It takes talent to make a good chiptune. Anyone can take Famitracker, figure out how program the instruments, and make a basic song out of a couple of saw and triangle waves. But bands like Anamanaguchi and I Fight Dragons, groups who have made their bones creating original works out of retro soundboards, know how to unlock the full power of the noise of nostalgia.
Enter Villainest, a group out of Toronto fresh off of the release of their debut album, A Vision of Light. The band formed in 2013, and although the LP is far from their first release, it’s certainly the culmination of all of their talent and work over the last five years.
A Vision of Light celebrates the bands’ founders love of genre films, and the cinematic swells and rhythms make no subtle hints to that. Using their instruments of choice — all of them based off of the 16-bit sounds of the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis — they jump from action-packed race scenes to film noir intrigue to romantic blossoms with each different track. The music sounds straight out of the 1980s by nature, but replace the FM-synthesized sounds with orchestral arrangements, and you’ve got an Oscar-winning film score.
Although they only have one full album in the bag, Villainest have made a name for themselves in the Toronto indie music scene, having performed with TWRP and The Cybertronic Spree at the Rec Room. A live performance of epic chiptune music makes for a great night out, as the energy of it can knock you off your feet just like the first time you got a high score on Altered Beast or played Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Villainest bring blast processing to every show they play. ⊜
Note: This brief was written from the desk off the coast of Seneca Lake… If it’s a bit shorter than most, it’s because I’ve spent the last two hours kayaking and drinking coconut rum. Apologies, sort of. – Will