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.