Tekmann – Lazer Cyborg Machine EP

Here’s my first review of 2019 and it’s on Tekmann’s ‘Lazer Cyborg Machine EP’, officially released on new years day. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Tekmann’s style live back during Chip Bit Day 2018, and needless to say its something that shouldn’t be missed. Tekmann’s method towards chiptune is a curious one, but a direction that is well received by everyone. Creating all his hardware pretty much himself (including his suit), it allows Tekmann to have an amazing stage presence as well as produce fantastic music.

From this point let’s springboard into my favourite track. ‘Lazer Destroyer’ off ‘Lazer Cyborg Machine EP’ is a raunchy & raw song. Whilst ‘Lazer Destroyer’ was created on LSDJ, Tekmann pushes the song further by utilising pitch & oscillation from modded gameboy he created himself. This allows for the song to changed on the fly, giving way for unexpected results, rather than playing the same song twice.

A funky track that utilises the same sequence but with different results, ‘Lazer Destroyer’ is a brilliant song that really defines the sound Tekmann makes. If you find the chance to watch Tekmann play live, don’t pass it up!

BandcampFacebook  | Soundcloud | Twitter | Tekmann

Chip Bit Sid’s Top 10 tracks of 2018

Okay, so this took a lot longer than I thought it would. Aside from the obvious personal jargon that I had, I found myself up to my eyes in new chiptune releases towards the end of 2018. I decided to postpone the list until I reviewed as much as I could.

Outside of music I also found Facebook banning my blogger website for months pushing me jump to Tumblr (utter crap) then finally onto WordPress. Once the website was finally live I found that Facebook had conveniently unbanned my old site. THANKS ZUCKERBERG!

So here comes the question: how was 2018 for Chiptune? Honestly, towards the beginning of September I would’ve said 2018 is completely different compared to 2017. We had Pain Perdu’s new album, 2xaa’s first proper nanoloop release, not to mention a new Chibi-tech EP. However I can safely say 2018 managed to quickly build up momentum towards the end, with sweet releases from Dollfin, Bitshifter, Boaconstructor and Shortee (all of them made it to the list).

10. Kaamos – Inabano Gakudan

I reviewed this way back in June and it was a breath of fresh air from Japan. ‘Kaamos’ by ‘Inabano Gakudan’ is chiptune & synthpop blended fantastically with vocaloid, ‘Hastu Miku’ to give the perfect song for the summer. I particularly loved ‘Kaamos’ mainly because of its bounciness which brings vibes of beach parties and the seaside.

Inabano Gakudan
Bandcamp Twitter | Website | Soundcloud

9. Hooked – Dollfin

At number 9 we have, ‘Hooked’ by ‘Dollfin’. As always Dollfin takes LSDJ and fuses all thing sea & trap whilst giving such a bite from the Gameboy’s soundchip. What’s different with ‘Hooked’ however is strong ferociousness coming its style, the intro especially which is incredibly wet but also aggressive. Hooked’s melodies are also on point and sharp, relying mainly on the sawooth wave as its weapon of choice.

BandcampFacebook  | Soundcloud | Instagram 

8. Vanilla Dome 1 – Glooms

The first of many Nanoloop tracks on this top 10 list, Vanilla Dome 1 by ‘Glooms’ is an absolute chilled banger. Containing some very intricate sound mixing whilst floating over the drums of an Electribe, Vanilla Dome 1 constantly shifts and changes with the motions. Just one listen of Vanilla Dome 1 really chills you out, as the vibes created almost feel like ice melting inside a cold drink.

Soundcloud | Bandcamp Release
Bandcamp Twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud

7. Rainier Dub – Boaconstructor

The second Nanoloop release to break into the top 10 list and it’s ‘Rainier Dub’ by ‘Boaconstructor’. Being an artist already well skilled using NL2, I was aware of what ‘Boaconstructor’ was capable of; or at least I thought I was. ‘Rainier Dub’ starts off slowly, feeling almost like the beginning of a rainy day. But as soon as it gets past the 0.50 second mark, ‘Rainier Dub’ erupts into a storm of epic proportions. Thick and bassy, ‘Rainier Dub’ is one of the heaviest songs of this list, possibly all lists!

Bandcamp | twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud
Bandcamp | Twitter | Soundcloud | Facebook

6. Geothermal – Classic Mistake

Next up is ‘Geothermal’ by ‘Classic Mistake’. This was one of the first songs of 2018 that instantly clicked with me and first release of the Nanoloop surge. Created solely using NL2, ‘Classic Mistake’ proceeds to build ‘Geothermal’ in a natural way, changing the tone & LFO on the fly. Overflowing with warmth from its dazzling FM synth chords, ‘Geothermal’ is one of my favourite Nanoloop tracks which has had me even remixing it live.

Classic Mistake
Soundcloud | Bandcamp Release | Facebook
Cheap Beats
Bandcamp Twitter | Facebook

5. The Butterfly – Bit Shifter

This was a surprise for me, as previous Bit Shifter releases had been completely different. Well over a decade since releasing his last album, much of it was met with a warm welcome. One song in particular ‘The Butterfly’ was a highlight for me. Heavy and hard-hitting right from the start, ‘The Butterfly’ shows us how create to killer DnB track without relying technical tricks. ‘The Butterfly’ also doesn’t rely on much sampling either, using the WAV channel for bass & melody and NOISE for snares & hi-hats. The Butterfly is a great track and a good to see one of the OG’s showing us how chiptune is actually done.

Bit Shifter
BandcampFacebook  | Twitter | Website 

4. Guten Morgen – Shortee

Another late surprise for me, so much so that I just didn’t have the time to review it, instead I’ll be saving it for ‘ChipWIN’ article later. An interesting mash up that works fantastically ‘Lost’ by ‘Shortee’ is both innovative and inspirational. This is mainly down to Shortee’s approach to chiptune, using LSDJ whilst scratching vinyl on a turntable. Whilst almost every track on ‘Lost’ is unique and inventive, this evermore true on, ‘Guten Morgen’. Throughout its runtime, ‘Shortee’ really gives it his all, putting all his energy into scratching the shit out vinyl, as heavy bass and drums are pumped out through LSDJ. For me ‘Guten Morgen’ was an outstanding song, and ultimately reminiscent for heavy hip-hop tracks such as, DJ-Shadow’s ‘Walkie Talkie’.

BandcampFacebook  | Twitter | Soundcloud 

3. Monotony – No Comply Til You Die, High Speed Hill Bomb, Spongebob @ A Rave

This release came out back December 2017, however due the new rule I implemented last year (allowing releases from December) I decided to allow it. Monotony’s ‘Eternal Slumber Party’ is the last nanoloop release off the list but is one of my favourites and for good measure. Like 2xAA’s album, ‘Flow’, ‘Eternal Slumber Party’ is one huge mix, albeit with added samples from FL Studio.

What separates it from the rest of releases however, is the amount of fantastic sounds, melodies and drums. One such a sequence of tracks are the last three songs, ‘No Comply Til You Die, High Speed Hill Bomb and Spongebob @ A Rave’. Together they all last about 9 minutes long, but throughout my listen there’s never a dull moment going on. The energy is always rolling up until you get to the final track, ‘Spongebob @ a Rave’ when it hits one ultimate crescendo. The bass that comes from this is harrowing and fills every crevice of the room. Words cannot describe this so please listen to this how mix in its entirety.

Note:Unfortunately in order to allow you to listen best part of the album, I had to link the mix Monotony generously donated to the Chip Bit Day compilation. Please check out his album here

Facebook | Soundcloud | Bandcamp | Twitter

2. Hello – Harleylikesmusic

Back on the top 10 list yet again is chiptune’s no.1 boy, ‘HarleyLikesMusic’. His latest release ‘Steel City Zone’, was a four track EP specifically created around the style of Sheffield’s underground music scene. This was a lot more different than his last two releases, in that his style was more reformed with the sounds being controlled to a better degree. This is best heard in the first track off ‘Steel City Zone’, ‘Hello’ which is structured beautifully and sounds pitch perfect.

It starts off with a humorous intro; dial tones of phones, the internet and finally the voice of someone calling up Harley himself. Me and my Wife always have a giggle whenever this plays; it’s a great testament to Harley’s funny sense of humour. It is then after this we move onto the hook of the song. This kicks ‘Hello’ into an overdrive which both melodic and bassy at the same time. It is so heart thumping that you’ll instantly starting humming along. Once this is over we finally reach the crux of ‘Hello’, the outro. This truly turns up the heat of the song as the drop is heart wrenching, with the bass and kicks thrashing as we reach the end. The big testament to EPs, ‘Hello’ shows how focussing on just a few songs really sharpens your skills on creating a superb style.

