Unknown Chip Music Album From 1999 – Or Not?

If someone asks me when the chipscene began, I say “around 2000”. At that time chip music was mostly a thing in the demoscene, just like it was mostly a thing in the games industry before that. To be brief. But in 1999 something else started to happen. In the timeline we can that

  • Micromusic.net was formed
  • Bodenständig 2000 released an Atari-album
  • Role Model released an Amiga-album
  • Alec Empire released a Gameboy-album
  • Nanoloop appeared

Three die hard chip music albums, a new Gameboy music software (that was not a tracker), and a brand new online community for a community that didn’t even exist yet. Pretty wild! The previous years, as far as I’ve found out, don’t even come close:

  • 1998: Bodenständig 2000’s Atari-album Hemzärmelig
  • 1997: Horn of Fanyulo’s abstract multiplatform album Chatarra Informatica
  • 1995: The Electric Family – a compilation with SNES Mario Paint music

That’s pretty much it, for the (becoming) chipscene, anyway. There were other things like a myriad of Amiga-made gabber/hardcore music that was not chip music, there were songs and tools in the demoscene, game soundtracks (on the Gameboy, for example), and so on.

But okay, getting to the point: I was surprised when a friend (thx Margaret Montreux) showed me a chip album from 1999 that I didn’t know about: Attract Mode by COiN. So even more chippy things happened in 99? Behind the name is, well, another name: Thermos Malling. He had been playing drums for Bob Log III in various constellations and then, almost out of nowhere, he releases a chip music album in January 1999. Play the video – it’s the full album.

The first thing you hear is a jingle from Arkanoid. Sampled. Yes, COiN sampled C64 game music, cut it up, manipulated it and added other sound sources like drums and Apple’s text-to-speech for vocals.

THAT’S FAKEBIT I can here the chipsters roar. Well, it’s certainly not the most authentic form of chip music. Back when this was more of a purist blog, this album wouldn’t have made it into the timeline. Maybe it would have made it onto the badly named plagiarism page, though. There you can find die hard plagiarizers like Laromlab who performed, sold and promoted other people’s songs as his own. But there’s also artists like Monotrona who sampled old 8-bit songs, mangled it and added her own work to it. That’s not plagiarism in my book.

So is COiN more like Monotrona or Laromlab? To be honest, I didn’t actually recognize too many C64-songs in COiN’s material. I thought that maybe he played around so much with the original material that it became unrecognizable? I needed to compare it with the original C64-songs so I decided to turn to a higher power: the CSDb forums. It didn’t take long until JCH, demoscener since 1986, replied. He actually identified one of his own songs in there – and then plenty more. Check it out.

00.00 Arkanoid subtune by Martin Galway

00.14 & 00.39 Knackdick by JCH

06.51 Hawkeye by Jeroen Tel

06:56 Scroll Machine (subtune) by Yip

11.08 Bodyslam jingle by Tim Follin

11.15 Turbo Outrun subtune by Jeroen Tel

11.45 Hotrod subtune by Jeroen Tel

Here JCH was fed up with it, but other people chimed in with:

14.41 Clystron subtune by Thomas Detert

15.15 Another Turbo Outrun subtune by Jeroen Tel

18.30 Another Clystron subtune by Thomas Detert

The list will surely grow longer, but we can already conclude a few things. First of all – I was wrong. The original C64-songs haven’t been mangled, mixed and mashed together. But COiN has clearly cut and edited quite a bit to rearrange the songs themselves and to insert parts from other songs. And of course, there’s plenty of added material on top as well. Secondly, COiN is not just sampling game music as he claims, but also demoscene music. Remember when Timbaland sampled a demoscene song and said that it was from a video game? Yeah that stuff can get you in trouble…

Ok, so does that mean that COiN should be listed in the main timeline? Or will he be handed over to the plagiarism page of doom? And what about Monotrona? What will it beeee? Well, I need to sleep so I’ll just leave you hanging but if you have any ideas, feel free to comment. :——)

Btw, COiN’s second album, Architects of Character, is also available in full on YouTube:

 

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