Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Guest Review| Auxcide - Omnia

With Andrew Kilpatrick gallivanting across Europe, Bertrand Guérin-Williams has stepped up to review the upcoming double album release by Auxcide (the first part of which comes out later today). Taking the position flawlessly, TWG are very grateful and excited to introduce our first guest review (in what will hopefully be a long line!)
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Auxcide has been busy since December. For Omnia, his latest release, he’s written two albums’ worth of fairly consistent material acting as a soundtrack for a fictional video game. Within, Bryan Dobbins, aka Auxcide, throws his hat in the already overflowing chip/VGM ring with as much flair as he can muster.
The clear focus on thematic melodies, leitmotifs, and a healthy dosage of grandeur lends itself to this album’s structure due to its positioning as a soundtrack. As with past releases, Auxcide utilizes a narrative-grouping structure to order tracks. For instance, the smooth transitions between the first three and last two tracks allow for some awe-inspiring moments in the songs they lead into. The sweeping, introductory duo of 'Past Beginnings' and 'The Not So Distant Memory' crash into the bass and percussion hits of 'Deep Space Drifting' to create a powerful opener. It works as a reminder that, though Omnia is a 'soundtrack,' Auxcide is still writing the music with all the typically lavish trappings his style usually employs. 'Starship Nova' and follow-up 'Horizon Line' both exemplify this; they’re thematically tied to the songs around them, but retain the danceable-yet-intense nature of Auxcide's previous work. The rhythms and memorable solos draw the listener in; most notable are the slow, steady melodies in 'Spectrum' that soar above pulsating backgrounds or the searing main synth that counterbalance the cathartic rise and fall of chords in 'Omnia' in hypnotic fashion.
Omnia's striking melodies show Auxcide's progress from his previous double release SPECK/PIXEL, and EP [Dimensions]. Whereas his original songs there sounded relatively similar, many on Omnia have distinct melodic and stylistic differences. Nowhere is this contrast more obvious than in the format change between discs. For the first disc, Dobbins uses three copies of LSDJ on GBA SPs MIDI-synced with synths, a drum machine, and an effects pad. However, the second disc brings the power of LSDJ and his composition skills to the fore. Stripping out the synths in Gameboy-only tracks on the second disc like “Horizon Line” show off effective use of LSDJ’s limited track economy and the wide variety of textures and sounds he can pull out of LSDJ.
The frenzied nature of his music has drawbacks, though. Like SPECK and PIXEL, after listening to this album for a while, the distorted sounds Dobbins often uses begin to grate. While he does allow respite in songs like 'Nihil,' the abrasive noise and WAV channel instruments characteristic of his sound, doubled with the album length, eventually wear. So too does the somewhat repetitive nature of his sound; reliance on danceable, recursive styles in rhythms and thematic 16th-note arpeggios becomes glaringly apparent after a while. Since this is a faux-soundtrack, similarities between some songs are inevitable, but the fact that Dobbins isn’t more eclectic with his track listing is becoming a trend following the release of two double albums in a row.
This problem is particularly evident in his choice to leave in the middling song 'Second Strike'. The song is short enough to be inoffensive, but it doesn’t fit in the album's context, and is especially out of place being surrounded by 'Horizon Line' and 'Nihil', two songs that follow the echoic, vast themes seen in almost every other song on this album. 'Star-Crossed Stars' is another questionable inclusion. The intro and bridge —though reminiscent of older VGM’s simplicity—don’t follow the trend of the rest of Omnia which is built on taking old VGM tropes and fusing them with modern dance conventions.
Omnia moves away from these problems by experimenting with comparatively unique sounds. 'Heavy Cannons' takes a deeper stab at hardcore and progressive trance styles briefly flirted with on SPECK's 'Varia'. While the emotive intro mimics piano, the bulk of the song churns and roars like an army en route. In contrast, the 80s sci-fi noir, Infinity Shred style of 'Starship Nova (Infinity Mix)' is an example of where Auxcide could go next. Though not the album's best, it's an interesting filter to hear Auxcide's typically chaotic style through.
Auxcide does alleviate some of the repetition within songs with solos during and melodic breakdowns between “looped” sections. Overall, however, Omnia sometimes falls into the same traps as his previous releases, becoming repetitive over time. Don’t let the negatives scare you away, though: a clearer focus on memorable, melodic songs and the interesting new directions dabbled with carry this release. Everyone will find more of what makes Auxcide great, and VGM composers should take note of Omnia as a varied and unique approach to the field.

