Monday, 10 March 2014

TWG013| V/A - Anti-Chiptune Chiptune

At TWG, we've always pushed the odd, the weird, and the emotionally robust. In celebration of the more esoteric corners of the chiptune stratosphere we've compiled 19 tracks from some of chiptune's most notable and talented purveyors of "what?" to showcase what can be done when the term chiptune is examined. From scene veterans as prolific as Alex Mauer and inpuj's ilkae, to newer blood like Nappes and TWG staples like Guardia and Vegas Diamond. We've got the final ever Fauxhound track, +Let's Disinfect!+ covering Bit Shifter's 'Activation Theme' in a folk punk style, an Alex Mauer track written in 1997 and live NES Rom manipulation from DJ NORTON ANTIVIRUS. Plus a whole ton more. Some is unexplainable, some is not chiptune and some is not music, but we hope you enjoy this eclectic selection of oddities. ~~~~Thank you for listening to the ACCSS' message~~~~

GRAB THE RELEASE FREE HERE

Tracklist:
01. Kubbi- Synergy
02. Vegas Diamond- King
03. Nappes- Polar
04. Alex Mauer- Superball
05. Gab Pearson- alcaline pizza (Remix)
06. sandneil- death trebuchet
07. wailord- farming hand
08. AndaruGO- NEVER LOG OUT/////NEVER SURRENDER
09. Fauxhound- jan{    {{  { 3
10. DJ Norton Antivirus- NES CPU Jam Special Vol, Side A (Take 1) 
11. KOOL SKULL- LIPPSTIKK
12. spaceaser- miamiflush
13. Love Through Cannibalism- Rattata's Moment
14. HunterQuinn- OKdumpster.com
15. Guardia- You Gotta Go
16. MrWimmer- golden
17. ilkae & meek- 'v';;)_--==T
18. aaceeprss- numb
19. +Let's Disinfect!+- Activation Theme (Bit Shifter Cover)


~~~Open call for members to join TWG's ACCSS [Anti-Chiptune Chiptune Secret Society]~~~
Our fight against chiptune has only begun. If you'd like to join the cause and be featured on future ACC compilations, please send a demo of an experimental track [no boundaries other than it must be at least TANGIBLY linked to chip] to thewaveformgenerators@hotmail.co.uk or andrewkilpatrick@hotmail.com. All entries must be unreleased, and you must be prepared for their full committal to the war against chiptune (we ask all tracks are to be hosted only on the TWG bandcamp for at least 3 months after compilation releases, no reposting on soundcloud without  download links yadda yadda). Thank you for your support comrade, may the blessed be with you.

          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~End Message~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday, 21 February 2014

Preview| Strong Suit - Simulation

Nanoloop can be a hard medium to write in. The very nature of its ‘looping’ can lead to lazier producers relying on it. Not to say that many do, there are plenty of examples of Nanoloop users that go above and beyond with the medium (shitbird, GLOOMS, Analog). But here, on his sophomore release ‘Simulation’ written over 6 channels on an iNano, Strong Suit falls into the trap a program based on loops can create: tedious, repetitious, simplicity.

Most of the melodies are atrocious, lacklustre placeholders that act as vehicles for beats or interesting sound design. Whenever Strong Suit finds a good melody, it’s used like a crutch, quickly stamping out all enjoyment with repetition. ‘DFW’ begins with great beats but quickly knocks the life out of itself with dull, pointless replication. ‘Pseudomoprh’ starts well, sounding like old Henry Homesweet mixes via The Prodigy, but then ruins itself with the same faults. ‘Indy’ opens by repeating terribly written, bland phrases. Some of the sound design is great, but the same dreary melody played on different instruments doesn’t class as good song writing. ‘Rhode Trip’ would have been a fantastic lounge jazz interlude if it didn’t stretch itself to the point of breaking with more repetition. Etcetera, etcetera. What this leads to is an album where its 40 minutes could easily be condensed to 10 without losing the breadth of ideas on show.

