My gut’s quite certain that, looking back some years on, 2009 will be the year chiptunes broke as big as they’re probably ever going to break, thanks in no small part to the 8-bit Weezer album, the newly announced Beatles cover album, and the various other projects on the side.
Though it’s still quite hard to keep abreast of all of the developments in the chipscene without dedicating yourself to it entirely, 2 Player Productions and 8bitpeoples’ just-released two-disc compilation album bringing together 32 live acts from BlipFest 2008 is probably the best catalog of all the current top acts in their native setting — surrounded by an adoring crowd (as you’ve seen from the frequent BlipFest videos featured here).
For the long time listeners, your favorite artists will probably remain your favorite artists (my choices for compilation toppers: Unicorn Dream Attack, Minusbaby, Nordloef and Anamanaguchi), but for newcomers, there’s a lot to discover here: find the double album at the 8bitpeoples store.
At the same time, festival organizers have announced the first information about the next Blip Festival, which will be coming to Brooklyn’s Bell House on December 17th through the 19th.
No acts have yet been revealed for the latest Fest, but tickets are due to go on sale next Monday the 28th, so expect much more specifics by then.
Yet another 09/09/09 surprise, this time the Beatles-half of the blowout day that surprisingly has nothing to do with monophonic reissues or Rock Band: 8-Bit Operators, the same group that brought you the eponymous 2007 Kraftwerk chiptune cover album have just announced WANNA HLD YR HANDHELD, a new 20-track compilation covering the best of the Beatles.
The Operators say the full release will include tracks from 8-Bit Weapon w/ ComputeHer, Bacalao, Anamanaguchi, Bud Melvin, Burnkit 2600, Depreciation Guild, Glomag, Herbert Weixelbaum, Neotericz w/ Naku, Bubblyfish, Poke-1,170, Shrimps w Robert J Smith, gwEm & Counter Reset, goto80, Receptors, Psilodump, Cheap Dinosaurs, Saskrotch, Minusbaby, Rabato and Aonami.
For 09/09/09, a preview release of nine streaming tracks has arrived at the new HLD YR HANDHELD MySpace page, with a full Minusbaby-designed site to follow at the Operators’ page on 10/09/09, in celebration of John Lennon’s birthday.
It’s Bacalao and 8-Bit Weapon/ComputeHer that dominate the streamable tracks so far: pay special attention to the former’s deep-thumping/square-wave tweeting Blackbird and the latter’s Eleanor Rigby — you’ve never heard a speech-synthesizer sound quite so plaintive.
A little mid-afternoon demoscene work with Shaping Reality, a NES demo created by 8bitpeoples regulars Nullsleep, Random, No Carrier and Enso for July’s LCP compo.
[UPDATE: Apologies to musician Random for leaving him off the original list of collaborators!]
- Listen: Nullsleep's Data Spills chiptune afterparty
- One shot: Jeremiah Johnson's torn-code Data Spills
- Listen: No Carrier, SLAW's Pulsewave Soldier NES flier
- Listen: enso, No Carrier, Animal Style's latest Pulsewave NES …
- One shot: no-carrier's software-circuit-bending glitchNES
- Listen: enso, No Carrier, headlessbarbie's NES flier is Pulsewave …
- Pixel junk: Alex Bond's dedicated pixelstyle blog
From the same devs, unsurprisingly, that brought you the Steve Jobs parodying Korg DS-10 Plus game announcement: handheld synthesizer creators AQI have just announced Elvis Presley & KORG DS-10 Audition, a new competition in celebration of the 55th anniversary of Presley’s debut that’s asking DS-10 composers to create their best techno remix of Elvis hits.
Fantastically unlikely as it is, it’s all on the level with the Presley estate, and winners of the competition will see their track officially promoted and sold on iTunes and released on a special CD in Japan.
Full contest details are available at the official site, and users outside Japan will be submitting their entries via the newly established ElvisAudition YouTube channel, so watch that for further developments ahead of the October 20th cut-off date.
