Roboctopus – ‘Your Heart is a Pie Chart’

It’s a real scorcher up in Manchester, so what better than to review ‘Your Heart Is A Pie Chart’ (released via CheapBeats) by long time chip musician, ‘Roboctopus’. Residing in Maddison, USA, ‘Roboctopus’ has been making chipmusic for well over 5 years now, establishing himself a following as one of the greats in chiptune. Primarily focused using gameboys to make his music, ‘Roboctopus’ has been pushing the sound chip to the max, thinking up new ways on how to convey sounds, whilst keeping it all melodic.

It has been three years since ‘Roboctopus’ released his previous album, aptly named, ‘Jelly’, so this latest release has been highly anticipated; and let me tell you, it doesn’t fail to deliver.

A lot of ‘YHIAPC’s’ tracks are quintessentially unique, however one track which particularly caught my ear was, ‘Slow Motion Sunset’. Although the Roboctopus’ titled track (Your Heart Is A Pie Chart) was a good song to begin with, I felt this one really captured what it set out to do. Every instrument rings out to produce a perfect & mesmerising sound, that both hooks & chills you out. The beginning particularly is a stand out part for me, as the bright & melodic sounds feel incredibly uplifting, as well as being a great fit for a sunny drive in the car (true story). However this is further worked on at ‘3:12’ where ‘Roboctopus’ introduces a very wet & stacato-esque square-wave. That riff solely makes you feel as if you’ve just plunged into a swimming pool!

Finally to give the track one huge send off, Roboctopus changes it up with a new chord progression as well as, a slow but catchy lead that drums in the notion that ‘Slow Motion Sunset’ has a lot of heart!

‘Slow Motion Sunset’ is a great melodic track to show Roboctopus’s charm, however there’s one track which really shows his real talent, and that has to be ‘Waste LAN’.

How every bit of this song has been created is anyone’s guess, but I can tell you that the majority of it is done through LSDJ’s manipulation of the WAV channel. Two gameboy’s are also utilised together to allow for more sample mixing.

The introduction itself, is sublime. The jazzy vaporwave keys softly floating, whilst another snappy sample (a guitar) is used over the top, complete with an arpeggiated pulsewave. However, ‘Waste LAN’ truly gets into the mix of things at ‘0:49’ when both samples of the WAV’s are hacked rhythmically with such music precision. It creates a soul inspiring soundscape rarely seen in chiptune, but also becomes something entirely different outside the genre too. It was definitely a welcomed track for the middle of June.

‘Your Heart Is A Pie Chart’ is a fantastic album from ‘Roboctopus’, which shows off both his charm & knowledge in music. However what makes this album even more complete is being released in the middle of summer. The amount of feels I had driving in 28 degree heat the other day was crazy.

 ~ Roboctopus ~ 

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Chrome Cobra – Mobile Swarming

For a while this album has been on my to do list but I never got round to it, until recently when I decided to sit down and listen; this album is called, Chrome Cobra’s ‘Mobile Swarming’. ‘Chrome Cobra’ is fairly new onto the scene, but has quickly been getting popular from playing live at events, 8static, Pulsewave until finally releasing ‘Mobile Swarming’ with Planet Zaxxon. ‘Mobile Swarming’ is a 5 track album, full of funky fresh melodies, killer breaks & mega beats, all created within one gameboy on LSDJ. A good example off what I said prior on ‘Mobile Swarming’ can be heard in the 2nd track ‘Stolen Protocol’.

It shows off a nice blend of ‘Chrome Cobra’s’ choice of breaks, but also contains impressive attention to the rhythm through the track, melding well with the drums. I found myself getting hooked easily to each part of ‘Stolen Protocol’, particularly one bit at ’01:44′, a simple yet hugely effective bassy lead. It seemed to flow beautifully whilst the beat & claps pitter pattered around. However that said, there were many other different parts of ‘Stolen Protocol’ that were just as effective & I liked; hell, even now as I get towards the end, I’m caught in the it’s insane rhythm of ‘Stolen Protocol’.

‘Stolen Protocol’ was a well written dark dance track, yet on the other side of the coin, we have the fresh & funky song, ‘Mocktail’.

This track comes straight after ‘Stolen Protocol’ and further brings the freshness of chiptune through the heavy use of, melodic bass as well as wonderfully spat out arpeggios. Now, I don’t tend to like apreggios in chiptune at the best of times, but Chrome Cobra has nailed them all perfectly, using the technique to almost mimic side chaining. Another thing I noticed, when ‘Stolen Protocol’ was over, a lot of energy that it brought was left in the lurch. ‘Mocktail’ manages to pick the energy up however, giving a further kick up the arse and the beat more of a swing. Chrome Cobra’s melodies & leads also give a helping hand further on during ‘Mocktail’, by pushing the track heavily onwards and harmonising fantastically.

‘Mobile Swarming’ is a great album which easily shows you how to a chiptune album using just gameboy, packed with LSDJ. His approach to chiptune reminds me of Auracles music style; both are different, however they each just use one gameboy to its full potential.

 ~ Chrome Cobra ~ 

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Paladin Shield – Storms At Night

This week it’s time to go back into the American West Coast Chiptune scene, with ‘Paladin Shield’ releasing another album called, ‘Storms At Night.’ If you haven’t heard of Paladin Shield, they are a 3 piece band from Los Angeles, California. The band consists of ‘Tib Van Dyke Jr’ on drums, ‘Lindsay Baffo’ on Guitar/Vox, and finally ‘Jesse Avila’ on Bass, Vox & 8bit Programming. Their first release, self titled as, ‘Paladin Shield’ was met with much praise, and re-released it as, ‘Road To Alchemy’ with extra material & a cassette release via ‘Data Airlines’.

