Shirobon – Rebirth

It’s been a while since I reviewed a Shirobon album. I absolutely loved ‘Arcade Dream’ as well as ‘Infinity’ and ‘Dimensions’. However I’m ashamed to say I kinda lost of track of any further releases after. That said I am finally back onboard with the release of his latest album, ‘Rebirth’. Hailing from London, UK, Shirobon has been part of the chiptune scene for over a decade, managing to cultivate a huge audience long the way. Though popular throughout chiptune and electronic music, Shirobon is still very connected to his roots, being active in the community and hosting chiptune events such as, ‘Hyperwave’. This is hugely commendable and deserves a lot of respect.

Getting back to ‘Rebirth’, the whole idea of the album is for Shirobon to return to basics and producing something in LSDJ (with a little help from Serum in tracks 1 and 4). The result is something quite raw and really shows prowess and talent. Shirobon really utilises LSDJ to its maximum potential, creating a bunch of eclectic tracks in his own style.

A good example of this can be heard in the last track, ‘Vectors’ as it utilises all the channels of LSDJ, relying on sonics and focussing on what needs to heard. The unique style of Shirobon is another one of ‘Vectors’ strength, as it really helps with melodies become addictive and groovy. Whilst this track shows off Shirobon’s style beautifully, I must say that the rest of the release was an excellent listen too.

‘Rebirth’ is a great return to form for ‘Shirobon’ and leaves us further guessing what’s in store from him in the future.

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Local T – Costal Breeze

Next up on my never-ending list of chiptune music to review is the album, ‘Costal Breeze’ from Local T A.K.A. UK chip legend, Henry Homesweet. For a long time now, ‘Henry Homesweet’ has been releasing various different projects under a variety of different names; from ‘TRUTHR’ to ’20AX’, each one shows off a very unique distinct style. For instance, ‘TRUTHR’ tends to utilise the soundchip of the c64 and gameboy, whereas ’20AX’ focuses on the NES synced up to the iconic TR-808 with midines. Both are utterly brilliant and show so much style and energy. In this case with ‘Costal Breeze’, the Sega Megadrive is used as well as a vast amount of other amazing machines.

Getting back to ‘Costal Breeze’, the pick track I’m going to be focussing on is opening song with the same name as the album. It opens up beautifully with a ‘clavesque’ melody which pairs fantastically with the drums. This ultimately serves as the hook of ‘Costal Breeze’ and a link between every structure throughout.

Past the ’30 second mark’ we then get a harmonious selection of chords produced by the ‘Sega Megadrive’. This melody on its own is beautiful as it really invokes the feeling of a gentle breeze across the coast of suffolk, where Henry Homesweet/ Local T is from. As ‘Costal Breeze’ gently floats past the ‘2:00’ mark, we then get a real wet tune, again sounding like it’s been produced by the Sega Megadrive. This acts as a great bridge between previous melodies and even weaves perfectly between them. Overall ‘Costal Breeze’ is a tremendous opening track and it’s no wonder why ‘HHS/Local T’ did this and even naming the album after it.

‘Costal Breeze’ was an amazing album from start to finish and resonated hugely with me. This is mainly down to spending much of my life living next to Morecambe bay in Cumbria. This allowed me to experience the tranquility that comes with ‘Costal Breeze’.

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Ca5 – City EP

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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Brick BRKer – The Land Behind

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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