Bolstered by the success of their first release and back for a second helping, global chiptune collaboration group Chipmusic Heroes has released their second album, three months to the day since their self-titled debut. Reditum picks up where the debut left off and goes even bigger and louder. Thirteen different artists from countries as far-flung as Norway, the Netherlands, Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, Israel, and New Zealand are represented here. With one exception, every contributor to the debut returns, as well as adding new blood like Octobox, Aimm, and Super Robotic Encounters.
The opener, “Side By Side,” sets the tone followed throughout the album, striking a balance of sounding like video game music without actually being that. This album showcases a range of chip as diverse as the contributing artists, though there are definite high points.
Kartmaze‘s nine-minute romp “Across the Nebula” gets my vote for best track, and that has surprisingly little to do with my obsession with lengthy songs. This track has a very story-like feel to it, as though the listener is flying through space visiting different planets, where the music shifts every so often to sound like it was inspired by video games as diverse as Castlevania, 2D-era Final Fantasy, Contra, and Metroid.
Several other tracks deserve specific attention as well. Grimmy‘s aptly-named “Arcade Nights” opens with a build that makes you feel like you’ve stepped into Flynn’s Arcade before kicking into something I would best describe as 80’s synth revival, like the Hotline Miami soundtrack with chip tossed in. “Pixelated Sunshine” by Freq is a joy, a jaunty and bouncy little tune that somehow evokes both old Mario tunes and old rap beats. “Worker Ants” by Same Type Attack Bonus sounds like someone attempting, with success, to give MegaMan a boss stage theme of his own. Finally, Mr. Lenix & Thunder Fox‘s collab track “Frustration,” complete with random angry soundbites sprinkled in, shamelessly throws what sounds to me like an elevator track into a chipstep song. And it works! It’s like “Welcome to Rapture, enjoy your wubs.”
Something that doesn’t stick out right away and – yet strikes me as incredible after giving the album a couple listens – is that this group is all fairly new talent. To name just a few examples: none of these artists have been on soundcloud more than a year, __twc is a mere sixteen years old, and Octobox is a newly-minted Calarts grad.
Overall, the album is solid from cover to cover, with every track worth listening to and offering something fun and enjoyable. The video game influence on Reditum is very prevalent, with most of its tracks sounding very much at home alongside arcade and 8/16-bit era music. But as I said above, this album never sounds derivative or uninspired, which I think is its greatest strength, and why I would highly recommend it. This is a great starting point for anyone thinking to themselves “Just what the blazes is chiptune anyway?” or any long-time listeners looking for a reminder of what got them into this in the first place.
Danwich is terrified of The Man and does his best to minimize his online presence. But you can reach him through his email or his radio show’s page.