There are a few positives. The album spikes in quality near the end with the title track and ‘Wesley Pantz’ containing some great moments, from the rolling groove of the former to the trap n horn club-readiness of the latter, if only that watery ‘melodic’ staccato instrument didn’t shit on proceedings. Elsewhere ‘Rigor Mortis’ is quite good too, a modern EDM banger, though it does sound like stock-music written for promos advertising an upcoming ‘urban teen drama’.

Overall, though, this album is appalling and superfluous. Some tracks are so bad they aren’t worth detailing (‘Hootenanny’, ‘Boondoggle’). Simply, 12 tracks is far too long for something so derivative. Lifeless, bland, unoriginal and with only fleeting moments of good sound design or percussion going for it; my first Nanoloop or pure laziness? Decide for yourself I guess. 

Favourite track: Rigor Mortis
Stream or download the album here.


Thanks to Stephan Tul for proofing! 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Review| Trey Frey - Refresh

‘Refresh’ is Trey Frey’s third full-length, and the second release overall on Thebasebit Recordings, a label co-founded by Trey himself. Trey began chip in 2010, quickly came to prominence on 8bc, released an EP, two full-lengths, and played pretty much every chip festival in the US. With a reputation that colossal, a new release after so long (over two years) is a tough project to undertake. But unsurprisingly, Trey manages it, and with confidence.

Starting with the huge ‘Airglow’, with a masterful drop acting as a literal proclamation that “Trey Is Back” before swerving into fantastic, Daft Punk-esque melodies, ‘Refresh’ is a non-stop adrenaline machine. ‘Blvck Lvng’, a track co-written with Boaconstructer, manages to mix the disparate styles of its two contributors into a thrilling, twisting brute, ditching subtlety in favour of dubstep solos and towering beats. These pieces show Trey tackling changes within the scene, and it’s something seen throughout the release. Nuanced elements of modern EDM pepper tracks, in sounds and style, but they don’t mask or overtake the truly ‘chip’ feeling of the album. It’s almost like ‘Refresh’ was written in both 2006 and 2014.

‘Daisy’ thrills in other ways, a more restrained affair. As emotive as the other tracks, it serves up reeled in, fluttering subtle pleasures over the unambiguous grandiose seen elsewhere. ‘Further’ opens with a glittering sea of scales, winding up to a forceful drop where it takes on the melodies of a 90s Eurodance banger. Also, the title track ends the album brilliantly, a sprawling piece that ditches hard-hitting club drops for funk-fests, driving percussion, ingenious sound design and euphoric melodies.

It’s genuinely hard to find flaws with a piece of work so expertly crafted, the only noticeable weak points being the standardised track outros (are fades the only way Trey knows how to end a song?) and the track ‘Phantasmagoria’, which whilst containing fantastic melodies, does lose steam mid-way. Overall though, Trey has released another brilliant album here. Not afraid to write in different genres, and succeeding on every account when he does, Trey has again placed himself firmly as a master of both composition and sound engineering. Believe the hype, Trey Is Back. 

Favourite track: Further
Grab or stream the release here.

Due to its involvement on the WeeklyTreats project, I refrained from reviewing the track 'Resolve' present on this album, to remain fair. It is, however, an absolute corker. Also, another huge thanks to Stephan Tul for proofing <3

Monday, 27 January 2014

Review| Whitely - Phantasy

Seapunk seemed to spring out of nowhere sometime in 2012. For the uninitiated, the intro track of Whitely’s newest full-length, ‘Phantasy’, does a good job of summing it up; nautical thematics in sound and sub-bass-melodically-euro-pop dance in style. Often, the accusation that narrow stylistic requirements leads to copy-paste likeness is levelled at seapunk. Unfortunately, ‘Phantasy’ also does a good job at supporting these accusations.

To put it simply; ‘Phantasy’ is repetitious to the point of tears. Tracks throughout share incredibly similar song structures. Instruments are overused so much so, most of the album feels distinctly the same: a continuous watery grey. Tracks, ‘Remember Me’, ‘Coconut’ and the Zen Mantra remix take affective melodies or ideas and then drag them out until they become grating and lifeless. The problem mainly seems to be an attempt to stick religiously to seapunk aesthetics. Somewhere along the coast Whitely forgot he can write brilliant tracks and emotive melodies, as evidenced by his back catalogue.

