The new year is in full swing – MAGFest has come and gone, Chipwrecked is preparing for another great lineup, and we’ve already got a few fun 2019chiptunereleases! But such an active community also makes for a lot you may have missed, and I’d like to give the last year a final sendoff before moving onto this one. I’m proud of the work I did in 2018, but there was a lot I didn’t get to talk about as well. This scene is bursting with music to enjoy and appreciate, so while I can only cover a small portion of it, I’d like to try and spotlight some tunes that deserve the attention.
Naturally, I will be doing this in the silliest way possible.
A lot of people make the bassline (huehue) assumption that multiple musicians working together is automatically a band. While the vast majority of multi-man musical acts do come in the tried-and-true form of live-performance groups, the picture is much blurrier in the realm of electronic music characterized by digital production and playback. Due to the relative ease of collaborating piecewise with an individual thousands of miles away via the internet, you see things like features, remixes, and group handles all over the place. While this article is mostly aimed at getting into the “collab” side of things, most of what’s covered can be applied to anything similar enough.
So let’s dive into what a collab actually is, how it can help you grow, and how to manage the development of one!
Tuxic’s riveting concept album ‘Oblivion’ was released through Russian netlabel BleepLove in June 2018. Featuring some fantastic LSDj chops, low-fi drum’n’bass grooves, and hostile progressive metal, this music stood out to me from the moment I first heard it for its strong drive and dynamic execution. Making use of some really interesting pacing decisions alongside active melodies and uneven rhythms, the tight composition creates an intriguingly mechanical feel with incisive focus. This is balanced out nicely by the more free-spirited sound, full of surprises, where even the vocals display quite the stylistic range – composite instrumentation with a penchant for harsh qualities and sudden appearances. The most natural aspects of this album are presented through an artificial texture. The result is engaging, self-contained, expressive, abrasive, and GREAT.
A little over a month ago, Chiptunes4Autism released their highly anticipated ‘Volume 3: Forces of Neurodivergence’ compilation. Spanning around an hour and a half, the album is part of an ongoing fundraising nonprofit run by Gustuf Young (Asperkraken), focused on promoting autism positivity, and empowering people on the spectrum. Uniting a diverse group of chiptune artists from all around the world, with all kinds of backgrounds, Chiptunes4Autism organizes live showcases and a yearly compilation album. The earnings are donated to a few different causes that support opportunities, advocacy, and resources – all while giving musicians, neurodiverse or otherwise, a helpful and accepting community in the process.
My introduction is going to be a bit of a gushy personal disclaimer. Sometime in mid-February of 2015, I was chilling out at home browsing Bandcamp, skimming ‘videogame’ tags and fan accounts, my primary way of finding new music back then. I stumbled across Kubbi’s album ‘Ember’, a breathtaking experience that I fall in love with every time I hear it. It’s stuck with me all this time, and while I’m sure it’s influenced me as an artist, Ember has done much more to help shape me as a listener. Looking back, some things have stayed the same (I still spend an occasional evening all to myself on bandcamp), but there’s just so much that has changed since 2015. I discovered Chiptunes = WIN, learned new things. I made new friends, left high school, grew up… and now I find myself here. I know I wouldn’t want to be judged for who I was three years ago, and I certainly wouldn’t want my music to be judged by what I made back then either.
So, as honored as I am to be talking about one of my favorite artists, on one of my favorite blogs – I’m going to try and set that aside, and refrain from any comparisons in regards to Kubbi’s past work too. I’m honestly more excited for right now, and the memories that haven’t happened yet. I used to have one definitive favorite album. With ‘Taiga’, I now have two.