Sabrepulse is a chiptune artist whom I stumbled across on the wonderful Bandcamp world and haven’t looked back. Earlier this year he released “Turbo City” which is an 11 track chiptune album that sends your pulses racing and I recommend it to everyone.
“Cityscape Dreams” opens the album with real late 80’s style chipsets. You have the crunchy noiz fused percussion and synths, sine wave bass lines and two melody lines that draw you in – one very vocally and one as a fuzzy buzz. They bounce off each other to create a dancing madness and set the mood for the album. “Hyperion” is more drum and bass in the chiptune. It’s heavily percussive and sine bass lined. It then builds the melodies up with short spinning riffs and add ons that grow and evolve into more complex additions throughout and the track refuses to stop for breath. “Gare De Europa” is hugely complex in its melody structure with many different arpeggios flipping out all at once. It’s an epic piece of music that any chiptune fan would fall head over heals in love with.
“Running In the 90’s” continues Turbo City’s run of pace, drama and high-speed adrenaline with a tightly woven stomper. The chipset feels less reverberant and more claustrophobic here. It also has some great side steps by changing up the actual drum beat. “The Manhattan Transfer” has an Asian twist to the melody because it’s using unusual rising note patterns that give it an eastern edge and makes it really fun and cheeky. “Plug-In Trance” on the other hand goes rifftastic and straight for the jugular with its heavy beats and rolling riffs. “White Tiger” however goes for a more comical feel with chirpy bending notes and a very Spectrum like feel to the composition which is warm and rubbery.
Things then change dramatically for “Milotic” which removes the chip set and gives us something more updated. A rolling harp that gradually is overpowered by strings and other cleaner chipsets. It becomes a real trance dance fest that drags the album from the 80’s into the 00’s. It’s clever, clean and fun plus there’s clever use of stereo here too with breakdowns and drop-outs. “Astronaut” then pitches the chipset back to really binary 16k style chiptunes. Everything is so heavily compressed into metallic squeals and fuzzy noiz that it brings a melody back to its roots before the more 8 bit keyboards join in around the half way point. “Sprite Rider” is heavily bass orientated as the rubbery synth flits and bends around its manic patterns. It has a mega catchy hook that on each chorus makes you hum along or mini rock out in your chair – such a great track – as indeed they all are. A Calis Remix of “Gare De Europa” rounds off the album beautifully.
Simply, Sabrepulse has a masterful command of the chiptune discipline. The mastering of all the different elements means that no one instrument or riff overpowers or gets stale, it’s perfectly interwoven. The melodies themselves are catchy and complex. This is one of the best chiptune albums of the last two years. Buy, buy, buy.