havocCc – _Lo_Tech

Continuing on from the Nanoloop Hype train, we have an absolute minimalist album from German artist, ‘havocCc.’ ‘havocCc’ is known across much of Europe for his exclusive talent in using Nanoloop 2.0 to create live minimalist chiphouse beats! I’d already seen ‘havocCc’ play in London way back during the last ‘Hyperwave’ by ‘Shirobon’, and his method really interested me. However it wasn’t until the Chip Bit Day Pre Party in manchester when ‘havocCc’ played, he really made his mark. The sound, structure, ferocity and method to creation, went all above and beyond expectations. So much so that one speakers had to call it quits temporarily, as it had overheated from the constant bass! :O

‘_Lo_Tech’ is havocCc’s first nanoloop release since touring for the last two years across europe, working on composing music on the fly. Through all this experimentation, havocCc has managed to record each song off ‘_Lo_Tech’ in one take. This is one incredible feat.

Anyway, let’s take a listen to the first track, ‘_Lo_Tech #1’. Prior to the album release, I was already aware ‘_Lo_Tech #1’, as it was featured on the ‘Chip Bit Day Compilation Album’. It begins very minimalistic, with the synth slowly opening up. Whilst that one sound doesn’t immediately show where havocCc is going, new harsher tones are brought into the mix and built upon. The song gradually expands when sound of a gong signals the turn in style a sudden addition of the kick. This knocks the jam in gear, causing havocCc get’s to work the next stage. Whilst the track is almost 10 minutes long, a lot is still going on, with various different changes throughout, there’s always something being changed or altered.

Although I really dug ‘_Lo_Tech #1’ I must confess due to the long running time of each track, I found it quite hard to listen to each track fully to make a balanced opinion. I can appreciate the sheer amount of effort that went into each song, but I feel that gets lost when a song is almost 10 minutes. For the next album, I would reduce the amount of tracks to instead 4, or reduce the time of the tracks to about 7 minutes. That said, it’s a great effort which shows how accomplished havocCc has become.

I look forward to what he comes up with next!

 ~ havocCc ~ 

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Glooms – Vanilla Dome

After handling the behemoth known as Chip Bit Day, it feels great to get back into doing some reviews. After racking a collection of chiptune albums, it definitely seems like Nanoloop is topping the list for 2018, with certain release such as, Monotony’s ‘Eternal Slumber’ Party & Classic Mistake’s ‘Geothermal’. Next on my list is ‘Vanilla Dome’ by ‘Glooms’ and released with, ‘Datafruits’.

Started a few years ago in Seattle USA, ‘Glooms is a project by Tanner Hughes, spanning over a variety different machines, from Nanoloop to Electribes & Ableton. ‘Vanilla Dome’ focuses more on the combination of Nanoloop & Drum Machine.

We begin with the opening track off the album, ‘Vanilla Dome 1’ which kicks out vibes like a chilled sunday morning in bed. Starting out with shimmering arpeggio scattering itself, it’s soon built upon by the rolling sound of eclectic drum beats that are complimentary towards the chilled out nature, like rocks to a scotch. Seriously though, the drums pop beautifully, with instruments such as the kick giving off just a tight, high toned click. Check out ‘1:09’ for a good example off what I’m talking about. Outside of the percussion, the melodies are also sublime too, weaving about perfectly with each other. Filter & delay effects are further added in for good measure, providing an extra layer for the dynamics of ‘Vanilla Dome 1 ‘ but giving the extra kick that the song needed.

Whilst ‘Vanilla Dome 1’ is more an upbeat chilled tune to melt to, the opposite can be said for my next pick track, ‘Lifestyles of The PNW’, which comes across feeling more like an exorcism of house music. This is down to the several hooks, such as, ‘The chanting keys’, which ring out like a choir of gouls in unison. This sound is used for much of Glooms’ music and particularly effective; here’s some context to why. To the listener, all this sounds very uncanny and strange. This is because ‘Glooms’ has de-tuned much of the sound as well as using odd matching notes, making them sound slightly out of key. The method in turn makes the listener cringe a bit because of the unfamiliarity of the sound. It’s mainly down to this why ‘Lifestyles of The PNW’ is a stand out track for many on ‘Vanilla Dome’ album. One other thing that contributes to the signature sound, is the constant use of delay on each and every channel, whilst using dynamics on the speakers to make everything flow around the listener. It’s particular effective practice when trying to push ghastly themes.

Glooms’ ‘Vanilla Dome’ was an interesting listen, namely down to Glooms being one of the few artists who takes advantage of Nanoloop’s syncing capabilities. I’ve only seen a couple artists do this (2xAA & Cheapshot to name a few). Admittingly Nanoloop 2.0 can be quite limited sometimes in it’s form whilst compared to LSDJ, however there are a few points make the software far stronger than the latter, with the easiness to sync up play being a big win for me. With releases like ‘Vanilla Dome’, Nanoloop is definitely shaping up to be chiptune synth of 2018.

