Archive for the ‘gameboy’ Category

The First LSDj Artists

May 31, 2017

I’ve started to dig through the first years of LSDj, the Gameboy software that is still being developed today, 17 years after its first alfa release. LSDj was not the first widely available Gameboy music software (Nanoloop, Trippy-H, MusicBox, Carillon, etc) but LSDj had a huge impact on the new chipscene that was forming at the time. That’s one of the reasons why I’m now working on a compilation for protoDATA with music from the first years of LSDj.

Many of the early users are still well known today. People like Bit Shifter, Bud Melvin, Cornbeast, Covox, FirestARTer, Lo-Bat, Mark DeNardo, Nim, Nullsleep, Produkt, Puss, Role Model (duh), Vim, Yuppster, Zabutom, and yours truly.

Others have been forgotten since. But now it’s time to remember!

Who used LSDj during 2000-2002? If you have any ideas, and contact information, I’d appreciate a comment or an e-mail (infogoto80⚫com).

I’m thinking about people like Aonami, Blasterhead, Cemik, Chesterfield, Cow’p, Digigig, DMG Plantlife, Firebrandboy, The Hardliner, Hex125, Keiichi Hirao, Kplecraft, Maak, Magnu3, Pasan, Pharmacom, Piano Busters, Pepparkaksninja, Tobiah, Zalza, etc.

And the people active on the LSDj-mailing list at the time seem even more tricky to reach. Smyglyssna, Daniel Viksporre, James Bernard, Tim Prezzano, Barter System of Music, Simon in Canberra, Casey McGonagle, Mangey from Holland, J Ruddy, Ryan (boobibaol.com), Virgile Iscan, Anxious Times, Erik Wiese (pxli?), Bohus Blahut…

Any help appreciated!

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► Hardhat – Toolboxing

October 24, 2014

hardhat-vol1

Out now, here’s Toolboxing by Hardhat. It’s full-on instant techno with an interface made by the Javascript magician p01, known from the demoscene. There’s one long techno track and 17 additional bonus bangers, cued up and ready for your work out! The music was made on Gameboy Advance and fed through a Serge modular system. Yep yep, just look at how the bass makes Hardhat sweat! T-E-C-H-N-O!

Hardhat has been around in the chipscene for many years under names like Småm. He recently made two super interesting live music programs: the Pokrok sequencer for the Sony Pocketstation (!), and the nanoloopy Sqein for Nord Drum. Check them out! With this release he wanted to get out of his routine and make something different.

– I felt like I was being too dogmatic and precise when making music. It had to be this and that and bla bla snooze. I decided I wanted to make techno. Just techno. So I started to record really quick & fun little jam sessions with Game Boys and other consoles, stuff. I usually spent like 10 minutes recording and then maybe 15-20 minutes cutting it together to a more presentable track. These tracks are the bonus tracks.

– I found reBoy by Checkpoint to be a really nice sequencer for GBA, and I had wanted to process my Game Boys through the modular systems at my university for quite some time. It came together quite naturally. It’s a very simple setup though, I’m just using two envelopes & filters triggered by audio input- and that’s it. So basically, the entire Toolboxing main mix is made with reBoy, loaded with a bunch of OPL3 samples, running through the filters of a vintage Serge System. And if that’s not niche enough for you, I think my next release will be.

Documentary on 80’s Japanese Game Composers

September 5, 2014

This documentary on Japanese game music from the early 80’s is interesting because:

  • It’s not exactly easy to get reliable info in English on the history of the Japanese chipmusic. But here you get interviews with experts like Hally and the original composers like Hip Tanaka.
  • It shows a little bit about the process. How these early 8-bit composers were designing their own waveforms, much like the Amiga chipmusicians in the 1990’s. I’m glad to see custom waveforms getting some love, and perhaps more people will learn about the massive 1990’s Amiga chipscene.
  • To see a notebook with drawn 8-bit waveforms talked about with so much love and affection, is pretty much all we need in life.

It’s the first episode in a series. The angle seems to be the influence of Japanese 8-bit music on contemporary dance music. Kode 9 is there, and he’s bound to say some very smart stuff. Still, these episodes will most likely leave out a lot of stuff that I (and probably you) think is relevant and important. But that’s probably how you get a proper budget to do these kinds of things, eh?

 

►???

May 30, 2012

Go ahead! Yeah! ► PRESS PLAY ON ??? (download: 1 2)

A few years ago there wasn’t much chip bass around, but since then it has become pretty common. The Canadian mystery man known as ??? is one of the top players, fusing reggae and hip hop into a melodic and fönky sauce, oscillating between dub and skweee. With one of the most ungoogliest names around, his music used to be pretty complicated to find (since he deleted it all the time), but then he released Wall You Need is Love on Pause in 2011.