Favourite track: Heavy Cannons
Grab part one of the release here.

Monday, 7 July 2014

TWG016| sleepytimejesse - ~ ̱o̅ p̬ ̔e n ̓e͒ d`͍ ͔̘᷊̙̉̍᷃͢

TWG turns two today! And to celebrate, sleepytimejesse has offered up a highly emotional, broken ambient release teeming with atmosphere, dread and serenity. 

Sounding almost like soundtrack to a giallo film crossed with a haunted tape deck, Goblin via Trent Reznor, sleepytimejesse carves out an 18 minute cascade sounding more like tonal poetry than anything else in the chiptune scene today. This release also does a good job of summarising TWG's long-held mission statement: esoteric music full of emotion, the experimental and the affective glued together. 

It's hard to describe a piece of work that is as much felt as it is heard, so instead, celebrate our anniversary with us by turning off the lights and the music up: it's definitely a journey worth taking. PS, your computer screen isn't broken. 

Grab the release here.

Tracklist:
1:̵͇̬͕̗᷈ͫ̊ͮͬ̽̚͡ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ̵͇̬͕̗᷈ͫ̊ͮͬ̽̚͡ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ
2:̢͊̽͏̝̑͠ ͍̤͇͇̅̂̈́ ̖̅ͬ̿͘͜͝ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ
3:̡̗͚̙̤ͭ͆͂͐̇̽͂̓͞ ͉͙͆̾᷄̕͘ ̵͇̬͕̗᷈ͫ̊ͮͬ̽̚͡ ̧͚᷿̇̈́̈́ͦ̃ͯ͝͠ ̥͑ͥ̃ͯ͠ͅ ̴̟̲̓ͦͦ͂ ͉͙͆̾᷄̕͘ ̗͚ͭ͆͂͐͞ ̴̟̲̓ͦͦ͂ ͖̟̓
4:̧͚᷿̇̈́̈́ͦ̃ͯ͝͠ ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̰̱̞̖̔ͩ̏ ̘̯̣̂͛͘͜ ̞͊͆᷉͗̍͡ ̭̹͛ͥ̓᷃̚ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ
5:̞͊͆᷉͗̍͡ ̧͚᷿̇̈́̈́ͦ̃ͯ͝͠ ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̡͔̘᷊̙̤̉̍᷃̇̽͂̓͢  ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̯͔͔̉ͣ̚͠
6:̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̵͇̬͕̗᷈ͫ̊ͮͬ̽̚͡ ̢͊̽͏ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ  ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ
7:̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝  ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ
8: ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗̚͠͝ ̭̹͛ͥ̓᷃̚ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗͑̚͠͝ ̞͊͆᷉͗̍͡ ̭̹͛ͥ̓᷃̚
9:̗͚ͭ͆͂͐͞ ̴̟̲̓ͦͦ͂ ̢͖̟̓̄̈́͡ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗͑̚͠͝ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗͑̚͠͝ ̞͊͆᷉͗̍͡ ̭̹͛ͥ̓᷃̚ ̝̤᷿͂́᷀̃ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔̉ͣ̚͠
10:̢͊̽ ͍̤͇͇̅̂̈́ ̖̅ͬ̿͘͜͝ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗͑̚͠͝ ̡͔̘᷊̙̤̉̍᷃̇̽͂̓͢  ̖̬͙̅ͬ̿̎̏̆͘͜͜͟͝ ̞͊͆᷉͗̍͡ ͕͉̲̆͑̓ͅ ̯͔͔͕̩̤̻̉ͣ͗͑̚͠͝
11:b᷉ l ọ ͟s s ȏ̜͘ m

A Thank You| TWG Turns Two

Today TWG turns two. To 'celebrate', today we're releasing an album by sleepytimejesse, but also another round of 'thank you's feels appropriate, as without a lot of different people doing a lot of different things this blog/label would not exist. 

