Mega Ran & Guests – “Live at the Castle Hotel, Manchester”

This was a reblog from an article I did a little while ago back in may for Chiptunes=win. 

I was given exclusive tickets to go and see ‘Mega Ran live’ in Manchester at the ‘Castle Hotel’, courtesy of my chiptune buddy, ‘Auracle’. Auracle would also be opening for the Arizona-based rapper. I’d seen’ Mega Ran’ a few times already; twice at Superbyte and then again when he opened for ‘MC Lars’. However, I couldn’t pass this up as the ‘Castle Hotel’  is one of the smallest venues in townwhich gives its concerts a real, personal vibe. Getting up close and personal with Ran and his impeccable openers was definitely a sell straight away for me.

For those who don’t know Mega Ran, he is one of the big rappers of Chiptune and Nerdcore, starting off by spewing videogame inspired lyrics over a wide range of retro VGM songs. The majority of his tracks were inspired by Capcom games like ‘Mega Man’ (shock) however ‘Final Fantasy’ is also heavily referenced too.

I arrived just before the music started in order to get a good place to watch the openers. From previous experience, I knew the Castle’s venue would get absolutely packed and sweaty, so I wanted to find an area which both the sound and view would be perfect.

First on the stage was, ‘Marx‘, a rapper from Hull and heavily inspired by such artists as ‘Wu-tang Clan‘ and heavy rock. Marx’s set began very strong, showing off his own material as well as performing a couple of covers from the likes of ‘Nas‘. All splendid, however when it came to the choruses from his original material, I felt they lacked power, mainly due to ‘Marx’ himself (no fault of his own) singing the vocals. In my opinion, I thought he needed perhaps extra effects over his voice to further drive the chorus. That said, Marx was a good act to kick start Mega Ran’s gig.

[Courtesy of B Cash Photography]

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Next up was Manchester’s boy for chiptune, ‘Auracle‘ who has been seeing growing amount of popularity for some time. In fact ‘Auracle’ got the spot to play through word of mouth, with someone passing on his name to ‘Mega Ran’. ‘Auracle’ began his set with a screamer of song called, ‘WUBZ’ fusing both ‘Gameboy chiptune’ and ‘dubstep’. A fantastically well made track, it really showed off Auracle’s detailed knowledge into music and tricks, even though he isn’t known for doing solely dubstep music! From there on, the majority of his set stayed strong, with killer tracks such as, ‘Can’t Get a Break‘, -full of obligatory break samples-, and a new EDM tune called, ‘White Sands, Blue Waters‘. This track was extremely tasty, containing some of the sweetest leads of the evening, whilst featuring killer fills and breaks. ‘Auracle’ finished the set with a freestyle collaboration with ‘Marx’ rapping over the top; a nice surprise to round off a cool set, and although Marx found it hard to freestyle right off the bat, he got into and managed to make a couple songs his own!

[Courtesy of B Cash Photography]

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With two acts down, it was now on to the penultimate act before ‘Mega Ran’, San-Antonio based, ‘Richie Branson’. I’d only heard of Richie when I had to research Nerdcore, upon going to see MC Lars. However, Richie managed to blow my expectations sky high, with a lot of his material being extremely relatable. Songs like ‘Space Cowboy Serenade‘, which was written about all things good in ‘Cowboy Bebop‘, a very cool scifi anime! Another thing that I really liked about Richie was how he could grab the crowd’s attention so easily, whilst also at the same time acting so chill.

[Courtesy of Dunningkruger]

It could be due to experience, but I feel it was mainly because he immediately talked about what he loved in life; ‘anime & videogames’ (oh and his ‘Alienware Laptop’; it looked pretty cool). Finally it was also rather amazing to find out that not only was Manchester Richie’s first overseas show live, he’d also recently beat cancer, an incredible feat.

 ~Richie Branson~ 
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Now that all the warms had finished, it was time for ‘Mega Ran’ to take up the stage, with ‘K-Murdock’ behind him dealing out the jams. As said before, this gig felt very personal to me, due to venue being real small. However with ‘Mega Ran’ on the stage, it felt much more than just that. Kick starting the show off by letting a person hit start on an old Famicom, Mega Ran, talked to the crowd as if they were old friends, sparking up wisecracks (with ‘K-Murdock’ adding some really bad jokes) as well as even getting the whole audience to sit down and listen, whilst Ran began ‘story time’; regaling a fun little tale as a rap.

