May 14, 2011

Syphus - "pro.tect"

First announced nine months ago, British chip musician Syphus has finally unveiled "pro.tect"--a fourteen-track album which acts as a sort of pleasant love letter to tracker and chip music fans. Highlights include "Pennies", "Returns", "Minimammal", and the awesomely epic "Horizontal". The official description is listed below.

"pro.tect is a lovingly prepared collection of Syphus' work from 2007 to 2011 - almost entirely unheard, outside of his live shows. Though the tracks have been mastered for more ear-friendly and mp3-friendly listening, they were all made using AHX (Amiga), HivelyTracker (Amiga), Protracker (Amiga) and FastTracker2/MilkyTracker (PC)."

Stream or download the release here:

May 11, 2011

Interview - Falling for a Square

Jason Sposa, commonly known by his music moniker Falling For A Square, has been crafting gentle chip music releases since 2010 with "XO", his unique debut. Since then, he has continued to broaden his musical horizons by employing the use of the GameBoy, vocoder, and even a bit of electric guitar for good measure. His musical style is soft and easy on the ears, with each new album ushering in a clever and innovative listening experience for chiptune fans.

Jason recently took the time to participate in a brief interview I conducted, in which he discusses his passions and love for the genre.

1. Tell us a little about your unique compositional style. What convinced you to write gentle chip music in a world full of noisy GameBoy tracks?

"To be honest, when I first started to write chipmusic I tried composing for a more elaborate or what you term 'noisy' sound, and simply am not capable of doing it.  Thus,  have a great deal of respect for fellow chiptune artists that can pull it off and pull it off well.

"Sitting down and writing songs for Falling For A Square is oddly enough pretty formulated. Whether I am writing songs on a Gameboy or using my iPhone, I tend to have an idea or a story I want to tell and use this as a template for how I want to mold each song. I have been writing music since high school and now am a father in my 30’s so, you can imagine I have seen my own musical style and preference change with age.  These days I seek to write and listen to simpler, mellow tunes to complement my current rush of city life and juggling of fatherhood, marriage and personal interests.  When I was younger, I engrossed myself and my songs with varying modulations since life was a bit more carefree - I suppose I was subconsciously seeking something to juggle."

2. “Compute for You”, the second track from your first release “XO”, is one of my favorite songs of yours. What was the inspiration and process behind this track?

"Thank you for your kind words - I believe there is something very special about 'xo'.  The album was 95% accident.   I was just starting to learn how to compose with the tracker style of Nanoloop for iPhone, and I was pumping out these little songs that seemed to carry a lot of emotion so the album came together rather quickly. 'Compute For You' is about a crush.  It is also the first song I composed that uses a vocoder for vocals.   At first I thought it was a really cheesy idea, but putting words to some of these songs is exactly what they needed for true completion.  The vocoder has definitely become a staple for my particular set-up and I am really glad.  The inspiration for this particular song and all of my 'love songs' are about my wife.  She definitely puts up with all the 'bleeps and bloops' in the house, on commutes, and late at night.  Her patience for my passion is amazing."

3. What do you think is the biggest problem facing the chiptune community today, and how can it be most easily rectified?

"You know, I generally like the community.  I like that it’s a bit obscure, separated from the mainstream and not trying to become the next big genre. It’s almost like the bridge between my own generation before the internet, GarageBand’s, and phone apps and the generation today – and that’s a pretty big gap with varying age ranges.  The best part of it is sharing this secret gem with anyone who is willing to listen and learning that they enjoyed it, too – whether on a lounge-y/club level for sheer ambience or on a more nostalgic level for the more ‘old school’ console-type styles."

 4. Tell us a little about your new full-length studio album that will be hitting BandCamp later this year.

"The new album, which is currently untitled, will be out this Fall and I am really excited about it!  It's going to be a Nanoloop for iPhone driven record.  I will include a couple of guest appearances on vocals, but overall, it's pretty upbeat compared to my last full length release. I will be using some electric guitar, real drums, loads of neat iPad and iPhone applications; however, do not be fooled - it will still  have a very nice 'fakebit' feel to it.  I am in the process of recording in my little home studio and later will have it shipped off to Atlanta to be mixed and mastered by a good friend of mine.  In addition, I will be releasing various EPs over the course of the year.  I find it very therapeutic to release EPs of similar mediums just to keep the flow of this project active for me and hopefully for others."

5. What are some of your favorite chip musicians and albums, and why?

"Here is a list of my current chiptune crushes:

1. I Am Still Breathing by Little Scale  

Little Scale is a constant inspiration to Falling For A Square's material.  I love the sounds he obtains on these very simple cartridges and he makes me want to push harder in this genre continuously. 

2. Fake Music by Computerization

I have been collaborating with Derek of Computerization on some vocal work for my new record.  I love Derek's style and vocoder usage. His lyrics and storyline are just terrific.

3. 101030 by Coova

If you're into Nanoloop v.1.1 - 1.5, then Coova will definitely inspire you.  Her compositions are very soft and complex. Admittedly, I am super jealous every time I spin her records.  

4. Information Chase  by Bit Shifter

I actually heard this record after recording a couple of my own releases and remember saying to myself:  'What the what?!'. In my opinion, Information Chase is like the Pinkerton of chipmusic.  It is well thought out, innovative, and an essential to the scene as well as to any beginner who wants to get into composing this type of music.  Finally, he is a local New Yorker, is constantly at shows, and an overall very humble and nice guy." 

6. Lastly, what is the number one message you’d like to bring the chip music community through your music?

"I would hope that people who stumble across Falling For A Square would be inspired enough to learn more about this genre of music and start creating similar sounds.   To me, this genre and the way it is growing is one of the best kept secrets around and I would be honoured to have played a small part in that. xo"

Falling For A Square's website and music can be browsed here: