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UBI31 Danimal Cannon - Roots (debut chiptune record)

danimal cannon

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"Roots is my debut chiptune album, I decided to "go big or go home" and make it ~70 minutes. I've been laboring over this album for over a year now and I've learned a lot along the way. It seems like with every new track I would discover a new way of making chiptunes, or another artist would inspire me to head in a different direction.

The album makes its way through a load of genres and moods, and that's because I love a lot of different kinds of music. The gameboy has such a distinctive sound, so that even though I traverse through so many genres the album retains a cohesiveness, glued together by the bonds of chiptune.

This album would not be possible without the sharing of information, tricks, and ideas. I still find myself learning things in LSDJ (someone showed me a new trick THIS WEEK). For this reason I've decided to include the .sav files in my album. Go ahead, learn, remix, be curious. There's no reason to have trade secrets in chiptune composing. I am extremely proud of what I've been able to accomplish with this album but it would not have happened without people showing me things first." — Danimal Cannon.

intro (1:04)

Roots (4:54)

Forest Gnome Shindig (4:39)

Polywrath (4:46)

Agrobacter (2:57)

Danimal Across America (3:26)

A New Day (3:15)

The Big Crunch (3:31)

Synergy (ft. Paul Wardingham, Shnabubula, and Tony Dickinson) (6:02)

Good Journey (Don't Say Goodbye) (3:32)

Blueshift (4:19)

Jean Luc (4:04)

Gorelax (4:31)

Spacewalk (4:29)

Beethoven — Moonlight Sonata (6:06)

She Will Be Remembered (4:05)

Danimal Across America (IRL Mix) (3:26)

All instruments played by Danimal Cannon EXCEPT:

Track 9 Synergy:

3:38-6:00 bass guitar by Tony Dickinson

3:38-4:11 piano by Shnabubula

4:14-4:55 lead guitar by Paul Wardingham



Artwork by Francis Coulombe

© All rights reserved.

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some great reviews


Danimal Cannon seems to have suffered from a serendipitous lapse in common sense: he saw no reason why one guitar and a Game Boy can’t sound like a five piece band. He saw no reason why Prog-Rock, Metal, Electro and Pop couldn’t be woven seamlessly into a one album that nonetheless declares a sound of it’s own. And he saw no reason why Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata shouldn’t be thrown in for good measure. No, Danimal Cannon couldn’t see why any of these unlikely factors shouldn’t add up to one bad-ass solo debut. And now, one powerhouse record later, neither can I.

In fact, the irreverent approach in Roots hangs together so well, so organically, that you tend to forget, as you bounce your way through it’s deep and dynamic grooves, just how much musical ground has been covered. That’s because, no matter how extreme it’s stylistic transitions Danimal Cannon knows to let one thing lead the way: the music. Unconcerned with genre tags, he follows the groove where it takes him, perpetually playing with time, tempo and texture–sometimes landing squarely in an established genre only to tweak it into some twilight hybrid that defies ready categorization, but with such finess that you barely notice a change. Always present, grounding it’s stylistic forays is some energetic and compelling groove which, whether it’s a four-on-the-floor dance hall thump or a glitchy prog-style 7/8, functions like a musical navigator, lending to the music a sense of fluidity, cohesion and ease.

But above all, this record just plain rocks. It’s finer nuances are grounded in a fun-loving energy that can be appreciated by music journalists and arena rockers alike. This rare balance–it’s subtle yet unpretentious quality– gives Danimal Cannon’s music an unusually broad appeal that will no doubt take him far. To be sure, Roots is a strong recommendation to all chip fans, prog and otherwise.

And also on OSV!


What I was hearing, however, sounded like the work of a hardened veteran, chock full of masterfully measured dynamics, thoughtfully programmed software instruments and complex, melodic arrangements that could have been played by a 4-piece prog metal band if they didn’t sound so damn good on a Game Boy.

Now, a year later, I’m similarly stunned by a full-length release that’s staggering in both length and variety, where guitar solos (born of both plucked strings and pulsewaves) soar over a bassline bedrock and into picturesque landscapes of micro-processed progressive, math rock and heavy metal anthem. Combine that with a smattering of live instrumentals and guest appearances from the likes of keyboard virtuoso Shnabubula and you’ve got one hell of a debut chip music album.

Whether or not you’re familiar with his past contributions to Armcannon and Metroid Metal, it’s easy to hear Danimal’s immense compositional talent shine through the gnarled 8-bit textures of Roots. In a remarkable variety of ways, the album approaches the Game Boy hardware in a way similar to early demoscene music, with composition as the first and foremost priority. The result is an extraordinary amount of complexity, showing a fearless determination to not let the limited hardware have any say in how each song is written. It’s almost as if everything were already composed for a full rock band that thought it would be best to let 4 channels of Game Boy audio do all the work.

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