Top 10 Chiptune Tracks of 2017

Well who’d have thought 2017 would’ve been an interesting year! Probably a lot of us considering Trump made office, but even more so for the chiptune genre. Although 2016 had a quite few notable tracks, 2017 has seen an explosion of new and awesome tunes to dive into. So without further ado, let’s dive into it!

10 – Nuage De Lait – Pain Perdu (Bubu Remix)

We kick this countdown off with no.10 and I’ve already broken my own rules. I try not to include remixes or copies of songs, but this one by ‘Bubu’ was too good to pass up. Having already seen ‘Bubu’ play at ‘Chip Bit Day’ last year his music blew me away, so to hear this song sets a new precedent towards well produced LSDJ music. It’s fantastic blend of music which fills the void that ‘TREY FREY’ has unfortunately left.

 ~Bubu~ 
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9 – 2xAA – Delta

‘Flow’ by ‘2xAA’ came out almost a year ago, but still it’s making waves in the chiptune scene. Although you need to listen to the whole album to understand its beauty, Delta is a great example of how to really use ‘Nanoloop’ to create good music. Through its use of synthy bass, warm keys and melancholy lead, ‘Delta’ shows how create a groovy house track with great results.

 ~ 2xAA~ 
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8 – Monodeer – Particles

Coming out towards the end of the year, ‘Particles’ is the signature track off ‘Monodeers’ long anticipated album. With its sublime use of dubstep, humble volca beats hooked up to LSDJ, it’s amazing end to an album which lives up to the hype it built up. Slow & sinister, Monodeer’s ‘Particles’ is definitely deserves to be in the top 10 tracks of 2017.

 ~ Monodeer ~ 

7 – Chibi-Tech – Tense Max Beam

For No.6 we have ‘Tense Max Beam’ from the long awaited EP ‘A mutal promise’ by ‘Chibi-Tech’. What makes this track insane is down to the fact it was made entirely on a NES, something we rarely hear people do (which is sad). Featuring a killer parts such as breakbeat drums & a screeching lead, ‘Tense Max Beam’ is a song that has made itself known throughout 2017 and is probably at the top of most people’s favourite tracks of the year.

 ~ Chibi-Tech ~ 

6 – Roboctopus – Waste LAN

Using probably the most intense & craziest LSDJ programming techniques I’ve ever seen from an artist, no.7 is ‘Waste LAN’ by ‘Roboctopus’. Just listening to this track, you can tell the amount of passion put into creating this song, making sure every little bit is absolutely spot on. What makes it even more on point is the fact that ‘Waste LAN’ uses two gameboys to give the impressive style you hear.

 ~ Roboctopus ~ 

5 – TRUTHR – Earth II

Back when ‘TRUTHR’ was released ,l ‘Brandon L Hood of Chipwin’, cited this track as one he could listen to all day. I second that. ‘Earth II’ by ‘TRUTHR’ (AKA ‘Henry Homesweet’) is soothing blend of all things ‘Commodore 64’ & ‘Gameboy’. Earth II’s main strength is its focus on sound & tone, going into realms of soundscape & chillwave. Because of this, almost every play through of ‘Earth II’ gives a feeling of euphoria, rarely heard from songs of any genre (let alone chiptune).

 ~ TRUTHR/Henry Homesweet ~ 
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4 – L-Tron & Rockman – Voyager pt1

No.4 is kinda of cheating. Technically released the very end of 2016, I never really got to listen to this track, -‘Voyage pt I’ by ‘L-tron & Rockman’- till the literal beginning of 2017. That said, it’s still a big track I constantly listen to even after over a year. It begins with one of the strongest introductions of this list, immediately feeling the pump of the beat created, before going into hysterics with the ‘V cmd’. Being part of the house genre, ‘Voyage pt I’ is one of the few tracks which creatively pushes itself forward, constantly coming up with an addictive hook to keep you in the swing of things. Definitely one track I’ll gladly allow in 2017!

