Stores have begun their Halloween sales, kids are back in school, and the end of summer has truly passed. Chiptunes mourn the passing season with a nostalgia driven compilation known as Summertunes.
Chiptune netlabel ubiktune (ubiktune.org) celebrates both their tenth release as well as the end of summer with their new compilation Summertunes (download free at ubiktune.org/release/010/). The album is a collection of amazing chiptune artists paying tribute to lost summers with some incredible renditions of upbeat and nostalgia infused songs. We have the somber opening of Marine, which leads into a jazzy upbeat look back on summers past. The fast paced Malmen in Space by Xaimus, which creates a lot of child like fun and action. Shnabubala also brings a more intimidating feel with Pastorale Scenes, a track that straddles back and forth between simple nostalgia and uncomfortable memories. Quite possibly my favorite track on the album though, is Coda’s Beach in the Sky which is equal parts relaxing beach town and bright sidescrolling adventure. Of course this is just a small sample of the variety of music on here. There plenty of other amazing tracks all with their own tones, qualities, and summery feel to them.
For those who enjoyed spending summer vacations outside playing in the sun and water just as much as spending entire summer days inside trying to reach the end of Chrono Trigger or Sonic the Hedgehog, this album is definitely for you.
Full tracklisting is as follows.
01. C-jeff & Random – Marine (5:17)
02. Vincenzo – Summer Thing (2:43)
03. Xaimus – Malmen in Space (2:52)
04. Temp Sound Solutions – Ocean City Arcades (3:15)
05. Coda – Beach in The Sky (2:32)
06. Shnabubula – Pastorale Scenes (2:10)
07. Yerzmyey – AY is Not A Doorbell (2:48)
08. Blitz Lunar – Super Soaker (2:07)
09. Malmen – Unbelievable Lips (2:30)
10. MmcM – Summer is Always With Me (4:17)
11. Rico Zerone – Empty Beach (1:57)
Fine readers of The Start Screen might recall that I wrote about Pause a bit back. Well I bring them up once again because the Pause Netlabel (iimusic.net) has given me my first introduction to the amazing C-Jeff (c-jeff.untergrund.net), a chiptune artist from Russia. He has just released a three song EP that spans a globe trotting 30 minutes entitled Electric (which you can download free at iimusic.net/catalog/2009/08/c-jeff-electric). In only three songs this album seems to span an endlessly changing sea of genres, styles, emotions, and ideas. From soaring jazz compositions to cavernous crunching riffs, all the tunes have so much emphasis as if pain staking thought went into each note written in every track. This might be because of the inspiration of this album, which may just put the music into a little more perspective. This is C-jeff’s own small explanation about what the album is about.
The plot of Electric is the life of one man – from his naïve childhood, through happiness and darkness to the final light of heaven. This album is dedicated to memory of my father, Oleg Zhemkov, the great rock-musician whom I lost in spring of 2008. I miss you.
With that in mind, it’s very easy to see this album as a sort of biography for a lost loved one. Each piece of work can conjure up a specific mood, and even specific feelings and memories.
The EP is broken down into three parts by track. Electric Part 1 is a jazzy opening number. It kicks off with an ominous low key feel, but the pace picks up and spirals out into the atmosphere, finally landing with a lot of crunch This leads right into Part 2, which has a faster pace. The song wears itself down into an industrious and upbeat vibe until it gets caught in a wave of tense deep tones. The air is tense and quick in the final build up of the song. This leads to a dark siren like ending to the track.
Finally we end up at the final piece of this amazing album, the epic rock composition Part 3. The track starts off dark, as if in a dank sewer, but quickly shifts gear once the guitar work comes in. This sets up the track to create incredible mountains and valleys in the arrangement. The album closes with a simple fade out, which leaves the final riff repeating in your head even after the track ends.
Brilliant chiptunes meld with incredible guitar work to create an aural treat over these three tracks, and will definitely leave no one disappointed. The album creates upbeat catchy highs as well as depressing somber lows in the arrangements. This album, along with the recently released Kind of Bloop (which you should check out, but I will write about soon hopefully) continue to forge a path that shows that chiptunes are far from simple blips and chirps, but instead are diverse, emotional, and versatile. Be sure to download this album from Pause and experience the incredible compositions that this album has in store!
