Ubiktune Latest Newshttp://ubiktune.com/Latest news of Ubiktune net-label.en-usIntroducing: Amplitude Problem's Frequency Modulators Orchestrahttp://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/introducing-amplitude-problem-s-frequency-modulators-orchestrahttp://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/introducing-amplitude-problem-s-frequency-modulators-orchestra
Art by ​Mythical Vigilante

It is time to bring some more FM goodness, and we're happy to welcome Juan Irming aka Amplitude Problem with his Ubiktune debut!

The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 is a retro-electro-jazz concept album consisting of songs created exclusively using FM synthesizers and lo-fi drums. It is an exploration of the degree to which cold, digital synthesis can be transformed into the warm, human grooves and nuanced, improvised language we expect from the great art of jazz. A zany chiptune adventure down the pixelated rabbit hole. The synth-funk soundtrack to your brain.

It also features the front artwork by ​Mythical Vigilante and additional art by Valenberg.

The album was mastered by Grammy Award winning engineer Don Grossinger.

The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 album art by Mythical Vigilante

Meet, Amplitude Problem

Amplitude Problem is Juan Irming, a Los Angeles producer, composer, sound designer and keyboardist with a focus on synthwave, chiptune, soundtracks, hip hop, video game music and sound effects.

Juan got his start on the European demoscene in the late 80s as the composer for world famous and humble Atari ST demo crew SYNC, placing first in several demo music contests.

Since attending Musicians Institute in the early 90s, he has composed and produced video game inspired synth and chip soundtracks for a number of projects and records such as legendary geek rapper YTCracker's cyberpunk album Introducing Neals. Credited on ten LPs, he has been featured on albums alongside artists like Mitch Murder, Lazerhawk and GUNSHIP. Juan has appeared live at events and venues such as Comic Con and Game On Expo alongside acts like The Gothsicles, The Minibosses and Future Holotape.

He has also written soundtracks and created sound effects for video games such as Power Drive 2000 and VirtuaVerse.

Behind the Modulators

Art and animation by Valenberg

As every record holds its own creative story, we asked Juan to share some insights about how and why The Frequency Modulators Orchestra was created:

The jazz-funk stylistic idea for the album goes back to when I produced a bunch of songs for YTCracker’s album “Introducing Neals” in 2014. Most of the tracks were synthwave but while I wrote the instrumental for “Feel Like Leisure Suit Larry”, I rediscovered the epic fun of the more chip-like FM-synth sound and how it truly lends itself to percussive, jazzy and zany grooves. I made a similar track for my 2015 album Blue Bots Dots called “Funky Mustache” and by then I knew I wanted to write an all-FM album. Late that year, the concept for The Frequency Modulators was clear in my head. I embarked on a ten-month creative journey with the goal of using the arguably coldest method of synthesis to create music in one of the warmest, most human genres.

Things are, of course, quite different when you’re writing purely instrumental music compared to songs with vocals. There’s a lot more room for purely musical expression and I feel the expectations from the listeners might be elevated; it’s all on you as the instrumentalist to keep their interest and excitement throughout each song and the entire album. You can’t hide behind ideas conveyed through words.

One early decision was to lean very heavily on improvisation, which would help the tunes remain in the realm of jazz -- spontaneous and in-the-moment -- and also let me have lots of fun in the studio jamming on the keys. Which I certainly did! I also wanted to ensure that the final result had the right balance and texture in the ears of the most discerning jazz fans, so I went to Grammy Award winning mastering engineer Don Grossinger, who in the past has worked with Miles Davis and tons of other legends. My friend Valenberg, who did the animations for my previous album, created the amazing “Jazz Night” pixel-art animation for this one as well, once again providing a perfect visual counterpart to my soundwaves.

