With Chip Bit Day 2019 finally over it’s good to get back into writing reviews, and this time we’re looking at ‘City EP’ by ‘Ca5’ (released via ESCTRAX). ‘Ca5’ has been creating music since 2001, with their discography showing their music off across a wide variety of different labels and compilations. Recently ‘Ca5’ has been experimenting with FamiTracker and LSDJ, and segues fantastically into Ca5’s release, ‘City EP’ as it contains a great mixture of NES sounds.
Whilst all 3 of these tracks and full to the brim with style and skill, ‘Seaport’ really seems to strike a chord with me. This is mainly down to Seaport’s unique and relaxing style, which is fused together with chiptune and breakcore. We first begin, with rhythmic and eclectic melody and is something that takes form as the crux of ‘Seaport’. This is something that rarely changes its course throughout the song. Instead, the drums and enveloping chords take the forefront of progression in ‘Seaport’.
The breakcore within the percussion is constantly refreshing as the breaks and loops always give ‘Seaport’ a variety of new layers. The majority of the bass is quite absent and I expect that is down to the drums that take up much of the frequencies the bass would occupy. That is not to say it isn’t totally non-existent however, ‘Ca5’ manages to supply the bass line in the form of high frequencies from the NES bass. It’s very warm and fills the gaps any of the other instruments might’ve missed.
Whilst ‘Seaport’ is one of my favourites of Ca5’s ‘City EP’, I can’t knock the other two tracks off the album. They are both very unique in their sound and offer a different take on Ca5’s experimentations; with ‘Metro’ being hectic & lively and ‘Lightless’ being soulful & relaxing. This leaves us with ‘Seaport’ in the middle as the perfect medium, between the two others.
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Next on my long backlog of chiptune reviews, we have ‘The Land Behind’ by ‘Brick BRKer’ (AKA Neil Williams). Originating from Jonesboro, Arkansas, ‘The Land Behind’ is Brick BRKer’s 2nd release, created on LSDJ v6.8.2. According to ‘Brick BRKer’, ‘The Land Behind’ is a collection of tracks written over a period of 5 years. They are a record of, growth, change and graduation in the Ozark mountains.
‘The Land Behind’ is a nice relaxing change from I usually listen to. It’s slowly yet warm in its use of wet pulse melodies.
This is ever more true in the track, ‘Jade’ which at 2:20 is a beautifully crafted song containing some of the best swan song melodies I’ve heard in a while. Whilst there plenty of songs off ‘The Land Behind’ which fit the bill, for me ‘Jade’ has some of the most intricate melodies off the album. Beginning with a lovely warm arpeggio from the pulse channel, the lead then kicks in on the second pulse, its sound with a sharp yet warm touch of noise. It’s a particularly nice song to relax and have a beer whilst it plays throughout its runtime.
Relaxing and not shy from being slow paced, Brick BRKer’s ‘The Land Behind’ stands out from both the hardcore chipmusic and the hyper & melodic VGM.
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Getting back into the funk of things, I have a brand new review for the blog. This time we look into ‘Toai Boai’ by Belgium chiptune artist, ‘Deidream’. What makes ‘Deidream’ unique is the down to the amount of experimentation they go through. Throughout ‘Toai Boai’, a total of ‘seven’ instruments are used to achieve the style that ‘Deidream’ strives for, from the PO-12 Rhythm (drum machine) to the staple gameboy.
Whilst the majority of songs achieve this goal, I believe the track that is at the forefront of this is the opening track, ‘Toai Boai’ (incidentally what the album is named after). Interestingly this is the one of the few tracks that doesn’t use the game and instead ‘Deidream’ opts to use the PO-20 Arcade and PO-28 Robot as the both the brains of the melody.
The brings with a bright arp which spreads itself across the whole channel, but then suddenly stops, bringing into the PO-12 drum machine into the mix. From there we hear some fantastic percussion programmed into whilst chords and melodies are played expertly. One of the best things ‘Deidream’ shows is their use of the PO-28, which is capable of playing excellent solos. They flow fantastically and create such amazing sustain as well as atmosphere. From there we are then treated interesting melodies that retread familiar grounds, until just before the 5 minute mark, when ‘Dreidream’ abruptly slows the tempo of the track, before sending it into overdrive, to the realm of drum and bass. This is when things start to get real interesting with the familiar arpeggios played before, pushed faster than before.
