Chipsurf Pipeline is our first album, and in terms of firsts, centers around a new genre we have coined called Chipsurf. Chipsurf is the fusion of chiptunes (the bleepy bloops that came out of the sound-chips from vintage gaming systems, such as the NES, Commodore 64 and the like) and surf music (think Dick Dale).
|Symphony of Vengeance||Listen||Buy|
|Tidal Riders of Doom||Listen||Buy|
|(When In Doubt) Bomb It Out||Listen||Buy|
|Cloud People Assassins||Listen||Buy|
|The Genesis Machine||Listen||Buy|
|Riptide Resistor (*)||Listen||Buy|
|The Final Boss|
* Big thanks to Tom Jenkins who came up with the name Riptide Resistor as part of our Facebook contest to name the song!
We will be releasing a special edition of the album in some form. We are not yet sure what medium that will be on (vinyl or CD) but it will likely include copies of our original masters (including the source files for the NES and GameBoy) as well as license to produce non-commercial remixes if that’s your thing. If you want to sway our opinion out the physical release format, check out the poll on the right-hand side of the page.
About the Album
For the non-guitar parts of the album, we focused on the Nintendo Entertainment System’s soundchip, the 2A03, specifically, although some other chips and synths are occasionally used. We wanted to be as true to the NES as possible and are, as a result, working within the limitations of the system. We do occasionally make use of the additional sound-chips found in some Japanese NES titles not heard on any of the US titles (such as Nintendo’s MMC5 and Konami’s VRC6). We also do some mastering work on the final results, largely limited to volume, panning and stereo separation. Other than for mastering, try to avoid using effects unless we can emulate those on an NES. Delay is one such example of that – all the delays made by the chiptune portion of the song are done using the NES itself. Chorus is also something we opt to do on the NES.
Why don’t we just bust out tons of effects in post? One of the characteristics of chipmusic, other than the unique sound, is limitations. The NES only has 5 channels for audio – 2 square waves, 1 triangle, 1 noise channel, and 1 digital. The GameBoy has only 4 – 2 square waves, 1 noise, and 1 digital/wave. Consider simple things like delay and chorus. We have to sometimes think outside the box, not unlike what chip-composers did for games when the systems were in production. Some might think this is a draw-back, but we actually find it both a challenge and a creative avenue. It helps us be creative. Being able to do anything musically is great, but it has its price. Plus, it’s not a chiptune album if we throw so many effects on it such that it no longer sounds like a chiptune album.
Want to know how we integrate a real NES into our sound? For starters, check out Tim’s article on his custom CMoy-inspired NES pre-amp for more information. As we get close to finishing the album, we’ll share some of our additional secrets about how we make it all work.