Starting from the late 70s video game music became part of a generation, with a typical chiptune sound and just 8 bits to please the gamers. From that moment on, this music reached a highly respectable status, turning into a proper soundtrack. Far from being mere background music, it could be considered an essential part of the game, interacting with its dynamic and fluid turn of events. It’s not just a question of scoring: this music should be adaptable to every possible scenario, following the play of the users.
Recently, lots of artists came back to that chiptune sound, hardly pushing the button on the bit reduction. Mostly related to the independent video game scenario, these artists offer a personal view on that kind of music, finding their roots in the legendary 8-bit music scores (such as the looping chromatic bass in Space Invaders). Here a short list to introduce some of the most representative works in this genre.
The man behind Super Meat Boy soundtrack, Danny Baranowsky started gaining notoriety scoring Canabalt in 2009. Founding dB soundworks to promote his music, he offers a personal interpretation of the early 80s chiptune melodies (stream the huge amount of records he shared on his Bandcamp to prove it). Here you find a sample of what he does: the three track record Glorg probably is his most bit reduced release so far. Produced in 2010, this record shows a great passion for early sound synthesizer technologies, revealing a fine music taste from this Arizona native composer.
Rich Vreeland‘s project Disasterpeace probably is the best thing you’ll find in the current 8-bit music scenario. He won an award for scoring FEZ in 2012 after working on tons of video game soundtracks in the past years (around 30 or more). He produced his first release The Chronicles of Jammage the Jam Mage in 2005: from that moment on he gained more and more notoriety, even receiving a tribute from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Here the soundtrack from Passcode: Soul of the Traveler he released in 2010. Enjoy the work of this Berkeley-based chiptune composer.
The so-called Zweihänder is a sword you should grab with both of your hands because of its weight and size. Picture yourself fighting a dragon, trying to rescue some princesses in a medieval castle: this is exactly the feeling you got listening to this 8-bit music. It reminds of those arcade games you could play over and over, trapped in a palace, checking every room for keys or bonus jewels. Starting as a Youtube project, Zweihänder shared Ear Slayer in 2012 and now a new record is about to come. Stream here the upcoming Nitheren.
Terence Lee’s project Lifeformed offers a marvelous mixture of chip music and chillwave. Last year’s Fastfall was used as a soundtrack for the independent video game Dustforce, showing a great ability in mixing lounge vibes with 8-bit harmonies. This way he created an original interpretation of that early 80s vibe. Probably not the classic chip composer, Terence Lee is good at combining different influences coming from ambient, club music and chillwave. Hailing from Cincinnati, this is the kind of chiptune music you could still listen to while enjoying a beachside breeze.