptune and Rocky IV. ‘Big Steel Wheels’ by C-jeff celebrates the best of a bygone era by combining a unique blend of hair-metal, rock, and chiptune to create 13 tracks that will appeal to both the curious newcomer and the die-hard fan.
‘Black Lock’ in particular showcases C-jeff’s expert skill, weaving together inspired electric guitar riffs with a big and bold drum kit while captivating synth tones grab your attention and carry you through every beautifully intricate transition into entirely new explorations that keep you guessing right to the end (which is even more impressive when you realize that ‘Black Lock’ is an 8-minute track.) Sound effects sprinkled throughout the album guide listeners through a musical road-trip, be they big-rig engines kicking off ‘A Thousand Bridges’ or the menacing vocal additions during ‘Boiling Point’ coupled with what can only be described as “the most musical gunshots ever heard” that serve to create a borderline radio-play of desperate cat-and-mouse between riffs and silences. The result is a gripping musical experience that pulls you into the world C-jeff has created within ‘Big Steel Wheels’ that will serve as the gateway album for some, and nostalgia fuel for others.
Dmitry was kind enough to answer a few questions about his journey building ‘Big Steel Wheels’ and that mini-interview continues below:
PixelRecall: Tell me about the moment you decided to create ‘Big Steel Wheels.’
C-jeff: During the summer of last year I was watching the ‘Rocky’ series for the first time in my life. It was a great pleasure to watch it. The music was great. The movies were amazing. And then came ‘Rocky 4’. From the very start I was drawn to the music, but as soon as the training montage scene started, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing; this section changed everything. The music stylistically was so close for what I love, and combined with the montage scenes, it was just a perfect combination.
After that, I discovered Vince DiCola. Some time later, Dan Behrens (Danimal Cannon) recommended I check out ‘The Transformers: The Movie’ soundtrack, and that completely blew me away.
The music of Vince DiCola was such a big inspiration for me that I instantly started to think about my next album. I became immersed more and more into the movies and the music culture of 80s. As a result, all those influences expanded my work developing original soundtracks, building from my experience creating ‘Preschtale’.
PixelRecall: What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating ‘Big Steel Wheels?’
C-jeff: The biggest challenge was probably to keep the sound more or less consistent from track-to-track, especially when I decided to include such a wide rage of genres.
PixelRecall: Do you have a favourite piece of equipment or software that you used to help create ‘Big Steel Wheels?’
C-jeff: Native Instruments Massive was the thing I was very impressed with. It allowed me to create a huge number of patches that I used throughout the album. While ‘Preschtale’ was mostly sample-based, ‘Big Steel Wheels’ jumps on software synths and I think that it really helped improve my sound.
PixelRecall: What is your personal approach to building a track?
C-jeff: With ‘Big Steel Wheels’ I tried the technique of parallel writing. I started a number of songs, building them to a certain level, and then started another song, working on them in parallel while jumping from one to another and vice versa. For example, ‘The Path of Machines’ was the first track I started for this album, but one of the last ones I finished.
As for the songs themselves, it depends on the situation. Sometimes I just play with ideas and do some sketches, making a couple of patterns. Other times I have a theme or a scene which dictates the vibe.
PixelRecall: Now that ‘Big Steel Wheels’ is released, what’s next for you?
C-jeff: I have a number of ongoing projects. Some of them are just single tracks, which will appear on various releases and compilations. Other ones are bigger releases, such as albums and soundtracks.
We have an album in progress with my friend Megus (with whom, back in 2010, we released Around Past as Teleidofusion), that should appear sometime in 2014.
Also, I’m involved in the creation of a soundtrack for the amazing space shooter/platformer Temporus, developed by Firebelly Studios. I’m really excited to be a part of this project.
PixelRecall: Is there anything your fans may not know about you or about ‘Big Steel Wheels’ that you’d like to reveal?
C-jeff: The creation of Big Steel Wheels took me about 11 long months, so I have a lot of curious stuff to share, which I would like to feature in some kind of a diary someday in the future.
‘Big Steel Wheels’ is polished, layered, and most importantly, welcoming. Download your copy on Bandcamp for $7, climb into the cab of your big rig, and enjoy the ride.
Pixel Recall ~ (R. Morgan Slade) ~ Support the artists you love