 ~ L-tron ~ 

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 ~ Rockman ~ 

3 – DBOYD – Brightsided

I was quite late to the party with No.3, having forgotten all about DBOYD’s album, ‘Paradise’. This is all changed when I found out ‘DBOYD’ was playing ‘Squaresounds Tokyo’. So I quickly dived into DBOYD’s album ‘Paradise’, and became in love with its style and substance. ‘Brightsided’ is the standout out track off the album for me and my No.3, mainly because of DBOYD’s hectic style, which shines more than anything off ‘Paradise’. The constant go of its cheeky melodies really keeps mood up, almost as if you’re at the center of a party. ‘Brightsided’ is definitely one song I didn’t forget off my top 10 list.

 ~ DBOYD ~ 

2 – Chrome Cobra – Mocktail

I really had a hard time thinking what song I should pick off Chrome Cobra’s album for my No.2. I knew he’d be my penulimate track of the list, but every one of the songs off Mobile Swarming could actually be there. In the end I chose ‘Mocktail’. This was mainly because even though it’s the longest track off the album, it makes the most effort to keep your attention. Everything from start to finish has been crafted perfectly; the bass, melody, sound of the drums; literally EVERYTHING! As with ‘L-tron’, ‘Chrome Cobra’ has been another artist that I’ve been constantly going back to.

 ~ Chrome Cobra ~ 

1 – Pain Perdu – Balsamique

Okay No.1. The ‘piece de resistance’ I if do say so myself. ‘Pain Perdu’ have been making huge waves through the chiptune scene for the last two years and in turn creating so much hype for the album that was to come. So naturally, when ‘Nouvelle Lune’ was released, it came with huge praise. There were quite a few standout tracks, however one that pricked my ears especially was the final song, ‘Balsamique’. The melodies were spot on. The percussion was impeccable. The bass was killer. Everything was created to perfection and in doing so made my No.1 track of 2017. Well done guys!

 ~ Pain Perdu ~ 

Phew that’s the end of that! I hope you liked my top 10 for 2017 and are looking forward to what 2018 holds for us. Perhaps an album from Kojin? Only time will tell, he has to get his arse in gear first!

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Alex Lane – Titan

This is another album that has been in my possession that I’ve yet to review…until now. I first had the pleasure of meeting & hearing Alex Lane’s music back in 2016 when he first came to Manchester for the ‘ChipBattles Tournament.’ Originally from Australia but now living in Southsea, England, Alex’s style felt very classical but at the same time, came off quite technical. This was changed up however when he was featured for Chip Bit Day 17 and came up to Manchester with a midi guitar hooked up to a C64! The result was quite amazing, the sound made fuller due to the bass.

Alex’s latest album, ‘Titan’ is his 2nd to date. Released with ‘Chiptune powerhouse’, Cheapbeats it features a more refined music style compared to his previous one.

We start off this review with the opening track, ‘Chinon’ off Titan and it begins with a fantastic arpeggio, before descending into a fat, bassy melody. Just the sound coming off this instrument is enough hook you in, the playful tune from Alex walking up and down the scale, like a journey with no end in sight. As well as that, it’s slow nature allows the notes to resonate and make more of an impact, especially at the high & lows of the scale.

‘Chinon’ then slowly transcends into it’s 2nd song, the album title track, ‘Titan’. This song is the complete opposite of ‘Chinon’. Instead of being slow & soft, ‘Titan’ is hard & fast, utilising a lot of sweeping between notes as well as breaks. ‘Titan’ often feels like snappy with some bite, especially towards the ‘2:40’ mark which transcends into a heavy mixture of heavy pulse.

Although ‘Titan’ is the title of track off the album, I wouldn’t say it’s the best. I think that title goes to the last track off the album,’Ulriken’, as it’s the best of both worlds with Alex’s use of melody is incredibly on point. ‘Ulriken’ immediately begins hooking you in with a addictive sequences of chords, before going into probably one of the most catchiest tunes of the album. But Alex’s creative use of the scale never cease’s to amaze, going from strength to strength, backed up with its strong use of chords.

Out of all the albums this year, I believe ‘Titan’ has the most creative use in melody & its notes. Although the whole album is quite slow at points, I believe some of it’s best moments are during those times. I’m definitely looking towards future bassy tunes that alex creates, as each one runs seems to run shivers down my spine.

 ~ Alex Lane ~ 

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 CheapBeats 
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Monodeer – Particles

This week is an entirely different kind of beast when it comes to LSDJ. Monodeer is an artist who has been in the chipscene since 2010, shaping the sound of what chipbass is. ‘Particles’ (released via, The Base Bit) was my first album listening to Monodeer, so I was interested to hear what I’d been missing out, especially considering the introduction of a volca beats.