His next release is right here, at Chipflip. No titles, no bullshit – pure irreductionsm! It consists of two mixes of 30 minutes each, accessible through an interface made by the Venezuelan artist ui. The first mix is a set of Gameboy dub, in ???’s characteristic carefree style. The second one is more hip hoppy, and also shows off some of his wobbly C64-songs. The hip hop mix also contains an Amiga remix that I made. Can you find it? Btw, ??? also makes less chippy stuff as Babaji Beat. Fade Runner

Music you should hear: ???

June 30, 2010

The Canadian artist called ??? (myspace, 8bc) makes sweet dub/beats/skweee oriented Gameboy music with the occasional guest instrument. It’s like a less melancholic Quarta330 perhaps. I first heard him over at the great Metrodub netlabel, but for some reason it didn’t catch on to me. At some point he deleted all his songs from 8BC because he thought no one listened to it. When Dot.AY inspired him to re-upload them, I got more into his music.

Maybe it gets a bit too square-beepy in the long run (like most Gameboy music I suppose). But check out songs like Peanut Butter Brain and it’s wonky beats. Yum-yum. Maybe you can find something related here. Okay, gotta run. Enjoy!

Flexin’ the Beeps Live

June 21, 2010

There’s plenty of good chipmusic live acts, both in terms of show and technique. The last few years I have become more interested in improvised performances rather than aiming for short fixed songs (yeah well). I was away playing shows for a while (culminating in a huge a/v datajam) so I also got the chance to see Computadora, Stu and Tonylight pushing beats at Tresor, Rioteer doing a very sturdy set of darkness, Carebear with Razorblades vinyl-DJing beep-stuff I’ve never heard about, the funky La Belle Indifference (yes!) making people happy right by a lake in a park in Copenhagen, and Je Deviens DJ En 3 Jours impressing with punchy Gameboy beats. But there were two (often overseen) acts that caught my attention especially.

Flex Busterman is a project by Patric Catani who is probably one of the most prolific Amiga musicians outside of games & demos. Since 1993 he has been pushing out vinyls with aggressive psycho-horror, made mostly with Protracker on the Amiga. I finally managed to see him live at Dance to the Bit and Crackbits in Holland, and he delivered the goods. It was especially great to hear his new stuff made in AHX. Those songs were prime examples of how to use chipmusic media (2xAmiga+C64) without making “chipmusic”, but also not making a big conceptual deal about it. It’s just very nice hard and eerie dance music, wrapped in his nice little stories, and cutting roughly between songs. Look forward to his next release! Here’s the old hit You’re a Hero from 1997, featuring a distorted “cyberstring iii” (from here?) for the lead sound, I think.

Mobb Beep is a Copenhagen-based act, which nowadays consists of only one person. He’s been around for a couple of years outside of the chipmusic communities, playing more around ‘the hardcore continuum‘ I suppose. The set felt quite improvised, with what seemed to be a lot of tweeking with the Gameboys and the effects. He also works with custom samples, which immediately separates it from a lot of Gameboy music. There is not a lot of music online, but check this to get an idea of the spooky atmospheres and beats. The video below is more straight-forward dubstep, but it’s still rather tasty to my ear-mouths.

Elk, Owls & Improvised Bits

April 21, 2010

Just a quick post to recommend a Stockholm-based duo who improvise audiovisually with various 8-bit tools and electronics: Elk + Owl. Apart from some Nintendo handhelds, they use an electronic wind instrument which gives the music a lot of life, compared to many other low-bit improvisations. The music is downtempo and quite floaty, sort of the opposite to the majority of static sounding hyper-pop chip-eti-hop non stop. They told me they’ve put a lot of effort in editing the jams down to ‘consumable portions’, which not everybody succeeds with.

Another good 8-bit improviser is 21-year old Henry Homesweet who’s been posting plenty of nice Gameboy jams at his youtube-channel. These are much more techno/dub-oriented than the pop-music he made a couple of years ago. Great GBA FM-wobbles and boinks. I had the pleasure of seeing several of his live gigs during the Chiptune Alliance tour last year and I can vouch for that the arrangements are not very pre-determined. Technically, I suppose this is more like DJing since he manipulates pre-sequenced bits. Still, it’s not all that easy to tell when one song starts and the other one stops.

Neurobit: 8″ 8-bit Release Made of Plastic

December 11, 2009

Neurobit is a Dutch 8-bit ambient/noise artist working with Gameboy/NintendoDS/etc and lots of effect pedals to create some pretty lush-horror sounds. He has also released breakcore-oriented things as Rioteer. Neurobit just released an 8″ single that is not made of vinyl but from recycled plastic bottles. So it’s light and has its own sound to it, I suppose. Both songs are improvised Gameboy music, with no post-production. If there is a real deal, this might be it! “Every record is individually cut and all the artwork had to be delivered on a printed sheet of paper and was photocopied for the labels.” Limited edition of 100, so get it while it’s hot! More info here.

Free Friday Fruit Music from J. Arthur Keenes Band

October 30, 2009

The J. Arthur Keenes Band is a Canadian artist who has been lurking around in the outskirts of the chipmusic scene for a couple of years, without gaining the recognition I think he deserves. Maybe his new release Pamplemousse on the excellent Pause will change that. It is a great proof of the genre-breaching potentials of soundchips (pop, rock, reggae?) but Keenes also uses a wider array of instruments: Gameboy, vocals, guitar, organ, melodica, etc. It’s a juicy result that shows off strong skills for harmonies and arrangements. Chip pop at its best!