Another important parameter was to allow myself to be as “me” as I wanted with the music, with no constraints on how far to take these tracks, and with no apologies issued; I made music I wanted to hear. I think that’s the only way tracks like “Ghosts in My Medicine Cabinet” can happen. You can’t play a track like that and be shy about it; you go all in and deliver it with conviction. Further to that point, it’s perhaps unsurprisingly a very personal album. Each song tells a special story, with the first four tracks constituting a rather deep introspective and the last three tunes providing heartfelt commentary on life and the universe. Perhaps there are others like me out there who end up examining our bizarre space adventure through a variety of different lenses at different points in time.

On how the album got its title.

Given the style of the music, I figured Amplitude Problem couldn’t be the only one on stage. A band was needed, and so the idea of The Frequency Modulators was born. Each FM instrument would be a full band member, granted the privilege to improvise, have fun and spread good vibes.

The release

The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 is available through all major shops and streaming services.

]]>
UbiktuneTue, 25 Apr 2017 23:25:33 +0000
Making of SOUNDSHOCK, Part 2http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/making-of-soundshock-part-2http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/making-of-soundshock-part-2
Art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

For this update, we’re focusing on the visual side of the SOUNDSHOCK series; more specifically, Tsuyoshi Shimokura’s handpainted album covers. Please enjoy this little retrospect told by zinger — which details the creative process of all three albums — along with prototype artwork and a final message from the artist himself:

Me (zinger) and Shimokura initially got in touch thanks to hex125, whereupon I invited him to write a song for FM FUNK MADDNESS!!. However, when browsing his music I also discovered another folder that was filled with really cool art.

It turned out that Shimokura was a professional artist with a background in manga. And, considering I already knew he was very passionate about computers, games, FM, and so on, I also asked him if he would be interested to draw a cover for us. I will discuss the process behind all three covers, but let’s begin with the latest installment, and Shimokura’s concluding message to the SOUNDSHOCK fans:

SOUNDSHOCK has come to an end.

That, however
is not a sad thing.

Supposing SOUNDSHOCK really has struck
a chord in its listeners’ hearts
then our work could be thought of as a seed
for future stars that have yet to be born.

These new stars, we regard
as our spiritual offshoots —
just as we are the progeny
of our forerunners.

For us, believers in FM sound
we are all one and the same.

That, indeed
is not a sad thing…

Now, firstly, if the wording sounds a bit stilted here, it is my translation of Shimokura’s message that is to blame.

Secondly, if it the message also seems a bit cryptic, that’s because it’s closely related to the idea behind the cover art for the third volume. So let’s rewind and take a look at how that came about.

N I R V A ͇ ̼N A ! !

I knew years beforehand what title of SOUNDSHOCK 3 would be; someone had posted a youtube comment just when TERRROR!! was released, stating that he was already looking forward to "SOUNDSHOCK 3: FM FUNK NIRVAAANA!!" or something along those lines (can't remember the exact wording, and I can't find the actual post anymore).

SOUNDSHOCK 3: FM FUNK NIRVANA!! album art sketch by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

Whoever wrote that must have grasped exactly what I had envisioned for this series: something that just goes further and further over the top — that's why I chose to add extra letters in the titles of the previous titles! For NIRVANA however, adding more letters to the word wasn't quite as fitting in my opinion, it looked too weird, and even when spelled regularly, the word ”nirvana” already brings up an image of something that's perfect and ultimate; just as I explained in a series of tweets recently (in response to Grumskiz):

Official explanation: there were no errors in spelling, MADDNESS and TERRROR are common words infused with extra power!! a word like NIRVANA though is pretty much already maxxxed out, so you have to be really careful not to overload it!"

So, we went with NIRVANA, even though that also meant sacrificing coherence to some extent. Anyway, about the cover art, I didn’t have a clear picture of how I wanted NIRVANA to be portrayed, but started to randomly searching for Buddhist terms on Google image search and showed him some paintings that I liked… Now, my understanding of Buddhism and the concept of ”nirvana” is hazy at best, so I felt pretty clueless when Shimokura explained his ideas to me.

