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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DBOYD – Paradise

This week on Chip Bit Sid, DBOYD’S album, ‘Paradise’ (released via ‘Galaxy Swim Team’) has been in my collection for a while, but due to other commitments it fell out of my mind. It wasn’t my trip to Japan and I saw him live at Squaresounds 17 however, I was blown away and immediately went to buy ‘Paradise’ on cassette. From then on I listened to ‘Paradise’ relentlessly, whilst finding myself constantly humming its catchy riffs.

It’s opening track, ‘Lazy Dayze’ is a perfect song to begin with, having ‘DBOYD’ driving up the melody factor way past 100%. You can immediately tell that this dude has an understanding in Jazz fusion melodies, as it really stands out in every instrument played, in not just ‘Lazy Dayze’ but some of the other tracks too! Lazy Dayze’s hook is catchy and playful, trapping you with it’s enticing tune. It’s also used as nice call back and whilst featured quite a bit throughout, it never wears it’s welcome.

I loved the majority of songs of Paradise, however the last track off, ‘Brightsided’ was one that truly made my day. With an intro that starts off slow, but quickly gets fast as lightning, ‘Brightsided’ then explodes in to a chaotic fusion of all things ferocious & melodic. ‘DBOYD’ is never afraid to hit the high notes of LSDJ, keeping the high octane energy going, only leaving a few seconds to pause before further pushing the insanity!

Out of both tracks reviewed here, they all are outstanding. However I have to say, ‘Brightsided’ is the better track out of the two, pushing the chaos of what DBOYD is known whilst still allowing the hooks & catchiness of the melody trickle in.

‘Paradise’ is a fantastic album for 2017, and although my review was late it definitely has some tracks in the top 10 of this year.

 ~ DBOYD ~ 

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 ^^ Galaxy Swim Team ^^ 
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Chip To Be Square Music Compilation – Various Artists

Disclosure: This charity album is my own project. However, after discussing it with Brandon we decided it would be fine to promote, as all of the proceeds are going to charity. This was originally a post from Chiptunes=Win.

Back in 2014 when Chip Bit Sid had just started, Superbyte was well into it’s 4th event and was popular as ever. I had been getting sucked into the chiptune community, had made a lot of friends, and was building a lot of traction with the blog. It was at this point that I decided that I wanted to sell a compilation, but with all the proceeds going to Barnardos, a charity that helped abandoned children. I immediately got a lot of artists who wanted to give a track to the cause and
got into making a physical CD to sell at Superbyte. Sales were better than expected, making over £220, with some of the money being given by the Superbyte group themselves! It was a great project which made me feel proud of the chiptune community as well as what I’d managed to achieve!

Fast forward to this year and Square Sounds Toyko is happening. I’ve managed to scrape the money for a holiday in Japan and, with some cash left over I decided it was time for another charity album called, ‘Chip To Be Square’. This time however I decided to team up with people from all over, with the money going towards Special Effect, a UK based charity which helps the less-abled play video games, by modifying controllers as well as utilising eye control.

We’ll begin with the opening track from x Critical Strike x, ‘Rainbow Storm’. This was taken from his newest album ‘Operation: Rainbow Storm’. This was a good track to open up the album due to x Critical Strikes x’s signature style, which is reminiscent of the ‘Kirby’ days. It’s also the high impact energy emitted from the whole track, as well as the constant pitch changes that illustrate how ‘x Critical Strike x’ pushes the momentum further and further. If you liked this track, you’ll be happy to hear he’s playing the ‘Squaresounds Toyko Pre-party’. Hopefully he’ll be his full pac-man suit like he was at ‘Chip Bit Day 16’.

x Critical Strike – Rainbow Storm
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The next track up is ‘Party Brew’ by 2xAA using the signature instrument he is known for; Nanoloop on a Gameboy boy advance. What I like about this track is that everything is so incredibly tight in terms of percussion and rhythm, with the parts like the snare coming in crystal clear. It’s also one of the only tracks to not really feature a clear structure, playing one unique piece after the other. Out of all the tracks, Party Brew is the danciest song off the compilation, with 2xAA’s proggy house vibes coming in beautifully.

