Windows彡96 – Plume Valley

Here’s something that’s quite outside my usual means of music. Whilst not staple gameboy chiptune, the essence of the Snes is captured perfectly in soundfonts & midi, along with every aspect of chill & vaporwave. Windows彡96 is an experimental vaporwave artist from Sao Paulo and relentlessly makes electronic music whilst keeping it sounding fresh. I’ve been following Windows彡96 for a little while now, ever since I found some of their music on Business Casual. However, it’s because of their dabbling into the chiptune genre they got my attention, namely through the album, ‘Plume Valley’.

Getting straight into the review, the opening track, ‘Yujia Forest’, sums the entire style for what’s to come in ‘Plume Valley’; Soulful, Chilled out, Minimalistic but full of passion & wonder. It begins fantastically through the use of bright & tinny sounding drums, using some light delay, whilst whimsical keys are played underneath. That’s when the staple horns of vaporwave are played, but not as to rely on them too much (they are in the track for about 20 seconds. The minimalistic style is more focused upon, and is one that ‘Windows彡96’ achieves, building upon sounds & instruments strengths throughout. The only thing absent from the ‘Yujia Forest’ is the bass, which is used very sparing. This allows the song to flow freely, not allow a beat to form that would disrupt the mood.

Although ‘Yujia Forest’ was a great opening, The third track, ‘Kylin Forest’ is a more prominent, albeit only just a little. ‘Kylin Forest’ is different namely in Windows彡96’s creative use of drums, using a mixture of bright, hard snares & toms, as well as one electronic snare thrown in for good measure. The drums don’t just stop there though; ‘Windows彡96’ rolls out some killer fills as well, almost sounding like they’ve come straight out Phil Collins song, ‘In The Air Tonight’. Apart from the percussion, ‘Kylin Forest’ is also much more melodic in its leads & tune, utilising a variety of different instruments, from Peruvian Flutes to wet clavs. All in all, ‘Kylin Forest’ is an uplifting & spiritual song that out does ‘Yujia Forest’ in very aspect.

I found Plume Valley very enlightening and great addition to my bandcamp collection & probably one of the most chilled albums I have to date. Although I came across ‘Plume Valley’ by chance, it will be one of my go-to albums for my holiday to Japan next week!

 ~ Windows彡96 ~ 

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Chibi-Tech – The Mutual Promise

I’ve been sitting on this EP for a while now, and whilst it’s only a couple of tracks, it’s definitely one EP that has picked up my fancy this year. Chibi-Tech’s ‘The Mutual Promise’, is an album which has been long in the works; she rarely releases much but whenever Chibi-Tech does, it’s very good.

As with much of her music, ‘The Mutual Promise’ is sequenced on Famitracker, the music tracker that emulates the whole sound of the NES/Famicom, as well as the extra sound chip, the ‘Konami VRC6’. Although the signature sound of the NES is generally associated with that of ‘Mario’, a lot of chip musicians really programme hard into it, with artists such as, ‘Please Lose Battle’ & much of the US chip-rock opting to ultilise the sound of the console.

Getting straight into the review, you’ll instantly recognise that this album is really hardcore in terms of style and substance. It’s evident Chipi-Tech takes much of her inspiration from genres like Dub-step & hardcore drum and bass.

‘Tense Max Beam’ is a good example of this, where the main hook hits you hard, with the lead breakdowning with such brutal force. You’ll find yourself immediately getting hooked and tangled in the beat as it rides tightly along with the high pitched squeal. Her arpeggios too find their place in the song, acting as the crux of rhythm (besides the drums) for the melody. The arps also work perfectly as Chibi-Tech builds up the tension each time the songs comes up to a drop. After a good listen, ‘Tense Max Beam’ is a fantastic to start with and really manages to hook you in, through both it’s lead, heart pumping drops & killer breaks.

Whilst ‘Tense Max Beam’ is a thumping song to get you in the mood, on the other side of the coin we have ‘Neuromageddon’, an extreme track based on fast & heavy drum and bass starting with a slow buildup.

Instead of there being a melody to follow like ‘Tense Max Beam’, ‘Neuromageddon’ has heavy breakbeats, which ferociously come out at you, along with the aggressive snapping of the snares. As well as that, there’s one raunchy and lead, which serves as the hook to play along with the breaks. It almost feels as if it is it’s own voice, something I’ve heard chibi-tech do prior in her tracks. All of this together, combined with some of the most distorted & scary samples I’ve heard in a while, ‘Neuromageddon’ becomes one solid & hard hitting track.

Chibi-Tech’s ‘The Mutual Promise’ is such a great EP, with both tracks great contenders for being the best chip tracks of 2017. However I really wish a couple more tracks were included, as both ‘Tense Max Beam & Neuromageddon’ are hyped tracks that keep you wanting more.

 ~ Chibi-Tech ~ 

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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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