We don’t know if the Russians hacked the US election. Nor will we ever, since the entire network of information available to us has turned into a giant partisan screw around, with literally no one even trying anymore. What we do know is that Russians make brilliant chiptune compilations, which are equally suitable for those who wish to mentally isolate themselves from the nightmare of a four to eight year Trump presidency, as they are for those who wish to celebrate the rise of the immortal God-Emperor. That’s the magic of chiptune – it’s as much nostalgic escapism as celebratory feelgood music.
No less than sixten (16!) artists from four continents are gathered unto Soundshock 3: FM Funk Nirvana, a monster of a compilation, which despite being download only is of such high quality that most people into this sort of thing are probably fine with shelling out the $7 [CORRECTION: that pricing was apparently temporary, it is in fact FREE/pay what you want!!] . Styles vary widely. Several songs, such as the first two by Keishi Yonao and zabutom respectively, have a nice “Mega Man” vibe to them – strong melodies, packaged in an electronic format. Simon Stålenhag brings the noise and the funk with “The Lacustrine Beat Machine”, while stinkbug goes full on Street Fighter II with an absolutely fantastic track – dance music for those of us that don’t dance. And those are just a few favorites.
There are plenty of synths at work here (an “arsenal of 17 different hardware and software FM synthesizers”, according to the release notes), and there is nothing of the hardware purism some may expect from their chiptunes. The sound is decently retro enough, though, and I’d say most of these hits could well pass for video game soundtrack music – albeit perhaps more for the Sega Saturn than for the NES.
There is something wrong with me, of that there is no doubt, because even though my interest in chiptune has been cursory at best, I’m already seriously starting to have a feeling that it should be more minimalist, rawer, more “actually chip based”… This is of course nonsense, at least coming from me. I probably couldn’t tell the difference most of the time. Never the less, when I listen to some of the online chiptune out there, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m just hearing some commercial techno stuff, with a gamey edge. Gamey doesn’t even mean what I just tried to make it mean.
Anyhoo, not so with Soundshock 3, at least not to any measurable degree (some of them vocals rub me the wrong way, though). These songs are almost all awesome, and will put anyone in a good mood. That fictitious nostalgia factor is there (as far as I know I’ve never heard any of these songs in my video gaming youth), the party factor is there, and this is just so great I don’t quite know what to do with myself. So: turn off those TV news with the new president on them, or turn them on but lower the volume, and let Soundshock 3: FM Funk Nirvana be the soundtrack of your evening. The world isn’t going anywhere, and if it is, it should definitely do so to the tune of these chiptunes.