There’s something about chiptunes that just appeals to me. Maybe it’s the idea of taking something with a limited scope and using it in new and interesting ways.
Maybe it’s the throwback to the sounds of my childhood. Maybe it’s the much simpler reason that a good number of chiptune tracks are bloody great, so I’m gonna dive into this nerdiest of genres and serve you up a slice of retro gaming awesomeness to brighten up your Monday!
Dunderpatrullen – ‘Comet Kid’ (feat. Rymdkraft)
‘Comet Kid’ is a really good track from a rather unknown name, but that’s not to say he doesn’t have the talent there by any means. True to its name, it’s a spacey track, with some synthesised speech that could have been ripped out of some 80s side-scrolling arcade shooter. Super chirpy and upbeat, it’s a damn good tune so give Dunderpatrullen a look.
Sabrepulse – ‘Horizons’
Gotta represent some Scottish talent on here, so here’s one of my country’s finest. This was the first chiptune song I ever heard, about seven years ago, and I instantly fell in love with its bouncy dance beats and breakneck pace. One of the best EDM chiptune songs around, ‘Horizons’ is one of the best tracks from an excellent musician.
she – ‘Chiptune Superstar’
She is one of my favourite chiptune musicians for the sheer range he manages to explore in his music, hitting slower ambient tracks all the way up to fast drum-and-bass tunes. His main playing field is chiptune-pop music and ‘Chiptune Superstar’ is one of the best tracks with a funk flavour, vocal samples and smatterings of glitchy effects turning it into something that wouldn’t be out of place in a Jet Set Radio game.
Sushi Killer – ‘Zora’
I have a huge amount of respect for live mashup artists like Shawn Wasabi and Madeon. Electronic music is hard enough, but having to create it in one perfect take by chaining together hundreds of smaller samples cut out from a ton of other tracks? That takes some skill, and Sushi Killer manages to pull it off amazingly in ‘Zora’, combining two MIDI launchpads and a NES controller while also managing to sync up some LEDs with his performance. Worth a look for the sheer skill that goes into making something like this happen.
I Fight Dragons – ‘Heads Up, Hearts Down’
Combining chiptunes and rock music isn’t uncommon, with bands like Anamanaguchi at the front of it and even the Splatoon soundtrack having some chiptune-punk songs by the fictional band ABXY, but I Fight Dragons are one of the best at it.
They have created a pop-rock sound that wouldn’t be too unfamiliar to fans of Weezer and Fountains of Wayne. ‘Heads Up, Hearts Down’ is far catchier and upbeat than its dystopian lyrics should let it be, and it’s overall just a really catchy song with a great acoustic version too.
Machinae Supremacy – ‘Force Feedback’
Power metal by way of chiptunes? Sure, why not? Sweden’s Machinae Supremacy has been playing this style for years now, and getting better all the time. As massive advocates of internet culture and filesharing, ‘Force Feedback’ is an attack on record label executives and lawmakers who misunderstand the internet and its uses, blasting them for their damaging attempts to stop filesharing. And really, what’s nerdier than a combination of a Commodore 64, power metal, and The Pirate Bay?
Perfume – ‘Nee’
Okay, technically not a full-fledged ‘chiptune’ song, but it has the sound of one nailed down. Producer Yasutaka Nakata (also responsible for the electronic duo Capsule and megastar Kyary Pamyu Pamyu) uses a lot of glitchy sounds and chiptune samples in this track for girl group Perfume, along with chopping up their vocals into a brilliant bridge to create a stupidly catchy song.
Listening to it, you can definitely see where Anamanaguchi pulled inspiration from for ‘Prom Night’ and ‘Japan Air’. Look, pop really isn’t my thing. J-pop even less so. But chiptune-influenced EDM J-pop with some of the hardest drums I’ve ever heard in a pop song? That’s something I can get behind.
What are you listening to this week? Let us know in the comments!