Waveform by Joshua Morse


From time to time, I plan to post reviews of old chiptunes music. Today’s topic is one album that shaped me as a chiptune listener. It is the first album I listened to that was pure chip sounds. I am speaking of Joshua Morse’s original Waveform.

In a distant past, I remember that I was browsing the web about this new and intriguing topic called chiptune music. At some point I ended up on the Pause Music page of the album. Seeing that it was free, I decided to give it a try! That was the best musical decision I took in years! I literally fell in love with it through my first listen. It’s music and the style worked so perfectly for me!

This album is first of a series of four. The concept behind the series is to re-create music using old system samples. For example, this opus was created using the sounds of the “Yamaha TX81Z, MDA DX10, and various sampled FM percussion flavors.” I will go through the album in a track by track fashion. As it is the first time I do this, I hope I won’t be too bad.

First track of the album open on a nice ambient music that reminds me of ether Sim City or A-train. I particularly like the melody that starts at the 1:20 minute mark! It’s smooth yet really interesting to listen to!

Moving onward to second track, it has a battle theme felling to it! It feels heavy and final boss’esque. It is my less preferred track of the whole EP but I must say that the climax reached at the 3:08 minute mark is absolutely stunning, one of the best of all the album! Works really well to get my foot tapping!

The third track would be the prefect menu music for an old game. It is ambient yet has a nice melody and would manage to not get boring if listened over and over. I love the fact that the rhythmic are really present. It works really well.

The fourth track is another nice track. I love how Joshua played with the panning in the whole track. It really add something to it.

Funk bump is my favorite track of the EP! This track put the emphasis on the bass line. One thing to know about FM music is how good the slap bass instrument is sounding. The groove of this track is out of this world, it is really really great!

There is 3 sequels to this albums and they are all worth checking out. I may cover them in the future of this blog. I hope I gave you the interest to try it out or to simply revisit it! It is awesome and I am looking forward to Waveform 5!
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In Flux by Brave Wave

When I started writing reviews a couples of month ago, I told myself that I should write about World 1-2. It is a fantastic collection of video game inspired music and remixes. I have been putting it off because of it’s size. It simply was intimidating me. Brave Wave just released their new LP. It is called In Flux and it is a bit longer than 45 minutes.

The concept behind In Flux was to get Japanese composers to work with modern indie game composer. “East-meets-West” as they say. For example, they have paired Manami Matsumae (of Mega Man 1) with Chipzel (of Super Hexagon). The track list is absolutely phenomenal. It is quite a feat to have been able to get all those artists on the same LP!

Something that struck me about this compilation is how well it works together. Usually, to me, I tend to find compilations a little bit off putting because they usually don’t match enough in rhythm and style. The cohesion of an album to me is as important as the music itself. With “World 1-2”, Brave Wave was able to do a good job but it wasn’t as good as it is in “In Flux”. This chef d’oeuvre really do feel like one cohesive work and not a bunch of tracks put together. I think it may be due to how the album was directed than how the mastering was done! The transitions between tracks are really smooth and not mood killing at all.

I won’t review each and every tracks but I will mention my favorite: Slime Crust by Keiji & Eirik. This chiptune track that really works for me. It’s blend of style is absolutely stunning and I could never bore of listening to it. When the directors decided to match these artists together, they clearly had flair and the result shows.

Another favorite of mine is done by Lifeformed. I knew him from his previous work on Dustforce. He used his same signature style here and I am in love with this track as I was of previous works. He uses heavy ambiance paired with awesome melody to transport you to a different world. I hope he will continue writing music for games!

This album is nothing short of awesome! Since it’s creation as Koopa Sound Works, Brave Wave have been curating absolutely stunning albums! I really am eager to see what they have in bank for us in the future! I know for sure that there is a Keiji album coming up later this year. I hope I gave you the interest to check it out!

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Dysomnia by Dawn of Midi

Ambient music played acoustically

Dawn of Midi

This album was recommended to me by none other than the awesome composer of Journey and Monaco, Austin Wintory. I learned about this album after asking him for music recommendation. He ended up pointing me to Dysnomia.

Upon my first listening, I can say I never had heard something like this in my life. I consider this album as a unicorn as I can not fit it into any category nor any genre. The closest genre I could come with would be “acoustic ambient music”. But then, this would not represent how special and innovative this album is. It, also, cannot represent how much this album moved me.

