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Shirobon – “Infinity” Review

You can't take the chip out of the chiptune

A fantastic album from earlier in 2015 I’ve been meaning to get round to reviewing is Shirobon’s “Infinity”. Shirobon is well known in the chiptune world of music and with this full release he continues to work his chiptune magic but takes the chip sound to other genres and inserts it into the world of dance, trance and club music to create retro beats in other ways.

“Are You Ready” is a quick and dirty introduction with an element of trance added into it before “Meteor” kicks in with it’s heavy club thumping kick drums and grizzly bass lines. It’s the best ‘enhanced’ chip track on the album and it absolutely shines. The sine wave is crystal clear and bolstered with lots of new technology on the top and gives the track a three dimensional feel. “Hack the Mainframe” feels so Metroid like it’s like the guns are channelling through my veins as the riffs keep on pumping out. This track feels like little extra processing was given to it. “Pump It” is like a trip back to the early 90’s when you played Road Rash and Skitchin. It has cheesy vocal samples and a synth pop chilled style to everything that uses some chip overlays but is the kind of thing you used to rave to in dungarees. “Chiptuna” aside from having a great name has an awful lot of grinding bass to it’s name. The bass is being shaped to sound like a vocal being distorted, or it is a vocal sample being distorted into a bass line. Either way it sounds damn good if a little repetitive.

“Little Calculations” takes a complete left turn and moves into a beautifully understated six minute epic soundscape. Like an electronica post rock track, it slowly builds over time with piano, synths, chip bass and plenty of other trickery. It’s so vastly different to everything else on the album it stands out on that as well as its own merit. Then swinging right back to a freeform jazz styled chip track  “(ノ◕ヮ◕)ノ*:・゚✧ ft. Protodome”is 160 seconds of the happiest jazz piano channelled into hip hop chip music I’ve heard in a while. It’s a nice happy moment before the three minute assault of “Shibuya” which is a collection of great riffs moulded together in an Anamaguchi-styled track without the vocals. It’s a definite stand out but it’s “This Love” that is my favourite track on the album. Vocoder lyrics cheesy as you like, disco beats, chip sets overlaying the keyboard pads and some seriously cool percussion makes this a perfect cross over track from genre to genre. It’s euphoria in a three minute musical party. “Reflections” closes off the album with a harp like collection of arpeggios and stardust. It’s a beautiful ending and the lead synth acts like an electric guitar blazing its glory right through the shimmering background.

Shirobon clearly is a chip music artist at heart but seeing him push his work into other genres of electronic music is exciting and I hope he continues to show a wider audience just what you can do with an 8 or 16 bit games machine! Potent stuff.

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