Chip Music

Wake Up And Smell the B4ken: One Half of George & Jonathan Goes Solo

June 22, 2011 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Wake Up And Smell the B4ken: One Half of George & Jonathan Goes Soloon Twitter

Regular readers of this site should be no strangers to the party jams of chiptune duo George & Jonathan. Last year they dazzled us with The Best Music (OSV’s best chip music album of 2010), and followed it up with a holiday bonus treat, The Best Christmas. Despite their recent hiatus in lieu of long-distance commitments, the duo’s latter half, Jonathan Baken, has been hard at work on his own material, as evidenced during his recent performance at NYC’s monthly chip music event Pulsewave along with two more solo acts, Knife City (Luke Silas, drummer of Anamanaguchi) and Danimal Cannon (Dan Behrens, lead guitarist of ArmCannon and Metroid Metal).

Click through for impressions from the show and a brief review of his new solo album, The Octagon.

Following up Danimal’s incredible guitar/Game Boy prog-rock shreds (which, as an aside, you simply must hear live to believe), Baken’s solo work proved to be a noticeable departure from his G&J contributions. Warm synths vibrated seemingly every nearby air particle with thick, atmospheric chords, occasionally punctuated by bouts of that slimy, upbeat dance-funk we grew to love on The Best Music. But despite the more ‘serious’ overall tone, Baken thankfully kept his endearingly silly stage presence intact, complete with copious air guitaring and signature finger-wagging swagger.

A good portion of the set featured tunes from The Octagon, Baken’s recent solo concept album that sounds something like a modern take on one of Rob Hubbard’s famous C64 soundtracks. The scope here is massive — Waves of chilling ambience and chromatic leads on “Dark Forest” evoke a palpable sense of mystery that sound like they could have easily replaced a theme from any number of classic RPG titles. “The Sword of Mastadonius” and “The Battle At Mammoth Mountain” are dancey but dire, shaken up by relentless Game Boy arpeggios, dubstep-style basslines, raging guitar solos and dramatic chords to spice up some of the more hot-blooded parts of this faux-game soundtrack.

There’s much variety to be had here, and yet such a cohesive blend of stylistic material with discernible direction. For those pining for more G&J but open to some finely-crafted experimentation in the realm of epic fantasy soundtrack, this is not an album to miss. Stream or download it below (and donate!), and if you’re in the Northeast US (particularly Philadelphia), keep an eye out for this guy’s name on some local bills this summer.

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