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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Pain Perdu – Nouvelle Lune

This is week to try and keep up with the weekly reviews, here’s an album from the highly hyped duo, ‘Pain Perdu’. I’ve been following ‘Pain Perdu’ for a while now, ever since they came onto the ‘Chipwin boards’ offering help with ‘LSDJ’ as well as having delightful discussions. Their first epic release was last year on the ‘Chiptunes=win compilation vol.5′, with ‘Artefact’ and showed some mesmerising programming as well as unique jams only seen from a few artists. It also comes as no surprise that ‘Cheap Beats‘ is helping to releases Pain Perdu’s 1st album!

So it is a real pleasure to jump right into what is probably one of this years best albums; ‘Nouvelle Lune’.

There’s a huge pick of choice tracks on, however I have to start with, ‘Tournesol’. It begins with some great use of arpeggios & a needling lead which quickly transcends into a powerful sequence of chords, before going into probably one of the best hooks off the album. Words cannot describe how gut punching it is to hear; it almost sounds like the track has just gone around the world at the speed of light, only to smack you square in the jaw. Quite powerful indeed. I also can’t forget to mention the unique & almost carousel like sequence; it’s rolling feel & arpeggios running up and down the board. Whilst not the most danciest (the change in pace sees to that) ‘Tournesol’ has a lot of character, namely through it’s melody work, chords & structure.

‘Balsamique’ is the final track (aside from the remixes) from Pain Perdu, and it’s big one, through its vastly strong leads which are 100% solid from start to finish. The energy is constantly pushed around and flowing, from 0:00, 0:35, 1:15, 1:35 and onwards till finish. Those points were probably the parts that hit me the most, with the best bit 2:15, when a fill of breakbeats enter the ring, providing a fantastic and breakdown into the next part.

Nouvelle Lune is a fantastic album to break out with and from a duo who have already shown what they’re made of! However I doubt this will be the their best material, and I’m expecting even better things to come in the future of Pain Perdu.

 ~ Pain Perdu ~ 

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I’m finally back from my holiday from Japan, and this time it’s EP called, ‘RUN DCPM’ from ‘2A0X’ (AKA Henry Homesweet). Henry has been quite busy this year having already released a 4 track album under the moniker, ‘TRUTHR‘, experimenting using the C64. ‘RUN DCPM’ is the 3rd album Henry has released under the name, ‘2A0X’, and it continues the same style heard in, ‘Ambush’, using the sublime ‘midines’ and cool ‘TR-808’.

This unique style can be immediately identified whilst listening to the opening track, ‘RUN DCPM’. It’s literally almost synonymous with Ambush, as it’s borrows a lot of sounds and parts from the track, ‘$4020’. Even the tempo & drum patterns is pretty similar. The song however is just as creative, bringing an array of rhythmic arpeggios, subtle samples and electro vibes to the table. It almost feels like a more hardcore version of fatboy slim’s earlier work, through the clever use of programming on more than one part. There’s also no easy structure leading the way, allowing ‘RUN DCPM’ to be its own track.

Another fantastic track to listen to is the 3rd song, ‘Midnight Commander’ which a lot more progressive than the opener, featuring more of a focus on the sounds of TR-808, with the snares & symbols leading the forefront (The toms were also a close favourite, especially during the chorus). Lately, I’ve been really digging the unique sounds of the TR-808, so hearing one meld perfectly with the soundchip of the NES is very much welcome. Instead of attacking the ears like ‘RUN DCPM’ did, the NES sounds are instead more laid back and are used more as leads & effects that ripple & pulsate throughout.

Although ‘RUN DCPM’ doesn’t have the same impact as ‘Ambush’ did, it’s very well made album that shows 20AX/Henry Homesweet can utilise almost any console he can get his hands on; be it a Gameboy Advance, a NES or a C64.

 ~ 20AX / Henryhomesweet ~ 
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