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herr_professor on 03/22/2011 at 10:00AM

From Russia With Arps

As we all recover from our post SXSW hangovers, we are getting back to basics. Today's chip music release is Ugol Padeniyaby from the russian artist 2NRO8OT.

This ep from Archive.org is an excellent example of smooth but palatable Game Boy dance-ability.  Play it while you try to find a semblance of a normal life again.

Until next time, keep it easy!

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herr_professor on 03/15/2011 at 09:48AM

Chip Parties at SXSW!

If you happen to be in Austin for SXSW, you probably aren't surpised that there are a numbr of chip music acts in town. What may surpise you is that one of the biggest shows is happening tonight! Datapop features a number of world traveling chip stars, some of who we have featured in this handy mixtape for sxsw performances:

Party Time! Hexellent has compiled a full list of the week's showcases, but also keep an eye out for live busking performances before they are broken up by the APD. Safe travels chipfans, and see you back here in seven!

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herr_professor on 03/08/2011 at 10:26AM

Rolemusic and the Role of Visuals

Live

It may be less well know than it's musical counterpoint, but the role of game and 8bit computer derived visual elements have become an essential element of both the live and recorded chip music expereince. Pixel Artists and Motion Visualists like NO CARRIER, The C-men, Enso, and Sander Von Focus are jsut some of the dozens of impressive artists who along with chip musicians are able to recreate and transcend the classic multimedia experience of an 8bit game and present it for modern audiences. Yesterday on Enough Records we saw a release from Rolemusic named Straw Fields. The album, a 5-song EP of baroque 8bit tracks from the ZX Spectrum also features cover artwork from Spain's Raquel Meyers. Her artwork and motion graphics embrace glitchy minimalism with blocky monsters and barfy color schemes, and combined with the appropriate music it becomes a transcendent experience. Staring at the cover art while listening to Rolemusic medieval tunes is a good start, but also take a look at her video page and join us here in seven for some previews of chip music at SXSW.

As a side note, I hope you will support WFMU's Pledge Drive, especially DJ friends of the chip scene, Talk Cheap, Sound and Safe, Busy Doing Nothing, and so many more! Mas Love Wfmu!

Rolemusic - "Poppies" (02:23)
Rolemusic - "Poppies" (02:23)
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herr_professor on 03/01/2011 at 10:13AM

One Cheap Chippie from Cheapshot

Cheapshot (right) with gaming Hip Tanaka.

Today's a fast one, with an upload from the recent 8bitpeoples release from Cheapshot, "zOMG!".

It's five tracks of Game Boy Dubstep goodness, a must-hear if you enjoyed Kupa on the FMA. You can also enjoy Cheapshot's exploration with other chip music platforms over on his Soundcloud. Happy Dubbin and see ya in seven!

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herr_professor on 02/22/2011 at 08:54AM

It's like X at a Y

It's like Zelda at a.. err.. pond. Happy 25th birthday btw!

Chipmusic has begun to grow older in internet years, as thousands more people become acquainted with it day by day through retro styled games, live shows, sarcastic youtube videos, and as chipmusic's reach grows, one begins to find that patterns and cliches haved crept into the vernacular about the scene. Perhaps the laziest, and most pervasive cliche is that of the "mario at a rave" idiom. The subject of hundreds of googles, and dozens of lazy college journalism flybys (I have to admit to making a joke one myself),the term itself is usually a key sign the article is heading south quickly.

If you can look at it in a THIS ISN'T YOUR PARENTS VIDEO GAME MUSIC, it can pretty funny but it can also be pretty dangerous in that it threatens to simplify an entire medium into one cranky half-joke. With this in mind, I was initially wary of the compilation from the readers over at Chipmusic.org called "Mario in an Elevator", and that was based soley on the title. Well dear readers, I was wrong.

Ostensibly a Chiptune Muzak comp, in a lot of ways it gives voice to the growing backlash within the community towards the high profile Blip Festival level histronics, and is a great example of chilled out and mellower takes on the medium. Faves in particular include tracks from scene veterans 8bitweapon and The J. Arthur Keenes Band perhaps the only criticism one could give it is in the packaging, with weak album art and a hasty release on Archive, and the fact that its way too short!

Do yourself a favor, and check out some choice selections, download the rest, and see you guys in seven for more of this stuff, at a rave. Maybe.

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herr_professor on 02/15/2011 at 10:55AM

Freaky Modulations

The YM2612, aka OPN2, is a six-channel sound chip developed by Yamaha. It was most notably used in the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis game console and Fujitsu's FM Towns computer series. As the YM3438, it was used by Sega in various arcade game systems, including the Mega-Play, System 18, and System 32. This is taken from the wikipedia, as you can see the chip is plainly kicking it.

A niche within a niche, FM synthesis has played a huge part in game music, especially those machines that came from japan. Most of these machines were powered by Yamaha sound chips, similar in architecture to the DX-7 synthesizer which ruled the music world in the 80's (Think electric piano ballads and the bassline from Technotronic songs). The main appeal of this chip to developers is the advanced synthesis capabilties versus regular sound chips like Nintendo's 2a03 or even the C64's SID chip.