Therefore, I pretty much stayed out of Shimokura’s way on this one and simply let him follow his intuition. The one thing I know about reference images though is that he looked at the cover of Darius Gaiden’s soundtrack CD. Now, his idea, as I understand it, is that the pattern of spheres in the upper part of the picture (each containing different ”elements”) form a vision of the universe together, almost like a map or a ”mandala”.

If you read Wikipedia’s definition of mandala, it states that:

”In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.”

At the bottom of the picture is a large group of people approaching a huge FM chip mounted on a circuit board, as if they are worshipping it. So, if you consider them as disciples of a faith, the FM chip as an object of worship, and the image above them as their spiritual guiding tool, the meaning of the cover and how it relates to Shimokura’s message (and of course the title of the album) should become quite clear.

SOUNDSHOCK 3: FM FUNK NIRVANA!! album art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

M A D ̕ ̵D N E S ͝ ͠ ̴S ! !

For the other two albums the process was a bit different, and we discussed different motifs more closely together. For MADDNESS!! we specifically looked at the Metal Black and Darius II flyer artwork, whereupon Shimokura started drawing concept art, rough sketches, and writing small stories about what was portrayed in the picture.

SOUNDSHOCK: FM FUNK MADDNESS!! album art in progress by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

Shimokura’s idea for this cover was basically that the heroes (or musicians) pictured use their united forces and of course the power of FM sound to defeat the monsters and save the world! A simple idea, but very well realized if you look at the details such as how the FM chips are aligned (in the form of algorithm charts), and I love how the feet of the chips move a bit like caterpillars! :)

SOUNDSHOCK: FM FUNK MADDNESS!! album art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

T E R R R ̧ ͢ ̵ ҉ ̵ ̵ R ! !

For TERRROR!! I sent Shimokura a bunch of 80's horror posters and flyers for reference, both from movies (Terror on Elm Street series, The Evil Dead, some obscure Thai stuff, etc) and games (the Splatterhouse series), and after that we discussed various ideas and concepts for several weeks.
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! album art sketches by Tsuyoshi Shimokura
We really had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for this one, and Shimokura was simply bursting with creativity and kept adding little details everywhere. I love for instance the ghoul up-front, with his little maggot-embellished gravestone-styled YM666-iPod thingy, as if he's planning on 'turning' the listeners, too (and hey, he did, right? :)) And, also, how the stars form FM algorithm charts together — that's just brilliant!
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! album art in progress by Tsuyoshi Shimokura
All these details, by the way, connect in a beautiful way to the story that Shimokura wrote (translation/interpretation by me):
On April 5, as the Algorithm constellations assume their patterns, zombies set out to haunt every village. Enthralled by the magical power of FM sound, and obsessed with the idea of seducing and conscribing all of mankind, they inflict FM terror on its inhabitants. Victims will be paralyzed with fear and have their brains shocked to death. However, a new passion will be concurrently awakened within their souls.
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! album art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura
To conclude, I’d like to yet again extend my sincere gratitude for lending us your talent, Shimokura. And also, for giving me the most wonderful tour of Osaka’s best small-scale game centers! :) Hope to see you again soon!

That's all for now. Stay tuned for Part 3!

]]>
UbiktuneSat, 15 Apr 2017 21:13:50 +0000
Making of SOUNDSHOCK, Part 1http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/making-of-soundshock-part-1http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/making-of-soundshock-part-1
Art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

SOUNDSHOCK came a long way before to become the series it is now. Back in 2010, the creative mind of zinger and the united forces of Ubiktune started something that happened to be more, than just a new compilation album.

Please welcome, zinger!

zinger

C-jeff approached me back in 2010, I think, about making a solo album for Ubiktune. I was very happy about that, but I remember telling him that there was something else that I’d like to do even more, and that’s when I started working on the SOUNDSHOCK album project.

