Cheapshot – Nano

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Today’s review is an exciting one. This past week I was given a copy of MR Cheapshot’s latest album, Nano. For those who don’t know him, Cheapshot is the owner Cheapbeats, one of chiptune’s biggest music labels, and a respected member of the community. As well as this cheapshot also resides in Japan, (although he is British) with a lot of his music based round it.

Anyway let’s begin!!! To start, Nano was created entirely using Nanoloop and analog synth, with its primary style being housey chiptune.

The first song AJIWAI comes in straight away with some serious good beats & thumping keys, as well as shimmering arps to let you that the gameboy’s classic sound hasn’t been lost. The thing I really like about this track was the bass, especially towards the final minute of the tune. It’s extremely jazzy and goes incredibly well with the drums as well as the punchy, rhythmic lead. You can essentially create an entire song using that sequence.

Giddy comes right after AJIWAI and is led by some real cool & strange leads, packed with so much punch, you could damn well down RYU (perhaps not haha, but it’s still pretty awesome). It then opens up for some fantastic piano keys. I also really enjoyed the echo that comes off from this sequence, as it really lends itself to the rhythm and helps add further sounds over the top.

MEISOU is a cool tune which starts off with some real wet and drowned out keys Its then slowly pushed along by the bass and beat, reaching a crescendo at 1.40 and then building on it further. I really love all the different sequences through MEISOU, especially the bridge which features a nicely delayed melody which compliments the overall song brilliantly.

The final song which is my favourite off the album, is SUIKA WARI and is completely different in its sound, using both major and minor music in the mix. It really shows that you don’t need to have a set structure to follow when it comes down to music. I also really love the progressive turns it makes through out (for example, as said before switching from major to minor) but its primarily the huge turn a real funky tune at 2.40, which will definitely get you dancing to it.

Cheapshot’s Nano is a fantastic album and really shows how much Nanoloop has come along from its days a sequencer for the gameboy. A lot of people generally use LSDJ for the gameboy, however its seems Nanoloop has really made traction when it comes to the GBA, with artists like Henry Homesweet & Cheapshot really showing what it can do. It makes really want to go out and finally start experimenting with Nanoloop.


2A0X – Ambush EP

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2A0X is other alias of Henry Homesweet, who pursuing different styles & forms of chiptune music, whilst using various eclectic instruments. If you haven’t heard of Henry Homesweet (most people have), he is a popular artist from the United Kingdom, specialising in house & techno chiptune. His last released EP, Luke’s Atari, was the critically acclaimed and a big favourite of mine. To catch up, here’s a little taster of Henry’s music through a music set:

Getting back to 2A0X, his latest release reviewed is called, Ambush EP, and is full of experimental, bright & archaic jams, over drums of a Roland TRT-808. Right off the bat this is completely different from Henry’s definitive sound, with a lot more distorted vibes layered over each other to create an eclectic beat.
Ambush is the first song on the track list and lifts this EP off to an amazing start, with its leads playing with a staccato style, whilst the drums subtlety come out underneath. The bass is very quiet throughout the song, giving its bright and & punchy style. Ambush is a welcome change from the usual bassy electronic style that comes from chiptune, and sets the tone nicely for the EP.
The next song is a remix of Ambush from Dion Blaster (a reference to the snowboarder from 1080 for the 64), is a fantastic remix to include on the EP. It does everything what Henry does extremely well in Ambush, but includes some fantastic distorted beats, samples and brilliant hollowed, squared leads. It’s structured very nicely, playing more powerful leads till the end. This is has to be my favourite remix, and will be for a long time!
$4020 is a hugely experimental track is features some real distorted sounds under a bright & rhythmic lead. I love the drums through out the track as they really work with the leads, and remind me of some those old school 90s beats you get, such as Technotronic’s, Pump up the Jam.
The final song, pAPU takes experimentation further by adding some funky beats along with some real static and distorted pitch shift (with wah included). This feels as the most experimental song out of the entire EP, due to the so many different unique sounds going into the song. 
Its nice to hear Henry taking his music style even further but under a different name. Luke’s Atari was only released last year, but I’m already starved for a new release. However after hearing Ambush EP, its obviously his next material will be really raising the bar in the future of chiptune.
Ambush & Ambush (Dion Blaster’s Remix)

Zabutom – Redux34

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Zabutom is an artist who resides in Gothburg, Sweden with his main styles based around electro, vgm and progressive music, taking his roots from the swedish demoscene. Not tied down a single instrument, Zabutom uses a variety of different things, ranging from the iconic game boys, to more technical, musical instruments, such as FM Synths.