With power came a price, however, as these sounds were very hard to design. Since the majority of popular music used FM presets for their sounds, the public quickly grew fatigued of these sounds and their use in game consoles waned in favor of sample synthesis. During its golden age, however, FM game sound tracks were arguably the top of their genre and the best soundtracks from games like the Streets of Rage Series and the Sonic series have had a huge influence on the modern FM composers of the onlne Community Soundshock. To this end, they have put together a compilation of the best artists in their commmunity, appropriately titled FM FUNK MADDNESS.

18 tracks reveal a scene that at times is both traditionalist and visionary. Sample some of my favorite tracks below, then give the rest of the compilation a listen, and check us back here in seven for more chip music favorites.

 

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herr_professor on 02/08/2011 at 10:05AM

The Munitionettes Load Up

Regular readers of this column may get the impression that I am at a crossroads. Like many of you, I hunger for new and exciting sounds and as the chip music scene grows, my expectation is that the types of artists styles and songs will similarly grow. Of course, in a scene this young, such expectations may be too much, but ever now and then I find a group that renews my faith in the excitement and viability of the scene. Trawling through the Internet Archive, I found the recently released debut EP from Milwaukee Game Boy Rock duo, The Munitionettes, entitled Fast Jurassic.

I guess you can call them a fourth generation chip rock band, listing influences such as Starscream and Death from Above 1979, but the EP exudes a pure rock sweat and swagger that belies their inexperienced recordings with impressive instrumentation and song writing chops. I will always be drawn to the sounds of square waves and distorted guitars, but even with that pro-rck bias this is one of my favorite chip music EP's I have heard in a while, and I am sure you will think so too. Check out a sampler of of their tracks below, and catch you here again in seven!

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herr_professor on 02/01/2011 at 05:00AM

Cracking the code

Here is a quick chip break, featuring the multidimensional chiptunage of Seattle's Truckasaurus. The band combines the Game Boy along with drums and other synth gear for a mellow electro groove that belies their wacky internet personna. It is always intersting to see how electronic performers maintain a level of live enegery with portions or the totaility of their performances seqeunced, so check out their track live on KEXP below, or their rad perfromance at Bumbershoot 2009 in the video above for evidence of live done right. See ya in seven! 

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herr_professor on 01/25/2011 at 09:40AM

Take This Chip and Shove It

The road of a chip musician is tough and lonely one. People have just enough knowledge of electronic music production techniques to ask questions like "Why not use a plugin", "How did you circuit bend your Gameboy", or "You should remix the theme from Zelda, that song is ace!" All in all, there is a lot of technical and cultural baggage associated with the genre, so it is not unexpected to assume that artists will feel the need to come and go from the pressures of the scene.

A few weeks ago, Sycamore Drive uploaded his self titled EP to the FMA. The tracks are quality Game Boy instrumentals, so it was a shock to hear a few weeks later that he had decided to "quit the scene". If you are a regular of the online scene, particularly the forums you will see similar stories from time to time of lesser known acts and sometimes popular artists deciding to hang it up, and the reasons why are as varied as the artists themselves.

Sometimes they come back, for example chipbreak star Sabrepulse, who has quit (and rejoined) numerous times. The list also includes serveral artists who have "grown beyond" the chip scene, like David SugarMark DenardoCeephax Acid CrewPatric C. and more. In many ways this reminds me of the 80's american hardcore scene, where the first wave of innovators moved on to innovate their sounds in other way while the subsequent waves of fans and enthusiasts quickly codified the loose styles of the originators into a musical dogma.

Here's hoping that this does not become the case in the still young chip scene (even as it heads into its late teens). Checkout these tracks from Sycamore Drive, and see you guys in seven.

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herr_professor on 01/11/2011 at 09:00AM

free like free, as in free

Hola true bitlievers, and welcome to the TCTD release of the week 2011! Stan Lee intro now out of the way, we must delve back into the wonderful world of free chipmusic on the interwebs, and we have a gooden this week. During our hiatus there was a intersting post on the Chipflip blog (whose author Goto80 we have featured before), who brings up an intersting point about what free chipmusic means now, and what it meant in the 90's.

His point was that the origional hacker ethos of the chipscene was based on open source module exchange where the distribution method itself allows you to explode the source file in its origination software and see what samples the user created, and how the song was made. He then went on to write:

"But like Education of the Noobz says in his new release, ”open source” music has a long history as a sort of folk music. “Before professional games, before cracker intros and before demos, home computer users were peeking and poking around their machines’ memory in search for the addresses the soundchip would react to”. Flip through any computer magazine around 1980 and you will see BASIC-listings of pop-songs and classical music. They were open source by default, since they were distributed as code to be executed by the listener. Sort of like mod-files, and very much like previous hacker music as found in e.g HAKMEM and Creative Computing in the 1970s, or elsewhere in the 1960s."

Looking a little further, I found the artist he mentioned, Dragan Espenschied, had relased his newest project on the FMA over the break.

Dragan is a foudning member of the insane/hilarious/awesome folk duo Bodenständig 2000, and whose music can be found in many free music archives like MOD Archive and HVSC. The difference between those releases in the older file formats and the newer "Education" release is a degree of of real world production that you could never get in the raw files.

As a musician, I find source files interesting but perhaps the great majority of listeners simply want to hear the songs. Post what you think in the comments, and check out the release cuts below. See you guys again in seven!

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