November 14, 2014

Half a Person - Billy EP

Half a Person is new to the scene (as the second track title reveals), but it's clear that he has talent. From the sweet, thoughtful opener "Son, Do Not Touch that Record Player" to the delicate tones of "Is It OK to Overwrite," we've got a solid EP from a promising artist. These tunes aren't exactly club-friendly, and thankfully, that works in their favor. I especially enjoyed the nice, melodic feel of the final song.

October 25, 2014

Feryl - Moral Codec Failure

1 Love of Her Life
2 Kelsey's Laptop
3 I Need Time to Wake Up
4 The Feminist
5 Days Bleed Together
6 Moral Codec Failure
7 Grinding My Own Gears
8 Last Year

Cover art by EGR and Bleo

July 6, 2014

L-Tron - Konnekted

The latest release from 8bitpeoples is a solid 4-track EP from L-Tron. Fresh and well-written, it's definitely the best thing I've heard from this guy. The massive, eight-minute intro doesn't drag, and the melodic final track is a real highlight. Be sure to give Konnekted a spin--and while you're at it, keep tabs on L-Tron for the future.

June 18, 2014

My 25 Favorite Chiptunes, Part 5

Part Five of Five

No. 5: My Little Ponies by Radix

Classic Radix, and a joy to listen to. "My Little Ponies" includes a flawless melody, excellent composition, and a transition to die for--and all this with a mere four channels and 27 kilobytes. One of my favorite tracker modules for sure.

No. 4: We Can See Our Breath by Brother Android

Brother Android's "October November December" is extremely heavy on the atmosphere, but thankfully, the songwriting doesn't suffer as a result. Described by the artist as "an album about the winter time," it's quite a thoughtful, coherent, and unique collection of tunes. The second track, "We Can See Our Breath," is a solid highlight, featuring lots of precise drum work, slow-burning sine waves, and interesting mixing. Nice outro too.

No. 3: When I'm Gone by Reborn.nsf

Noisy and urgent, "When I'm Gone" still has a nice charm to it after all these years. You probably won't hear another quirky, melodic burst quite like this one.

No. 2: Recovery by Fearofdark

Written for a Ubiktune compilation in 2011, and inspired by the tragic events in Japan that happened in the same year, "Recovery" might be the most effectively emotional chiptune I've ever heard. Masterfully written and incredibly sad, it more than lives up to what the title implies: a long, hard road to recovery from some tragedy, filled with both melancholy and hope. If you have friends who don't think chip music can be much more than catchy bleeps or nerdy nostalgia, show them this song.

No. 1: Rainy Summerdays by Radix

Despite the fact that, as a whole, this list isn't organized from least-to-most favorite, I've reserved the top spot for this one. "Rainy Summerdays" is my favorite chiptune of all time, and it pretty much sums up why I like chip music. When I interviewed him back in 2010, Radix explained, "[It] was composed on a rainy day in '95 on Amiga. Good times! '93-95 was the highlight of the demoscene for me." Good times, indeed.

June 4, 2014

My 25 Favorite Chiptunes, Part 4

Part Four of Five

No. 10: Yoghurt Factory by Radix

I guess it's pretty hard not to like this song. Another top-tier, feel-good classic by the master himself, "Yoghurt Factory" is a bundle of pure happiness squeezed into 14 kilobytes. I first discovered it through a game called Seiklus--which, interestingly enough, is also the game that got me into chip music in the first place.

No. 9: Lemonade by Bubu

Bubu is an excellent composer. Turn him loose with a copy of LSDJ and he'll come back with awesome, high-energy anthems like Lemonade. From his solid LP called "The Daydream Elevator," this is definitely a favorite of mine. Absolutely worth a look.

No. 8: Repeat by Andrio

I mentioned at the beginning of these articles that the list is in no special order, but if it was, Andrio's "Repeat" would be very close to the top. Beautifully written and executed, this is one of the best chiptunes I've ever heard. It's also worth noting that Andrew was apparently just 16 when he wrote it, which is pretty remarkable.

