Sandachi sound system – SI

We’re looking at another release from an artist based in Japan. ‘SI’ by ‘SunamachiSoundSystem’ (砂町サウンドシステム) is a new album, released on record label, ‘Estra‘. Instead of using the most typical chiptune hardware, ‘SI’ was made using an old machine called, ‘The Elektron Monomachine’, which utilises various different bit hardware, such as the ‘SID chip’ (commonly found in the C64) and ‘FM synth.’ Both minimalistic but flowing with style, ‘SI’ feels like an exciting journey through space, with the variety of fat and thick melodies rolling off each track.

A good example of all this can be found in my favourite track off the album, ‘Respond to Bhagawarn’ (バガヴァーンこたえる). It begins very simple, starting off with a very tight set of drums. This is in return is complimented with some fat, warm keys that shimmer and shine. New instruments are then brought to the table, such as the lowly squarewave that echoes out whilst an arpeggio rolls forth. With all this together the songs almost feels as if we’re happily floating in space, looking down at earth and trying to spot any life occurring.

‘Respond to Bhagawarn’ is a lovely track to listen to, as it feels almost euphoric, with each tone and sound ringing out, whilst the laid back beat just plods along. It is also a great example what Sunamachi Sound System’s style is using the Mono Machine, and what else lies in on the album ‘SI’.

Other tracks to listen to: ‘夏 (Summer)’ God’s Patience

 Sandachi Sound System 

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Kosmic Tantra – Tribal Rock

Hello, how are you all doing today? This week I’ll be reviewing a very interesting album called, ‘Tribal Rock’ by, ‘Kosmic Tantra’ and it’s an incredible selection of tracks to say the least. To give you context,  ‘Kosmic Tantra’ are a french 3 person electronic rock band, consisting of a variety of different unique instruments; from the staple gameboy running LSDJ, to the more abstract, Didgeridoo and Accordion. Yes, you heard that right; throughout the entire run time of the album you’ll be hearing  amazing ‘Eastern outback instruments’ whilst chiptune & electronic music are used as the backbone of each track. A first for the genre, I think!

We begin with the title track, ‘Tribal Rock’ and it immediately opens up with the ‘Akai Rhythm Wolf’ drum machine blasting out with its analogue sound. Whilst the drums fill the background, all kinds of sounds are played, from ‘nanoloop 2’ used as the synth and percussion, to what I suspect is the Pocket Operator 12 drum machine being used as the fills. As we go further through ‘Tribal Rock’, more instruments are added such as the staple guitar, laying down some rocky licks and giving the song the flavour it needs. We then have the more abstract instruments center forward, like the Jaw Harp, a metal Lamellephone used throughout history amongst asian and western cultures. Let’s not forget the didgeridoo either, as this provides provides the heavy bass in some parts, like the bridge whilst the guitar plays melodies.

Just reading off all instruments I’ve listed here, you wouldn’t think that ‘Tribal Rock’ would work actually work as a track, but like most original & unique songs, it proves us wrong and then some! Each instrument serves a different purpose and has been mixed well as to avoid any clashes, allowing them to come through crisp as well as being distinctively easy to point out.

From ‘Tribal Rock’, we move on to the next track, ‘Purple River’, a song which ups the ante of the psychedelic genre. It begins with the synth of Nanoloop playing whilst LSDJ percussion is playing in the background. This is then broken up by the hard didgeridoo, which acts as both the bass and the hook. Finally to top it off, the guitar and drums come in, with the guitar playing a wild screaming hook, the sound created with a Digitech Whammy Pedal. This essentially increases the pitch of the sound by various increments of an octave, allowing for a higher, more thrilling sound. I really love ‘Purple River’ and how it manages to weave all the sounds just like the former track, ‘Tribal Rock’. However, unlike the former track, ‘Purple River’ goes miles ahead in it’s energy & structure. ‘Tribal Rock is a great tune, however ‘Purple River’ creates more of an impact with its face melting guitar riff, which is extremely high in energy.

The final track I’m highlighting, is the third song, ‘Why So’. Whilst it’s very similar to the other tracks reviewed, ‘Why So’ focuses more on using the Akai MPC 1000, a vintage sound sampler. We start off hearing the sampler smash out some spacey sounds whilst effects from the MPC trickle out. Like ‘Purple River’, ‘Why So’ manages to build up a lot of energy, utilizing particular instruments to their full potential. It also feels very philosophical thanks not to just the echo-y sounds, but also the sampled english words, ‘Why’ and ‘So’, giving a sort spiritual feel to the whole song.

It was fun listening Kosmic Tantra’s ‘Tribal Rock’, and the fact that they went to the extra mile to utilize old hardware & wind instruments, it makes the album that much more unique and appealing. However it’s that more shocking to find out that I’m the only supporter of the release! If you enjoyed any of these songs, please give ‘Tribal Rock’ the support it needs. It’s albums like this further experiment with chiptune that need to be noticed.

 ~ Kosmic Tantra ~ 
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Original Article on Chiptunes = win

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Inabano Gakudan – ピクセルワールド (Pixel World) EP

This week I’m taking a break from my stock of nanoloop albums to review something that I believe has gone under people’s radars. ‘ピクセルワールド EP’ or more known as, ‘Pixel World EP’ is by a 5 piece Japanese electronic band, known as ‘Inabano Gakudan’. Inabano’s music is a mixture of both hyperpop and chiptune, with the genres crossing over with each other consistently. They use a various amount of extensive equipment, ranging from Synth Keyboards (Poly & Monophonic) and a rhythm machine, to a laptop sequencer and electronic drums. ‘Pixel World EP’ is Inabano’s first album released onto bandcamp and already you can tell that their style is incredibly strong, with software such as, the Hatsune Miku vocaloid being used to it’s full advantage.

To get a good sense of what this album is like check out my pick track, ‘Kaamos’ which is the opening song off the EP. It starts with the ‘Hatsune Miku vocaloid’ singing a lovely introduction. The usage of the ‘Hatsune Miku vocaloid’ really stuck with me, as it’s only one of the few times I’ve heard one being the used in such a promising way. Whilst I can’t understand the lyrics, the tune and structure are superb and go into the main hook fantastically, closely following the build up into the crescendo. Moving onto the main hook, it’s really reminiscent of music like ‘Seapunk’, calling back to music from the likes of, ‘Whitely‘ and ‘Unicorn Kid‘. The beat is both tasty and bouncy, with the bass fluctuating around the the melody in a strong fashion. Let’s not forget ‘Hatsune Miku’, happily singing whilst this the music is going on, scattering the vocals towards the end of bars. ‘Kaamos’ is a fantastic song to listen to when you just want to feel happy about yourself. It also gave me the push to get round to making a happy Japanese music playlist, due to listening to it so much.

‘Pixel World EP’ was a nice album to review instead of the usual chiptune stuff I have in circulation, and it’s made me realise I need to be a bit more diverse in the world of chipmusic when reviewing.

Other tracks to listen to: ‘ピクセルワール’ ‘Waterfall’

 Inabano Gakudan 

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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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 Sharkpeople Records 
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