[Courtesy of Dunningkruger]

As if it couldn’t get any better, ‘Mega Ran’ also brought out his fabled ,’Mega Man arm canon,’ shooting it at the crowd whilst he rapped. Much of Mega Ran’s old material was used, with almost every song hyping up the crowd. ‘Infinite Lives‘ was one that really, stuck out for me, partly down to it’s upbeat and happy nature, but also down to huge amount of people who knew it and sang along.


 ~Mega Ran~ 
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After hosting Chip Bit Day literally only a few days before, I thought I’d be burnt out with Chiptune music; I was dead wrong to think, and I had a fantastic time, seeing a lot of unique acts, both old and new! I can now put the amount of times I’ve seen Mega Ran right next to Pearl Jam!

Amplitude Problem – The Frequency Modulators Orchestra Vol.1

I wasn’t able to do a review last week, as I was really sick. I feel much better this week, however due to getting ready for Gleetch’s latest gig in London, I am still mega busy. But that doesn’t I’m not reviewing anything, no!

Today I’m reviewing, Amplitude Problem’s latest album, ‘The Frequency Modulators Orchestra Vol.1’ (released via Ubiktune). Amplitude Problem first started out in chipmusic, way back in the late 80s when the demoscene started up, making music using Atari ST’s with the demo crew known as, ‘SYNC’. He has long since composed on a variety of different projects, from the likes of ‘Mitch Murder’ & ‘Lazerhawk’, to videogame sounds track such as, ‘Power Drive 2000’.

AP’s latest album, ‘The frequency Modulators Orchestra’, is a focused conception upon the fusion of Electro & Jazz, whilst exclusively using FM synthesizers & Lofi Drums. Although Jazz is the main genre through this album, I feel there’s a lot of variety in the genre itself, with both groovy tunes & smooth, soulful ballads. I myself was particularly taken by the smooth jazz tracks, as I felt those song caught my attention more easily.

‘The Mutant Mind of Mine’ is a good example of this, using the relaxing sound of the fm synth with a gentle swing, to help convey much atmosphere in the background. Not only that, but the entire song radiates the 80s feel, and the pop culture, the likes of  Miami Vice and St Elmo’s Fire, I also must give a shout to vgms as well, like Final Fantasy 4. Over the top of the keys, jazzy trumpet & guitar leads are introduced, also courtesy of the fm synth, adding in a further coating of jazz to the track. Whilst this song is slow, it’s nice & relaxing groove compared to the other tracks,  which are more upbeat. I also like the fact the leads are more sporadic, having no direction, something that Jazz is generally known for.

Another track that’s goes a step further beyond the rest of the album is the final song, ‘It’s Everything’. It contains something of the best melodic leads & bass lines off the album, whilst remaining catchy with it’s iconic sound & hooks. It also feels that AP wanted to focus a bit more on the funk aspect of his melodies whilst still retaining that jazzy nature of the album. My favourite part has to be face melting solos throughout, taking inspiration from the sound of a raunchy guitar for the synth. However I cannot forget the bass, which seems to be the glue that holds rest of the song together. Without it, I don’t think the song would have as much of an impact as it does.

It was nice change of pace reviewing Amplitude Problem’s ‘The Frequency Modulators Orchestra’. I generally review a lot of dancey music that use the staple gameboy, and rarely ever hear some good jazz music from the chipscene. It’s made me feel that I really need to get out of my comfort zone of EDM & gameboys.

 ~ Amplitude Problem ~ 

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Maru303 – Good Walk Sunday

Last week I decided to take a break and put all my efforts into my chipwin submission. I doubt it’ll get excepted but fingers crossed anyway. Today I’m reviewing ‘Good Walk Sunday’ by Maru303 (and released via ‘Scaffolder Recordings’), an artist who resides all the way in Japan and has been making chiptune music for over 5 years (according to soundcloud).