As for how the actual idea initially arose, I guess it all goes back to playing games such as Golden Axe II and Sonic the Hedgehog on my Mega Drive as a kid. That is what eventually led me to my involvement in the tracker/demo/chip music scene (both as a composer and organizer), and soon enough I started filling my bedroom (to my mother’s discontent) with heaps of obscure Japanese computer games, arcade cabinets, hardware FM synthesizers, and so on. For something like 15 years now I have been completely obsessed with computer and video game aesthetics, and exploring the very depths of those worlds has given me a sense of inspiration and excitement that just doesn’t seem to ever wane. So, for me personally, the SOUNDSHOCK series has been a means of exploring, expanding and cultivating that realm even further.

Looking back, I’m immensely thankful to have been able to work with this series, not only because of all the new great music, but also because at least to me, SOUNDSHOCK also means a sense of community among people with similar passions. When first meeting people like Ryu Takami and hex125 (about ten years ago when I hadn’t learned the Japanese language yet), the only way we could communicate, basically, was by name-dropping composers and titles of our favourite games, and I have this very fond memory of how our faces almost literally lit up from the satisfaction of having so much in common, despite such niche interests.

Similarly, I was amazed to learn how much hally knew about the demoscene, and that people like Keishi Yonao had fantasized about Western computer culture in much the same way as I had about NEC or Sharp computers, not to mention game centers in Japan. Having been just as enamored of the demoscene as of the realm of Japanese video games, I’ve always wanted to bring those worlds closer together, and wow! — it just makes me so happy to see people like shogun and Utabi on the same track list as, say, zabutom and Metal! Clearly, they belong together — don't you think?

The forum

The name ”SOUNDSHOCK" was originally used by zinger for the SOUNDSHOCK Forums back in 2007; a place for FM enthusiasts to meet, in order to learn more about the technical aspects of FM, sound programming, as well discussing and sharing their music. Many of the SOUNDSHOCK album participants originally signed up and posted their music on there. We asked our artists to tell about those days, a little bit their own history in music, and the approach they chose for their songs featured on the albums.

boomlinde

boomlinde

I came in contact with the concept of FM synthesis via early IBM PC soundcards. The idea that the computer would host a full, functional synthesizer on a chip seemed really cool to me. I soon learned that these Yamaha chips could be found in all kinds of consumer hardware. Flexible little synthesizers hidden in plain sight, in cell phones, video game systems, pinball machines... Mostly not quite available for one to tinker with. I have since collected some FM synthesizers, written FM synth music using trackers and MML and lately my own FM software synthesizers.

When I found the SOUNDSHOCK forums, I was very happy to learn that there is a group of people interested in discussing and sharing technology, techniques and music related to FM synthesis in English, often on a very technical level, with enthusiasm that I could relate to. It's a blessing in a relatively marginal hobby to have a forum devoted to it.

When I make music, I often let the patches or instruments inspire the style. I associate certain sounds with certain styles and use that as a basis for my musical ideas.

For this song, I started by programming an electric bass patch that I really liked in VGM Music Maker. I tried programming a pretty intricate bass line at first, but ended up using the sound more sparsely to let the horn stabs and melody fill in the blanks. With the lead, I like when it implies something about the harmony that isn't immediately apparent from the bass and chord progression. I don't reason about this in a very systematic way and instead use a trial-and-error approach to composition that suits trackers really well. When I was done, I let it rest for a few days so that I could adjust it from a more distant point of view.

Extent of the Jam

Extent of the Jam. Photo courtesy by La Vie en Photos.

Wow, the Soundshock Forums. Those were special. OK, so let me rewind. I’d started writing FM because I felt like I was in a rut with regular sample-based chiptunes. That’s when a friend showed me RADTracker, and I was hooked. So, since I thought nobody else was playing with FM sound in the late 90s, I started messing around with it. Several years later, I discovered the Soundshock forums and found so many other FM enthusiasts, and so many brilliant people. Legends even. And it not only brought together FM fanatics from both the chiptune and the micromusic scene, it also brought musicians together from the east and west. It makes me happy that the FM scene lives on to this day both on social media and in the form of these FM-dedicated compilations. Rock on.

