GameChops has just released a follow up to Joshua Morse’s spectacular 2013 Castlevania tribute album, VLAD, appropriately titled VLAD II. Like the original, VLAD II features four tracks of EDM chiptune/jazz fusion, this time with guest guitarist, Danimal Cannon, on two tracks. You can sample all four songs in the teaser video or listen over on bandcamp and check out the track listing below.
VLAD II is out now and available to buy from Loudr.fm for a minimum price of $4; just in time to pump up your Halloween week festivities. And for a limited time you can get both VLAD albums for a minimum of $7.
Bone Ark Madness (Symphony of the Night – Rainbow Cemetery)
Because Jake “Virt” Kaufman can’t seem to take a break if he tried, it looks like he’s involved with yet another Kickstarter project hot off the heels of the recent release of his fantastic work on Shovel Knight. This time around, however, it’s for VR systems such as the Oculus, putting it in a unique position. Vanguard Valkyrie is a 3rd-person rail shooter designed for virtual reality headsets and looks quite impression gameplay-wise. The music is sure to rank right up there with the gameplay (and maybe even beyond) as Kaufman is also joined by guitarist Dan “Danimal Cannon” Behrens (ArmCannon, Metroid Metal) and newcomer musician Meganeko.
Vanguard Valyrie sports the very hefty pricetag of $198,000 for a game meant for a still very-new market in virtual reality. The major of people who currently have access to an Oculus Rift are game media and developers, and the pricetag for the general public is steep for new hardware that isn’t even in its final form. While I have my own opinions about the success of such a lofty project, there’s no doubt Virt and Danimal Cannon will be rocking the music for the game to the high echelons of awesome.
A new year has begun and with it another MAGFest down in National Harbor, Maryland. This was my second year attending the annual Music and Game Festival. There’s always a ton of things to do, from attending panels to rocking out at the concerts. Now that I’ve had a chance to recover from the trip and gather my thoughts, it’s time for a recap of some of what I experienced at MAGFest 12.
Most of the panels I attended were focused on music. The first of these was the “Write Your Own Nintendo Music,” hosted by Brendan “Inverse Phase” Becker. His talk focused on the tools that he uses for creating 8-bit/chiptune tracks for his music projects. He explained the methods in which music on the Gameboy and Nintendo Entertainment System was generated and what the musical and technological limitations for each were. Since this year’s MAGFest was Zelda themed, he included a demonstration of 8-bit music writing by reconstructing the “Dungeon Theme” from The Legend of Zelda.
Brenden “Inverse Phase” Becker
Two of the other music panels that I attended were hosted by game composer Tommy Tallarico. He’s probably best known for his soundtracks for Earthworm Jim and his work as the head of Video Games Live. The first panel “Video Games Live: Behind the Scenes” focused on his work with the orchestra program that he tours with around the world. Tallarico spent a majority of the time telling the audience stories about his experiences performing videogame music and revealed some of his upcoming arrangements for the orchestra. (more…)
TED talks have always been about presenting ideas worth spreading, so I’m glad to see they’ve put Chiptunes on display. TED talks try to gain a deeper discussion in a local field, TEDx is more for local programs, and Dan (Dan Behrens, aka Danimal Cannon) hit it off. As Dan described Chiptunes, he defined it as…
… Any music made using, or emulating the sound of, old video game consoles and their soundchips.
Technically with that definition, the PS4 could also be considered platform for Chiptunes, but it’s the sound that Dan and the others are attracted to, not particularly a beefy console. Dan’s chip of choice being a classic Gameboy, he continued into his list of consoles that other artists use to make Chiptunes. Consoles such as the NES, Genesis, Commodore 64, Atari Amiga, and many others. As Dan described, it’s really about taking minimalist hardware, and pushing it to the maximum potential.
The talk itself features some excellent music past the 4:35 mark. Take a listen.
Dan went further to talk about a trend taking place in music software, one that makes music controls easier to use, but leaves you ignorant to what the controls directly changed to achieve its sound. For instance, if you use a plug-in that has a fader controlling a “Smash” parameter, what is the “Smash” doing exactly? Does it EQ the sound? Is something being filtered? Does it matter? By using plug-ins like that, Dan considered it a failing to learn.
Dan also stated that such software is good for businesses, which is true. Music software that gives the end user the sounds they desire is often the goal developers strive for. However, Dan insisted that Chiptune is not a response to such easy-to-use music software, but rather it evolved by itself into where it currently stands in the community.
What are your thoughts on the subject? Do you agree that simple and easy to use software actually does make you less curious about how the sound was achieved?
Clear your calenders for the first weekend of 2014 and get ready to rock out to some phenomenal videogame music! The twelfth annual Music and Game Festival, also known as MAGFest 12, has released the performance roster for three of its upcoming videogame music concerts. The event will be taking place in National Harbor, Maryland and will run from January 2, 2014 through January 5, 2014. Two of these concerts are chiptune showcases, which will be held on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The Friday night concert will be what is known as an Electronic Dance Music (EDM) Battle concert. A total of six different DJs from the VGM community will be participating to perform their repertoire for this EDM Battle. The line-up for the upcoming concerts include some new acts and a number of returning artists.
More information and updates on MAGFest events, tickets, hotels, special guests, and performers is available on the official MAGFest website at http://www.magfest.org/. A handful of us from Original Sound Version will be attending MAGFest 12 to cover the events and concerts as well. It’s looking like a great line-up for this concert series. Hope to see you there.
