A Square Meal: ‘光のチップチューンVS闇のチップチューン 対決コンピレーション’ by novtos

Originally Posted in the ChipWIN Blog.
Edited by Wayne Manselle.

Last month a vast group of chip musicians from the land of the rising sun united their forces to make an astonishing compilation featuring a theme that never gets old: Light vs. Dark. This delicious compilation is divided into two albums, each one containing the best warriors to defend their side. Which one could win? Well, with this line-up; the listener for sure. Before you pick up a camp, let’s take a look at ‘光のチップチューンVS闇のチップチューン 対決コンピレーション’ (Hikari no chippchuun vs. Yami no Chippchuun – Taiketsu Conpireeshon), released through Novtos.

Light Side

This album starts in the best way possible: with a fanfare that leads us to the heart of theadventure. Right after that, a sweet melody appears to establish the main theme and overall tone. The minimalist instrumentation made me think of a title screen, but that’s a simplistic interpretation of this track by しのりゅー (Sinoryu). The music moves forward at its own pace until it’s impossible to contain itself and modulate and go back to the home key resolving in an incredible solo. This really sounds as if an epic journey were waiting for us, and if you listen to it while taking a walk maybe you’ll want to start one, so be careful!

And we get to one of my personal favorites from this compilation. What あみる (Amir) makes with ‘キミと果てなきアドベンチャー!’ (Kimi to Hatenaki Adobenchaa!) is nothing less than a vivid example of musical development. The non-stop march pulling perfectly crafted melodies taking the track through different stages has an uplifting effect that will make believe to the listeners that everything is possible, even to the more reluctant of them. The little details, the changes in instrumentation, the modulations, the structure, the eloquence in which every single phrase is articulated; everything is made in a way we can see through every note and appreciate the richness and completeness of its musical landscape, making the track an experience we all want to partake of.

The classic sound of a Game Boy turning on is the prelude to this really delightful song. A straightforward arrangement with some hints of bossa provides a warm, comfortable sensation that is supplemented by the soft, calmed tone the singer embosses to the lyrics. You don’t have to know Japanese nor totally understand what the lyrics are about to fully enjoy of it; which I think is exactly what gives ‘ゆうしゃを さがしに’ (Yuusha o Sagashi ni) one of its strongest points: it really feels good to listen to. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what music is about, and バーチャルボーイズ (Virtual Boys) know it. This song would easily become a hymn to all the RPG players out there.

Last but not least, we have ‘Asteroid 727’ by RSK. Just a few seconds are enough to be aware of what it is to come: a calmed, yet somehow, energetic piece of music that will make you smile. The constant and catchy rhythm provided by the bass is enhanced by the consistent pulse wave melody that, alongside the use of the flourishes and arpeggios, is the signature of RSK’s music. The way every section is perfectly defined and developed is spectacular, especially because each one has its own sparkle and tone, which provides depth and cohesiveness to the piece as a whole. This is an appropriate track to end the album because maybe the battle is over, but you have to keep on and stay motivated.

I’ll make a little aside here to invite you to go and listen to the rest of RSK’s music. Seriously; there are just a few artists that can put a smile on my face no matter what, and RSK is one of them. If you have not yet, please give RSK a try, I’m really sure you´ll like it! This album features some well known names from this community, such as Scythe and とぼけがお (Tobokegao) – who made a fantastic work with the Fake SID app and put all of his genius on just three channels with an incredible result! – but every single artist on it did a really good job. They take us trough an exciting adventure to explore all the nuances and shades of the light side, from the RPG-esque to the upbeat danceable music (I’m looking to you Nakayamaramo).  There’s still another side of the story, so let’s see.

Dark Side

It’s always nice when a song transports you into a scene immediately after clicking the play button. This is the case with ‘彗星夜戦’ (Suisei Yasen). The sound design in its entirety reminds me of a battle in the style of Thunder Force IV. The intricate details blending with the scenery created by M/S provides the meat to this track; every guitar chord is a reminder of the situation, the strong bass line sustains the energy and gives the force necessary to continue while the main melody drives us into this battle generating an immersive effect. Definitely, you won’t sleep through this track!

Well, this is an interesting song. The fascinating way in which the two voices sing along with the hypnotic melody sustaining a conversation leaves few things to the listener’s imagination. The creepy sensation is enhanced by the stereo effect in each voice, the brief interventions of the narrator and the short and sudden changes in speed – without mentioning the harmony. As a result, we have this gloomy, dark and yet playful song. Said this way it might seem simple, but trust me, it has an unusual depth that will make you listen to it a few times to assimilate it well. Whatdoes the song talk about? Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it’s called ‘生贄ディナー’ (Ikenie Dinaa), which can be directly translated as “Sacrifice Dinner”, so draw your own conclusions.

This track has a strong feel of Italian baroque music, and nothing says dark and evil quite like baroque influences. This is a really attractive work for a fewreasons; one of them is because most the time we just can hear three channels split into two parts, forming a perfectly crafted counterpoint. Making some little arrangements I think this track could be easily transformed into a solo violin piece worthy of the repertoir of any professional violinist. What あるでひど (Aldehyde) gives us with ‘SOLVATOCHROMISM’ is more than just theory applied in terms of craft and a pass to nostalgia; we can really feel the passion and emotion inherent to creation through every bleep and blop, and that’s just beautiful. I’ll keep an eye on あるでひど’s work, and I’d recommend you to do the same.

On this side we can find the unique – and familiar – way of making music of ウラボロシ (Uraboroshi). We have a huge range of moods, styles, and techniques that make the contrast much more obvious; getting rid of clichés and showing us the “true form” of this odd and, sometimes, miscomprehended way of making music.

The way the albums complement each other in an attempt to achievebalance and serve the purposes of the compilation is truly brilliant. Even when they are split, the subtle relationship between them is enough to stick all together and make a solid compilation. In a token of good will, both albums are available as a Free Download, so a huge thank you to しのりゅー from Novtos and to every single one of the people involved on this project. You guys = WIN.
Well, that’s all for today, see you next time!

Novtos: Bandcamp

しのりゅー: Twitter | Soundcloud
あみる (Amir):Twitter | Soundcloud
バーチャルボーイズ (Virtual Boys): Virtual BoysSoundcloud YouTube
RSK:Twitter | Soundcloud

2Pcolor:Twitter | Soundcloud  | Tumblr | YouTube
あるでひど (Aldehyde):Twitter | Soundcloud

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