Simon Stålenhag

Simon Stålenhag signing his art books at the Göteborg Book Fair. Photo courtesy by Lars Aronsson.

Back in 2011, I was working as a video game designer at a small mobile game studio, doing FM chiptune music on my spare time. I remember becoming aware of a ringtone somebody in the office had, it sounded like the most kick ass videogame music I had ever heard, and I soon realized it came from my fellow art colleague Mattis's phone. I asked him about it and he said the he had composed it himself. I couldn't believe it - I was already excited by the fact that somebody else in the office was into videogame music. So I told him I was also into that kind of music making and I asked him if he had more of his own compositions that I could listen to, but he said he only had a bunch of half-finished snippets. I didn't care, his ringtone was so awesome so I said GIVE ME EVERYTHING. I got a folder of maybe 30-40 short pieces of brilliant chiptune music, some of the best I had ever heard!

It so happens that I had just posted some of my own stuff on zinger's Soundshock forum, and within something like the same week me learning about Mattis's pure brilliance and our common love for videogame music, zinger contacted me about an upcoming compilation of FM-style chiptune music called FM FUNK MADDNESS, asking me if I wanted to contribute to it. Honored, I of course accepted the offer, but I couldn't let zinger go on in his life oblivious about the existence of Mattis - this music genius sitting five rows down from me, stowed away behind a computer screen - so I sent him some of Mattis music and said CONTACT THIS GUY. HE CALLS HIMSELF BOMB BOY. And the rest is, well - pure FM FUNK NIRVANA...

I can safely say that Mattis is one of the most brilliant people I've met, both as a visual artist and as a composer. He is hardware accelerated with THE FORCE. I remember how he used to communicate animation feedback - he would just stand up in the office and scream and yell and play out the whole thing the way he saw it in his head. 99.9 % of people doing that kind of thing in an office are idiots that you ignore but when Mattis did it it made perfect sense and everybody could see that his vision was awesome. It is inside of him and needs to get out, like a chestburster. The same with his music. When I compose I sit by the keyboard and slowly iterate - desperately looking for any contours in the blurred and dull fog inside my mind. So I was shocked to learn that he didn't find the melodies by playing the piano or guitar or any other instrument, but that he precisely and painstakingly farted out notes with the mouse cursor - following nothing but that crystal clear high definition mental image of the song that resides inside his head.

Anyway, the insane thing is that when I heard the first FM FUNK compilation I was blown away by the fact that it seemed to be brimming over with the same raw talent and creative exhilaration that Mattis possessed and my picture of the world changed. I was suddenly made aware that some kind of musical mutants, cursed with immense superpowers are hiding all around us, waiting to shift into their true form at the first opportunity they get. The FM FUNK compilations have been such opportunities and I'm infinitely proud to have been a part of it, together with talents like Mattis.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

]]>
UbiktuneSun, 22 Jan 2017 00:00:27 +0000
Introducing: SOUNDSHOCK 3http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/introducing-soundshock-3http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/introducing-soundshock-3
Art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

SOUNDSHOCK is back to conclude the FM FUNK trilogy. FM FUNK NIRVANA!! brings you 16 new tracks by 19 uniquely talented musicians, from four different continents, using an arsenal of 17 different hardware and software FM synthesizers.

Although this release marks the end of the series, our hope is that we’ve inspired listeners and musicians enough to carry our message further, and to keep reinventing FM funk for decades to come! "That is", in the words of Tsuyoshi Shimokura, "not a sad thing." No indeed; rather, we believe this calls for celebration: let’s get it started!

Behind NIRVANA and beyond

SOUNDSHOCK 3: FM FUNK NIRVANA!! album art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

SOUNDSHOCK came a long way before to become the series it is now. Back in 2010, the creative mind of zinger and the united forces of Ubiktune started something that happened to be more, than just a new compilation album.

Please welcome, zinger!

zinger

C-jeff approached me back in 2010, I think, about making a solo album for Ubiktune. I was very happy about that, but I remember telling him that there was something else that I’d like to do even more, and that’s when I started working on the SOUNDSHOCK album project.