However, when moments do work it’s often as a result of formulaic manipulation. ‘I Am Yours’ connects well, mixing seapunk with euphoric, trance-induced thrills, sounding like Avicii released a single on Coral Records. Also, album closer ‘Transcending’ is a fantastic, pounding, melancholic cruise through seapunk, mixing it with 80s electro-house via Hotline Miami’s soundtrack tones to great effect.

None of this improves the album’s overall quality though, which constitutes the lifeless and pedestrian cuts like ‘Caribbean Sunset’ and ‘Paradise Island’, the copy-paste beige of ‘Seacreatures’ and ‘Ride Those Dolphins’, and the simply forgettable and uninspiring title track. Whitely is not a bad artist, which is what made this album so very hard to stomach, but here he’s missed the mark by leagues, creating a patchwork of conventions with little emotion or creativity to be found.

Favourite track: I Am Yours

Special thanks to Stephan Tul for proofing.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Preview| MONODEER - GET HYPER

The narrative of the chiptune scene often seems built around key releases that push the limits or define trends within chip. The ‘Informations Chase’s, ‘Decades’s, ‘MoeNES’s, these hallmark releases have come to signal what is possible with chiptune. And now, ‘GET HYPER’ joins those ranks this coming Monday via Cheapbeats.

Firstly; the programming is masterful. Written on a single DMG, the sounds are tome-thick, with kicks hitting like hammers and ground-shaking bass. Secondly; this is simply the best EDM/Trap chiptune I have ever heard. ‘DAWGZ’ does trap better than the club DJs. Fuck the Boiler Room, MONODEER has this on lock, and with enough attitude to out-chill every hipkid for miles. Elsewhere, ‘4XAA’ comes straight from the dancefloors, before sliding into KODEK-esque funkery, and ‘CHK-DIZ-OUT’ brings house to the party, crossing 80s and modern tech house with that MONODEER ‘wub-of-death’.

As with earlier MONODEER, the drops here are 50-feet tall. Following powerful stomps, the drops of ‘MNMLSTNCH’ are so destructively huge it’s cathartic. Opener ‘WOOP’ builds tension expertly, slowly meandering before plummeting into violently swaggering groove, whilst ‘TRP.AM’ mixes huge build ups and unassuming drops the size of bison alongside amen breaks. The title track is phenomenal too, bringing the constantly shifting, groove-rife percussion of track ‘JUKEBOXXX’ and monumental drops and attitude of ‘GRM.EY’ with more immediate pacing and some sweat-inducing stylistic shifts.

The album is rounded off by ‘LEVELS’, sounding remarkably MONODEER circa 2011, not that the previous tracks don't, but here the old cavalcades of slow beats and swagger alongside what are as of now the most robust melodies to arrive from MONODEER’s Gameboy definitely reinstate the ‘Noise.bmp’ model. Are there any negatives to this album? Well, despite how fantastic the aforementioned ‘LEVELS’ is, along with the equally great ‘JUKEBOXXX’, they feel slightly out of place, but that doesn’t mask how good the tracks are individually.

I’d love to sit here and say “I saw the potential for this from the start” after we released MONODEER’s debut back in 2011, but that would be bullshit. This is beyond potential, bigger than ego, this is quite simply fucking ground-breaking. A few months ago I spoke about the need for a new ‘Information Chase’, a new hallmark release to define the changes in the chip scene, and it appears to have arrived in the form of ‘GET HYPER’, and with many demanding this to be the year of NES, it may be so through proxy; I’m fairly sure MONODEER just ‘won’ LSDJ.


Special thanks to Stephan Tul for proofing 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Review| Please Lose Battle - S/T EP

Hello again! So, after taking a break to finish some university work and organise WeeklyTreats, I'm finally back to writing! A bit late on this one, but it's here nonetheless, so without further procrastination: 


This month, French Famitracker Please Lose Battle has released his debut EP with old scene favourites Pterodactyl Squad. Self-confirmed as a release focusing on melody, whilst it is filled with memorable and well written motifs, the overall unfocused song writing and programming leads to a thin and oddly frustrating listen.

