Hey Wassup, ChipWINners, and welcome back to Quick Shots! This time around, in the spirit of the holiday weekend coming up, I’ve decided to do a track by track review of a compilation album that’s like auditory fireworks to go with the magic you’ll see in the night sky this Saturday! Showcasing some of the best the scene has to offer (including several artists that are new to me), this collection is something that’s bound to inspire, make you smile, and bring you closer to your loved ones. So turn up the volume, fire up the grill, and pop open a Bud Light, cause it’s time to fap–I mean, it’s time to review the latest Pterodactyl Squad Compo: Baby Pterodactyl! WOOOOO!!!
Greetings, readers! It’s about that time, eh chaps? While it has certainly felt like an eternity since I wrote my last album review (which you can read HERE), it’s good to be back! As I’m here to administer another dose of Chip Treatment the Professor Oakes way, it is with great pleasure to do so by reviewing ‘papillons’ by xyce—so sit tight and read up!
Released by CheapBeats, the label for the Tokyo-based chiptune and lo-fi event of the same name, ‘papillons’ continues to take the chiptune world by storm with Tom Offringa and Roel Heerspink’s release that hit Bandcamp on June 8, 2013. While the two musicians contribute to chip music as their solo acts xylo and cerror respectively, xyce is incredibly prolific as a duo. Hailing from Holland, the two met on a Dutch online forum (which you can read about all about in the interview with Kuma HERE) and joined forces around 2005/2006. Mustering inspiration that varies from France Gall, The Weepies, Children of Bodom, to other chiptune musicians and the demoscene itself (which Heerspink has been a member of since 2001), this bitpop duo’s album boasts 16 remarkable tracks using various hardware including the Amiga 500 and Atari 1040 STe. Coupled with album artwork by m7kenji—a Japanese game app developer who designed ‘Bugtronica’ and the Blip Festival Tokyo 2011 mobile schedule—xyce takes their listeners on a journey as they push the boundaries of the intersection between old school cracktro melodies and a bouncy Europop flare.
Receiving wide support from Bryan C (bryface), Mark Knight (TDK), and David Thorn (Dasid) on Bandcamp, as well as a listening party via 8 Bit Power Hour on 8bitx.com, ‘papillons’ opens up with ‘cloture de jardin’, which translates to ‘garden fence’. While it’s interesting to take note that the track titles, including the album name itself, are in French, such decision instills an incrediblely airy and flowy vibe that seems to take flight as the album progresses. ‘cloture de jardin’, a wonderful precursor to the latter tracks of the album, was composed using an Open ModPlug Tracker ran on Windows 7 (20 channel.xm at 148kb.) However, while I’m sure knowing each and every channel specifics mean a great deal to many musicians I know, xyce has put forth that by making music on different machines, their focus is always the same—melody—and melody is always key regardless of the channels used. Logistics aside, ‘cloture de jardin’ is a wonderful spring-like tune (which reminds me a lot of TQ-Jam) that is sure to have your body groovin’ in place and foot tapping within the first 30 seconds.
‘rainbow dash!’, xyce’s first collaboration on the album (the other being the ending title track with malmen), features RADix, Jakob Svanholm’s project that has earned him a respectable reputation through composing Amiga tunes in the 1990’s. With a hypnotizing key pattern, ‘rainbow dash!’ has an incredibly distinctive melody that changes form throughout the song. Most accurately compared to a melodic rollercoaster, ‘rainbow dash!’ throws its listeners into a whirlwind of adrenaline-pumping reactions that’s very reminiscent of accompanying a video game player in a side-scrolling running sequence. Notably, ‘rainbow dash!’ builds in tempo very early, levels off midway, and then spirals down the latter half of the track.
‘subsonique deux’, very appropriately mastered near the conclusion of ‘papillons’, is the longest track of the bunch and happens to be my personal favorite. Oozing at the seams with an unforgettable cyberpunk rhythm on the Amiga 500, ‘subsonique deux’ is a wonderful example of xyce’s ability to create melodies and key patterns that are undoubtedly polar opposites of the spring-like tracks such as ‘cloture de jardin’. Within the first 30 seconds, listeners are forced to strap in as they are catapulted into what feels like a high-speed jet race. The track, which formally translates to ‘subsonic two’ in English, breaks out in a fusion of Breakbeat and Drum and Bass kicks and breakdowns similar to that of artists such as Pendulum and The Prodigy around the 1 minute and 45 second mark.
While I have reviewed only three tracks that depict the eclectic style and tone of the album, keep in mind that there are 13 other wonderful ones! That being said, ‘papillons’ can be purchased through Bandcamp digitally for $5, or the hard copy for $10, which ships out to your door within three days. Either which way, this is an album I definitely recommend buying (if you haven’t already!) as I assure you it’ll make its way to your list of top favorites.