As for how the actual idea initially arose, I guess it all goes back to playing games such as Golden Axe II and Sonic the Hedgehog on my Mega Drive as a kid. That is what eventually led me to my involvement in the tracker/demo/chip music scene (both as a composer and organizer), and soon enough I started filling my bedroom (to my mother’s discontent) with heaps of obscure Japanese computer games, arcade cabinets, hardware FM synthesizers, and so on. For something like 15 years now I have been completely obsessed with computer and video game aesthetics, and exploring the very depths of those worlds has given me a sense of inspiration and excitement that just doesn’t seem to ever wane. So, for me personally, the SOUNDSHOCK series has been a means of exploring, expanding and cultivating that realm even further.

Looking back, I’m immensely thankful to have been able to work with this series, not only because of all the new great music, but also because at least to me, SOUNDSHOCK also means a sense of community among people with similar passions. When first meeting people like Ryu Takami and hex125 (about ten years ago when I hadn’t learned the Japanese language yet), the only way we could communicate, basically, was by name-dropping composers and titles of our favourite games, and I have this very fond memory of how our faces almost literally lit up from the satisfaction of having so much in common, despite such niche interests.

Similarly, I was amazed to learn how much hally knew about the demoscene, and that people like Keishi Yonao had fantasized about Western computer culture in much the same way as I had about NEC or Sharp computers, not to mention game centers in Japan. Having been just as enamored of the demoscene as of the realm of Japanese video games, I’ve always wanted to bring those worlds closer together, and wow! — it just makes me so happy to see people like shogun and Utabi on the same track list as, say, zabutom and Metal! Clearly, they belong together — don't you think?

So: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, Tsuyoshi Shimokura, Megus, Rufus Blacklock, MmcM, and of course all the composers for making this series so awesome; your work has far exceeded any expectations I have had, and has really given me an endless amount joy!

SPECIAL THANKS goes, of course, to C-jeff — not only for supporting and contributing immensely to the project, but also for creating what I consider the world’s best chiptune label. And also, to hally, for being a huge source of inspiration in all things related to chiptune and video games, as well as introducing me to the Japanese chiptune and games community. SOUNDSHOCK would not have been possible without you people!

That's it for now. I hope you all enjoy SOUNDSHOCK 3: FM FUNK NIRVANA!! as much as I do!

The release

FM FUNK NIRVANA!! is currently available on Bandcamp and SoundCloud, and further will be on all major shop and streaming services.

]]>
UbiktuneSat, 07 Jan 2017 22:19:17 +0000
Announcing: SOUNDSHOCK 3http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/announcing-soundshock-3http://ubiktune.org/blog/2017/announcing-soundshock-3
Art by Tsuyoshi Shimokura

SOUNDSHOCK is back to conclude the FM FUNK trilogy. FM FUNK NIRVANA!! brings you 16 new tracks by 19 uniquely talented musicians, from four different continents, using an arsenal of 17 different hardware and software FM synthesizers.

As you might expect, several SOUNDSHOCK veterans — including Keishi Yonao, Simon Stålenhag, Extent of the Jam (Louis G), bacter and Bomb Boy — have returned to join us for this final release in the series, but we’re also absolutely delighted to feature new talents such as stinkbug and Chimeratio, that have appeared on the scene lately.

Stay tuned and be sure to follow our blog during the coming weeks to learn more about the story of how the SOUNDSHOCK series came to be, told by zinger (series creator) and many of the contributing artists.

SOUNDSHOCK 3 will be released on January 7th, first on Bandcamp and SoundCloud, and further on all major shop and streaming services.

]]>
UbiktuneTue, 03 Jan 2017 23:32:50 +0000
Introducing: Danimal Cannon's Lunariahttp://ubiktune.org/blog/2016/introducing-danimal-cannon-s-lunariahttp://ubiktune.org/blog/2016/introducing-danimal-cannon-s-lunaria
Danimal Cannon in concert. Photo courtesy by Chiptography.

