Support: Mazedude announces Kickstarter for American Pixels - a Game Music Tribute Album

Get your wallets out, this is a good one. Mazedude has announced a Kickstarter to finance an all new musical tribute to a few incredible US based video game composers. With all my yammering about Yasonuri Mitsuda, Motoi Sakaruba, and Kinuyo Yamashita, I know I'm guilty of forgetting the many incredible composers for the ever growing list of great Western produced games. Both AAA titles like DC Universe (Gerard K. Marino), Brutal Legend (Peter McConnell), and Mass Effect 2 (Jack Wall), as well as indie games Liquid Tribes (Jimmy "Big Giant Circles" Hinson), and Mighty Switch Force 2 (Jake Kaufman) are well represented among over a dozen tracks.

It's already been ten years since the American Album? How time flies. and I've been listening to Mazedude since even before that. Back in them good ole dial-up / OCReMix days of yore.'Yore' meaning circa 2001. I have to imagine the first track I heard from Mazedude was either 'Island of Zeal' (Chrono Trigger) or 'Norfair Deathmarch" (Super Metroid). The point is, Mazedude has been at it for years, and it gets none better, especially in the American made, American remixed tracks from his (with your help) American series of albums. 

Be sure to check out Mazedude's Kickstarter campaign, and donate anywhere between $1 and $3350 to reach that $5K goal in the next 29 days!

Support: Fangamer's You Are Now EarthBound Kickstarter

Featuring all new Earthbound tribute album by Bad Dudes.

The ever expanding Fangamer is back with an incredibly ambitious kickstarter all about the Earthbound fans of America. For the price of $100,000 Fangamer will be producing a feature length documentary about US EB fans across the country. There is also the requisite tons of one-of-a-kind merchandise that only Fangamer can produce. Reward tiers begin at $16 for digital merchandise to over $8,000 for an all expenses paid trip to Japan with Fangamer.

Check out the kickstarter page for the run down on the insane amount of products that can be nabbed for the proper donations.

Of particular interest to readers of the site, is that part of the Kickstarter is a brand new album by musical collective Bad Dudes. Psychokinetic will be filled with an eclectic series of beloved themes from the Mother / Earthbound series, including "Snowman," and "Eight Melodies."

Listen to a sampling of themes from the upcoming album below. (listen for one of my all time favorite Earthbound themes at the 1:25 mark.)

The album can be collected along with plenty of other goods, such as the Earthboound handbook, documentary, and more starting with the $32 pledge tier.

Be sure to head over to the official You Are Now Earthbound Kickstarter page to learn more, and check out the nearly finalized tracklisting for the Bad Dudes' Psychokinetic album.

Support: 'At the End of Days' a jazz tribute to Animal Crossing by Zac Citron

Fund an album more underground than KK Slider.

If you are a fan of Animal Crossing, or just damn fine music, be sure to check out the latest kickstarter by Zachary Citron. You may remember Zac from his previous success at funding the well received Okami tribute Shinshu in Bloom.

This time around, the group of Zac and his trusted artist Elie are seeking a relatively small $1,200 as their goal. Rewards for pledges range from $5-1000. The former netting you an early album release, while the latter (which would fund the album essentially by itself) offers one wealthy backer the chance to direct Citron's next album with songs of the backers' choosing.

At the time of this writing, At the End of Days has 17 days left, and has reached nearly $500 of their 1.2K goal. Be sure to donate soon, I have to wonder how many folks lost some time off their lives from last minute Kickstarter pushes.

Get a taste of one of the two preview tracks available now on their Kickstarter page. Listen to the first take on "Isabelle's Story" below

Support: The final stretch for Band Saga Kickstarter

Concept Art from Band Saga 

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get around to this news until recently. Luckily, it isn't too late. These are the final days of  the Kickstarter push for the indie developed roguelike Band Saga. Just like a busted old tour van, this project needs just one more push to get them to their destination and live the rock n roll indie dev dream.

The game is based on classic randomly generated roguelikes. Not only are you a musician, but you will wield the power of music to cause an array of effects to the game. As of this writing, the team is a mere 5K short of their $29,000 goal with less than two days to go. Support the Band Saga Project over on their official kickstarter page.

Support: The Players' Score - A Video Game Music Documentary begins Kickstarter campaign

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After some dedicated work by the folks behind The Player's Score - A Video Game Music Documentary. they have finally launched their Kickstarter campaign, and it's time to turn the hype up full force. As of the time of this writing, the TPS crew has 44 days left in which to raise a little over $20,000 to make their dream a reality. Depending on the size and weight of your wallet, you can donate anywhere from $5-$3000 (with physical rewards starting at the $35 price point) to support this documentary.

The Player's Score is a documentary aiming to show the impact of video game music via the endless amounts of musicians inspired by video game music, as well as the fans, events, and community that surrounds them. I've had the pleasure of meeting director Kory Caldwell and producer Keaton Slansky a few months ago, and I sincerely hope they are successfull in this endeavor. Not just for them and the rest of the crew, who are truly passionate about this project and the VGM scene, but also for the hundreds of fans like myself who have been waiting for the day that someone would undertake the cross country (and possibly even global) trek through the widely scattered VGM scene and create a great documentary from that footage.

Expect more coverage about The Player's Score as their kickstarter campaign heats up, be sure to check out their kickstarter page and spread the word.

Support: Kickstarter fundraiser for Shinshu In Bloom: An Okami Remix Album

On the official Kickstarter page, Citron says, "It's awe-inspiring how well done and immersive [the Okami soundtrack] is. I want to, potentially, bring this amazing soundtrack to someone who wouldn't have heard it otherwise."San Francisco based musician Zachary Citron, AKA Zencha, is looking for supporters to help fund production of a fan made, jazz-hop remix album of music from the game Okami. Shinshu In Bloom, Zencha says, will be 14 tracks from the Capcom game Okami, rearranged in the style of "underground/Jazzy hip-hop."

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Perks for donating to the project include pressed copies of the album, and higher donor tiers can look forward to limited edition artwork and posters.

As a fan of a variety of beautiful but incredibly niche games such as Okami, I have felt first hand the fervor and passion with which fans cling to such once in a lifetime experiences. Perhaps this is why less popular titles always seem to be a haven for the more experimental musicians out there. This fusion of jazz music and hip hop beats all in tribute to Okami may be a perfect complement to a game with a small but diverse crowd of fans.

The Shinshu In Bloom: An Okami Remix Album project will be funded if at least $1,500 is pledged by Sep 5. Enjoy two preview tracks from Shinshu In Bloom below.

Kickstarter: Support The String Arcade Recording

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Video game composer Dren McDonald has recently started a very interesting Kickstarter. He hopes to arrange and record a type of aural history of video games. McDonald describes his project as, "a well curated collection of music that works together thematically as a completed recording."

"We also hope to inspire young musicians with this recording by making a connection between video game music and 'classical' instruments such as violin, viola and cello." McDonald says.

A list of possible songs to include is also listed on the Kickstarter page. I'm excited to see Mario RPG among their plans! To think some of Yoko Shimomura's amazing music will find its way into this project makes my heart sing.

The String Arcade Recording Kickstarter ends on August 28, 2013, and is aiming for $6000 to be fully funded. Minimum donations begin at $2.

Indie games remix album "Indie B-Side!" by Joshua Morse

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Longtime game remixer (and creator of one of my favorite Earthbound remixes) Joshua Morse takes it old school and new school all in one very likely overcrowded school of smooth electronic flavors.

Eschewing popular or nostalgic titles, Morse takes it to the streets by remixing some of his favorite niche indie titles in the appropriately Indie B-Side Vol. 1. Longtime readers and fans of video game remixes will recognize a bevy of musicians who belted out the original tunes including halc, Anosou, Zircon, and Disasterpeace.

Finally, considering Joshua Morse has been providing the internet with some incredible, and free, music for years, return the favor by supporting his own indie gaming endeavor Crypt Run on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter: Support indie PC game Dropsy - "A Surreal Exploration Based Adventure Game"

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I like everything about Dropsy by accomplished musician and game developer Jay Tholen. That is, I plan to, as soon as everybody chips in and makes sure it gets off the ground. This kickstarter campaign ends July 25th, and has a minimum goal of $25,000.

Dropsy is an open world adventure game with an emphasis on surreal atmospheric elements and environmental storytelling. It extracts the humor and rich narratives from classic adventure games (like Monkey Island, Full Throttle, or Grim Fandango) and places them into a unique exploration based framework.

Though its roots are in the point-and-click games of old, Dropsy will be an almost entirely text-free experience. There are still colorful characters to communicate with, but the dialogue is handled visually rather than linguistically. This is enhanced by expressive animation and detailed surroundings.

Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire release Ultimate Songs from the Pit

It feels like yesterday that I had the pleasure of meeting Shael Riley and Ty Guenley, the masterminds behind the 8-bit indie rock band Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire and their newly-released album Ultimate Songs from the Pit. They had been visiting NYC to get the album mastered a year ago, thus bringing Shael and Ty in proximity to me and each other. This came not long after the Backfire’s success in funding the mastering through a Kickstarter, which gained nearly twice as much monetary pledges as the initial goal. The cash certainly didn’t go to waste: even songs from the band’s previous EP Songs from the Pit feel refreshed and immediate due to Drew Lavyne’s mastering and Ty’s mixing.

Although the process of finalizing and mass-duplicating the CD was long, Shael and Ty were hardly at rest in their music making. As incentive for the Kickstarter, the band recorded cover versions of songs commissioned by those who made large pledges; one such cover, a remake of Shael’s Castlevania homage “Juese Belmont” was posted at OverClocked ReMix. The Double Ice Backfire also contributed to albums that covered “Weird Al” Yankovic and They Might Be Giants. My favorite song from Ultimate Songs from the Pit, “Hobby Model” almost seems like a cover itself, with its refrain resembling that of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

Genius loves company, and so the album has a fair number of guests. Fellow chip rocker Brian Mazzaferri of I Fight Dragons shares lead vocal duties on “Bootstraps” while Schaffer the Darklord drops lines into “Publishing Rights”. Additional rhyme-spitting comes courtesy of Mega Ran on “Area Dolls” and Billy the Fridge in “Rarest of Elements”. Ricky Henry, the ‘third-ice’ in the band’s live shows, was responsible for the album artwork. Ultimate Songs from the Pit is available now at Bandcamp for streaming and as a paid download, with the lead track “How to Fire a Gun” as a free single.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baChMg0Ceuw&version=3&hl=en_US&hd=1]

Mega Ran's Forever Famicom on vinyl and DVD, with your help

That's right, Mega Ran and K-Murdock's collaboration album Forever Famicom is not just an album anymore, but a full fledged story thanks to Griff Morivan. You just witnessed part one up above you, and you can check out part two already as well!

Will there be more though? This is where you come in as a loyal Mega Ran fan. Looks like Random has started a kickstarter fundraiser to bring both the Forever Famicom movie to DVD, as well as the FF album to vinyl for all the record collectors amongst you. The clock is ticking though, as Ran has given us less than a month to raise the necessary 2,500 bucks to make this dream a reality. As with all Kickstarter drives though, there are plenty of amazing incentives for those with deep pockets. Starting from a simple $10 for the Forever Famicom album, and posters, all the way to the highest donation, which gives you the power to request Random and K-Murdock sample and flow over any game you choose! Portal? UN Squadron? Barbie's Horse Adventures? For the price of $250 any of it is possible.

Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire need kickstart for new album Ultimate Songs From The Pit

As you should all know by now, I have been a huge fan of Shael Riley since quite some time ago. Well ever since then he has started an amazing band known as the Double Ice Backfire who released an impressive album of nerdery and musicianship last year to high praises (like mine). Well they are all set to unveil their first full length album, once again in reference to a certain fighting franchise, Ultimate Songs From The Pit and they need our help to get there.

Now you must be wondering how exactly you can help. Well looks like Shael Riley and band have created a Kickstarter page to help raise the funds to get the album professionally mastered, pressed, and more. As with all kickstarter programs, DIB is offering some amazing incentives for donations, including the power to commission them to cover any song of your choosing (If I had the money I would probably request the likes of Tom Waits, or La Roux at this moment, so if you have the cash, just a suggestion).

The group has already released some amazing covers thanks to this program, so be sure to check out their renditions of Radiohead's Creep, as well as The Wallflowers' One Headlight over at the newly revamped shaelriley.com.

Gaijin Games release Bit.Trip Beat soundtrack and launch date for Bit.Trip Void


Independent game developers, Gaijin Games, who I was glad to catch on to with their well received launch title Bit.Trip Beat, has announced a release date for the third game in their series of retro inspired chiptune infused titles. Bit.Trip Void will be coming to the US Wii consoles through Wiiware on November 23rd. As with Bit.Trip Beat and follow up title Bit.Trip Core which featured music from Bit Shifter and Bubblyfish respectively, The new Bit.Trip Void will feature music from well known seminal chiptune musician Nullsleep.

What do these incredible chiptune artists have in common besides great musical ability and being featured in the Bit.Trip series? If you said they will be performing at this years Blip Festival in New York you would be correct. In that vein Gaijin Games has decided to support these artists and the chiptune community by helping sponsor Blipfest this year. If you would also like to show your support and get some 8bitpeoples goodies as well by also becoming a sponsor through the Blipfest Kickstarter page.

The second bit of news from the folks at Gaijin is the announcement that Bit.Trip Beat soundtrack is now available for digital download at iTunes, CDBaby, and many other online retailers. The soundtrack not only includes all the in house music for the levels and cutscenes, but also includes amazing theme music from Bitshifter. So for chiptune fans as well as supporters of great independent titles and fans of Bit.Trip specifically, I suggest you grab the album and the game and have quite the retro Thanksgiving.

Blip Festival returns and first artists revealed


Recently the fine folks at 8bitpeoples have launched the brand new 2009 edition of the Blip Festival website. Along with that they have also revealed both the Blip Festival 09 dates of December 17th to the 19th in New York at Brooklyn's Bell House. They have also revealed some of the first confirmed acts for the show, which includes some of the best that chip music has to offer, and spanning all over the globe, including the first Australian chiptunist in little-scale! The full run down is below.

But before that, sadly things aren't all sunshine for the festival. Looks like the grant they used to fund the show in prior years is no more. The good news is that you, the loyal chip loving fan can help part those gray skies by heading over to Kickstarter for the The People's Fund to Support Blip Festival 2009 and donate a few dollars to make sure this mecca of micromusic can continue for another year. Of course 8bitpeoples is more than happy to give a little back by offering plenty of awesome incentives for different donation levels. Head over to see what's still available.

ARTISTS CONFIRMED AS OF THIS POST
Bit Shifter
Chromix
Disasterpeace
failotron
Fighter X
The Hunters
I, Cactus
The J. Arthur Keenes Band
Je Deviens DJ En Trois Jours
Leeni
little-scale
Nullsleep
Rainbowdragoneyes

Miles Davis chiptune tribute Kind of Bloop released; Zen Albatross interview with Andy Baio and DisasterPEACE


As was announced a few months back, an amazing collection of chiptune artists gathered together to pay tribute to one of the most seminal works in 20th century music, Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. The resulting effort is Kind of Bloop, and is available for download at the very low price of $5 at kindofbloop.com right now. This is a landmark moment in chiptunes and I am proud to be able to write about it as it happens. Also to commemorate this moment I am happy to present Zen Albatross, who comes to us with his second guest article for GM4A. This time he has landed an interview with two of the folks behind Kind of Bloop.

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Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue was a landmark achievement in the history of recorded sound. It not only pioneered modern Jazz as we know it, but also refined the art of recording and completely changed the way musicians produced albums. Since its release in the summer of 1959, Kind of Blue has been consistently regarded as one of the most influential recordings of all time. In honor of the record’s 50th Anniversary, Andy Baio of Waxy.org assembled an all-star team of chiptune musicians to create Kind of Bloop, a complete re-imagining of the seminal Jazz classic, created using obsolete videogame hardware.

Go ahead and shout ‘blasphemy’ now, if you like. But take a moment to consider the amazing nature of this project and the manner in which it came about; a method which very well may be just as revolutionary as the artistry it pays tribute to.

I had the pleasure of chatting with both project organizer Andy Baio and chip musician Rich Vreeland about the ambitious plan to create the ultimate chiptune jazz tribute album. Hit the jump to discover the story behind Kind of Bloop and a new breed of fan-funded projects that are changing the way people make independent games and music forever.

The setting of the story is Kickstarter, a collaborative fundraising website brainstormed by internet entrepreneur Perry Chen. The site launched earlier this year, featuring a smattering of start-up projects. Just 4 short months later, it now hosts hundreds of prospective projects, allowing users to get funding in order to create albums, games, books, magazines, iPhone applications and pretty much any other form of media you can think of. When Andy Baio was paired up with Chen through a mutual acquaintance, he began to realize Kickstarter as the perfect platform to launch a project of his own. Shortly after, Andy was made CTO of the site.

First off, where did the idea for Kind of Bloop come from initially, and what made you decide to raise money for it on Kickstarter?

Andy Baio: It started a couple years ago, a silly idea wondering what jazz standards would sound like in a chiptune style. I went searching for more information online, but amazingly, couldn’t find anything. After Kickstarter launched, I wanted to come up with a project to try it out and the idea came back to me. So I went digging deep, looking for chiptune jazz, and found a total of three covers. So I tracked down two of the musicians that did those covers, ast0r and sergeeo, and asked if they’d be interested in covering Kind of Blue. They both agreed immediately.

What was the criteria for the artists who contributed?

Andy: I was looking for musicians that were both capable videogame musicians and jazz lovers, which was surprisingly hard. I approached Virt, whose music I’d admired for years. He came on board, and introduced me to Disasterpeace and Shnabubula, both extremely talented chiptune artists and Miles Davis fans. Once the lineup was rounded out, I started the project on Kickstarter.

How did the fundraising go once everything was in place?

Andy: I was hoping to raise $2,000 in three months, to pay the artists and legally license the songs from the original publisher. I hit that goal in four hours.

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With $2,000 raised in a mere fraction of a day, the artists involved were rightly enthusiastic about the project. One of the artists, Rich Vreeland, known also by his creative handle, Disasterpeace is a Staten Island-born musician who composes 8-bit style music for videogames and films. Rich joined us to discuss his experiences tackling the monumental task of making a Miles Davis tribute using only electronic instruments.

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Kind of Blue is considered a Jazz bible of sorts, and proponents of Jazz will usually contend that music like that can’t be replicated by machines. Do you feel that the albums music does justice to the source material? Or were you going for a looser interpretation where the new instrumentation doesn’t try to be something it isn’t?

Andy Baio: Many jazz purists will hate the album, arguing that it’s too rigid and mechanical. But that’s what drew me to the project in the first place: making art within constraints is a good thing, and what’s more constrained than making music for a 25-year-old videogame console?

Rich Vreeland: I think all five of us approached the source material in different ways, which will hopefully at the very least provide something for everyone. Kind of Blue is such a human piece of work that it’d be silly to try and transcribe the whole thing and think that it would work, so many of us decided to play to what makes Jazz so successful and incorporate original solos and reharmonizations. In trying to incorporate some of who we are into the pieces I think we also took some liberty with the form at times, and the style, but in the end I think those were necessary to keep things fresh.