No. 7: Jet Alone by Covox

Released in 2007 on the "Infiltrator" EP, this hard-driving cut from Covox's "low-orbit wolf cannon" has a pretty nice non-dubstep drop going for it. The final track on the EP is probably more recognizable for most people, but "Jet Alone" is where it's at. Pretty distinctive intro, too.

No. 6: Pennies / Fuelship (Live) by Syphus

What it must have been like to see this one performed live. Brendan broke out his keytar to make the 2008 Blip Festival that much more memorable. After the contemplative intro, "Fuelship" explodes with incredible melodies and harmonic work. Amiga chip music has rarely sounded this intense.

May 31, 2014

My 25 Favorite Chiptunes, Part 3

Part Three of Five

No. 15: My Beautiful Empty Heart by 4mat

Another glitchy, melodic highlight from Mr. Simmonds. I used to listen to this one a lot in the hotel room when I was out of the country for the first time. Lots of interesting stuff going on here, including the nice four-note riff and frantic beats.

No. 14: Dank Taquitos by Ro-Bear

When "Three Years" first came out, An0va described this track as having "more interesting motifs and transitions [...] than in some entire releases from people." Indeed, "Dank Taquitos" is a nicely unique song from the interesting title onwards. The patient, catchy intro is especially worth checking out.

No. 13: From Summer to Winter by Ghidorah

Extremely atmospheric and appropriately titled, "From Summer to Winter" is definitely one of Ghidorah's better experiments with chip music. Short and sweet, it clocks in at less than two minutes; but the subtle tracking and moody vibes are not to be missed.

No. 12: Beakortolaris by Cerror

One of the most bizarrely-titled songs on the list, "Beakortolaris" offers this interesting note in the source file: "a bird / made up / weird / but intriguing." Thankfully, the song itself is less inscrutable, with solid bass work and sweet little harmonies giving way to a gentle fadeout. Cerror should write more stuff like this.

No. 11: The Hospital; Your House; The Dark by Brother Android

It's a definite standout from Harrison Lemke's 2010 concept album, but "The Hospital" is also a career highlight in my book. It might be a little jarring when taken out of context, but this six-minute epic proves that chip prog can actually be pretty serious. With a pounding drum line kicking things off, the defining moment comes a little after the midway point, as Harrison takes a distinctly melancholy approach to the darkness referred to in the title. Be sure to check out the other songs as well... chiptune albums about death anxiety aren't exactly commonplace.

May 27, 2014

Review - Nadir (4mat)

After months of teasing, chip music legend Matt Simmonds (4mat) has finally revealed his latest album, "Nadir." With a strong attempt at keeping things interesting, there are some pretty impressive tunes here to compensate for the sparse tracklisting. Opening anthem "Vampires" kicks thing off in a very big way with thumping drums and a cool recurring melody. Meandering interludes like "Waves Rush to Shore" and "Vein" don't give offer much in the way of interesting hooks, but more structured tracks like the sweet "Daisies" are well worth revisiting. The title track is another highlight, with incredible composition giving way to a fun dubstep breakdown later on.

Piano samples also show up here and there, making more of an impact in the quiet closer than the aimless second track. Despite its minor flaws, this is a solid and pleasant album with some surprising moments. Definitely worth a look.

Also, if you're wondering who made that gripping cover art, you can thank Aliceffekt.

[Stream/download here:]

May 17, 2014

My 25 Favorite Chiptunes, Part 2

Part Two of Five

No. 20: Mosaik by Xyce ft. Radix

As it turns out, a three-way collab between Cerror, Xylo, and Radix was a great idea. Started by Radix and finished by the other two, "Mosaik" combines the talents of everyone involved in the best possible way. Very happy, very well-composed, and very nice to listen to. Features a great little outro as well.