For every inspiring melody, there lies two that are weak. ‘This Is Not…’ tries, and valiantly so, to play constantly evolving counter-melodies off each other, but ends up sounding like a jumbled mess instead. ‘Watch Out, Sharks!’ has an opening that does no justice to what follows, taking ages to say nothing of any interest, and before it dips into Guchi styled bitpop bubblegumisms, ‘Nailed It’ is so stuck in 80s soundtrack stylings it brings all the cliché and forgettable placidness with it.  

The other problem, and the moments it excels is often when it overcomes this hurdle, is that most of the sections sound incredibly thin and frail. The drums are certainly well-written, but they’re like a foghorn in a tornado, almost completely undetectable. The bass often follows a similar pattern, being either tiresomely derivative or disappointingly weedy.

Whilst tracks are peppered with bad decisions, the good ones do shine. The bridges of ‘Nailed It’ are brilliantly written, the final sections of ‘Watch Out, Shark!’ and ‘This Is Not…’ are great, and until it becomes sickly through lack of variation, ‘Afternoon At Last’ is a brilliant example of nostalgia breaching modernity, summer days of past with matured pop punk sensibilities of now. 'Final Douchebag’ works incredibly well throughout, spitting crunchy chipmetal dripping with immediately affective melodies, a forceful drive and enough grungy menace to keep the harshites keen, but ‘Power Off…’ is clearly the album’s centrepiece. An eight minute epic, moving at first through beautiful Alex Mauer crossed with post-punk atmospheres, before arps move into, for the first time in the release, Please Lose Battle showing off genuinely awe-inspiring programming, and revealing that driving bass that had been missing all along. 

The build-up then fumbles, however, when it lands in a melody nowhere near emotive enough to carry the weight of the previous, subtle genius, highlighting what is good and bad about the release succinctly. Often on this blog I talk about the potential a release shows, and with all honesty I can say Please Lose Battle will be huge in the near future. There is no doubt. The talent is here, the drive, the knowledge and more importantly the unique character, it’s only the execution that is missing. Maybe I found it such a frustrating listen because the promised, explosive melodic perfection was always just out of reach. Anyhow, in what feels like the beginning of ‘The NES Revival’, Please Lose Battle certainly deserves a seat in the helm, just a bit more focus on composition and maybe he’ll be piloting the ship. 

Favourite track: Power Off, Still Waiting

Monday, 30 December 2013

Week #52| Trey Frey - Resolve

Finding someone to end a year so full of quality tracks was always going to be a struggle. Never shying from a challenge, it was Trey Frey whom took it on. Trey has always has a special place in the hearts of Alex and I; the very first release we ever put out in this scene was one of Trey's EPs on Pxl-Bot, so his involvement to end the year has a sentimental value to it as well. And he doesn't let his legacy down one bit either, do yourself a favour and spin it here.

And with that the year is out! We'd like to give huge thanks to all the artists involved this year (too many to name here [there were 52 of them after all]). We'd also like to give a massive shout-out to everyone who has followed the project, supported it, enquired about it or even simply listened.

It is also with a heavy heart we make our final thank you: and this thank you is directed at a Mr. Victor Arce, aka Love Through Cannibalism. Sometime near the end of 2012 Victor agreed to help us out with WeeklyTreats on the art-front, and we had no idea how crucial he'd be to our success. If it weren't for his talent, perseverance, punctuality, dedication and emotional support, this year would not have gone as well as it did, if it had 'gone' at all. We're extremely sad to say he'll be leaving the project as artist this year, but we can assure you, it won't be the last we'll be working together (ho-ho-secrecy). Thank you again our Spanish Prince, we owe you more than you could know <3 xo xo xo <3

So, other than Trey Frey's interview, that's it for 2013! But, (and as if I have to tell you), we start it ALL again this Friday, launching with a track by Ubiktune's overlord C-jeff as well as the launching of the new WeeklyTreats site! So, dry those tears and get ready for an even bigger year than this was!!!!