‘Storms At Night’ opens up with the self titled track of the same name. The song starts off quickly, with raw & jagged gameboy programmed riff. It kicks ‘Storms at Night’ with a huge punch, whilst an epic fill of drums is supplied by Tib. Jesse’s voice then comes into fruition, echoing over the guitar, drums & gameboy. One of the things I’ve always loved about ‘Paladin Shield’, is Jesse and his singing skills. It seems to really invoke bands of both old & new, from ‘The Stone Roses’, with Ian Brown’s sombre tone, to the delay filled voice of Adam Kessler, from ‘The Drums’. However that’s not all! With every song, (‘Storms At Night’ especially) you can tell the band members play mega tight together, even when each person has to keep up with the music of a gameboy. 

‘Storms At Night’ is a good, song, however I wouldn’t say it’s the best one of the album. That award goes down to the 2nd track, ‘Timberskin.’ When compared to ‘Storms At Night’, I feel the music & vocals in ‘Timberskin’ are far more powerful, both in their energy & tone. ‘Timberskin’, is a lot slower, so it allows each instrument to be heard more easily, as well as leaving much more room for the gameboy programming to make an impact. As well as that, the gameboy leads are also very catchy and I found myself humming along with the music. Finally there’s much of a difference in Vocals of ‘Timberskin’, with the strength of it being found in the melody. It allows for much emotion to come through in Jesse’s singing, especially in chorus, in which he blasts out the words with such raw energy.
‘Storms At Night’ is a fantastic high powered EP to show off what ‘Paladin Shield’ have been getting up to since ‘Road to Alchemy’ was re-released last year. I feel they’re trying to be a little more progressive in song writing & gameboy programming as you never really know where the leads or vocals are going. I would say however their album, ‘Road To Alchemy’ was a lot stronger in terms of song structure, but with their signature style already secure they shouldn’t be worried with future albums.

 Paladin Shield 

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Goto80 – 80864

goto80-80864

This week I’m sharing an article I did a few months back for ‘Chiptunes=win’ (you can find the original article here) on ‘GOTO80’s latest album, ‘80864’. This is also a great time to check out his music, as GOTO80 will be playing ‘Space Cassette‘ in Manchester June 2nd, Friday. Check it out below:
https://tickets.partyforthepeople.org/events/3018-space-cassette

These past couple of weeks I’ve been listening to GOTO80’s latest album, ‘80864’, released via ‘DATA AIRLINES’. This was the first release from GOTO80 that I have listened to. Honestly, I never really got into his distorted, glitchy style of music, however with ‘80864’, GOTO80 brought the iconic ‘Roland 808 drum machine’ into the mix, so I thought I definitely should pick this up and give it a listen.

For those who don’t know what the 808 drum machine is, it was one of the first and most popular programmable drum sequencers, released in the early 1980s. The reason why it is popular was down to mainly how incredibly realistic Roland managed to get the 808 to sound like actual drums. Nothing was sampled, everything was done through analog. The 808 was also the first of its kind to allow you to create your patterns actively.

808-drum

Due to it’s popularity, the 808’s unique style has been frequently used in music such as, ‘Marvin Gaye’s  Sexual Healing’ and it’s sounds have become a major staple in today’s electronic music.

Getting back to ‘80864’, the first track to really prick my ears up was the 3rd track, ‘Videohaters’. This was mainly due to its sharp and distorted sound, which hooks you almost instantly. Both GOTO80’s signature Commodore 64 and the 808 compliment each other fantastically. The sharp tones of the c64 scream out aggressively, whilst the the 808’s clicks, clavs and claps build up the driving force behind the raunchy sound. GOTO80 also uses the repetition of the track to his advantage, through a variety of variations of the main hook. ‘Videohaters’ is one of the most driving songs off ‘80864’, but due to its repetition & and fantastic blending of music, it comes off as one of the catchiest.

Even though ‘Videohaters’ is unforgettable, the next track following on is even better. ‘Karix’ is the complete opposite to ‘Videohaters’, being rather chilled out and relaxing. It begins with just the simple, mellow sound of the c64 synth and the 808 kick, slowly being built up through layers of drumming. The 808 sounds in ‘Karix’ also come out more strongly over the spacey synth of the c64, allowing you to hear the signature of the kit more clearly. There’s not much variation in terms of the overall structure, but that’s because GOTO80 relies on the impact that the ‘Karix’ creates, giving the track a huge euphoric feeling.

Although there are a lot of unique sounding tracks on 80864, there are still some tracks which are very easy to get into. My last pick, ‘Duplexor’ can be put into this category. This is due to GOTO80’s use of the vocalised synth through ‘Duplexor’, as it’s incredibly rhythmic and the choice of lyrics are rather funny & idiosyncratic. The snappy bass also compliments the vocalised synth, following it very tightly, as the voice goes into its main hook/chorus. As for the 808, it blends into the background of the track. You don’t really hear the distinct sound, due to number of different layers of synth built up by the c64. That’s not to say ‘Duplexor’ is a bad song, far from it. It’s the most unique and funky tune of ‘80864’, and really keeps you glued to listening, from it’s cooly crafted vocalised synth to it’s c64 claps.

80864 is a great introduction into GOTO80’s glitchy music, as well as hearing that iconic sound from the 808 drum machine, with both styles coming together rather excellently. House music is generally not really my thing, but GOTO80 has managed to make album that is both experimental and accessible.

 ~GOTO80~ 
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 ~Data Airlines~ 
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