Greetings! Welcome to the first “A Bit Of Chiptune Monthly Showcase“, where the community submits and reviews some of the best, most intriguing, and somewhat overlooked songs that fit with the loose and varied aesthetic that is chiptune.
In these monthly showcases, we’re showing off a multitude of different styles and genres that chiptune composers express in their music. If it’s chip, we don’t skip. It could be a techno song, an experimental piece, a digital fusion of synths and sound chips, or stylized VGM.
On top of that, we’re pleased to share some brief interviews from the composers featured (courtesy of Discord admin probskay!) that give insight and perspective on their creative processes.
All the selections made for the showcase have been submitted by the A Bit Of Chiptune public community that favors inclusion, diversity in music as well as composers, and aims to let underappreciated chiptune artist’s voices be heard!
(Written and edited by R3, sunsetballista, and probskay)
Cyanide Dansen –
means a lot
(submitted by: Tuxic)
First up, a new one from French chipper Cyanide Dansen! In “means a lot”, CD shows off her LSDJ chops with a six-minute-long dance track full of thumping kicks and pumping bass. Critical ears can pick out a plethora of composition techniques in the pulse and wave channels that are impressive for sure. This song goes 110% from start to end – it’s literally impossible to sleep on this one. Loving it!
Red&Green – collect all the things! (FDS)
(submitted by: Christerious)
Next up, a short-but-sweet FamiTracker tune by Italian VGM artist Red&Green. Inspired by minigame music from video games like Mario Party and WarioWare, “collect all the things!” is upbeat, addictive, and easily looped. The song captures the feeling of a frantic (and friendship-ending) party game perfectly, and it’s complex enough to keep a listener intrigued through every repetition.
Definitely check this tone out! Red&Green writes in a variety of styles – some of their songs are chip-only while others are digital fusion with sampled acoustic instruments.
wool pool – JCT
(submitted by: ViniVidiVici)
Our third featured song comes from wool pool, a chipartist out of Yokohama, Japan! Figuring out the context of this piece is a little tough, but it appears the song was made in a DAW with chip VSTs. “JCT” captures the essence of the DMG/NES soundchip perfectly without channel restrictions, which is super impressive! It’s bouncy and full of pep but rather relaxed as well – perfect for chilling out or working to.
vera, etc. – ghosts in a burning building
(submitted by: Cass Cuttlefish)
Wow! A gorgeous one from vera, etc. “ghosts in a burning building” is what happens when Billie Eilish, singer-songwriter aesthetic, chip, and modern synths get blended up into a delicious atmospheric smoothie. The autotuned and crunchy vocals build a foundation for the synth pad sections to just blow you away. The glitchy effects at the end are really neat as well!
probskay: What got you into making music? How did you start your journey?
vera: I can’t really remember an exact moment or anything, but honestly I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember, and I think I started making my own songs when i was about 15 or 16. I remember wanting to play drums really badly but my parents wouldn’t allow something that loud in our house, so I guess I naturally gravitated towards making electronic music on my computer instead? It’s been a very long time, haha! However, I didn’t really start taking it seriously until fairly recently, maybe a year or two ago.
probskay: What program do you use to compose, and how did you edit the vocals on your featured track, “ghosts in a burning building”?
vera: For most of my songs, I use a few different programs. I usually start with having already written the lyrics, so sometimes when I’m just aimlessly playing my guitar, I’ll end up with a chord progression I really like that fits the mood of those lyrics. It’s like finding puzzle pieces and slowly putting things together.
To be honest, I’m not incredibly well versed in the scary world of music theory, so I like using this app called “Suggester” that helps me write down the chord progressions I stumble upon and shows me what key I’m in and what other chords might work well with the ones I already have.
I use Ableton Live as my audio workstation, and I usually go back and forth between Ableton and LSDJ to put my song together. I really like the texture you can get from sampling audio with LSDJ, so I often make my own sample kits for songs. Vocal wise, I really love the sound of pitch correction software like autotune (although I use a free plugin called MAutoPitch), and I honestly feel that it goes really well with the jagged sounds from the Game Boy. I recorded the vocals during quarantine, and considering the fact that I live with my parents, and don’t have a lot of time by myself, having the pitch correction really helped me out with getting a good vocal take quicker.
probskay: Were there any influences on this project? Or just in general?
vera: I remember being really obsessed with Car Seat Headrest’s “How to Leave Town” EP as I was writing this song, so I’m sure that messed with my brain a little bit. I really like how Will Toledo makes these straightforward indie rock songs and uses everything available to him to make them feel huge.
probskay: Looking over the lyrics, it feels to me like the song is about attempting to cope in a world where you can’t really be yourself. Does this align with your intention in the song at all?
vera: I guess it does align in a way. “ghosts” is one of a few songs that I have written from the perspective I have now where I am out as trans on the internet, but not to anyone in real life. So, it’s in part about the pressures that come with that. It’s also about trying to show restraint, and being patient until you’re in a position that feels comfortable enough to be yourself in. The pressure is definitely there though, everyone has a life on the internet in some capacity, so it feels like it’s only a matter of time before friends or family find my music and connect the dots.
probskay: Do you have any projects in the works right now, and where can people find them and updates on them?
vera: Yeah! I work on multiple projects at once, but the one I’m focusing the most on right now is my first album. It’s called “online” and I have made a pre-order page for it on Bandcamp. It has been difficult to record things during the COVID-19 pandemic because of the lockdowns, but I’m grabbing every opportunity I can get to work on it. for updates people can always find me on Twitter @veraetcetera.
Zackery Wilson –
Boost START Bossa [Super Mario Kart]
(submitted by: Cass Cuttlefish)
Pew! Pewpew-pew! The drum beat from this bossa-inspired track by Zackery Wilson gets stuck in your head like superglue. Zack’s use of SFC soundfonts with a modern audio interface is really impressive – the production values and instruments on this track are solid. We got a big laugh out of hearing the Mega Man distortion guitar as a backing instrument. Zack’s new album “SNESQUE II” is written in a similar style, so check that out if you like this song!
Crystallized Silver (Touhou Youyoumu ～ Perfect Cherry Blossom) [VRC6]
(submitted by: BlankPxl)
Finally, we’ve got a solid Famitracker cover of a classic Touhou piece by composer TrojanHorse711. 2a03 and VRC6 give the track a Castlevania-like drive, which absolutely fits the world of magic and monsters than is Touhou. If you’re into classic Touhou music remixed on a classic system, Trojan is your guy!