This masterpiece was composed and performed with only three acoustic instruments: a grand piano, an upright bass and a drum. The end result does not sound like those at all. Dawn of Midi artist modified their instruments so they would sound more electronic. With this relatively limited set of instruments, they wrote an EDM chef d’oeuvre where repetition and epic sound texturing are on the menu. Rather than sounding boring, this LP is really consistant with itself and absolutely stunning. The icing on the cake is that recording and mastering are literally perfect to my ears.

This album is a perfect example on how mystifying polyrythmic music can be. It is a kind of rhythmic that is used a lot in African music. I do not need to point out that I am not used to listen to this at all. The thing that struck me the most is how the rhythms feel so uneven and random but they also have this feeling of being stable and heavy as a rock. It is quite a feat to be able to play those tracks with this degree of precision. It gives me the impression that the music is alive and will change upon every hearing. The album was separated in multiples tracks but, in reality, it is meant to be consumed in one sitting. I am completely incapable of putting this album down after hearing the first notes. It is mesmerizing and addictive.

The album plays a lot on emotions and imaging via sound texturing. I will not go into a detailed track by track review but I would like to mention my favorite track of the album: “Moon”. This track give me goosebumps every time. It is slower paced and the theme is heavy and ominous. The rhythmics have the effect of emphasizing the feeling. It really is worth a listen if you don’t give the whole album a chance.

I’ll be completely honest saying that I have no idea why this album connected with me so much but, since discovering it earlier this week, I can’t put it down. This album is my perfect companion to concentrate on some hard problems. It has touched me a lot and I’m sure I will listen to it for a long long time. This is a masterpiece like no other!

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Preschtale by C-Jeff

An unexpected journey through a beautiful but troubled planet

Preschtale

“I found my true north in the land of shining stars,
I’m moving on my way from morning Earth to evening Mars.
I’m rising through the silence of Mother Universe,
And faith in God that helps me keep my inner force.” 

So was said about the musical tale of Preschtale by it’s creator. It was released in January 2012 by the owner of the Ubiktune label, C-Jeff. This album is a wonderful example of what I like to call evocative music with a strong narrative story. If I let my mind wander when I listen to this album, I see a story in my head about a grand and epic journey on an unknown planet. Unexpected and epic events at every turns. During my travel, I am overwhelmed by wide gamut of emotions, eager to know what will happen next. To enhance this experience, C-Jeff took a great care to ensure that the whole work seem to be one continuous entity and not several disjointed musical tracks, which could have had the effect of kicking the listener out of phase. I could go on for hour but I won’t go more into detail to let you experience this by yourself

This masterpiece was created on a DAW using a wide array of chip sounds and some live guitar solo by Danimal Cannon. This album really feels like a sequel to C-Jeff’s first and second album: Konami and Electric, as it draws a lot on the style of theses. The production quality really feels like a professional album and not an indie releases at all.

Later in 2012, the whole album got remixed by Ubiktune’s artists. The concept behind that new album was to re-imagine Preschtale by combining different parts of each tracks. It gave life to Preschtale Variation. Each artists used their signature sound to create their tracks. While giving it a different feeling, it stayed true to the original.

One thing I found out was that the different styling rendered it definitely more accessible to the common people! It’s definitely worth a listen in any case!

Since these 2 two, C-Jeff has released another album named Big Steel Wheel. I will be covering it on this blog in the future I assure you!

In conclusion, I think I cannot stress enough how much I love these albums. I have been listening to them daily since I’ve discovered them. I hope you give will them a try and hopefully buy them.
Cheers

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Serket by Positive Infinity

A delicious blend of Chiptunes and live Jazz instruments

Serket was released on August 20th on Perelandra Records, a label that specializes in artists who wish to create instrumental music with chipsounds and real instruments, old and new, as they state.

Positive Infinity is a collaborative group from Miami, Florida that was created by the brothers David and Jonathan Roberts in late 2005. They have been working on Serket for a little over seven years. One of their dream was to create a jazz album where live instruments would combine with chip sounds!

Upon listening to the first track, you’ll realize that this is exactly what they have achieved. Each track is carefully designed to give the listener the impression that the live instruments share the same stage as the chip instruments.

Positive Infinity’s album is very well recorded and mastered. It gives the listener the impression of a private concert in their home. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that they really took the time to humanize each chip instrument. Each one of them is filled with a lot of emotion and feels as if it were real.

This album will stay in my daily playlist for a long time and if I’d have to choose, I think my personal favorite would be the title track, Serket. I like the ambient – jazz mash-up and it really sounds lively.

I’d recommend everyone go grab Positive Infinity’s album or at least stream it on bandcamp, it is awesome!