Redux34 is Zabutom’s latest release from a long line of material. Whilst getting into this, the progressive genre had been a love of mine for a long time, so it was extremely easy for me to enjoy this right off the bat.

Zabutom kicks it off with a great introduction to the album, Initiate (very well named as well). It’s a nice progressive building of gameboy made sounds. It would be interesting to see whether he used a wide range of gameboys, or were they recorded sounds and structured in ableton? The one thing that stands out for is the intricate use of drums through the song, as they are extremely varied and complex through the use of the WAV channel and NOISE channel alone.

After the starting off with the longest song, we’re treated to Jasmin White, which features some cool old school FM Synths, along with game boys used as leads and guitar. This is the progressive genre at its core.  The creation of song really gives that whole ‘Music Jam’ feel, something you generally associate with rock music.

Noor is more of a focus on FM Synths, with their use put towards as the main leads of the song. Zabutom still uses the gameboys to their full potential, focusing more the drums and using the TR – 727 Kit and the BELL sample (a sound you don’t hear too often on the gameboy), quite regularly.

Escape is probably one of the most technical songs off Redux34. This is down to the most of damn thing played 3/4! An incredible feat, especially seeing as LSDJ’s default signature is in 4/4. I’m interested to know Zabutom actually did this. Aside from the progressive genre, this really reminds me of math rock, as every melody is layered upon each other, with both the guitar and chiptune weaving in and out.

One last fantastic song, is what the album is named after, Redux34. It opens up with a fantastic arpeggio scaling down until going for a walk, up and down the scale. You’re then hit a huge blast of the bassiest lead on the album! During Redux34, I felt a lot of the arps and leads played seemed to had been inspired by traditional Gaelic music, as its featured in much of its scales. Its not prevalent at first but by the end, they start to turn this song into a real folky tune!

By the end Zabutom’s Redux34 feels like a ode to all things related to progressive music. It’s compositions are intricate, with every lead and line is well thought out (especially some of the drums in Initiate & the frantic melodies in Redux34). However it also feels quite accessible to other people not too familiar with the genre.

Pick Tracks:
Initiate & Redux34

For Astronauts And Satellites – Then, By The Light Of Our Own Creation

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I’ve been deeply invested in For Astronauts and Satellites. I became fan ever since listening to their first self titled album, which everybody needs listen to. Since then they have quickly began to make waves through the chiptune scene, and now have released their 2nd album through label powerhouse, Cheapbeats.

Then, By The Light Of Our Own Creation is a conceptual album based, around themes of apocalyptica, invasion, and the bane of technology. With their 2nd album, F.A.A.S are sticking with their tried and tested post-rock formula, however this time around, they have focused a little bit more the progginess of their music.

The album first opens up with, When the Ocean Rose Up, which plays as a simple but layered piece, building up until its crescendo of distorted fuzz of guitar and commodore64. You can also tell that time has been spent on the drums. This factor is heard throughout the album.

Point All Your Weapons Up At The Sky, starts off with a nice jam of guitars and chiptune, playing rhythmically against one another, before bringing some atmospheric drumming under the hum of the commodores and game boys.

To Fight Monsters is a very proggy piece, beginning fast at the start but then having a huge breakdown, with the drums quietly adding percussion in the background. It also doesn’t seem to have a structure like the songs prior, making it stand out in the album.

Both We Created Monsters & Lost in Smoke are songs that wander throughout, however the latter focuses more on guitar, with the chiptune taking a back seat for atmosphere.

The final song, Dust Settles, Titan Stands with F.A.A.S’s longest song to date, and by the far the most progressive song off the album. It’s an interesting and thought provoking, and gives the impression that our own creations could be our downfall. You can also find a nice uplifting finish at the end something I couldn’t find throughout the album.

In the end I feel so much thought and heart goes into this F.A.A.S album. They’ve learnt so much, so quickly, and have made 3 albums within the space of a year. A remarkable feat! In the future I’d like to see more progression and maybe more upbeat songs into the mix, perhaps to shake things up. These are only a couple of things I’d like to see, happen to what is already a stellar band.

Buy the album on Cheapbeats