‘Toai Boai’ is a great opening track to a very unique album and shows such as varied difference in its speed and structure.
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Just under 12 hours until the crowdfunder ends! After that you’ll be able to buy tickets from Party For The People at £9.00. If you decide to buy on the door they will cost £10.00.
Here comes the penultimate interview and it’s one I’ve been putting off for a while; ‘Kojin’. ‘Kojin’ is a Manchester based chiptune artist who relies on using Gameboys and other devices to eclectic EDM music. Close to releasing an album, Kojin has been up and down the UK playing to hyped audiences, as well as even playing out in Tokyo. Outside of his music, Kojin does is own blog known as, ‘Chip Bit Sid’ which he has been doing for 4 years. He also operates one of the biggest chiptune events in UK, Chip Bit Day which will be hitting its 4th year.
If you’ve been enjoying the interviews so far and are thinking about coming down to watch, you can get a ticket via the link below:
My name is Richard Lewis and my artist handle is, Kojin. I come from Manchester.
1. Who are you, what is your artist name and where do you come from?
I make heavy edm but using Various different devices and software: Mainly, a Gameboy advance running Nanoloop 2, a Gameboy running LSDJ, an Arturia Drum Brute and Mini Kaoss Pad. All this is run through Behringer Format Mixer. Occasionally I’ll use extra devices such as, a gameboy running Nanoloop Mono, a Korg Monotron, Volca Sample or PO-12. I also have TR-707 which I sometimes use also, but mainly for collective purposes!
2. What music do you make & what instruments/hardware/software do you use?
I first started by looking to sign up artists off Bandcamp for netlabel, WE ARE THE FUTURE! I eventually started listening to artists like Disaster Piece and Protodome. I decided to go Superbyte 2014 and there I made lots of new friends (such as, Wil Morgan) and found out loads of new artists. Once WE ARE THE FUTURE wound up, I decided to make my own blog called, ‘Chip Bit Sid’. This quickly snowballed and I found myself getting seriously involved with the chiptune community. A few months later I started making my own music on LSDJ and a year later I started Chip Bit Day.
3. How did you get into the chiptune scene?
I debuted at Chip Bit Day 16 as ‘Jellyatrix’ and my music was more Hyperpop. I continued it for a bit until I plateaued and couldn’t take my music seriously. To try something different I ended up buying Nanoloop 2 off Paul from Pain Perdu and it opened up a whole new world for me, as my new artist name, Kojin. I eventually start pairing up Nanoloop with LSDJ and the volca sample to which I got a great response, especially at Chip Bit Day 15. Since then I’ve been going from strength to strength and now I feel like I’m ready to finally debut my first Kojin album!
4. How has your music evolved since then?
I’ve played mainly across the North of the UK, however I’ve also played in London and even in Tokyo, Japan!
5. Where have you played?
My favourite I’ve played is my most recent gig at Percy’s Bar & Cafe in Whitchurch. By far the most unique place I’ve played, it’s also where I played one of my most successful sets and got the best feedback!
6. What has been your favourite venue you’ve played at?
7. Describe your music in one word (or emoji).
Probably Chip Bit Day 18, I was playing a fantastic set above a load of monitors I’d set up for the VJ. The Pictures of that gig look amazing!
8. What’s been the highlight of your musical career?
My tastes constantly change but at the moment, it would be Classic Mistake and his latest track, Leftover. I’ve been amazed how good Classic Mistake has been getting since his first nanoloop album. Leftover was made using Nanoloop 2 & Mono along with some FX pedals.
9. What’s your favourite artist and song at the moment?
Constantly experiment. Go out and get new instruments. When making music on LSDJ think of sounds like math, adding two things together to make a kick. Don’t be afraid about asking the chiptune community about how to do things. Everyone is incredibly helpful.
10. What one piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in chiptune?
Persona 5’s whole soundtrack. I thought nothing could Shovel Knight, but GOD DAMN.
11. Favourite game soundtrack?
You’ll be able to catch Kojin at Chip Bit Day 19
5.45pm, June 15th, Atma, 11 Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DB.