 ~ Glooms ~ 

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Portopak – Bull Inside The Echo Chamber

It’s been a while since I reviewed a Portopak album, but here we are! The last time he was featured was two years during the first start of the ‘Chip Bit Sid’ blog. If you haven’t heard his music, Portopak’s music style is a combination between chiptune & shoegaze music, using a lot of echo on his guitar as well as his voice. For this review I’m looking at his latest single, ‘Bull in the Echo Chamber’. For ‘Portopak’ it’s the first song that’s actually included vocals & lyrics.

The song begins with ‘pulse wave’ arpeggio, running up and down, before going fully fledged into guitar, bass & drums. Whilst the bass & drums are handled by the gameboy, the guitar is fully live, its bright tone masked by wet delay & echo, the sound resonating throughout. This goes on until both the melody & guitar stops, with the bass and percussion going on. At 0.40 Portopak’s vocals kick in and are covered in delay & reverb as like the ‘guitar’. The meaning of the lyrics, the feeling that today’s generation are undoing everything that people have worked hard to build, really struck a chord with me, as I’m going under the same thing at the moment. ‘Bull in an echo chamber’ was a great progression from Portopak’s general style of music, and the inclusion of vocals adds another nuanced level to the song.

As well as ‘Bull in the echo chamber’, there’s another track included in the EP, ‘The unfriendly dreamer’, an instrumental song. Whilst this song doesn’t include any vocals, its music is much more fleshed. The melody is much stronger, the guitar, padded out with so many little different effects, the bass thick and fat, and the drums; recorded so well that they come fantastically crisp. Some of the melody is also coupled with guitar, providing an added emphasis on the sound ‘Portopak’ is trying to achieve. It’s something you don’t usually hear in the chiptune and an intreresting coupling, rather than the traditional pulse & wave being put together. ‘The unfriendly dreamer’ is a nice finisher for the EP to end with and the progressive structure between the guitar & chipmusic, beautifully balanced.

‘Bull in the echo chamber’ was a nice short EP to review and it was a welcoming to listen to Portopak again, after so long since the last review. ‘Bull in an echo chamber is available to buy to as a cassette’. Check it out in the link: https://portopak.bandcamp.com/track/bull-inside-the-echo-chamber

 ~ Portopak ~ 

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Continue reading “Portopak – Bull Inside The Echo Chamber”

Classic Mistake – Geothermal

Seeing as I’ve been reviewing a lot of the albums I missed out on last year, let’s instead look at an album in 2018. ‘Classic Mistake’ is a an artist I’ve only recently come across, beginning with a cover of 0F Digital’s, ‘Mesh’ and featured in ‘The Great Australian Barbecue Bash’ compilation. What I liked about ‘Classic Mistake’ is that he almost exclusively uses ‘Nanoloop 2.0’, creating some fantastic hooks which are reminiscent to early techno. ‘Geothermal’ is Classic Mistake’s first album released under ‘Cheapbeats’.

We begin with Classic Mistake’s opening signature track, ‘Geothermal’ and starts very strong, featuring eclectic beats complete with tantalising a snare & cymbal combination. The drums are complimented with some colourful group of keys & bass, that shimmer and shine as the track continues forward. Both the percussion and keys are Classic Mistake’s strong points, feeling creative and effective. A good example of this in ‘Geothermal’ is during the build up at around the 1:00 mark. It features a fantastic, tight fill of the drums as the keys slowly build up in volume until hitting the crescendo. It really gives off the that late 80s / early 90s techno vibe and continues throughout the track. ‘Geothermal’ is a smooth, tight track that uses strong foundations and builds upon perfectly.

Whilst ‘Geothermal’ is more about building around the piano keys, my next pick, ‘Loose Unit’ focuses upon tight bass lines that slightly remind me of New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’. However, unlike Blue Monday’s funky attitude, ‘Loose Unit’ is more darker in its tone and nature. Its main hook -the bass line- feels more heavier than anything else off the track listing, yet the minimalistic tone makes ‘Loose Unit’ the most catchiest tracks off the album. Again Classic Mistake’s drums are on point, tight as the hell, complimenting the minimalism of ‘Loose Unit’ but sizzling on it’s own as well, through unique instruments such as, its cymbals and rides.

‘Geothermal’ was a great listen for a new chiptune album of 2018 and I loved Classic Mistake’s tight style using Nanoloop 2.0, so much so that I ended buying the CD version of the album (it’s constantly on rotation in my stereo). It’s similar to 2xAA’s however, ‘Classic Mistake’ relies on using the piano, along a mixture of major and minor melodies. ‘Geothermal’ was a great introduction to ‘Classic Mistake’, and after seeing his venture into ‘Nanoloop Mono’, I’m looking towards his future material!

 ~ Classic Mistake ~ 

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