Andy: If the guys had made faithful note-for-note translations of the original album, it would’ve been deadly boring and borderline offensive. But they’ve made music that is true to the fundamental tenets of jazz: highly improvisational, interpretive, emotional, and personal.

What are your thoughts regarding the funding efforts on Kickstarter and how did that affect the finished product? Did you expect to get so much support?

Andy: I was stunned by the response and happy that I could pay the artists. Getting funded that quickly meant the artists had much more time to work on their projects, which was a very good thing. The additional time really shows on the album.

Rich: I think we were all surprised at how much support we’ve gotten and obviously, we’re very grateful. Knowing that so many people were looking forward to what we were doing was definitely some additional encouragement to make this project as good as it could be.

What about the future? Do you think we’ll be seeing more chipmusic projects like this on the site?

Andy: I’d love to see more genre experimentation in the chiptune scene in general, whether on Kickstarter or not. Currently, Kickstarter is invite-only for new projects, but we’re opening to the public very soon.

Rich: I imagine that there will be more projects down the line similar to this, both in terms of concept and as far as using sites like Kickstarter which seems to have been a success. At the moment, I’m lucky enough to be a part of another Kickstarter project for an indie game that has just ended and we were able to reach our funding goal, so I can’t say enough good things about the site and its service.

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Kind of Bloop is available for download now on the project’s official website. Backers of the project received an advance copy of the album earlier this week, among other goodies depending on how much they contributed. Thanks again to Rich and Andy for answering all our questions! For more fan-funded goodness, check out Steve Jenkins’ 12-bit adventure game, High Strangeness.

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Thanks again to Zen Albatross for contributing the article to our site. Be sure to download the album from kindofbloop.com right away! You will not be disappointed!

Kind of Bloop: An 8-Bit Tribute to Miles Davis project announced


I can't really say much about this. Kind of Bloop: An 8-Bit Tribute to Miles Davis project has been announced. 5 amazing chiptune musicians creating an amazing tribute to one of the most important people to ever write music. An interview I heard with Rich Vreeland on Meteor Radio also made mention that the individual artists will be writing solos for one another's tracks in true jazz fashion! Basically this is going to be an amazing milestone in chiptunes and anyone who doesn't order a copy is surely going to be kicking themselves for some time. Here is more info straight from the source.

What would the pioneers of jazz sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System? Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga? For years, I've wondered what "chiptune jazz" would sound like, but there are only a tiny handful of jazz covers ever made.

To satisfy my curiosity — and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" — I've asked five brilliant chiptune musicians to collaborate and reinvent the entire album in the 8-bit sound.

The lineup, in alphabetical order:
Ast0r (Chris J. Hampton)
Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland)
Sergeeo (Sergio de Prado)
Shnabubula (Samuel Ascher-Weiss)
Virt (Jake Kaufman)

To create this album, I hope to raise $2,000 to pay royalties, pay the artists, and print CDs. Legally releasing cover songs requires paying mechanical licenses to the song publishers through the Harry Fox Agency, totaling about $420 for every 250 downloads and a $75 processing fee. I'll be using the remainder to print a very limited run of CDs for Kickstarter backers, and split the rest evenly among the five musicians for their painstaking work. (This is a labor of love for me, so I won't be keeping a dime.)

I hope to have the entire album download ready for Kind of Blue's 50th birthday on August 17. (Printing and shipping CDs will take longer.)

All project backers will get exclusive first access to the album download before anyone else in the world, and exclusive updates during the album's creation. Backers donating $30 or more will receive an extremely limited-edition CD, printed only for this Kickstarter project. Once the August 1 deadline is reached, the CD will never be sold again!

Track Listing (Tentative):
1. So What - Ast0r
2. Freddie Freeloader - Virt
3. Blue in Green - Sergeeo
4. All Blues - Shnabubula
5. Flamenco Sketches - Disasterpeace

Thank you so much for being a part of this.

("Kind of Bloop" pixel art by SnackAdmiral.)