Bandcamp | twitter | Facebook | Soundcloud | Website | Youtube
Bandcamp | Twitter | Soundcloud | Facebook

1. A Vision of Light – Villainest

Now we finally get to the last song of the list. It’s been two years since ‘Villainest’ released their last chiptune album, ‘A Good Day To Try Hard’, and it was superb album. One of its songs, ‘The Machine’ even made 2016’s list. However, ‘AGDTRH’ is minuscule compared to the behemoth album ‘A Vision of Light’. Everything recorded to perfection and every song is a dream to listen to. I loved listening this album time and time again, however the pinnacle of the album for me is the title track, ‘A Vision of Light.’

This song is one of those rare occurrences where chiptune supersedes itself and becomes something entirely. Much of Trey Freys music did that. For me ‘A Vision of Light’ takes the 16bit sound of the sega genesis, adding in guitar, keytar, vocals and drums, then turning it into something straight out of the 80s. It drips of nostalgia, the melodies and chord sequences sounding like they’ve come straight out of a 80s glam rock band. The passion from the vocals full of heart and soul. ‘A Vision of Light’ isn’t just a great song. It’s a song that completes what is already an amazing album.

BandcampFacebook | Twitter | Soundcloud 

So that’s 2018! As you can see Nanoloop took a huge space on the list for 2018 and it’s something I hope to see again in 2019. We also saw the return of a very old chiptune artist with such a great album that it gives Harley a run for his money. Makes me what we’ll see for 2019?

So far we’ve had a stellar EP from tekmann that I’m yet to review and a brand new funky album from DBOYD! And let’s not forget about Chip Bit Day 19 which I plan on making just as unique as ever. Here’s to 2019 in chiptune!

Dollfin – TRILL0BYTE

‘TRIL0BYTE’ by Dollfin, was a nice surprise for me over the December period as for the past year I’ve been listening to his first self-titled album consistently. For some context Dollfin is an LSDJ based artist who fuses chiptune with trap and dance, all wrapped up in a seapunk-style. Furthermore Dollfin’s music is amplified by his fantastic approach towards some inventive sound-design. A lot of the sounds are modelled on the sea and the life that lives there. Because of this there is a unique sense of style that Dollfin brings to chiptune, something that is incredibly rare to see among artists.

‘TRIL0BYTE’ is Dollfin’s 2nd release under his moniker and contains a lot of the iconic sounds heard from the 1st release. Not much has hugely changed from Dollfin’s style. The only difference I can hear is that Dollfin has put more variation in ‘Tril0btye’. For me the 1st one could be at times a bit repetitive. Ultimately, Dollfin has focussed more on what the first album great.

This is evermore true with, ‘Hooked’ and right out of the gate it is an absolute party banger. Immediately starting with a wet ‘hook’ (pun not intended), ‘Hooked’ starts off incredibly strong and captures you in its claws. This is furthermore amplified through the pulse, which runs up the pitch whilst building up tension. The sawtooth bass is especially effective as it seems to really growl with such ferociousness. If you want to something as a nice warm up into ‘Tril0byte’, definitely start off with ‘Hooked’.

BandcampFacebook  | Soundcloud | Instagram 

They/Them – Quid, Quare

We’ve finally gotten to the end of 2018, but still people seem to release unique and exciting Nanoloop releases. ‘Quid, Quare’ is the 1st release by Australian musician, ‘They/Them’. Whilst most Nanoloop releases tend to be centered around genres such as, dance & dubstep, ‘Quid, Quare’ however is unique and seems to be a different beast entirely.

We begin with the first track, ‘Salus’. It is minimal but quite dancey, floating through its run time with ease. Right from the get go, you realise that ‘They/Them’ loosely follows the house genre with ‘Salus’, utilising the same melody, but weaving through bass lines whilst gradually changing the structure. This becomes apparent through the rest of ‘Quid,Quare’. One more thing that I particularly enjoy from ‘Salus’, is They/Them’s seamless merging from track to track. This is something that you consecutively hear throughout the ‘Quid, Quare’ and results in the whole premise acting like a journey.

On the flip side, ‘Quid,Quare’, we can definitely hear ‘They/Them’ trying be experimental as much as possible. This can be heard on the track, ‘Tempus I’ which is incredibly minimalistic but at the same time creates so much sound through all 4 channels. ‘Tempus I’ also feels rather harrowing, especially towards the middle of the track, as the synth starts to build momentum. Once it reaches its crescendo it turns into a scary experience, mainly due to the LFO being kicked into overdrive.

‘Quid, Quare’ is a listening experience to say the least and They/Them’s style honestly is the most interesting method I’ve heard using Nanoloop.

BandcampFacebook  | Soundcloud