Do you remember that dream you had, where the sound chips from the beloved games consoles of your youth all got together and formed a Weezer tribute band? Yeah? No? OK. That dream is about to come true whether you had it or not.
Nerds! Yeah yeah, we know we are. Well Nerdapalooza is a concert based in Orlando, Florida that embraces and proudly displays that nerdery for two straight days.
Some bands write songs about video games, some bands reinterpret the music from video games, and still other bands show their love of video games by simply cranking the NES to 11 and rocking out. I Fight Dragons resides in that final category.
I Fight Dragons (ifightdragons.com) is a relatively new band in the VG inspired music scene, but the infancy of the group should be no indicator on their prowess as musicians. The group has been working hard to gain a lot of ground in such a short amount off time. They have released their first EP Cool is Just a Number, as well as several amazing singles such as a remix/remake of Imogen Heap song The Process, and a fun rendition of the Zelda theme live from a recent concert. They have been doing plenty of shows around their hometown of Chicago as well and even getting local play on the radio stations there.
The group formed about half a year ago out of a love of video games, chiptunes, and just plain rocking. The band is comprised of Brian Mazzaferri, Mike Mentzer, Hari Rao, Laura Grene, Dave Midell, and Bill Prokopow. Most of the group rocks their own instruments, plus random modified video game consoles and controllers. This includes NES Zappers, the Power Glove, an NES Advantage, Rock Band controllers and more. As you can imagine, their live show is certainly something to see.
Their debut EP, Cool is Just a Number, is the best indication of their style, which they describe as NESRock. The album goes from an intro of propping in an NES game to several extremely catchy and rocking songs, to a slow and soft closing song all in a handful of tracks. Their debut album is available free for a limited time from their website as well for those interested in hearing the full album. It is definitely one not worth missing! The band will also be playing this summer at Nerdapalooza (nerdapalooza.blogspot.com), so that may be a great chance to see their amazing live set!
For now I will leave you with the new music video for their song Money from the Cool is Just a Number EP.
There is a band that broke up just about two years ago this month. Chromelodeon is that band, and even to this day their impact on video game rock and chiptune musicians and fans is still felt. Because of the anniversary of this band’s departure from the world, I feel it is my duty to highlight their last album, The Final Recordings.
The album opens with the upbeat Polygon Sun. The song is a great introduction to the Chromelodeon sound, and is a fun synthy trip through any variation of a video game world. This song leads to Higgeldy Piggeldy, a track that kicks off heavy and drum driven but leads into more soaring sounds and come back down to some mesmerizing guitar work. Wackadelly is the third track, and dives into it’s gentler tones right away and has more of that high in the sky feel that all the tracks seem to have in common.
G.A.H. kicks off the second half of the album with some great drum work, and some synths that would fit perfectly into the cave area of any classic 16-bit RPG. It builds to a pitch that makes you feel like you’ve reached that dungeons final boss battle. It then abruptly fades out into Aluminum. It starts with a spacey theme that will remind you of soothing views of galaxies and distant planets. It doesn’t stay that way for long though, as the full song kicks in. With the sweeping guitars you suddenly fill as if you are blasting off among those same planets and stars. This song builds and dives into the closer. Triangular is the final song on this amazing bands final album. It surely does not disappoint. Also the longest track on the album, it kicks off with a lot of energy which is maintained throughout the song, while the guitar and chiptune sounds are free to experiment and play over the track. At about a minute from the end the track slows as instruments fade off coming to an amazingly somber end to the album.
Did you just say you don’t hear enough folk songs about video games? What? No? Well maybe it is just because you haven’t heard the band Elfonso then. Elfonso is a folk band from the UK who sing songs exclusively about video games. An odd mixture of ideas to be sure, but you can’t deny their catchy music and interesting approach to VG inspired music. Read on to check out their music video for the Zelda inspired song Retirement From Hyrule.