Ubiktune Latest Newshttp://ubiktune.com/Latest news of Ubiktune net-label.en-usMaking 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!

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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!

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

Behind NIRVANA and beyond

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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".

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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:

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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!

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UbiktuneFri, 15 May 2015 22:01:23 +0000
Goodies: Realm of Mind - Moonshine Island (Feat. Trev Wignall)http://ubiktune.org/news/2015/goodeis-realm-of-mind-moonshine-island-feat-trev-wignallhttp://ubiktune.org/news/2015/goodeis-realm-of-mind-moonshine-island-feat-trev-wignallCheck out this amazing jazz-fusion collaboration of chiptune artist Realm Of Mind and electric violin player Trev Wignall.

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UbiktuneSun, 10 May 2015 21:38:42 +0000
Zantilla - Star Bridehttp://ubiktune.org/releases/ubi084-zantilla-star-bridehttp://ubiktune.org/releases/ubi084-zantilla-star-bride

About a year and a half has passed since Zantilla's (Adrian Shegstad) Ubiktune debut album Encounters was out, and now we're glad to present for you his next release called Star Bride.

Star Bride is funk heavy tribute to Adrian's significant other. It combines early and modern funk influences into a non-stop groovin' chiptune ride. As Adrian himself says, "in other words, it's a motherfunkin' riot".

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UbiktuneWed, 29 Apr 2015 21:57:58 +0000