Here it is, a new EP, compliments of yours truly. This is quite a departure from my normal hip hop stylings but listeners will definitely hear the hip hop influence, even in this chip tune experiment. Family duties and just being a responsible adult take away from my indulgence, but video games have been, since I was young, and still remain a regular part of my life. That said, my childhood began with Atari and Arcades but really peaked as a kid from the Nintendo 8 bit era all the way thru the 16 bit Sega Genesis days. Haven taken long lapses, but ultimately coming back to gaming, I have kept my eyes on nearly every iterations of gaming, all the way up to the current generation. Finding myself playing a lot of retro games as well as modern games created in the retro format, and being a lifetime as a musician, I found myself obsessed with some of the retro gaming music. Notably, Yuzo Koshiro as well as the classic gaming tunes of Zelda, Metroid, Castlevania, and Super Mario. This obsession even led to following and listening to chip tune music, i.e. Anamanaguchi, as well as the soundtracks to modern games.
So for this experimental project, I took my current gear and setup (for those who have kept up with my journey, will recall that I finally got my setup down so I can focus on creating new music instead of experimenting with different gear and tweaking the setup) and I wanted to take a break from hip hop, just to see what I could do. Of all the experiments I considered, video game music felt the most organic and comfortable genre. I could easily recall the sounds and the style of my favorite video game tunes over the years and having recently gotten comfortable with the command of the music tools at my disposal, this was a quick, fun, and light project for me. I used much of the knowledge I’ve acquired over years of hip hop production, composition, and song writing and was able to apply it to making these relatively simple chip tune instrumental tracks.
Since this was a fun, side project for me, I didn’t spend much time, tweaking each instrument and sound and adding effects and doing intricate, methodical mixing like I would for my hip hop records. After all, retro video game music was very limited as far as audio tools at the composers disposal so I did not want to depart from that simplistic sensibility, even if in my case, it was not a limitation that forced the decision to go basic.
As far as the instruments and sounds go, I tried to use sounds, especially at the top end, having an 8 bit retro feel, with bright synths, and bleeps and bips for bass, and low bit rate strings and pianos. I even filtered the final two track stereo mixes of each song with the infamous 12 bit SP1200 drum machine sound to give it a more vintage feel and pay homage to my bread and butter, hip hop. Speaking of, with a lot of the drums and percussion,the hip hop producer in me used more hi fi sounds and drum kits, but I think this worked out. I wanted to encapsulate both the 8 bit and 16 bit eras since they were both the impressionable gaming eras of my childhood. The 16 bit era marked better sound chips in gaming consoles and gave a more hi fi sound experience to video games as well as the birth of CD Rom gaming introduced live recorded CD audio tracks with no instrument and sound limitations, per say. Since the highs and mids on most of this EPS songs were inspired by 8 bit gaming, the more hi fi drum sounds paid homage to the 16 bit era. This better low end also made for a more palatable and versatile listening experience, especially in the modern landscape of music, rather than being relegated and limited to a novel, but throw away retro gaming music experiment.
When making this music, I tried to imagine an entire video game from beginning to end. This way, the listener has a theme and title screen song at the beginning, and then the listener can follow the gaming protagonist as they journey through various game levels, until finally, the journey comes to a close and the final ending song takes place. Each stage of the game had a fully imagined environment, mood, and atmosphere which inspired the sounds and music notes.
As for the name of this EP, it was a fun play on the popular, ultra modern, “simulation theory”, but since it was a tribute to retro gaming, I called it Emulation which represents emulations of retro games. Lastly, the pixel art is compliments of my designer extraordinaire, wife, and is meant to look like an 8 bit video game title screen, with the only thing missing, the “press start” and ” options”!
This one was short and sweet, and a blast, no pun intended, to make, so I hope all my listeners, even my hardcore hip hop heads, enjoy!
The Emulation Theory: A Chiptune Adventure- Programmed by Sickman VC (tracklist)
01_The Heroes Journey (75 bpm)
02_First Encounter (120 bpm)
03_Digging Deep (75 bpm)
04_The Overworld (55 bpm)
05_Platformance (57 bpm)
06_Adversity (110 bpm)