5 out of 5
Produced by: Various
And I guess I like chiptune music? This admittedly sort of blended in my mind with synthwave, which I rather quickly got exhausted on… but chiptune’s generally bite-sized presentation and upbeatness seems a little less kitschy and more continually palatable to mine ears, as it’s beholden to and not trying to surpass its video game-y bleeps and bloops, and thus artists seem to revel in the simplicity of crafting a good, toe-tapping beat.
Of course, it’s nice when these things are packaged rather ideally for consumption, such as on iam8bit’s collection of the BIT.TRIP first several games’ greatest hits. By keeping the runtime down to about 40 minutes, and giving us a scattering of different artists, but pairing a couple of tracks by each together, we get enough consistency to get into a jam, with enough variation to hear the different chiptune approaches.
Bit Shifter’s layered, dancey excellence kicks us off, leading in to Bubblyfish’s somewhat darker entries, ending the A-side on Nullsleep’s building and soaring beats. On the B-side, relative superstars Amanaguchi make it clear how they burst to the fore of the scene with their full-song style compositions (meaning including solos and drumbeats and the whole nine), and then we get the trip-hoppy offerings of minusbaby before Bit Shifter returns to close things out. It’s all undeniably chiptune, but with a range of moods, and anyone who describes this as strictly gamer music (and I look guiltily above to where I’m calling this stuff ‘simple’) might be surprised at how these tracks ebb and flow and have clear themes and bridges and whatnot.
Iam8bit’s vinyl production tends to be a bit digital, but that’s obviously in the score’s favor, here, and they really added to the sense of fun with the packaging, which is slobbered in bright colors all ’round. An excellent intro into the chiptune scene, an excellent selection of tracks from some damningly fun games, and likely to give you a few more artists to follow as well.