Throw your trap arms (or your Gameboys) with Storz’s Ambush

Cheapbeats, everyone’s favorite Tokyo-based Chiptune label, recently released an exciting debut EP from Storz: Ambush.

Cheapbeats is one of the world’s largest chiptune labels with a roster of artists from all over the world. They feature some of the chip scene’s veterans, but also bring to light some fresh faces. Storz is a relatively new Japanese producer working in chiptune, most prominently, in addition to speedcore and breakcore. Ambush is Storz’s first ever label release, as well as the first Cheapbeats release by a Japanese artist in quite some time.

The music heard on Ambush is heavily influenced by bass music, a larger umbrella term to describe genres like Drum and Bass, UK Garage, Dubstep, and Trap. It puts a lot of emphasis on sub basslines, half-time grooves, and syncopated rhythms. You can hear a lot of the trap influences in these tracks. The grooves have a nice “full” feeling in comparison to them. Your typical trap banger will push its sub bass to the limit and achieve fullness that way. However, this music has a lot more melodic and ornamental material than most trap. It also has a lot of variety in the patterns across all the track’s individual elements. This gives the music a lot more interest to a listener. In general as humans, the more changes and surprises we hear, the less likely we are to go on “autopilot” and not pay attention to all of the awesome detail that Storz wrote in the music.

Another very important factor is the chip medium itself. The chip sound is defined by heavy distortion and bitcrushing. This was necessary to compress the audio to fit on the small memory space of old video games. When you reduce the information necessary to reproduce a sound, you are given a less accurate recreation. These inaccuracies are presented in the form of audio artifacts, additional sounds created by these processes to fill the gap in information. This gives audio that crackling, buzzing, sizzling timbre that you hear in chiptune instruments. Normally this is only in the top frequencies to provide some warmth and “sparkle” to the sound. However when the frequencies get so low, such as a sub bass, the artifacts go down the frequency spectrum along with it and you hear it clearly in the normal hearing range, almost like its own instrument. This brings more attention to the sub bass, because not only do we feel the bottom frequencies, but we hear it clearly in the middle range too. This allows the sub bass fill out more of the frequency spectrum and forces it to be the most prominent element of the track, which is what trap music really wants.

Ambush’s real strength lies in its treatment of rhythm. There is a cornucopia of breaks that dominate the overall feeling of the tracks. They carry a certain freshness from the syncopation of the drums. There is almost never a moment of stagnation or complacence. Storz keeps things varied so you never fall into a pattern and think “Okay, that’s how this section is going to go”. I really like to see this in dance music, because it makes it more fun to listen to outside of a dance setting like listening at home or in the car.

If you’re a fan of trap, future bass, chiptune, or any kind of music, go buy this EP. Ambush is available from Cheapbeats for Name Your Price on Bandcamp. It’s totally free, but it’s nice to show your support, even with just a dollar.  Follow Storz on soundcloud for more music. 

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