WT: What was your first introduction to the chiptune scene?

Trey Frey: Around 2007-08 I was starting to get into electronic music after getting bored with the hardcore/punk music I had been into at the time. A friend introduced me to a band called Slagsmalsklubben, a Swedish electronic group comprised of several members playing live synthesizers, etc. I immediately fell in love with the warm analog sound that early synths could produce. Something about simple wave forms especially struck a chord in me. Naturally I spent many hours surfing the internet looking for similar artists to listen to, and came across a YouTube video of the chip musician Maru playing on a street in Japan. (I believe it's the first video that comes up on YouTube when you search "Gameboy music").  Upon seeing this I immediately decided "this is something I have to do." I purchased LSDj and a flash cart in the winter of 2009, and 'the rest is history.'

WT: Could you talk us through your two full lengths, what inspired their creation and what went into creating them?

TF: My first full length was mainly inspired by the thought "hey I have enough songs to put on a cd now," so I did. I knew very little about audio recording at the time and it definitely shows on the record. I still do enjoy some of the songs on it though! By the time I completed my second album in 2011, I knew a bit more about LSDj but still not very much about audio recording. Also, my second album was a lot more emotionally driven than my first. I had dealt with quite a lot of mental turmoil during the time that I wrote the majority of the songs, and I look at the album as kind of a "recovery" album. Hence the title of one of the tracks: "Recover." 

Something I would like to note about my first two releases is that I am going to be releasing a remastered compilation album of my favourite songs from Trey Frey I and II soon. So be on the lookout for that in the near future

WT: You’ve gained a reputation for being a master programmer with LSDJ. Is there a certain way you approach composition or programming that you think gives you an edge over others?

TF: I can't really say that I have an advantageous approach to composition/programming, as I rarely speak about that aspect with any of my fellow LSDj users/musicians. All I know for sure is that I have put in countless hours to achieve the sound that I currently have. As with almost anything, (especially music related) time put in will yield results. 

WT: What single piece of advice would you give budding LSDJ programmers?

TF: Practice and Patience. 

WT: You’re bringing out your first full length in over two years soon. What has gone into its creation, and could you tell us more about it?

TF: The majority of 2012 was a relatively uneventful year for me in terms of creating new music. I rarely had time to write for the Trey Frey project and was exploring other music making methods, and almost decided to give up writing music with Gameboys altogether. However, this past summer I experienced a major influx of creativity and this time period is when the majority of my upcoming album's songs were written. My album "Refresh" will be released February 11th, 2014, and it is going to be released on The Base Bit Recordings music label. 

WT: You also play live often, what have been some of the more notable appearances?

TF: Last December I had the opportunity to play at Pulsewave in New York City with Bit Shifter, which was one of best experiences I have had as a chip musician. It was great to finally meet him in person and speak with someone who has been a long time inspiration to me. In the fall of this year I was invited to play the 8static Festival in Philadelphia, which was a three day long event featuring acts from all over the world. I debuted many of the new tracks from my upcoming release and was extremely well received by the crowd. I also got to meet and see Chibi-Tech play, which was incredible. (I have played in Philadelphia many times now, and I must say that the people there involved in the chip music scene are some of the best on Earth). In the summer of 2012 I played a small scale music festival boasting about 4,000+ attendees called "Big Dub Candy Mountain" which took place in rural Pennsylvania. I was the only chip music act in a fest predominated by dubstep and electro. Despite this, I was very well received and believe I turned quite a number of people onto chip music. I'm of the opinion that the majority of people already love chip, they just may not know it yet! 

WT: What set-ups do you use live?

TF: My current set up is 4 Nintendo Gameboy DMGs running into a Vestax VMC 004fx DJ mixer that I use for mixing and the occasional added effect. 

WT: What lies in the future for Trey Frey?

TF: There are a lot of awesome things coming in 2014! After my album is completed and released, I plan on working on several remixes and collaborations that I have planned out to be released as singles. Also, myself and The Base Bit Recordings label are planning a United States tour for the Spring/Summer of 2014.