That’s all ChipWiners! Until next time on Chip Treatment—Professor Oakes signing off!
Howdy, ChipWINers! Professor Oakes here to administer the initial dose of Chip Treatment for your eyes and ears! It is a great pleasure to write my first edition on ‘Noisechan & Nugget: Adventures in Chiptunes’ album, which debuted on Bandcamp April 12th, 2013.
Released by Ubiktune, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ was a yearlong labor of love that Kris ‘TrueStar’ Kaufman helped catapult into the chip scene through her diligent project management and love for anything chip. Produced and mastered by Jake ‘Virt’ Kaufman, video game music/chiptune aficionado and Kris’s husband of 5 years, ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ is surely a contribution to this kitschy community to be remembered for years. Gracing Bandcamp with 12 memorable tracks and delightful album artwork by Kabakism, the album opens with ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ composed by Virt, who also makes an appearance later on in the album in the track titled ‘The Artichoke King’. It is revealed in the album credits that the ‘Artichoke King’s’ identity is Nugget Kaufman, Jake and Kris’s 5-year-old Puggle, fan favorite, and Noisechan Radio’s mascot. With a catchy melody and heartwarming lyrics, ‘Noise Channel Theme (Full Mix)’ alludes to Virt’s heavy roots and passion for chiptunes. To no surprise, he was capable of masterfully creating a memorable introduction to the album itself, and of course a track that many listeners of Kris’s radio show ‘Noisechan Thursdays’ on Arecibo Radio are well acquainted with.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ continues with TQ-Jam’s track ‘Promise’, whose dreamy rhythm pays homage to his recognizable Famicom craft and quality release titled ‘September Air’. Starting off with a mellow introduction, the track picks up speed around the :14 mark and takes his listeners on an euphoric ride to chiptune land with stunning key strokes and classic 8 bit background buildups that can’t help but make you fall in love. With a soothing melody, ‘Promise’ is certainly a track you’d expect to soundtrack a couple’s first dance, or even one’s dream of flying through the air as its pop-ish sound becomes an earbug that you just can’t help to forget or hum throughout the day.
Coda’s ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’, the third track of the album, is a perfect segway from TQ-Jam’s ‘Promise’. His kinetic, space-like intro is a great accompaniment to the song as a whole as he brings to life the child in us all with MIDI guitar riffs and foot tapping kicks. With a sensational introduction, ‘Can’t Stop Our Noise’ is a totally tubular release that is very reminiscent of a vintage game show introduction. By the latter half of the track, Coda has done a fantastic job at packaging it all together with the addictive double bass that we all crave as we’re left in a galactic trance bobbing our heads.
Hally’s ‘Bgrusko Meow’ leads you on a cat and mouse chase (pun intended!) through its addictive, frenetic build up to a sudden BPM decrease in the second half of the song. Reminiscent of a classic 16-bit side-scrolling adventure game, ‘Bgrusko Meow’s’ catchy melody and extreme high energy is one of my favorite tracks on this album, as its bright and pop-ish sound brings a new and innovative composition to the album at large. Rekchadam’s ‘Catch That Girl, She Stole My Heart!’ is very reminiscent to Masato Nakamura’s memorable contributions to ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’. I can’t help but think of grinding through each level at warp speed to collect as many rings as I can to be awarded those sweet, sweet Chaos Emeralds because of the track’s enticing melody and double bass pedal kicks that build up your heart rate.
Fear of Dark’s ‘Noisechan Inspection Theme: On the Case’, Norrin Radd’s ‘Rejection’, Surasshu’s ‘Midnight Stroll’, an0va’s ‘It’s Only a Doghouse Right?’, Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’ and Blitz Lunar’s ‘Hidden Heaven’ also make appearances on ‘Adventures in Chiptunes’. Displaying the high-quality craft we’ve come to expect from these talented artists, each of these tracks are unique and impressionable as not one sounds like another, but they certainly have one thing in common—a recognizable, addictive sound and a chiptune all star vibe. Ranging from a classic, 1970’s funk-esque feel in ‘Noisechan Inspection Team: On the Case’, to a side scrolling shoot-em-up style similar to that of ‘Contra 4’ in Heosphoros’s ‘Forbidden Hell’, the latter half of this high quality album finishes strong.
‘Adventures in Chiptunes’ can be downloaded through Bandcamp at ‘name your price’ (scroll past the links below to find it at the bottom of this write-up!). All album proceeds are fully given to Child’s Play Charity, which seeks to improve the lives of children in hospitals around the world through video games.
This concludes today’s inaugural edition of Chip Treatment with Professor Oakes! If you enjoyed it, be sure to tune in again next month (or maybe sooner??) as this monthly column continues! And in the meantime, enjoy the rest of this month’s upcoming lovely articles! Professor Oakes signing off!