The scene: again, to anyone reading this, anyone who has streamed, downloaded or donated to a release here, who has listened to a release off the back of a review or supported TWG in any other way: thank you. Without the support and interest of the rest of the scene this would have been packed up ages ago, and I enjoy every second of doing this so I'm glad I haven't had to! Also, special shout outs to the ongoing support and interest shown to the blog from Arnie Holder, Jellica, sandneil, Connor Fowler Kuma, Brandon Hood, the rest of the ChipWin blogging crew, bryface, Rohan Parry, James Hodson, Vince Kaichan, all those behind BRKfest and probably countless others that deserve a mention that I can't remember off the top of me 'ead, and every single one of the WeeklyTreaters, NTWRK mixers and Pxl-Bot artists Alex Kelly and I have worked with over the last few years. Love all y'all <3 

The TWG Crew: Probably an obvious one, but I want to say a massive thanks to the 22 artists who dedicated releases or tracks to TWG this year: Adam Sigmund, Sean Monistat, Düane 'Starpilot', Styles Munson, Gabriel Pearson, Stephan Tul, Rob Decay, Vegard Kummen, Alex Kelly, Alex Mauer, sandneil, wailord, Andrew Gould, Jos VB, Victor Arce, Juan Larrazabal, Hunter Quinn, Alex Wimmer, Aaron Munson, Ernesto Muñoz and Jesse Martin. You are all incredible talents who I am stupidly lucky to have worked with <3 x <3 Also a special thanks to Styles Munson, Alex Kelly and Victor Arce for providing art to release more than once, to Bertrand Guérin-Williams for being TWG's first guest writer, to Stephan Tul for proofreading every review and article and to all of the upcoming TWG artists, for which there are many. ~ <3 ~

Alex Kelly: Saying anything would be retreading old ground, but I could not keep up the work I do without Alex's support, influence and ideas. Much love to Mr Kelly, u my rl boo x

To another year I guess!~~~~
xoxoxoxox

Friday, 4 July 2014

Review| Ramyn King - The Teal Album

Influential British label Pterodactyl Squad is releasing a power pop/rock album. The Teal Album is Ryan King's, aka Ramyn King, debut release under the moniker, having previously worked under many different others, VGMing since '09. However, for a release on one of the oldest and most important chiptune labels going, there is a surprising lack of chiptune here, but that's not to say what makes up the rest isn't fantastic.

The Teal Album perpetuates itself as the culmination of early Weezer mixed with Megaman soundtracks. Whilst the Megaman influences don't shine through, Ramyn King does manage to create a series of brilliant Weezer tributes with enough electronic flairs and new musical ideas to raise itself above simple fan-boy copycatisms. 'Kyofu' opens with almost math rock tones before getting all 'anime opener'. The track then hits a peak when vocals spitting the album's catchiest hooks and arena-rock level bridges collide; Foo Fighters via Weezer in a synth shop. 'YUKO' ends the album on a high, with sliding electronic tones that slowly reign dissonant before building into a powerful and unfathomably catchy closer, as backing vocal 'oohs' give the closing power pop moment some serious melodic bite.

Elsewhere Weezer infulences are even more prominent. 'mm4.nsf track-11' sounds dangerously close to 'No One Else' in its introductory sections, before Ramyn takes a diversion and turns rock-opera in the electronics, before ending in shoegaze atmospheres and vocals. Also, opener 'password screen' does a fantastic job of anchoring the rest of the album, with a track so Blue Album that if it were released by the LA quartet this year it'd be considered a comeback. The lyrics on a whole follow their patterns too, pondering subjects from playing videogames in pants to fucking on the floor. The vocals always sound incredible though, in fact bar some of the detached sounding electronic components, the production on the album as a whole is genuinely astounding.

The album does take a slight quality dip with 'vitamin d actually prevents acne' and 'last magdalene'; the former featuring the least affective hooks on the album and the latter taking an odd stylistic shift and going Smashing Pumpkins in its 90s alt moodiness, to the track's detriment. Even with the slight dead weight of these tracks, the rest of the album is incredible in its scope, ambition and execution. Never mind the electronic gimmick side, this is an incredible 7-track display of power pop/rock being done as good as the stadium-filling best.

