It’s that time of year, and Christmas is only days away. The tree is in the house, the stockings hung on the mantle, and snow is on the ground (hopefully). However, something is missing. Is it the colorful selection of Christmas cookies? No, those are still here … but half gone. Is it the music? Of course! I know what you’re all thinking: “I want to listen to chip music, but it just doesn’t convey the holiday cheer that I want it to!”
Worry no longer. Hit the jump to find two incredibly different, yet simultaneously excellent, holiday chiptune albums.
The first chiptune Christmas album featured may very well be, in fact, the first chiptune holiday album. Released all the way back in 2003 by 8BitPeoples (and still available for free on their site), The 8Bits of Christmas is a short and sweet collaborative album containing eight chip artists (including Nullsleep and Bitshifter), eight tracks covering various holiday classics (as well as a few original tunes), eight different “instruments,” and, of course, eight bits. The sound on this work, while varying from track to track, maintains a strict adherence to pure chip, resulting in a clean, few-frills sound throughout. Though this aspect of the album remains the same, the actual variance between tracks is incredible due to differences in the source material, artists, and sound chips utilized.
The end result is a superb (yet small) album, with most songs clocking in at well under three minutes. From Nullsleep’s fairly minimal and decidedly mellow cover of Silent Night to Hally’s up-tempo and all over the place “Xmas Songs Arcade Punk Mix,” there’s something in this album for everyone … except people who hate chiptune … or Christmas.
On the other hand, ChipWINter, the latest pay-what-you-want project from Chiptunes = WIN, (released on the tenth of this December) is an entirely different beast. The third (and smallest) compilation release from the group, ChipWINter once again showcases original songs and arrangements from a diverse group of chiptune artists, this time with a distinct Yuletide flavor.
In contrast to the pure chip magic from 8BitPeoples, the myriad artists of ChipWINter take a different approach, using live vocals (We Three Kings by Professor ShyGuy), live instruments (various tracks), and even sampled dialogue from the Peanuts Christmas Special (Linux and Lucy by BR1GHT PR1MATE). From masterfully crafted melodic pieces to the aforementioned tracks fusing instruments virtual and real, the album travels all over the chiptune spectrum.
Of the album’s highlights is an0va’s remix of Christmas Time is Here, because why should they have stopped with a single Peanuts remix? A relaxing lounge-friendly arrangement at its beginning, it’s elevated to an entirely new level with the introduction of lucid jazz guitar. Also of note, Glenntai’s Snowfall & Snowballs is an amazing original track that starts out slowly and simply but transforms into an increasingly complex upbeat piece as it progresses, all the while maintaining a strong feeling of winter. To close, I feel the need to mention Polar Bear Rides by Kubbi solely due to the delightful images evoked by its title.