Most folks who know me from around these parts are probably only familiar with my writing and video game-related work. Prior to making a go of being a writer, I spent many years as a musician playing in bands, putting out albums, doing shows, touring, etc. I don’t do much of that anymore, but I recently got back into writing and recording tunes while doing research and interviews for Geek Beat Manifesto. While exploring the ins and outs of LSDJ and Nanoloop, I also dusted off a few old guitars and started playing. Happy with the sounds I was making, I sat down and started recording everything. The result is my first instrumental 8-bit indie album, The Beacon, which I’m releasing today through my website as a free download. You can freely download all six tracks over at the album’s page here. If you enjoy the music, please consider making a $3 Paypal donation via the button found underneath the download links to help support future albums I’ll be writing and releasing. Please feel free to pass around the linkage and spread the word. Thanks for listening.
Throw down some change, because I’m about to pick that shit up! Many, including myself, have attempted to marry chiptunes with the aesthetics of heavy metal, but I’ve yet to hear anyone fully master those untamably unholy sounds quite like Norrin Radd. No, not the Silver Surfer. The other guy. The product of four years of hard labor in the depths of some presumably warped trans-dimensional intergalactic hell, Anomaly is a dark and brooding concept album of chiptune metal that slams down the hammer of Thor like nobody’s business.
I’ve been to hundreds of metal shows over the years – witnessing everything from the blackest, darkest, most twistedly evil shit to some of the goofiest spoof grind bands ever – and Norrin Radd manages to nail every style in the broad spectrum of heavy metal in classic NES style almost effortlessly on this album. Blast beats, ultra heavy breakdowns, epic wailing solos, demonic growling vocals run through the DPCM channel, crazy technical tempo and rhythm shifts: it’s all there…and it’s brilliant. Excuse me while I form a circle pit and kick stuff around my office. Experience this amazing work of metal epicness by downloading it here.
Just a quick note. A few demo recordings of a new instrumental indie-rock-esque chiptune project I’ve been working on are now up on 8bc under the Foecrusher stuff. Though this is a separate project that will eventually be available in an album form, I wanted to get the first few tracks up to get feedback and share the tunes. This first batch of tracks were made with Nanoloop 2.3 running on a Game Boy Micro and added guitars that were all dubbed on an digital 8-track. The second wave of tunes after I’ve done a few more with Nanoloop will use LSDJ as the base chiptunage. There are three songs available, unironically titled Song1 … Song2 … and Song3 respectively. Feel free to stream or download them and leave comments. I’m really happy with the way the audio quality came out. I’ll post more on this here as the project continues to develop.
“For anybody unable to afford the trek across country to PAX Prime every year, the announcement of a separate East Coast PAX was welcome. I can also imagine Boston business owners in the area near ground zero welcomed the news with excitement, expecting to cash in on the sudden crush of business. Some nearby establishments placed signs, like baited lures, welcoming attendees in clever ways. Others seemed genuinely puzzled over why their clientele suddenly made a rapid shift towards the geekier end of the spectrum. Whether it was ready or not, the city of Boston was host to a gamer influx of truly epic proportions.”
Check out the full rundown here at Ars Technica.
I’m particularly excited to now have the April 2010 issue of Nintendo Power in-hand, because it features two large community pieces I wrote and am quite proud. First, there’s my community feature on pg. 92 about hip-hop artist Random (aka Mega Ran) who kicked off his musical career in the independent rap world and more recently has circulated in the nerdcore hip-hop scene. His two Mega Man themed albums are super fresh and he’s already got a track up on his site inspired by Mega Man 10. Also, I attended Blip Festival 2009 in December and was floored by the sheer level of badassitude on display. Great music made by some very interesting folks. My write-up of the event appears on pg 95. Bummed you missed the show? Don’t worry, because there’s a ton of videos and mp3s floating around from the event’s killer performances. The April issue also contains my reviews of Dawn of Heroes and Squishy Tank, both on DS.
You have to the love the fact that Joey Mariano aka Animal Style released his latest EP, Teletime, on an actual NES cart. That’s pretty hard to top on the awesomeness scale. Unfortunately, the old school format and limited release means getting your hands on the cart isn’t going to be easy. They’re sold out. The good news is you can download the album for free in mp3 format over at Pause or you can also get hooked up with the ROM file to play in an emulator to get the full audio/visual experience.
Teletime pairs Mariano’s dancy chiptune rock with snazzy artwork that cycles through like a slideshow with each track. There’s definitely a stronger video game vibe to the compositions this time around, perhaps due in part to the presentation. Musically, the high caliber tracks are on par with the tightness Animal Style fans are accustomed to. However, Mariano’s stellar guitar work (if it’s even present on this album – hard to tell since he masks it with an 8-bit sounding pedal) is far less prominent than on his Open Air EP.
The J. Arthur Keenes Band is not a band. It is in fact one quiet fellow from Canada who makes one hell of a pretty noise with a Game Boy, a guitar, and a voice. That’s all you need to rock, apparently. Though bummed that I missed his set at Blip Fest 09 due to being snowed-in, I did download his free album “Pamplemousse.” After burning it into my eardrums on near-constant repeat for weeks, I can safely say it’s possibly one of the best chiptune EPs I’ve heard in some time. Made of four tracks full of melody, melancholy, and rocking mayhem, this is one download you don’t want to miss. What are you waiting for? Do it! Do it now!
I have long been a fan of the extremely well-crafted weekly Bytejacker web show and its focus on highlighting some of the most ass kicking indie games around. Indeed, judging from Free Indie Rapid Fire, my man Anthony Carboni (above) and I have very similiar tastes in freeware. The show also features a steady supply of rocking chiptune goodness that provides a great backdrop, which brings me to why I’m so pumped this morning. Aside from offering a killer rundown of great games from the past year, Bytejacker episode 70 also features “Charge into Battle,” a Foecrusher track from my recent forays into the realm of Game Boy metal. Frankly, it’s an honor. Hop on over to Bytejacker and check out the latest show (and the other excellent episodes available), and if you’re keen on scoping out more of my Game Boy metal tracks, hit the link above to find Foecrusher tunes on 8bitcollective. Also, that is one adorable pooch.
File this one under: just for fun. Blip Fest 09 (at least what I was able to experience of it) was a total blast. I haven’t written, recorded, or performed music for years, but it was fun to get out and go hands-on with one of the most fascinating music scenes around. I’ve made Game Boy music before, many years ago, but never released any of it. After re-acquiring some (reasonably well) functioning Game Boy hardware and a copy of LSDJ, I’ve set out to create some new face melting chiptunes in the genre of heavy metal. I’ll be posting my tunes for live streamage as I finish them over at 8bitcollective. The project is called Foecrusher and my first track “Sword of Awesome” is available to decimate your ear drums. Enjoy.
My first Community feature for Nintendo Power magazine is now out in the Nov. 2009 issue, and I’m pretty psyched about it. It’s a short piece on Supercommuter, the Game Boy hip-hop project formed by former Nintendo alumni Andy Hartpence (of Optimus Rhyme) and Andy Myers (the original NP writer who started the Community section of the mag). If you haven’t heard their new self-titled album yet, you should hop on over here to pick it up or check out a few tunes on their MySpace site here. It’s top notch stuff that you’ll dig if you’re into chiptunes, nerdcore hip-hop, or just awesome music. I have a bunch more work slated to appear in Nintendo Power in the coming months, so stay tuned!