8-bit chiptune electronica review

HarleyLikesMusic – Licensed and Bonded Review

If your Gameboy composed a chase action movie

Sounds like…

Taut action focused chiptune attacks.

The review

HarleyLikesMusic and HigherPlainMusicLikesChiptune so the latest release from the chiptune artist fell right onto my radar when I heard the opening few bars of this aggressive release. ‘Licensed and Bonded’ is an assault on the senses from beginning to end. It is like a siren of emergency that brought an uzi to a chess match.

‘Licensed and Bonded’ contains five tracks recorded two different ways. Each track as its final form and a ‘raw’ LSDJ version. The raw versions have no specific production tweaks outside of what you get from producing music via LSDJ – a Gameboy music creation tool. Pre-orders contained save files too for budding artists to see how HarleyLikesMusic created each song. The final versions have minor production tweaks to flatten some of the musical peaks and troughs but fundamentally the tracks are the same.


‘That Ain’t A Bag’ opens the release with wailing sirens that bounce off an afrobeat. This siren soon explodes out into aggressive saw bass riffs and cute high pitch stabs. The whole track feels like a giant boss encounter where they slowly sway and move towards you. ‘Big Scent’ continues the big on bass feel with sharp minor key changes to create a tense atmosphere. ‘The Missing Link’ smashes together quickfire high pitched arpeggios with sampled house chords. Then it overlays it with a glitchy beat to cause plenty of chaos.

‘One Fell Swoop’ takes a swingbeat and applies it to a fast-paced horror track. As it progresses the synths distort and bend to create a more psychopathic feel – even the drums get crunchier and more filtered. There is some clever use of portamento notes as notes clip over each other to create angry confusion. The album closes with ‘Get ‘Em’ continues the aggressive chase to the last bar. Again, the bass is the central pin to the track and all the melodic synths and embellishments hang off it and fracture off into dissonance. These two tracks, in particular, feel more different to their raw versions because LSDJ doesn’t allow quite so much pitch bending and so they feel more arpeggiated in their raw format. Neither is better – its just different styles for your taste.

HarleyLikesMusic certainly loves bass. This release is bass and beat first – and chaos afterwards. This makes ‘Licensed and Bounded’ a frantic, heart-pounding collection of chase themed chiptunes that you can rock or dance to with ease. I love how guttural it is and the constant taut, tense chord patterns and riff changes keep you on your toes. Just make sure you have something calming afterwards, as this album is designed to assault your senses. All that from a Gameboy? Applause to you creator!

Recommended track: Get ‘Em

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HarleyLikesMusic - Licensed and Bonded



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