Oddly enough I found myself in a discussion about pamplemousse (the fruit) last weekend in Caen, France. I was told it was not a grape fruit, and not a blood orange. And now I understand. It is an MP3-release!

this is not pamplemousse

Blip vs LCP: Alike vs Unlike

August 8, 2009

With only a week inbetween, two large 8-bit events took place in Scandinavia last month: the music festival Blip in Aalborg (Denmark) and the demoscene event Little Computer People in Malmö (Sweden). Only a few hours inbetween, the geographical distance proved to be much smaller than the cultural distance…

Many were surprised by the choice of location for Blip. Aalborg is a small town and not the most accessible place in the world. The venue, Platform 4, was also located non-central, in a great industrial area about to be torn down. The venue had a nice vibe to it with the largest backstage area ever, and hundreds of television sets collected from a hotel going flat(screen).

LCP was placed in a somewhat similar setting, but in a gallery-area of a crime-heavy part of the larger city Malmö. The venue was actually an art gallery, which I thought placed the demoscene perfectly inbetween crime and art. (the demoscene has its roots in e.g cracking)


photo: Optiroc

A music festival and a demoparty naturally attracts different crowds, but it was striking how few people were present at both events (me, Nullsleep, Random, Chantal Goret, and Linde). The demoscene and the chipmusic world are quite different in demography, aesthetics, norms, platforms, etcetera. In short, LCP is dominated by C64 and a sort of engineer craftmanship (“hacker aesthetics” as defined in a forthcoming doctoral thesis by Daniel Botz) whereas Blip is more concerned with Gameboys and dance(able) music. I witnessed something similar this week in Finland with the bloated demoparty Assembly and the bleepy club Lisäelämä.

Personally, I like exceptions in any setting. At LCP there was for example 8bitpeoples’ space-glitchy NES-demo Shaping Reality and Mortimer Twang’s skweee-song – both not fitting into the traditional demoscene aesthetics. I contributed with an Amiga song using texts, images and executables as audio to form a slow noisy groove that ended up second last in the competition. At Blip Bodenständing 2000 stood out the most to me, performing their bizarre mix of open-atari-tracker-nerd-hacker-acapella-pop-rave (since 1999!).


photo:rOOs

The difference between LCP and Blip is perhaps most clearly manifested in the visual content. The VJs at Blip (C-men, Raquel Meyers, Paris + Rosa Menkman, No-Carrier) all tended towards a frenetic and glitchy style, rapidly switching between different content and synchronizing it to the beat. At LCP, such things were rather absent, as usual. Synchronization is surpisingly absent in demoscene productions considering the possibilities to connect sounds and visuals since both generated in real-time.

There is a growing synergy as VJs, traditionally live-sequencing recorded video clips, head deeper into the machine to make visuals generated at runtime. This is a step towards the demoscene and its dogmas of from-scratch coding for real-time execution. When No-Carrier made his NES-graphics presentation, he gave a coherent introduction that explained how you could use the features (aka limitations) of the NES. He also revelaed that before his NES-programming (glitchNES, galleryNES) he had no prior coding experience. Nevertheless, he uses the notoriously complicated assembly programming language to gain maximum control of the hardware – just like the 8-bit demosceners. And in fact, he coded the 8bitpeoples-demo released at LCP.

(Nullsleep + No Carrier @ Blip Festival 2009, filmed by Saskrotch)

It seems that Blip and LCP shows two different schools of 8-bit computing. The Blip-way is to amplify artifacts and platform-specific features, often involving glitches. The LCP-way is also highly platform-specific since a hardcore demo only runs on a specific set-up (ie Amiga500 but not Amiga600). It is technically platform-specific, but usually not aesthetically. A good demo does not have glitches and other artifacts of the platform. It seems important for a demoscene-author to show that s/he is in control.

There are tendencies in the demoscene towards the embrace of the quirks of hard/software, somewhat similar to what Viznut calls post-technical. It is a good term from a demo-coder perspective – leaving code-skill-flexing behind for more expressive productions. But from a broader aesthetical perspective I think it makes more sense to call it techno-centric, because the inate character of technology is not supressed.

As for chipmusic, the aesthetical dogmas is what defines it as a music genre (the form). But behind that appearance is a myriad of experimental methods and music that stretches far beyond the general traditionalism of the demoscene. There is an openness to pluralism. To me, there is a similar situation in the demoscene where the subculture is bound together not so much by style but by methodologies. But how will they interact with eachother in the future? Will more demoscene-musicians do performances in chipmusic contexts? Will chipmusic-VJs work more with coding and release demos?

Hot greetz to some of the musicians that attended Blip but didn’t perform: m-.-n, Divag, Linde, Phlogiston, Drax, and Chantal Goret!