Ben Landis Makes Amazing Chiptune Recordings

Ben Landis

Ben Landis

The thing about chiptune music is that there are still those outside of the gaming community who are still trying to understand the genre.. But here comes Ben Landis who gives it a twist. His innovative approach has already won him a lot of audience. His compositional style has a universal appeal as it draws listeners forward instead of alienating them. There are classical, jazz funk and other ‘flavors’ in all his tracks.

I really like Breakthrough and Adventures in Pixels. This 28-year-old graduate of Berklee College of Music currently resides in Los Angeles California and is comfortable on the label of Pop-Rock. His album Adventures in Pixels is out. It is :

…an album/comic hybrid that works in iTunes. Each comic page is embedded as album art for a particular track. The visuals tell a story reminiscent of the classic gaming era, accompanied by a catchy, nostalgic 8-bit soundtrack.

http://AdventuresinPixels.nethttp://soundcloud.com/benlandis

http://twitter.com/thebenlandis


Metamorphobro by Jork

Elder studio performance for RTE digital radio
— with Jork on drums. Photo courtesy of Alexis Nealon

http://leetobin.com/

Hellloooo indie fanatics. Today is another great day for music. I want to bring this great guy to your attention. He has a new track out called Metamorpho bro. Jork  explores musical realms very few artists would. I mean just listen to this track and you will know what I am talking about. It will rearrange the way you think and listen to music. I love how he puts so much effort in the production of his tracks. But let us be honest here. This isn’t something that anyone who is into mainstream would really dig. It takes repeated listens until it grows on you. And when it does, expect roots and branches…and even flowers. I know I am hearing two musical ideas in this track but I just want to be sure. So I asked Jork a.k.a Lee Tobin.

According to Jork:

I wrote two melodies and two harmonies. I wanted to make the two work together, or at least change a little to fit together.

Bingo!That explains why I think I am hearing two tracks at the same time. Clever.

Superannuated by Lee “Jork” Tobin

Lee "Jork" Tobin

Lee "Jork" Tobin

I came across Lee”Jork” Tobin on the web while I was searching for artists who are making music independently , for the sake of making music. Lee is the perfect example of this. He is a guy with a  lot of things going on now. He is involved with big projects but then again he also tackles things in a personal scale -his music.

At first Superannuated is something you usually find as a computer game(or chiptune) soundtrack. But upon another listen you realize that this music is something else. Elements of Jazz, Classical,Funk and Rock are merged together seamlessly  while you trip into a higher state of consciousness.

Honestly, his album occupies my “soundtrack of the day”. I have big speakers at home so his crisp , clear and  deep lows really benefit out of the sound system.  Lee plays with the Fuzzy Logic Ensemble which blend all elements of music including Jazz but that’s another story. In Superannuated, I am able to single him out from the rest, and realized how special he is as a musician . Lee really answers our questions here:

-What’s the story behind Superannuated?

They are tunes composed around 2000-2003. They were originally composed with a live ensemble in mind. Most sat as files in the studio computer for years until I had the idea to rework them as chiptune type tunes. One or two were actually rehearsed and played live with an ensemble.
Are we talking about “72 Point Insult ” that anyone can view in youtube right?(written by Lee Tobin. Performed by CIM students in New York Aug 2005. Group led by Andy Milne.) .This looks like a very nice ensemble here. Care to tell me more?(Showing you the video here)



Yes, that was one of the ensembles. This was recorded sometime in the summer of 2005, in New York. It was part of the CIM workshops.
-Where did you derive your musical influences?

Everywhere. Some names? Steve Reich, Meshuggah, Bach, Tribal Tech, Vai, Mozart, Megadeth, Daft Punk, Wendy Carlos, Pharrell. I could go on. But I won’t.
I also really dig from the chipmusic scene and other computer music groups. Some of the most fresh and new sounding music is being made here, IMHO.
-What’s the process in creating music?

Click record, play stuff into the DAW, listen back… tweak, add, remove, chop, change. But the process is really just, click the record button and go. It might be 99% rubbish, but it’s the remaining 2% I’m interested in 😉
-Tell me about your studio..what usually happens there, who works with you and what are the gadgets you have inside.

For this release, I composed and recorded the music. When  a composition nears completion, I usually send it over to one of my brothers to listen to it. They’ll sometimes give me feedback to improve it. The heart of my studio is a PC running Reaper. If you haven’t heard of Reaper, shame on you, it’s by far the best piece of software I’ve ever used (http://www.reaper.fm/). The system is chock full of VSTs, sample libraries and other fantastically useful tools. Outside that, I’ve an Edirol FW-101 as a break in/out and some KRK Rokit 5’s to listen back.
Instrument wise:
GuitarsFender Stratocaster 1963(Sunburst)
Epiphone Dot Studio
Washburn KC-40v
Fender Strat ’63 (love this)
Ibanez Nylon
GR-33 MIDI
Basses
Thompson fretless
Warwick fretted 4 string
A cheapish double bass
Keys
Piano – Yamaha upright
M-Audio Oxygen 61 USB keyboard
And lots of random drums and percussion instruments. There are LOTS of other little instruments and bits a bobs, which I won’t bother to mention.
-Do you do gigs around Ireland? And what’s usually your schedule. Anything you might  want to tell us where to catch you live.

Yes, but recently have been in the studio more. No gigs lined up in the near future. I’ll let you know if and when more gigs are organized.
Check out Superannuated under Ubiktune here: http://ubiktune.org/releases/ubi017/
Lee Tobin doesn’t mind if you download his music for free. But what you can give him in return is to make sure you spread the word around. Let your friends know how wonderful Superannuated is and better stay tuned for more projects from this amazing guy.