Although the whole album stood out, the one song that hooked me in the most was the track, ‘The Reckoning featuring Mega Ran’. It starts off with a fantastic intro, sliding into a fill of gameboy noise, before the slow fat bass line takes control. This is where ‘Mega Ran’ takes to the mic, his lyrical prowess on point with Monodeers’ backing music. Although in most cases the rapper is made the main focus of the song, I feel in this case Monodeer’s backing is balanced very well with Mega Ran’s lyrics, the main musical hook sounding powerful as hell. ‘Monodeer’ even has his own part of the track where he shows more of his technological LSDJ wizardy. Out of all the rapping collaborations in chiptune, I feel ‘The Reckoning’ is one where both the music & lyrics are on point work fantastically.

Moving on, another track that I think needs to be talked about, is the Album title track, ‘Particles’. I love how minimalistic the music sounds from the gameboy & volca, yet a closer listen shows a lot more going in terms of sound design and how the drums slowly play. It’s main hook, a dubstep trill beginning at ‘1:30’ is exactly what separates ‘Particles’ from the rest of the songs on the album. Unlike dubstep however, ‘Particles’ is a lot easier on the ears, with the sound of the hook more soft & warm, rather the dirty feel you generally get from the rhythm. This in turn makes ‘Particles’ more accessible to people who generally put off from chiptune.

Overall I really enjoyed listening to ‘Particles’ from Monodeer, mainly due to the introduction of the Volca Beats Drum Machine. This is something I can really appreciate, as I too use a volca (The ‘Sample’) in my music. Very important machines when wanting to take your music the extra mile. ‘Particles’ will definitely be an album that I’ll be listening to in the future to come.

 ~ Monodeer ~ 

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 ^^ The Base Bit ^^ 
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DataStream – Midi City

This week we’re staying away from the retro consoles, and instead picking up all things midi. ‘Midi City’ by ‘Data Stream’ is a album which utilises a variety of old school hardware; from a ‘Yamaha DX7s Keyboard’ & ‘Boss DR550 drum machine’, to a ‘Korg MS2000 Synthesiser’ and ‘Yamaha MU5 Tone Generator’. These are just a few of the machines that ‘Data Stream’ uses throughout Midi City’s Album.

Let’s dive right in!

we’ll begin with the opening track, ‘Concierge’. It starts off superbly, with vocalised keys introducing us into some stellar pumping bass, whilst the rhythm of the drums roll along, the kicks almost mimicking the bass line. As for the keys, ‘Data Stream’ layers them almost graceful-like, the upbeat nature already supplying the funkiness of the song. ‘Concierge’ is a fantastic track to begin with on ‘Midi City’, as really tries to put you back in the nostalgic waters of city life. It almost feels as if you could be listening to this track whilst driving down the claustrophobic roads of 80s Manhattan.

As ‘Concierge’ draws to close, we’ll now segway into the 2nd track and my next pick; ‘Night Walk’. This song is just as funky as ‘Concierge’, however instead focusing on mood, ‘Night Walk’ amps of the energy of the bass, giving an almost slap-like feel to it. Along with the bass, we also have a xylophone playing in the back further adding to the rhythm. I love the how both these sounds interact with each other, their staccato feel playing off another. This allow the the drums to hang back, focussing more on the clavs & cowbells, which fit more with rhythmic nature of the bass & xylo. Over the top for the lead we have more midi sounds, with some suited to the style & feel of a guitar. ‘Data stream’ use’s this particular midi sound rather smoothly, using legato to slide through the notes. ‘Night Walk’, definitely suits it’s name and is a stand-out track on ‘Midi City’.

‘Midi City’ is a smooth & funky album to listen to. It was a nice change to the raw 8 bit sound I usually get. The relaxing & chill sound was incredibly nostalgic to hear and felt like I’d been transported back in time. It also reminded me of City Guys’ self titled album, as that too focussed on the whole ‘city life theme’ as well as the 16 bit soundchip (albeit more sim city-like). Finally, it pretty cool to find out that ‘Data Stream’ is a fellow mancunian, adding yet another skilful chipmusician to the pile.

 ~ Data Stream ~ 

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