Title: Glitter & Bleep – Joystick Pop
Label: Relax Beat
Keywords: 8-Bit Pop
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
I came across this originally due to my very longstanding love of The Hardliner’s brand of lobit chiptune and thought it was beautiful and brilliant… of course, I forgot all about it until now! Thankfully, I’m in a position to share it with those of you who may not have ever listened to it or heard of it. It’s really good, as far as chiptune pop crossovers go (the pop aspect makes it a “concept” album, lol!), a lot of the tracks are almost more like superfunky electro meaning you may like it a lot even if lobit chip music isn’t typically your thing.
The first track, ‘Feel Free (Rocket Man Intro’ by Tobiah begins with a cheap piano sequence and a robotic countdown, after which some really pretty theremin-esque portamento leads come in. It feels somewhat melancholy, orchestral… it appears we’ve discovered a spaceship, though. That’s promising! But, oh wait, it’s a space invader!!!
Right away we break into the next track, also by Tobiah, titled ‘I Don’t Really Exist’, which is just really beautiful. Electro beats and lovely synth work make up the track, the robo vocals are very pretty and cool. Loving the basslines as well, with those sharp crisp saw waves. “I don’t really exist / but dance with me anyway”
Next is The Hardliner’s ‘Zoloft Blues’, a bright and cheery popchip tune with a lot of arps, great melodies that recall blasting your way through a NES cartridge in a night amped up on stimulants.
Then it gets really electro-groovy on Koro Osanago’s ‘Mini-Klik’. The popcorn sequences that first come in give way to really nice electro-wave bass! I feel like I’m listening to a lost electro gem from the ’80s with a vibe like YMO meets Yazoo.
‘I’m Living In A Box’ by Mr Osbyte jumps right into THE sound, some really funky electro shit. I can’t get enough of the vocoder, funky rhythmic guitar, electro bass. This track’s working it hard. There are a lot of unexpected sounds in the mix at various points… acoustic guitar, theremin, vocal sample stutters, cowbell. Can’t help dancing.
Beginning with some wild electro basslines and chip sounds is ‘Lovely Machine’ by T&J, featuring SAAS… and then the vocals come in, and it’s awesome. They’re almost like oldschool classic ’80s Europop! The lyrics are a lot of fun, too! So many good vibes…
‘My Thing’, by Plemo kicks on with some deep funky electro with a sort of disjointed feel… the vocals are silly and really remind me of something, but I’m not sure what. It’s a very funky electropunk track though, almost anthemic in parts I think. Loving the sound of it, the use of vocal samples, plus those awesome synth leads.
T&J comes back with another track, this one’s titled ‘The Things You Do’… a high-octave 8-bit lead and some chipbass come in, and then the vocals (sounding a little autotuned and more than a bit breathy) plus some harmonic string frequencies arrive and just lift it into another place… it’s almost like a ballad, but uniquely wondrous and strange somehow.
There’s an excellent 8-bit 4/4 groove rolling on Slabb’s ‘Instead (T&J Lo-Tech Mix)’. Lots of chiptune sequences as well, the vocals are kind of like epic Europop! I hear a synth just scream at one point. Very nice!
On ‘Weekend’, by Komatrohn, we’re treated to more bright electro post-punk chipwave! I love this track, too… so many great tracks on this compilation. It music that puts you in a good mood for how cheesy and pop it is, the faintest traces of groups like Kraftwerk, Telex and OMD in the way it sounds.
‘Sommer’, by Der Tante Renate comes in hard. A hard break, crunchy bass synths with a touch of distortion, a shimmering synth lead – then a section with just drums and a very electro-wavy bassline that’s very nice! I like the leads in the next section, too… a very nostalgic vibe on this track. The thick, portamento leads toward the end are great.
T&J comes back yet again with a track fittingly titled ‘We Are Back’. It gets very lo-bit, sounding like a compilation of chip effects with a vocoder speaking over them. Then these really chill pad chords come in, followed by a nice sequenced synth. Oooh, those arpeggios! Yes!
Komatrohn’s ‘Was It What It Was’ is next, with layered sequence / arps. The vocals are in chorus, a little bit off at times. The lyrics are funny, though! Then a house beat comes in.
More electro funk on ‘Baby Boom’ by none-other than Koro Osanago. The chipgroove and tiny blinking synth sequences are nice, then there’s a cool panning saw lead. After awhile, some very nice synth chords, and an electronic malfunctioning effect like the sound is sliding on ice.
‘I Love Your Music’, by Tobiah, begins with filtered sequenced synths. Then a pumping 4/4 kick with accompanying clap and hi-hat come in as well. The melodies and harmonies are great and it makes you want to dance. “I love your music / please play some more” The programmed vocals are nice, probably not my favourite from the artist in consideration of the second track on this compilation though. The track still has a great feel, highly accessible I suppose given the attempt throughout this work to be pop.
The very last track is ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, by Slabb, which is actually a Velvet Underground & Nico cover! Just vocals and an insistent, buzzy bass synth with very minimal percussion… basically just something like a shaker and low thud.
Altogether, a fun listen, very impressive and varied, successfully blending populism with the micro-fetishism and occasionally unpop, nerdly sensibilities of low bit and lo-tech music. At many times you’ll find yourself dancing and wondering… from where did a budget for something like this come, anyway!? xD You can listen to the whole thing at the following link, and buy yourself a copy if you are so inclined: