Chiptune Tuesday: Zan-zan-zawa-veia

It’s been a while since the last Chiptune Tuesday, so let’s bring it back in style: with some downright eclectic music from Zan-zan-zawa-veia (Susan Sawyer-Bayer), a legendary/obscure (depends on where you stand within the chiptune scene) artist who has been releasing wilfully bizarre music since at least 2008.

Now, ZZZV’s music is a unique blend of jazz, funk and prog, viewed through the prism of old computer game music. This weird spectrum of influences produces some pretty interesting results. These results are released under a bizarre array of pseudonyms, personas and fursonas including Anna Y. Nyanya, Gnassurus, Krystal Fox, Nu-hu-meila and Liminique. Or maybe these are equally-pseudonymous collaborators? ZZZV is also a member of at least three other bands: Agamemnon, Didactic Sudanese Transplant Waiters and Vargid Police (There might not be any other members of Vargid Police — if there are, doesn’t know about them.)

ZZZV plays her cards close to her chest, and by hiding her(?) identity under layers of masks forces the listener to focus on the music, and the psuedonyms themselves, rather than the artist. Of course, I approve entirely of this sort of gesamtkunstwerk. Continue reading

Chiptune Tuesday: Capture the Sun and Ovid’s Withering

Hi! Welcome to Chiptune Tuesday! Today I’m going to tell you about a couple of bands who’ve released chiptune versions of their own non-chiptune albums, and why you should care.

I was reading the rather awesome Bandcamp Buried Treasure feature on, which is all about good-but-cheap underground metal albums on Bandcamp (no surprises there), when I came across post-rock act Capture the Sun. I noticed whilst listening to their delightful debut album that there was a link in the corner to a free chiptune version of that album

Album artwork for Capture the Sun chiptune version.

I could’ve predicted the album artwork without too much work, but that doesn’t make it any less good.

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Chiptune Tuesday: Starscream / Infinity Shred

Yes, it’s that time of the week again when things get bleepy and bloopy! But here’s a band that eschew the retro stylings of most chiptune artists. Rather than looking back to the 80s and early gaming technology that gave birth to their 8-bit instruments, Starscream/Infinity Shred have their sights set firmly on the future and on the infinite possibilities of space.

Starscream / Infinity Shred band logo

Starscream / Infinity Shred band logo

But first up, some disambiguation since this is a band who’ve had some identity issues. Starscream were founded in 2007, initially a two-piece chiptune outfit, comprising Damon Hardjowirogo and George Stroud, they were later joined by guitarist Nathan Ritholz. The band played and recorded under their Seeker-sational moniker until 2012 when they changed their name to Infinity Shred. The reason for the renaming wasn’t, as you might expect, a lawsuit from Hasbro, but actually legal pressures from another band, the Philadelphian rockers Starskream. The name change also signaled an evolution in the band’s sound, maintaining their signature downbeat science-fiction themes but beginning to move away from purely 8-bit/chip music to explore wider electronic soundscapes. They now describe themselves as Electronic / Rock / Post-Rock rather than  chiptune per se. Although I strongly encourage you to check out their whole back catalogue, I’m mostly going to talk about the band as Starscream not just because we find it hard to pass up a good Transformers reference here on AddAltMode (although we do), but primarily due to the fact that I’ll be focusing my attention on my favourite of their albums, which dates from the Starscream era, 2011’s Future, Towards the Edge of Forever.

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Chiptune Tuesday: 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer

8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer are chiptune artists; actually, to be fair, 8 Bit Weapon is Seth & Michelle Sternberger, and ComputeHer is Michelle’s solo project, so it makes sense to talk about the two “bands” together. The previous two Chiptune Tuesdays I wrote about bands who add chiptunes to other types of music, so I thought it was tie to give a purely chiptune act some love.

Straightforward though 8 Bit Weapon’s music might be, it’s far from boring. They work with a variety (in their own words, “an arsenal”) of classic video game consoles and vintage computers as instruments.  Whilst they stay true to their chiptune aesthetic, they don’t appear to be too purist to use emulators and synths when it gets the result they want. Continue reading

Chiptune Tuesday: NESBM

Welcome back to Chiptune Tuesday, and to the new-look AddAltMode. Yes, we’ve given our site an overhaul, do let us know what you think of the new look and layout.

Now, the Chiptune aesthetic is an interesting one; and to a great extent it stems from minimalism — a stripping away of unnecessary fluff to focus on what’s really important in a composition. It’s not the only genre of music that revels in a minimalistic aesthetic that I can enjoy, though, 2nd-wave black metal was also deeply rooted in minimalism. Let’s compare the 2 genres:

Chiptune Black Metal
Minimalist Aesthetics Minimalist Aesthetics
Many noted eccentrics in scene Many noted eccentrics in scene
Nostalgic for 1980’s and early 1990’s Nostalgic for 1980’s and early 1990’s

What if someone combined the two?

The little orcs in the bottom left corner actually look quite cute in this version.

Oh, someone totally went there.

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Chiptune Tuesday: Rainbowdragoneyes

Welcome to Chiptune Tuesday! Some purveyors of chip music are creating soundtracks for retro video-games, some are inspired by video games, and some are artistic minimalists. Some however, just want to rock out. Rainbowdragoneyes belongs in the last category: fusing chiptunes with extreme metal to create a unique, headbanger-friendly chipthrash.

Gameboy ist Kvlt!

Not the logo of an artist who can be reasonably accused of taking himself over-seriously.

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Chiptune Tuesday: Demoscene Time Machine

It’s been a while since we did any music-related posts on here, so let’s rectify that. Now, my taste in music as a whole runs rather towards the bleak: gothic metal, post rock, dark wave, that sort of thing. My Dad once described an album I was listening to as “the sort of thing that would get rejected from Leonard Cohen’s funeral playlist for blackening the mood.” So, yeah, I’m a bit of a musical miserablist overall, but when I’m ready to go to my aural happy place there’s nothing I enjoy more than listening to chiptunes.

Which isn’t to say all chiptune sounds are upbeat. Chiptune isn’t really a genre so much as a way of producing music, using the technology and sound chips from old 80s consoles and computers. There are some wonderfully downbeat chiptune soundscapes out there too, some of which we may showcase another Tuesday.  But let’s start with a project that does feel truly joyful in its nostalgia for the world of 8-bit gaming… Bring on Demoscene Time Machine!

Demoscene Time Machine band logo

Demoscene Time Machine band logo

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