I first came across ‘Maru303’ & ‘Good Walk Sunday’, when I was had one of my usual bandcamp marathons; wading through dozens of chiptune albums, trying to find something that catches my ear. What drew me to ‘Good Walk Sunday’, was the fact Maru had decided to use the Nanoloop App on their phone, rather rely on LSDJ as most people generally do. Since getting into making music on Nanoloop, I’ve been trying to find more tunes made on it. So finding out ‘Good Walk Sunday’ had been made using Nanoloop, really enticed me to give it a listen.
Right off from the bat, you can immediately tell that ‘Good Walk Sunday’ is one of those albums, that are meant to be chilled out to. 
The opening track, ‘Day Chime’ starts with some lovely & relaxing melodic synth, ringing out and almost sound like a chime clock (it is called, ‘Day Chime’ after all). Although it feels rather minimalistic, ‘Day Chime’ is anything but. Relying on each to sound & instrument to create a soundcape, with some parts, such as the PWM synth slowly floating underneath, then filtering out into silence. Certain sounds have been created in Nanoloop perfectly; for example, one sound at ‘2:08’ really sounded like an old sitar being played. This alone really made that part of ‘Day Chime’.
Whilst ‘Day Chime’ is a fantastic opening track to start from, I feel ‘Good Walk Sunday’ really comes into it’s own element further down its track list. That’s not say any of its tracks are bad, but I feel ‘Maru’ starts to get more progressive as the album drives on, relying less on melodies and the cutesy aspect that are found in ‘Day Chime’.

Tracks like ‘Long Far’ really show off ‘Maru’s’ willingness to experiment with nanoloop, and not remain comfortable in one pattern. Maru also seems to try and create more soundscapes, by melding certain sounds together, making an effect almost similar to what you get from ‘Bi-aural Beats’. Just listening to ‘Long Far’ for a few minutes can cause you to go into a trance and become incredibly chilled.

‘Good Walk Sunday’ was a very nice & refreshing album to come across this year. Through its reliance on melody & soundscaping, ‘Maru303’ really shows what Nanoloop is truly capable of. Although ‘Good Walk Sunday’ was incredibly chilled out, there were a lot of unique sounds to hear & listen to, and will keep you glued to from start to finish.

 ~ MARU303 ~ 

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Roboctopus – ‘Your Heart is a Pie Chart’

It’s a real scorcher up in Manchester, so what better than to review ‘Your Heart Is A Pie Chart’ (released via CheapBeats) by long time chip musician, ‘Roboctopus’. Residing in Maddison, USA, ‘Roboctopus’ has been making chipmusic for well over 5 years now, establishing himself a following as one of the greats in chiptune. Primarily focused using gameboys to make his music, ‘Roboctopus’ has been pushing the sound chip to the max, thinking up new ways on how to convey sounds, whilst keeping it all melodic.

It has been three years since ‘Roboctopus’ released his previous album, aptly named, ‘Jelly’, so this latest release has been highly anticipated; and let me tell you, it doesn’t fail to deliver.

A lot of ‘YHIAPC’s’ tracks are quintessentially unique, however one track which particularly caught my ear was, ‘Slow Motion Sunset’. Although the Roboctopus’ titled track (Your Heart Is A Pie Chart) was a good song to begin with, I felt this one really captured what it set out to do. Every instrument rings out to produce a perfect & mesmerising sound, that both hooks & chills you out. The beginning particularly is a stand out part for me, as the bright & melodic sounds feel incredibly uplifting, as well as being a great fit for a sunny drive in the car (true story). However this is further worked on at ‘3:12’ where ‘Roboctopus’ introduces a very wet & stacato-esque square-wave. That riff solely makes you feel as if you’ve just plunged into a swimming pool!

Finally to give the track one huge send off, Roboctopus changes it up with a new chord progression as well as, a slow but catchy lead that drums in the notion that ‘Slow Motion Sunset’ has a lot of heart!

‘Slow Motion Sunset’ is a great melodic track to show Roboctopus’s charm, however there’s one track which really shows his real talent, and that has to be ‘Waste LAN’.

How every bit of this song has been created is anyone’s guess, but I can tell you that the majority of it is done through LSDJ’s manipulation of the WAV channel. Two gameboy’s are also utilised together to allow for more sample mixing.

The introduction itself, is sublime. The jazzy vaporwave keys softly floating, whilst another snappy sample (a guitar) is used over the top, complete with an arpeggiated pulsewave. However, ‘Waste LAN’ truly gets into the mix of things at ‘0:49’ when both samples of the WAV’s are hacked rhythmically with such music precision. It creates a soul inspiring soundscape rarely seen in chiptune, but also becomes something entirely different outside the genre too. It was definitely a welcomed track for the middle of June.

‘Your Heart Is A Pie Chart’ is a fantastic album from ‘Roboctopus’, which shows off both his charm & knowledge in music. However what makes this album even more complete is being released in the middle of summer. The amount of feels I had driving in 28 degree heat the other day was crazy.

 ~ Roboctopus ~ 

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