A combination of 80’s music and chiptunes? You’d have to be crazy to pass up a union like that! Well, you don’t have to now that chiptune artist Dmitry “C-jeff” Zhemkov has released Big Steel Wheels for public auditory consumption.
Described as “A fictional action music adventure, inspired by works of Vince DiCola, action movies, rock and metal music, chiptunes and the legacy of ’80s!” by C-jeff himself, he combines his skill with a cadre of strong supporting artists. Featuring Grant “Stemage” Henry, Dan “Danimal Cannon” Behrens and Raz Ben Ari on live guitar, Jeff Ball on viola, and even the voice talents of Alexander Brandon, Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreland, George “norg” Nowik and Lamont Bellsarios, the album is packed with talent. Boasting an essence of “Transformers the Motion Picture” with the flair of 80’s synth and smooth guitars and viola backing, it nails a heavy nostalgic feel.
Check it out on Ubiktune or pick up the entire album for $7 on bandcamp and give C-jeff some big steel love.
Veterans of the MAGfest stage, progressive metal geeks Armcannon make a return to form this coming MAG 11 to grace the stage with their usual brand of gaming and pop-culture music with their distinctive flare.
Hailing from Buffalo, NY, the boys from Armcannon have been performing since MAGfest 5 in one capacity or another and each time deliver a combination of old favorite tunes along with fresh, new imported mixes from video games and pop culture alike. Featuring the dual-shredding guitar power of Dan “Danimal Cannon” Berans and Mike Willard, the keyboard stylings of Chris Dlugosz, power-drumming of Larry Steele and heavy bass of Ian Machniak, Armcannon covers a wide spectrum of familiar tunes ranging from songs from Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and MegaMan 2 all the way through Power Rangers and ThunderCats themes. Nothing is safe from these metal maestros. (And Mike Willard has a, in the words of Nathan Explosion, “Totally Metal Voice”)
Performing on the main stage on Friday night at 9:20pm before Video Game Orchestra, Armcannon might even feature a few new tracks from their upcoming new album release, Armcannon III: Leg Vacuum 2, so be sure to stop by and rock out with your cannon out.
Another of the MAGFest regulars, and one of the most celebrated at the show, this band has been doing nothing but Metroid for the better part of a decade. And in what style, you ask? Metal, of course. Hardcore, polyrhythmic, math-heavy, no-vocals metal. These arrangements are a music theory lover’s wet dream.
The band is sort of a super-group at this point, as most of its members have their own thing going on. The band’s founder, “Stemage” (Grant Henry), has his own side projects going. The lead guitarist, “Danimal Cannon,” will be playing as part of Armcannon and doing his own chiptune show as well.
I love seeing these guys perform. They’re a personal favorite every single year. The big question: will they have any new material, or will it be a selection of classics? We’ll find out on Thursday night, January 3.
Well, oops. We had a lot of coverage of Contra 4: Rocked ‘n’ Loaded on OSV leading up to the album’s release back in March 2010, but it somehow managed to slip through the cracks when it came to a review. Well, after seeing and talking to many of those involved this past week at MAGFest about the status on their Rockman X arrange album and realizing our boo-boo with the Contra 4 album, I was determined to go back and review it.
Around this time last year, I was sitting at my desk, jaw agape, listening to an early recording sent by the inimitable Dan Behrens, lead guitarist of VG cover bands Armcannon and Metroid Metal. It was maybe the 2nd song I’d seen him write under his Danimal Cannon moniker with LSDJ, the popular homebrew tracker for Game Boy that he had begun using in earnest just 2 months prior.
What I was hearing, however, sounded like the work of a hardened veteran, chock full of masterfully measured dynamics, thoughtfully programmed software instruments and complex, melodic arrangements that could have been played by a 4-piece prog metal band if they didn’t sound so damn good on a Game Boy.
Now, a year later, I’m similarly stunned by a full-length release that’s staggering in both length and variety, where guitar solos (born of both plucked strings and pulsewaves) soar over a bassline bedrock and into picturesque landscapes of micro-processed progressive, math rock and heavy metal anthem. Combine that with a smattering of live instrumentals and guest appearances from the likes of keyboard virtuoso Shnabubula and you’ve got one hell of a debut chip music album.
Earlier we showed you the sweaty pig bin that makes up the ever-so-awesome MAGFest concerts, which should be the main reason for anyone to attend the convention. But not every show is dedicated to the arrangement of pre-existing video game sources which triggers the nostalgic buttons in everyone; some actually go the extra mile and perform using the video game hardware itself to create original and diverse tunes, many of which are supreme dance material with feel good spirits contrasting the live instrument side of things nicely. Thanks to our own Josh Kopstein, MAGFest offered one of the best lineups a chiptune fan could ask for.
Set at a more humane hour and calmer than the other concerts, the chiptune show was one of the more memorable of the many which MAG offered and left some great impressions. The pixel art backdrops presented at the show were done by NO CARRIER and enso, two world-traveling tech wiz’s who have mastered this fine art of producing live generated graphics by using custom software running on NES consoles and other devices. It all made for a smaller yet more welcoming atmosphere to all the shows as lines and fans were more focused towards the acts as a whole. Thanks to Emi Spicer, we have some wonderful photos along with our impressions to share.