2xaa- Party Brew
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Probably one of my favourites from the whole compilation, Bubu’s ‘Ability’ is one ultra amazing song created using 2x gameboys with LSDJ. As soon as you begin listening to this track, you’ll realise the production values are amazing, with much of the leads done through the the WAV channel. The dnb beats are also to die for, with Bubu showing off some brilliantly crafted patterns. This track alone was one of the reasons why Bubu was invited to play Chip Bit Day this year. That and he’s one amazing dude! 🙂

Bubu – Ability
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One final track before I head to pack for Japan: I’d like to give a shout out to Joshquery and his track, ‘Spectre’. The reason for this is predominantly due to how much I’ve seen him progress as an artist. I first gave him a shout a year back for his track, ‘Spaceshuttle‘.The track’s style is completely different than what ‘Spectre’s is now, with a lot of grimecore  and chipstep coming to the front in Joshs new work. I’d say ‘Spectre’ is one of heaviest tracks off the entire compilation with a lot of Josh’s focus on the WAV channel, trying to create the sickest bleeps and bloops. That’s not to say the other channels are neglected. The pulse channel is heavily used as the beat, producing one fat and juicy kick, that slices through all the noise the WAV. It’s great to see a chiptune artists music get better as they go forth, and I’m looking forward to see what he has in the future!

Joshquery – Spectre 
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Although these tracks are fantastic, there are plenty others that are epic to listen to, with tracks from ‘Crab Sound‘ & ‘Cyanide Dansen‘ making huge waves in the community! There’s also this Kojin fella, he’s pretty neat too… I guess.

Anyway, It’s good to see musicians from across the world in the community wanting to help and raise money towards a good cause, and is something I’m very glad to be apart of. If you’d like to help me raise money towards Special Effect, it would be hugely appreciated. If not, that’s cool too. 🙂

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Space Candy – Soft Circles

This week we’re looking at the latest album from the London based hyperpop artist, ‘Space Candy’. I first found out about Space Candy when they released their first album, ‘Forest’ with ‘DeskPop’ last year. Whilst the consistent changes in ‘Forest’ through the beats & grooves threw me off a little, it wasn’t until ‘Space Candy’ played ‘Chip Bit Day 17’ and showed off their unique & and hectic style in amazing form. I was blown away at how solid their set was as well as how cheeky the style was.

Fast forward a few months down the line and ‘Space Candy has released their 2nd album, ‘Soft Circles’ (released again with ‘Deskpop’) and for me it’s a huge step up from their previous album, ‘Forest’.

I kick this review off with the opening track, ‘Enchanted Textural’, and is a perfect song to begin an album with. It immediately kicks off with a heart pounding beat, whilst a flourish of claps & bent-like effects roll off fantastically together, with a signature hard saw-like riff acting as the hook and go between link. I feel ‘Enchanted Textural’ is a stronger than any of the tracks from ‘Forest’, mainly due to there being a sense of repetition and similarity in the samples & sounds that are used. It also helps that there being a solid groove & beat that’s easily addictive to dance to.

The same can be next pick track, ‘Bloop Arms’ which actively tries to be dancey as hell. Albeit shorter than my first pick, I found the arpeggios at the beginning mesmerising, and as soon as the track hits the 25 second mark, I feel they come into their style, complimented with a simple yet heart pounding beat. ‘Space Candy’ then changes up it yet again by adding a upbeat, going into a hugely funky bassline. It then ends in what is the general way to finish final tracks of album; with a slow, soft & sublime outro with warm, soothing keys. What I liked about ‘Bloop Arms’ is mainly down to ‘Space Candy’ making everything work with the beat. The arpeggio, bassline & even samples melded wonderfully with groove, with nothing was changed too much with the rhythm.

In terms of direction, ‘Soft Circles’ is completely different when compared to ‘Space Candy’s’ previous album. ‘Forest’ felt more experimental in its use of grooves & rhythm, but ‘Soft Circles’ feels more accessible as an album, with the beat easier to pick up. ‘Soft Circles’ is a welcome addition to my long Bandcamp catalogue and I look forward to they bring next time.

 ~ Space Candy ~ 

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 ^^ Deskpop ^^ 
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