Let’s take a look at an oldie but a goodie. Back in 2009, Chiptune rock band 8 Bit Instrumental released their first EP–Extended Pixels: More Music From Lobei.
What started as a humble Kickstarter campaign to build a space shooter game instead of working all summer has blossomed into a massive project for Wick Studios. Now they’ve partnered with Cheerful Ghost and are about to release Starship Rubicon, a massive expansion to the original hit game that combines arcade-like space shooting with strategic and customization RPG elements.
Beatscribe has released the new expanded soundtrack in conjunction with the release of Starship Rubicon. Featuring various retro sounds from the NES and Atari courtesy of plogue chip sounds, the album mixes classic sounds and melodies with modern beats and soundscapes. Also included are some awesome remixes from Inverse Phase and sleepytimejesse.
Post Rock is a term that appeared somewhere in the 90s for bands who use guitars and drums but throw out all the other conventions of “rock music”. They use guitars to create delicate, moody compositions that don’t follow the rigid structures of normal rock. You’ve probably heard post rock whether you realize it or not. It’s often features in the background of TV show and movies. Think of it as rock music you can listen to while studying for a test or writing code.
The melodic content of this style merges very well with Chiptunes. Here’s some great bands that capture the spirit of the classics while merging them with the intense brooding of post rock.
The Revengineers top my list of excellent post-rock chip bands. They use an NES to provide melodic lines over their amazing guitars and stand-out drums. The Revengineers rock the hardest of all these bands. They’re great live and have never relased a bad track in my opinion.
The J. Arthur Keenes band continues to impress me. Their previous abum, Computer Savvy has what I consider to be the finest piece of chip/ska ever written, a bouncy little 2 minute piece called Cluck, which I’ve listened to on repeat while jogging over 20 times straight without noticing. I’d have been happy to have a whole album of nothing less than these great ska and reggae influenced chiptune tracks. But you get so much more from a J. Arthur Keenes album.
On trying to describe their latest album, The Social Lion, I find myself referring to bands that are the furthest thing from chiptune; M. Ward, Pedro the Lion, Beck, early-Wilco come to mind, mixed in with bits of swing, cowboy music and of course more ska and reggae. The chiptune influences are still there, little reggae upstroke ARPstabs, occasionally swirly bending notes and most prominently a low, crunchy bass, however they are a lot less prominent than they were on Computer Savvy. It sounds as if someone took the instruments away from half M. Ward’s backing band and replaced them with Gameboys.
The most distinctive thing about Social Lion is the vocals. The lyrics are clever and memorable and you’ll find lots of memorable choruses and melodies. This album is a lot more cohesive than Computer Savvy. You can get a digital copy for $8 and for just $2 more, an awesome hard copy album. It may be the first chip/folk/reggae thing in your collection!