Danimal Cannon is back! Three years passed since the release of Parallel Processing, a collaboration album with Zef, and now we are ready to unveil his new album titled Lunaria.

With this project, Danimal finally reveals his approach on chiptune and guitar combined in full force, something that many could have seen in his live performances, but very rarely on the record. This take on his sound with a strong treatment of progressive music elements definitely puts Lunaria one step ahead.

The album also features two vocal collaborations with Emily Yancey and a piano performance by our very own Samuel Ascher-Weiss, also known as Shnabubula. Artwork by Minerva Mopsy.

Behind Lunaria

We asked Danimal to give us a deeper background of the album and gave him a few questions to answer.

Lunaria is the album my fans have been asking me to make for 5 years. I've always performed my gameboy songs live with guitar, originally I thought it was a good idea to have my live show be something different than my album recordings. I experimented with adding guitar to a couple songs on my 2011 album Roots. It was surprisingly difficult to marry the 2 instruments together cohesively and I released most of the songs with no guitar on them.

It took me 4 years to really master how to write songs incorporating both the gameboy and guitar. However the wait paid off, this album really makes the 2 instruments sound like they're supposed to be together, like a new band lineup that really gels.

On his influences and overall stylistic approach.

This album is pretty metal, but there's a lot of different influences going on. I was heavily influenced by game music like the Shovel Knight OST, indie rock like Buke and Gase, industrial music like Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM, and orchestral music like Mozart and Eric Whitacre during the writing process. All of those musical flavors find their way into the album, some more than others, but they're all there.

On how Lunaria got its title.

I'm a huge science geek, I watch science lectures in bed every night before I fall asleep. The rough concept of the album is based around something called the "giant impact hypothesis" which is the best working theory for the creation of our moon. I thought it was an interesting story and I decided to dress it up by personifying the event and creating a character to represent the impactor/moon named Lunaria. Lunaria can also be split into "Lunar-aria" as in a vocal aria about the moon.

As we previously mentioned, the album features two guest stars.

For the vocalist I chose Emily Yancey, a professional singer who used to be my neighbor. I used to hear her practicing opera music through the thin walls of our apartment and I decided a trained singer would have the vocal timbre I was would expect to hear from my celestial moon goddess character.

I also asked my friend Shnabubula (Samuel Ascher-Weiss) to do a piano rendition of a song for this record. Sam is one of the most talented musicians I know, I also had him as a guest artist on 2011's Roots. Since his piano chops are astounding, I decided to give him the song "Axis" because it was the most challenging song on the record. Honestly I was just curious about what would come out if he tackled it, and he delivered a breathtaking version of the song. It also provides a nice contrast from hearing the song on a quirky digital instrument like a gameboy to a very traditional sounding one like a piano.

Behemoth

Listen to the first single from the album.

The release

Lunaria will be released on March 11th and currently is available to pre-order via Bandcamp. Beside digital release, the album is also available on CD and features the artwork poster.

]]>
UbiktuneTue, 09 Feb 2016 23:18:19 +0000
Introducing: zabutom - Redux34http://ubiktune.org/blog/2016/introducing-zabutom-redux-34http://ubiktune.org/blog/2016/introducing-zabutom-redux-34

Chip music veteran zabutom’s new album Redux34 takes his trademark chip wizardry and incorporates it into a wildly creative blend of electro, prog rock, IDM and folk-inspired compositions — all with excellent production and complex soundscapes that seamlessly blend 8-bit Nintendo bleeps with electric guitars, analog synths and spaced out delay textures.

Redux34 conjures up a retro-futuristic vision of strange new worlds and tells of a mysterious, somewhat melancholic yet hopeful story.

Redux34 album art by Anders Karlsson

About zabutom

Zabutom is Niklas Sjösvärd, a Swedish composer and musician born in 1985. He has been active since the early 2000s, being part of numerous demoscene releases and compilations and performing at chiptune events throughout the world.

