Pause release compilation - Magnetic Sumo

In their usual fashion, Pause has gathered a cavalcade of incredible artists to create some amazing works of chiptune music. This time the compilation is called Magnetic Sumo and for a description simply states...

Where the laws of attraction and the eternal battle for the title of Yokozuna intertwine.

What that may mean musically is anyone's guess, but what I do know is that there are tons of artists, both new and old to Pause that come together for this compilation. Kicking things off is the band I spoke very fondly of in the past, Yakuza Heart Attack (in fact I am still listening to their most recent album fairly often). Their tumbling upbeat signature style is in full force with Bionic Boiz. From there we hear from chiptune mainstay Alex Mauer with Terraforming Mars, a melodic, simple tune that builds into a mesmerizing drum laden piece with some pumping leads. Combined these tracks set the back and forth precedent of this album from over the top funkiness to laid back dance rhythms and more.

Speaking of funky, some catchy clapping bring us to Rico Zerone and his piece Spheredivers, a deep sea, high fueled adventure, as if taking a submarine down into the otherworldly depths of the ocean floor while working on 3 hours of sleep. Moving ahead a few tracks we hear from Joshua Morse, and his atmospheric jazz track Meteor shower pro which starts off slow, but builds an incredible momentum as the song progresses into a whirlwind of musicianship on all fronts. That number moves us along to the sometimes tough to describe, but amazing to listen to vibes of Zan-zan-zawa-veia with hushhush. Another soft flowing track to lie back and reminisce to before jumping into the catchy drum and guitar styled world of Temp Sound Solutions and their cover of Alex Mauer's Floating Point, which takes an already funky tune and cranks it into high gear with some great guitar and drum work.

The album comes to an end with Give us the green light, an amazing and catchy track from Spiny Norman which brings the album to an amazing ending with it's uplifting vocals and chip pop stylings. As to be expected from Pause, we have here a compilation showcasing the many talents, styles, and instrumentation of the netlabel roster and friends. I often tell people that chiptunes is as varied a movement as the people who create it, and nowhere else is that idea shown than through compilations like this one. Once again, if you didn't click that link in the opening to grab this album, the compilation is free, and available right through here.

Wintertunes chiptune compilation release

They have brought you Springtunes, then I heard about their awesomeness with the fantastic Summertunes, then patiently awaited the highly anticipated release of Autumntunes. Well now the folks over at the chiptune label ubiktune have encased an entire year of seasonal greatness with, you guessed it, Wintertunes. This is a brand new compilation from many fantastic artists from the chiptune community.

This album features some spectacular snow themed, ice sheeted tracks from the likes of Temp Sound Solutions, Zan-zan-zawa-veia, as well as recent chiptune darling Derris-Kharlan, and plenty more from folks new and old to the seasonal tunes series.

Things kick off with the funky Magic Snow is White and Slow by nq\skrju (I have no clue how to pronounce that). We are hit with a funky groove that layers some clap like glitchy leads and sample voice overs that create an upbeat mood of driving down a dark winter road with your friends as the snow begins to fall. Navigator on the other hand takes on a more somber space like tone. This track comes our way courtesy Rico Zerone and creates a vibe more akin to a snowy tundra as opposed to a soft snow covered yard. The song creates images of a vast swath of endless white snow.

Skipping ahead a few tracks we hear from Captain Tortilla with his track Wind Chill. This song creates an adventurous NES game style melody that reminds one of a side scrolling winter level from many a game back in those days. This is followed up by my favorite track on this collection, the flustered tones of Jeca Jeca by the ever interesting Zan-zan-zawa-veia. This track melds together Zzzv's glitchy nature with a laid back tune that would be played during Christmas in an alternate world. The slow, melodic track wraps around and slowly rises in both pace and insanity as we reach the end.

We reach the end of the album with a breathtaking track from Temp Sound Solutions. I have always enjoyed the juxtaposition between his gritty video game covers and the very relaxing, almost daze inducing chiptune work he has created. Angels' Bane definitely fits in with that category of chiptunes. The track gives off a nostalgic mood with it's soft beeps and buzzes, as if you were hearing a recognizable song from outside of a store window. The track gives off a ton of lazily window shopping along main street while bundled up in a brand new winter coat and simply enjoying the scenery of it all. The laid back atmosphere also brings the album to a very smooth, well defined ending.

The album, much like it's predecessors, is a relaxing, nostalgic look back on the recently passed season, and all the seasons before that as well. Remember that you can grab the album for free through the Wintertunes page on ubiktune. Be sure to grab all their previous compilations while you are there as well.

Track listing after the break. 1. nq\skrju — Magic Snow is White and Slow (1:41) 2. Rico Zerone — Navigator (2:30) 3. Tony Thai — Cough Syrup Overdose (2:37) 4. Derris-Kharlan — Reconciliation (2:18) 5. Captain Torilla — Wind Chill (2:39) 6. Zan-zan-zawa-veia — Jeca Jeca (4:45) 7. Blitz Lunar — The Labyrinth of Skadi (5:05) 8. zinger — Hibernation Hacker (5:00) 9. coda & surasshu — lucia (6:17) 10. ast0r — Mere Words (Bobby McFerrin) (3:12) 11. Temp Sound Solutions — Angels' Bane (2:57)

Zan-zan-zawa-veia - Fell Plot album release

In my professional ineptitude I have failed to keep up to date on some of my favorite albums lately, and am seeking to cure that slowly but surely. We start our game of catch up with an older Pause release from the laid back Zan-zan-zawa-veia. Their new release came out a few months back and is Fell Plot.

An occult shadow government dissolves messily, its members left trying frantically to remove themselves from every list that matters before the sun comes up. Eight oppressive and complex pieces of expanded NES music hint obliquely at the story behind the collapse of a generation’s fell plots.

So goes the story of Zan-zan-zawa-veia's latest release, an album that creates a sepia toned mood of old phonographs, slow waltzes, and deteriorating brick and wood metropolises. The album kicks off with Koff Koff, a track that sounds as if things are spiralling out of control in a cacophony of sounds and swirling effects. This is followed up by the dreary Rose Wood, the slow, foreboding track starts off calmly, but lurches toward a frustrating tone, as if someone is slowly working on an increasingly difficult, and secretive objective.

We skip ahead to two of my particular favorite tunes from the album. The first of which is the moody tune Rest Easy, which is a bit more ominous than the name implies. The lo-fi crackling along with the slightly too slow rhythm creates a mood of almost ease, but not quite. As if, even though all things are done, and every enemy dealt with, something is still amiss in the recesses of your mind. The track breaks down and leads directly into Fish Food. This track starts out with an almost incoherent series of beeps which slowly struggle to make a tune, as if it's a brain itself waking up from a daze and trying to piece together the sounds around it. Once we regain our composure the song quickly turns into a heart pounding theme somewhere between the sounds of a Game Over theme and the build to a final boss fight. The sounds continue to build until we reach that boss and a catchy but ever changing theme that keeps us on edge the entire time.

Of course we can't conclude this short write up without mentioning the ten minute final opus of the album, the self titled Fell Plot. Fading in with a simple melody before being surrounded by crunches, it then breaks forth into a gentle lullaby, only broken by the always ominous tones that lie beneath it. The song takes many turns and break downs along it's journey. Things really build to a head in the last moments of the track though, just before slowly falling apart into another sea of seemingly meaningless buzzes and chirps.

This album is not a head bobbing rock out, nor simple relaxed listening to get your homework done to. For those willing to stick with it though, Zan-zan-zawa-veia tell a deep story with many twists and turns. Remember you can grab the album free through the official Fell Plot album page.

Autumntunes compilation release

Autumntunes

After a breezy Autumn, Ubiktune is back with another all star collection of nostalgia driven chiptunes in Autumntunes. For those like me who are fans of prior release Summertunes, then you will no doubt find much to enjoy in this longing look back for the colorful days of autumn during these chilly holidays.

There is much to be heard here as well. In this 16 track collection we hear from big time chiptune composers like Virt in his worldly track Mecha-Kukai Travels To Chang'An, which is a fast paced six minute romp/action sequence through what seems like a gently shimmering chinese city on the edge of the forest. We also have Shnabubula in Use a Rake, which is a two minute battle of wits between a man, armed with his rake, and the ever cunning pile of leaves he hopes to defeat, at least that's what I interpret in this crunchy, ever changing and surprisingly in your face track.

We also have relative unknowns, but with fantastic tracks. Zinger's Ashen Emotion is an epic little track that comes highly recommended. A spacerock feel gives you the idea of rocketing out of earth's orbit in mid October, or perhaps blasting through a hostile alien world that seems to be going through the same earth seasons we have back home. Five Minutes Of Autumn from Megus closes the album with a clacking metronome which is swiftly covered by ominous tones and winds. The song slowly builds until about a minute in when we hear the main theme come in. The song feels like an ending reprise and reflection on both the album, as well as the season and one long adventure. The gentle melody sways along adding guitars and effects along the way. The song slides it's way through several different moods as instruments drop in and out, finally bringing things to a close with an abrupt somber end.

We can't leave out chiptune staples like Temp Sound Solutions with his glitched out rained in Phrt, with it's plodding pace, claustrophobic feel and great use of samples, this one will definitely stick with you well after it is finished playing. Or Alex Mauer's Gentle With The Hand, a stirring piece that slides from intimidating blasts of sound to high relaxing notes. As if coming in and out of consciousness.

And that is only a small handful of what is encapsulated here! Nearly an hour of finely crafted chiptunes to mourn the end of fall, and step into the cold of winter. Did I also mention the album, as with all Ubiktune releases, is free? Well it is! So head over to the Autumntunes page and download it right away!

Also click on through to see the full list of songs and artists.

01 Megus - Five Minutes Of Autumn 02 Alex Mauer - Gentle With The Hand 03 Zinger - Ashen Emotion 04 Joule - Bursting Bubble Boy 05 Kulor - Doorbellsplosion 06 Malmen - Flirt Talk 07 Blitz Lunar - Heavenly Spores 08 Shnabubula - Use A Rake 09 Virt - Mecha-Kukai Travels to Chang'An 10 Manwe - Rotagilla 11 Syphus - Drop Table 12 Coda - Harvest Moon 13 nq/skrju - The Whiskey Has Been Drinking, Not Me 14 Zan-Zan-Zawa-Veia - Fixt Path 15 Temp Sound Solutions - Phrt 16 C-jeff - Last Minutes Of Autumn

zan-zan-zawa-veia - mole soul ep release


Lately I have been falling behind on all the great releases over at Pause and am now trying to rectify that terrible mistake! I begin my bit of catch up with the mole soul ep by zan-zan-zawa-veia. The album is 6 adventerous tracks of simple melodic tones infused with glitchy sounds and textures. I think zzwv explains it best.

This cream of nine month’s work is a set of curious songs sung by a neglected NES, buried alongside the sounds of dinosaurs - progressive rock, the earliest game soundtracks, cabaret and other such styles left to hibernate. All six pieces avoid the immediate and mechanical, instead delving naturally into exploration.

With an explanation like that it's no wonder this album is such an odd smattering of music. The album is definitely better for it though. You can hear the influence of old game soundtracks with the infusion of small catchy riffs that will have you feeling like someone is playing a classic NES game of your youth off in another room. As with all Pause releases this one seems to bring something new to the table and is an interesting listen to say the least.