Favourite track: Kyofu

Friday, 20 June 2014

TWG015| Analog - Lumina

Haling from Chile, The Waveform Generator is very happy to be releasing the newest release from the South American 'King of Chiprave', with the title being cemented within this three-track, latin-inspired dancefloor crater-creator. 

Lumina sees Analog reaching the peak of his rave composition skills, with three tracks spitting kinetic grooves through an unrelenting fourteen minutes. With frequent nods to Latin and House music, Analog has crafted his most eclectic, condensed, affective and somehow sprawling release yet. 

Whilst The Waveform Generator usually deals in the esoteric, the Deep House tones, Nanoloop manipulation and lofi attitude of Lumina give an irresistibly unorthodox take on very modern dance and club music, a maelstrom of mainstream numbers frothing with tomes of leftfield ideas just below the surface. Made for neon nights and strobing smoke-filled pits, Lumina is just as effective in a home environment. And you'll still get as sweaty. 

Get the album for free here.

Tracklist:
01. Ignis Accendit 
02. Lumina
03. Stellae

Monday, 2 June 2014

Review| lu-lu - Apparent Magnitude

Hailing from New York, lu-lu uses a single copy of LSDJ, putting out two EPs since this April. Apparent Magnitude, the second of these, shows lu-lu flaunting more styles, talent, and promise in the seven minute running than many artists manage in an entire career.

The album opens with the confident 'Eris' which highlights the stylistic mixture between arcadecoma. and Auxcide the rest of the release follows; spacefaringly grandiose and melodically poignant. '902482 Orcus' seeps early Mega Flare melancholy, leading into some fantastic 80s synthpop-esque leads before rolling into 8bitpeopleian melodies and percussion, finishing the with an experimental percussive battery.

Despite the short track lengths, through expert blending of repetition and variation lu-lu manages to create pieces that are memorable and huge in scope within a minuscule space. Nowhere else is this more apparent than on the album's closer '90377 Sedna'. Laced with EDM, melodies move through club-ready spaceraves played on brilliant sounding instruments, before becoming floaty euphoria, and finally coming down into a chipthrash maelstrom, finishing one of the best chip tracks of the year thus far.

The equilibrium of repetition and variation isn't quite as balanced elsewhere, however. Whilst starting large, 'Eris' runs itself thin by the end, spilling less ideas than other tracks and with smaller hooks too. The outro section of '50000 Quaoar' also takes an odd compositional direction, flinging itself into a confusing ending that sounds lumped on and superfluous.

Despite these few nitpicks, the rest of Apparent Magnitude is laden with beautiful harmonies and ideas. The percussion and leads fizzle with energy and the compositional genius behind cuts like '90377 Sedna' show a promise larger than any of the faults present. Whilst it's not exploring anything new, Apparent Magnitude does what it does better than most ever have. Keep an eye on this artist for sure.

Favourite track: 90377 Sedna
Grab the release here.

Special thanks to Stephan Tul for proofing <3 

Friday, 16 May 2014

TWG014| Love Through Cannibalism - Serial Experiments Tangela 2

Following the similarly titled release of 2010, TWG are very proud to be presenting the second 'Serial Experiments...' album by Spain's best glitch, Love Through Cannibalism.

Musically, the release traverses more ground than possibly any TWG before it: chipbreak dripped in dissonance, serene and glitched out melodic passages, mind-bending sample work, downtempo lurching, pure unaccommodating noise, to name but a few.  Walking the tightrope between pure genius and unlistenable garbage, Love Through Cannibalism has made a name for himself by being unrestrictive, distinct and with incredible talent, and here, on 'Serial Experiments Tangela 2', we find him reaching his apex, further forwarding TWG's propagandic push towards experimental chiptune. A release that needs to be listened to rather than glanced at to be appreciated, take some time out, draw the curtains and become infused in the pure esotericism of it all. Or he's trolling us all. You never know with LxTxC...

Grab The Release Here

Tracklist:
01. Magic Cloud
02. Tangela
03. Hexadecimal Space
04. Test, Signal, Error
05. Lucid Dream
06. The Glitch Castle
07. Song About Immediacy
08. Light, Motion, Philosophy
09. Party Sadness
10. Rare Candy
11. Why Chiptune Sucks In '11
12. Fun
13. Abstract Designer
14. September 2013
15. September 2014
16. Tangela 2