Due for an official release September 8th, and coming live to the Penny Arcade Expo just a few days before: Metroid Metal‘s Varia Suite, the band’s first recorded collection of — well, as you might guess — metal remakes of various Metroid themes from throughout the game’s history.
Metroid Metal’s site has more information on both the album, and their PAX live performance, and the Silent Uproar record label is taking pre-orders for the album both in standard form, and in a bundle with an awesomely iconic T-shirt.
- Video: Power Play/composer Hip Tanaka do Metroid music live
- Wii getting Metroid Prime triple-shot with remade Trilogy
- Well suited, well lit: First4Figures' ltd. ed. Phazon Suit Samus …
- One shot: Metroid by way of Miyazaki
- Samus Yarn: Deadcraft's Metroid amigurumi
- Roll your own Mr. Saturn Earthbound toy, Metroid hat
For the general public, the album will be available as a $5 download this Thursday, August 20th (and CDs for the Kickstarters are expected to be shipped in two weeks), but you can preview clips of all five tracks now at the Kind of Bloop website. And I suggest that you do: Shnabubula’s take on All Blues (YouTube of the original) is especially jaw-dropping (though you’ll have to wait for the full release to hear its goosebump-inducing crescendo/breakdown).
All five takes, though, have proven out Baio’s experiment: the unlikely partnering of good jazz’s organic, unrestrained structure via chiptune’s rigid, digital, mathematical rendering is both entirely possible and fantastically glorious as a result.
Released as part of Yewknee’s ongoing Summer Mix Series — which opened up the floor for anyone to curate and upload their own MP3 mixtape (I still have yet to make my own, though you do have me to thank for the Pavement song on the Texas-themed tape) — Josh Stafford’s Songs To Frag By is most notable for not going the easy route and solely mixing in chiptunes/converted NES soundtracks.
A few of those are, of course, represented (see: the requisite YMCK), but Stafford did an excellent job of digging up songs from the game/music periphery, starting all the way back with Buckner & Garcia’s Do The Donkey Kong (the lesser-heard sibling of early 80s standby Pac-Man Fever), to the Mega Man rock-opera-concepts of The Protomen, to Del the Funky Homosapien’s name dropping hip-hop “classic” Proto Culture, to the open and closer tracks from Offworld favorite Mario-remaking one-man-band XOC.
The full tracklist:
01 Super Mario World Course Clear – XOC
02 Bit Rate Variations in B-Flat (Girl) – Beck
03 Super Mario Land (Radio Version) – Ambassadors of Funk feat. M.C. Mario
04 Mega Man 2 (Title Theme) – Year 200X
05 II B Unrest In the House of Light – The Protomen
06 Do the Donkey Kong – Buckner & Garcia
07 Technology Boy – Bachelorette
08 Sabita Tobirano Daihachi Tengoku – YMCK
09 Punch em Out – Swell +N remixes
10 Where’s My F_ing Genesis – Charles Hamilton
11 Khaos Unique Proto Culture – Del The Funky Homosapien
12 The Legend of Zelda Tribute – Swell Session vs Koji Kondo
13 Tetris – Powerglove
14 Super Mario World Death Game Over – XOC
If not the best games-related mixtape made, it’s at least one of the most novel. [via Yewknee]
This clip just about has it all: PixelJunk Eden‘s audio/visual director Baiyon spinning his trademark blend of house/trance at Kyoto’s Club Metro, to an adoring crowd of frame-dropped and light-smeared kids & adorable mod-striped short-haired girls, while wearing — best of all — the T-shirt he received for speaking at this year’s Game Developer’s Conference. [via Nobuooo]
Above: a May 16th performance of Los Angeles’ Golden State Pops Orchestra playing selections from thatgamecompany’s flOw, as composed by Austin Wintory. An MP3 of the section is also streaming at the official PlayStation.Blog.