He put out his debut release Zeta Force on Ubiktune in 2011 — a collection of shmup-esque tunes from his earlier years which has since become something of a classic in the genre.

In 2014 he received his bachelor’s degree in composition and electronic music from the Academy of Music and Drama in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Behind Redux34

The album stylistically is quite different from any previous zabutom’s releases. Niklas enters the territories already familiar to Ubiktune audience, such as progressive rock, but also brings even more variety with IDM and various electronic experiments, while chiptune sound basis glues it altogether.

We asked Niklas to tell us more about background of Redux34 creation.

Most of the music was written a few years ago in the form of plain LSDJ or NES chiptunes. It started off while I was beginning to perform regularly on chip festivals and events using Gameboys, around 2008.

I very much enjoy making LSDJ dance music, but I wanted to expand on the notion of chip music — incorporating other instruments and production techniques from other electronic music genres, while still keeping it close to the original intentions.

However it wasn’t until after making Zeta Force and New Beginnings that I felt like I’d learned enough to do those ideas justice, which is why some of the tunes have been left unreleased for a long time. I was working on the title track “Redux34” back in 2008, and the LSDJ cartridge crashed just while I had finished the groundwork of the track, erasing all of the music data. I had to recreate it all from scratch; thus the name “Redux”, and “34” because of the time signature.

It became a recurrent theme while working on the other tracks of the album; lost patterns, settings and mixes that repeatedly had to be redone from scratch. It was a very long and time-consuming process, especially producing and mixing the album. It’s also about finding my way back to my chip music roots after making excursions into other scenes, and doing all sorts of different music-related stuff for the last few years, like doing experimental electronic music (Friktion, Scratches and Petals), modular live techno (Buchla Boys), art installations, and as a guitarist/vocalist in folk-inspired acoustic acts (with Fowlcloud and Léonore Boulanger).

Redux34 also features the art by Anders Karlsson, a concept artist and painter from Norrköping.

The release

Redux34 is available through all major shops and streaming services, as well as on physical CD.

]]>
UbiktuneFri, 18 Sep 2015 17:58:16 +0000
C-jeff - Still Flyinghttp://ubiktune.org/releases/ubi000-c-jeff-still-flyinghttp://ubiktune.org/releases/ubi000-c-jeff-still-flying

Still Flying is the first C-jeff's album. It was written during 2002 on a real ZX Spectrum in Pro Tracker 3 music editor. The album tagline is "lyric music novels".

]]>
UbiktuneMon, 08 Jun 2015 23:34:42 +0000
Shnabubula Streaming Live Piano Every Weekhttp://ubiktune.org/news/2015/shnabubula-streaming-live-piano-every-weekhttp://ubiktune.org/news/2015/shnabubula-streaming-live-piano-every-week

Shnabubula is back! He has started a new project, for a fun challenge and also to learn lots of new material.

Every Friday on Hitbox from 12PM-8:30PM EST (GMT -5) Sam will be taking requests and learning whatever is asked live on the stream, then two days later, he will perform a setlist of all the songs that were requested, Sunday at 4PM EST (GMT -5).

Here you can see a recording of him performing the 14 songs he learned just last Friday:

You can download the individual songs as an album here:

]]>
UbiktuneMon, 18 May 2015 23:26:39 +0000
Kickstarter: ZX Spectrum book and upcoming album by C-jeffhttp://ubiktune.org/news/2015/kickstarter-zx-spectrum-book-and-upcoming-album-by-c-jeffhttp://ubiktune.org/news/2015/kickstarter-zx-spectrum-book-and-upcoming-album-by-c-jeff

Today Bitmap Books launched a Kickstarter for their new book "ZX Spectrum: a visual compendium".

The book is available with many additions, such as cassette versions of new ZX Spectrum games, posters by Retronator, and also CD+poster edition of C-jeff's upcoming album called "ZX". Only 50 copies are available!

]]>
UbiktuneFri, 15 May 2015 22:01:23 +0000