No. 19: Hello Everybody by Baifan

One of the happiest and greatest GameBoy tracks I've ever heard, "Hello Everybody" essentially sums up why Baifan's music is so cool. With some charmingly simplistic vocal samples cooing along to the tune, this is another favorite of mine from the EP.

No. 18: Venice by Chipzel

Excellent, energetic, moody track from Chipzel right here. Has a beautiful intro and nice sense of progression too. Definitely check out the remastered version from the "Phonetic Symphony" LP for more bass.

No. 17: Victory Lapse by Roboctopus

Out of everything he's done, the "Victory Lapse" EP is this dude's best as far as I'm concerned. The title track is a good reason why. Lush, thoughtful production, catchy melody, etc.

No. 16: Breathless by Chipzel

This album is still one of my favorites. Niamh has definitely refined her craft over the years, but her hard-driving older tunes, like "Breathless," still hold up pretty darn well. Serious relationship drama squeezed into one GameBoy cart.

May 13, 2014

My 25 Favorite Chiptunes, Part 1

A List in No Special Order
By Feryl
Part One of Five

No. 25: High Waisted Skirts by Ro-Bear

One of two Ro-Bear tracks on the list. His style is very tight and distinct. With a bracing melodic atmosphere and a fantastic intro that you wouldn't guess from the title, this is one of my favorite Ro-Bear tunes. It's also a cut from his album "Three Years," which came out in 2012. A new album or EP would be nice to get at some point.

No. 24: Only the Beautiful Survive by 4mat

4mat is one of the few active veterans of the chip scene, and he's still churning out thoughtful albums. Not bad for a guy who started tracking all the way back in 1989. "Beautiful" is from his comeback album "Decades," which is already four years old. I remember eagerly streaming the record when Matt put it up on his (now defunct) blog as a preview. There's a welcome bit of glitchy drumming and harmonizing going on here.

No. 23: Sunday by Chipzel

This one definitely had to go on the list. I've enjoyed Chipzel's high-energy work since I bought her debut album in 2010, but this song is a nice change of pace from her usual spunk. Bright, sunny, and extremely well-composed, Niamh's first attempt at using a DAW with a GameBoy is well worth checking out. You can find it on "Spectra" as a bonus track, but it's good enough to sit with the main tracklisting. Another interesting tidbit: when she put it on SoundCloud before the album came out, Niamh revealed that she was sick of "Sunday" after critically analyzing the thing for a university project.

No. 22: The Memory's We Made by Reborn.nsf

They don't make 'em like this anymore. Reborn's oddly-misspelled "Memory's We Made" is from a dated and messy album that I first heard years ago, but this song and "When Im Gone" have stuck with me for some reason.

No. 21: 70s Literary Youth (Sunny Day Remix) by Aonami

This five-minute remix from Aonami is yet another highlight from a very solid release. Baifan's "Natural High" is still one of the best chip EPs I've ever heard, and this is one of the reasons why. With stellar production and some intriguing melodic work, this is one guest appearance you shouldn't skip out on. Just imagine what a full-on Baifan / Aonami split would sound like. These guys need to get back in the game.

February 28, 2014

Feryl - Fade to Dreams

1) Slow Summer Days
2) The Last Riot Grrrl
3) Homeschooled
4) Long Drive Back
5) Slow Winter Days

January 1, 2014

EP Spotlight - Infiltrator by Covox

This one's a classic. Before Covox went half-EDM, he made straight-up GameBoy music with a loud-garage mastering aesthetic. The "Infiltrator EP" was put out at the tail end of 2007, and includes some pretty heavy, melodic bangers. Closing anthem "Switchblade Squadron" is probably the most accessible and recognizable, but the atmospheric table-setter "Psychic Youth" is worth checking out too. "Jet Alone" is a personal favorite of mine, with great build-up and a sweet bass-melody interplay. While not flawless (the repetitive "Kickflip" comes to mind), the EP has some of Covox's best work to date--which is pretty good for a six-year-old release.

You can grab it for free at the FMA: