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

Chip Bit Sid presents: A few Days at Superbyte!

Superbyte has gone from strength to strength within the space of a few years and has put Manchester on the Chiptune map. Superbyte began back in 2012 as a one day chiptune & retro gaming event, but has gone on to being a FOUR DAY extravaganza, bringing in huge chiptune artists from all over the world. Essentially Superbyte is the UK’s single biggest chiptune event. That’s huge points over London!

Before I start this review, I have made a video round up which can be found at the bottom.

Superbyte kicked itself off with the Warm up open stage on Thursday evening at Fab Cafe, Manchester. Initially the artists were, Auracle, HARLEYLIKESMUSIC, x Critical Strike x, Circuit Bird, Gasman, I am legendary Robot, HIA, KeFF, Nihilarc, SIX128 and Mykah. However some spots opened up and it brought forth other chiptuners with some fantastic sounds from the likes of Sky Pope, J3WEL, CFGK and Joe Bleeps!

It was a fantastic start to the Superbyte Festival, one which was only going to get better.

Next day was started off with a busking at Piccadilly Gardens, a chilled out beginning to Friday. This really got Superbyte in the spot light for some of the folk who had never heard of it. Onlookers gaped and gawked at what was happening. Some idiots jeered as they walked, but no one let it get to them. Even I did a spot of music, playing my first ever live set to everyone around!

Fast forward a few hours later and Superbyte is just getting started at Zoo Club. It began with the fantastic set from the lovely .Mpegasus, which featured his most recent songs as well as remix. This was followed up For Astronauts And Satelites playing a superb live set, using age old commodores, guitars and crisp drumming. FAAS were one band I was really looking forward and you’ll see my review of their latest album soon.
From on we saw Galaxy Wolf, who blew everyone away with probably the bassiest set I’d seen in Superbyte, by just using two consoles against each other. He was seriously electric, showing off some real energy and getting everyone dancing too. RoccoW did the same thing, but took one step further by taking off his shirt!!!
Henry Homesweet and JDDJ3J came on with their new super duo project, CYMBA, which brought forth some real GBA chiptune house. It was real smooth and layered what really made it was the visual effects from VJ Entter, as had the Pope putting his hands up for the beats. Things got proper cool!

Superbyte had already gotten vastly more awesome than 2014, but the real icing on the cake was Mega Ran, but this time bringing a guest called, Storyville. Mega Ran had been last year to Superbyte, 2015 showed that he’d definitely progressed further, pushing his new material from his latest Album. The live pairing with Storyville also was pretty cool, bringing something new to his already ultra cool live set.

After the estastic set from Mega Ran, Superbyte began to wind down, with brilliant sets from the likes of Monodeer, IAYD and finally a DJ set from Oliotronix.
Day 2 began with some educational lessons on how to play chipmusic from Ctrix, Joebleeps and Danimal Cannon, as well as lessons on how to play visuals with, Bitrituals and 2xAA.
The first artist to begin the 2nd day of chiptune, was the crazy King Wine showing off their chops, using bass, a gameboy and friggin’ ukulele! Trinity Lofi then came on to show off some melodic noodling, with Mr spastic coming on to compliment the rest very nicely!
However all exploded into action, Sweden’s Rymdkraft, showing off some real bouncy beats as well as playing a remix of Kyary Pamyu’s – PONPONPON. That was some definitely some real, serious, ‘off the wall’ shit right there.

(Here’s a link if you don’t what song, I’m talking about – here’s the link).

Jokes aside, it really got people dancing and in the mood for jumping up onto the the stage and going crazy which is what me and Mizkai did! 

Once Rymdkraft came off it was time for Infotoxin. This was hugely different in contrast to Rymdkraft’s set, being dark and very house (though still progressive in its own right).

Kenobit continued that style with some dark covers of metal songs such as Slayer and Metallica. It was pretty sweet as it got the majority to start a freakin’ mosh pit!

Ultrasyd provided some mind melting music in the form of the demoscene using some old school consoles. His set was pretty much one of the most stand out ones, however I’m pretty sure one of my ears died from the amount of bass coming out of the speakers (oh well)! But his set was awesome and was a great lead to up Danimal Cannon, someone who a lot of people had been waiting for.

Danimal was a great change from the hard hitting chip dub we’d been hearing, as he noodled around with an Ibanez Guitar, finger tapping without a care for the world. I especially loved the cheeky showmanship he had with his guitar (the guitar machine gun was fucking brilliant)!

Finally the live set I’d been waiting for since I fell in love with his music, the legendary Ctrix. I’d been a fan of the guys music since listening to A is for Amiga and wanted to be front row when it kicked off. Let’s just say expectations lined up with reality. Ctrix totally nailed it with his ‘SNES VS MEGADRIVE’ console war, playing some snes tunes whilst retorting with some tunes from megadrive. Both had some distinct unique sounds and it went down brilliantly. To wind the night down, Henry Homesweet placed his famous Essential chiptune DJ mix.

Superbyte 2015 completely blew my mind this year and though 2014 was epic, I think its safe to say that this year seriously beat it out right. There’s also a very personal atmosphere with superbyte, in which the artists feel more like friends than celebrities. I like this, as it gives them the option to hang out with everyone and talk about they enjoy. I met so many awesome people those past few days, you can tell chiptune is such a friendly scene with Superbyte is right at the centre of it.
Lastly, I’ve created a video which sums up all Superbyte through footage I took throughout my few days there. Enjoy!
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Prom Nightmare – Tamagotchi Dreams

Superbyte is only a week away, so instead of writing about my hyped anticipation I thought I’d talk about another new album!

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Tamagotchi Dreams is the first album from Prom Nightmare, a London based chiptune artist. To make the music Prom Nightmare uses (cited from Twitter) ‘a ketchup coloured gameboy, a mustard coloured gameboy and a slate coloured analogue synth.’ All of this is then mixed together to give some rather fat and melodic chiptune goodness.

Right of the first track, (sub)Space Jam, Prom Nightmare shows that even though its the first EP, they know their stuff when it comes to LSDJ. The bassy, fat kicks seem to really shake and hit hard, with the song hyping up as an intro into what is, a cool album.

Getting into the meat of the EP, Prom Nightmare always keeps on track in style and composition. There’s Alex Kidd which features a beautiful build up and heart felt leads, almost sounding like a love note to chiptune. And then there’s Like, Yeah, Totally! which has some nice bouncy beats, wet arps and Q filtered leads.

There are some parts of songs that I feel should’ve been cut down such as in, Knife Fight Pool Party, which was the longest song on the EP. Some parts of songs also had a fair bit of repetition, but isn’t a bad thing, as it is a first album and a bloody good one!

The final song -nicely titled, Love Fades – Pizza is forever, is a build up of different synths weaving within each other, but with no real composition in mind (it almost reminds me of jamming). It sounds like a nice send off, especially towards the end, with the great fuzzy bass at the end getting louder and louder until the crescendo of Nintendo’s famous coin sound signifies an end.

Prom Nightmare’s Tamagotchi Dreams is a great introduction to his music and a good first start to the chiptune genre. I’d like hear more in the future and perhaps with more variety.