January 31, 2011

Brother Android - "I Wish I Were Your Derivative"

Brother Android's long-overdue "I Wish I Were Your Derivative" EP has finally been released in both free and three-dollar bonus versions. The six-track concept record marks a departure from the artist's gentle, ethereal music in favor of a mathematics theme and simplistic palette of lo-fi samples. Although not among Brother Android's finest works, "Derivative" still provides a uniquely charming look into the world of conceptual chip music. Highlights include "Vector Sum", "Polyhedral Funk", and "Slowfade (Bonus)".

Download/stream the release here: http://brotherandroid.bandcamp.com/ The free version is available here: http://brotherandroid.110mb.com/derivative.html

January 25, 2011

The Greatest Bits - "Mega Man 2"

From the official press release:

"Back in the late 80‘s and early 90‘s, The Greatest Bits blistered his thumbs haunting Dr. Wily and his evil 8-bit companions like Airman, Heatman and Bubbleman. But it’s quite hard concentrating on the levels when the music is so bloody brilliant... The music of the game inspired The Greatest Bits so much that he released a tribute album to the game in 2010. The Greatest Bits combines 21st century top class sound production with the unique sound and feel of the original 'chipsounds' from the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The result is the sound of the year 200X - to say it in Mega Man terminology."

The thirteen-track album is available from Amazon and iTunes. You can get a preview at the artist's website: http://www.thegreatestbits.com/Music.html

January 18, 2011

Chipocrite - "Hit and Run"

GameBoy music newcomer Chipocrite has just released his debut EP, "Hit and Run", on BandCamp. Included in the standard edition are six fun, melodic LSDJ tracks, available on a pay-what-you-want basis. Chipocrite doesn't rely on standard GameBoy "UNCE UNCE" as much as he relies on creativity, which makes this EP worth a look-see. My personal favorite is "Mr. Knight Is in the Building", with its groovy bassline and strangely accurate title.

Stream/download the release here: http://cheesenbeer.bandcamp.com/album/hit-and-run-cnb-special-edition

January 13, 2011

Review - "Today" (Freezedream)

How many chip music albums do you know of that have been released on an original cartridge? One of the very select few in existence happens to be Freezedream's "Today"--a mellow, ambient exploration of the limited 16-bit sound chip of the SEGA Genesis.

Using absolutely nothing outside of the Genesis' musical features, Freezedream has created an interesting and highly unique chiptune experience through nine brief tracks of IDM-style music. Though it may not be particularly impressive from a compositional standpoint, the release is nevertheless a rewarding and interesting one to listen to, taking into account Freezedream's interesting take on what a chip music album can be.

"Winter in July" opens up the album on a soothing and ambient note, while "Realtime Love" introduces listeners to more conventional chip music with distinct bass, melodic, and percussive layers rendered through the Mega Drive's scant six channels. "See You Next Tuesday" and "Cardioid" don't do the album any huge favors, but the atmospheric vibes of "Luer" and "Iridescence" succeed pretty well in creating a downbeat style of music that you wouldn't expect from the unusual hardware used.

"Today" is a short record, consisting of nine two-minute tracks; but that actually turns out to be for the best in the end. Freezedream's foray into the rarely-used sound chip of the SEGA Genesis won't revolutionize the way chiptunes are composed, but it does do a decent job of setting a dreamy and atmospheric tone that is too often missed in the modern chiptune scene.

SCORE: 7.5 out of 10 - "Good"

January 4, 2011

Review - "Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar" (Disasterpeace)

Over four years ago, Disasterpeace began writing a song called "Jump Error"--a song which, in due time, would be the first he would compose for a twelve-track, Nintendo NES and demoscene-style album that would mark a turning point in his continually evolving musical style.

Known in real life as Rich Vreeland, Disasterpeace has aimed for an uncommon style of chip music composition since he began writing his 8-bit tunes around 2005. "Level", his previous release, was a melodic and even symphonic kind of effort, that combined emulated tones with interesting canned drum samples as percussion, such as you'd hear coming from the Nintendo Entertainment System's WAV channel.

Rich's new album "Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar" continues that trend, but for this record, Disasterpeace has pursued a style more reminiscent of old demoscene music, with recognizable square and saw waves somewhat similar to the pleasant tunes of Radix and Cerror. The effort is a solid one, despite a couple mediocre melodies or slightly uncomfortable changes of pace from time to time.

"Prologue" quickly introduces us to Disasterpeace's latest musical journey, with an ethereal, staccato-based melody and slow drum beat, before launching into "Jump Error", a happy and catchy tune with a Radix-like feel and head-bobbing bassline. "Club Wolf", track number three, isn't the best of the record, with an occasionally dissonant melody; however, the intro is fun regardless.

"The New Formation", my personal favorite, is where things start to get really interesting. First comes a pleasant, recurring theme that sounds reminiscent of Martin Galway's filtered melodies of old, and then the tune launches into a nicely dancable bassline with a cool beat and enough style for its lengthy running time. "Beta's Brilliancy" begins as a soft, harmonic track that eventually grows louder and louder before--very cleverly--leading directly into "Ensis", a rather hard-driving track that, while opening well enough, soon gives way to a less-than-perfect melody and six-minute duration. Nevertheless, the track does recover for the final two minutes before giving way to "Day of Reflection": a soft, soothing melody that successfully provides a respite from the previous upbeat material.

In a few instances, Disasterpeace does resort to blending dissonant notes with his sometimes understated melodies--for a certain period--in both the ninth and tenth tracks. Still, he also treats his listeners to moments of melodic reward and pleasant themes that help the album remain a solid effort nevertheless. The penultimate track "Submerciful" has a nicely mellow feel to it, and "Constellations" ends the record with a mysterious lo-fi rendition of a theme that I'm pretty sure I've heard somewhere before.

Overall, "Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar" is a sufficiently rewarding, but not entirely flawless, chiptune experience, that thankfully manages to warrant more than a few listens with its solid selection of unique tunes. Several melodic hiccups and slightly awkward changes of pace do mar the experience somewhat, but Rich's remarkably high production values and demoscene-style musical cues ultimately win out in the end. If you're a Disasterpeace fan, you'll most likely be very pleased with this release; if you aren't, I would suggest checking out full preview tracks on the BandCamp page before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

SCORE: 7.6 out of 10 - "Good"