Humbert demands chiptunes!

Today, while writing, Cicada's wonderful Technology Crisis album shuffled up in iTunes and Humbert J. Humbird*, my usually stoic budgerigar, went absolutely bazonkers. Stopping dead in the middle of a dignified preen of his magnificent array of rectal plumage, Humbert let out one questioning twirple?, as if he couldn't quite believe that his tiny little ear holes had finally become attuned to the music of the spheres. Then he spent the next twenty minutes singing and dive bombing around the room, pausing only occasionally during song breaks to light upon my head and attempt to rip my glasses off. Finally, he exhausted himself, and attempted to refresh himself by eating a piece of millet that was to his tiny emerald body the proportionate size of a twenty foot long ear of corn. Yet even as he ate, Humbert could never stop twittering along to the rhythm of Cicada's funky chiptune grooves; consequently, he sprayed millet everywhere. But Humbert's spastically gauche manner of eating while stimulated is neither here nor there, although it is certainly nice to finally deflate some of his regal pomp. My point: Humbert loves chiptunes. When the music was over, he fell into a black humor, climbing sullenly back in his cage, jumping upon his swing and chewing a bell with the gravity of a Byronic poet in a fugue. I would have put on more chiptune music to please him. Yet outside of Cicada and a few video game soundtracks, I don't have much. Does anyone have any recommendations for excellent chiptunes suitable for the refined aural discernment of a renaissance parakeet? Or even for my own enjoyment? Although keep in mind, it is less important that I like your recommendations than the tiny feathered dinosaur sitting on my shoulder, a master of the disapproving stink-eye:
It is he, not I, who will judge your taste. * — "What does the J. stand for?" "John!" "I don't think Humbert would stand for that."
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46 Responses to Humbert demands chiptunes!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was going to say High Voltage SID Collection, but they are down, down, down!

  2. Barry Wilson says:

    Doesn’t the J stand for the same thing that it does in Bullwinkle J Moose, Rocket J Squirrel, and many other cartoon characters of note?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Turns out there’s a chiptunes group called lolita. Guaranteed to please Humbert.

  4. euthanaut says:

    Try Humbert on some “Eats Tapes”. It’s a little dancier than most, but might keep him entertained. Also have a look at sBach, Spencer Seim’s new solo project.

  5. erzatsen says:

    Brownlee, if that really is you, where is your fez and pipe and regal smoking ensemble?

  6. selfsimilar says:

    Mark DeNardo (MySpace page) sings “8-bit blues and folktronic tales” accompanied by his GameBoy.

  7. A New Challenger says:


    I’ve also written a few ditties on the Game Boy Camera myself. Nothing amazing, but I’ll zip them up and put them somewhere. Sometime.

  8. Chris Furniss says:

    Cicada is actually called Tettix now! He’s super rad and has a ton of stuff on his site for download. He even made us a custom theme song for the Weekly Geek podcast. For seriously.

  9. Freddie Freelance says:

    8-Bit Peoples has already been mentioned, so go there & D/L Anamanaguchi’s Power Supply.

  10. Anonymous says: and is also excellent – Norrin Radd released an excellent album on II Music, and there’s recently been an awesome ‘Chip-Hop’ music collaboration – Bud Melvin’s “Hip Hop Sucks” has to been heard to be believed!

  11. Freddie Freelance says:

    A couple other Chiptunes labels, collectives and sites: 8bitcollective, 555 Recordings, Bleep Street,, monotonic, and then there’s always Chiptune Radio at

  12. SSSasky says:

    I highly recommend Diplodocus. It’s all made on the KORG DS-10 program for the Nintendo DS. Similar vibe to the technology crisis albums, but substantially more ‘dancy’. Hopefully HJH will approve.

  13. DMcK says:

    Stopping dead in the middle of a dignified preen of his magnificent array of rectal plumage, Humbert let out one questioning twirple?, as if he couldn’t quite believe that his tiny little ear holes had finally become attuned to the music of the spheres.

    Wow. That line deserves to be etched into a marble slab ten feet tall.

  14. rifflesby says:

    Crunchy Records had a few guys — Fighter X and Circles in particular, but there were a couple other guys I haven’t identified as well — playing out in front of the Penny Arcade Expo this year. Playing on hacked and circuit-bent Gameboys. It was pretty awesome.

  15. Marisa says:

    I am also a big fan of 8 bit peoples! i, cactus is one of my favorites.

  16. adamrice says:

    Teamtendo (I am convinced that Teamtendo is actually Daft Punk in fursuits). Omodaka (their completely insane 8-bit soul version of Kokiriko-bushi made the rounds on Boingboing, in fact).

  17. hohum says:

    I know that they get overhyped every which-way, but how about Crystal Castles? They’ve done some pretty decent stuff.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Nullsleep is always good.

  19. adamrice says:

    Oh yeah, and of course the brilliant Video Computer System. There’s some other stuff at the Golden Shower website in a similar vein.

  20. Waelwulf says:

    It looks like my last post never made it through. I recommended Copy, Slagsmalklubben, pocketmaster, and the electroclash derivative bands like Crystal Castles and Kap Bambino. I’d link everything again but it took me a lot of time last time and I’d rather not again.

    Crystal Castles is hardly overhyped, hohum. Any hype they’ve had, they deserve. Regardless of what they’ve been accused of (most of which has been spiteful crowd noise), they are an amazing band. Alice’s lyrics and Ethan’s ability surpass most of what’s been done for 8-bit.

  21. Sway says:

    Perhaps frowned upon by purists, Beck’s GameBoy Variations (Hell Yes Remix) available on iTunes, has always scratched my 8-bit itches.

  22. OM says:

    ‘Finally, he exhausted himself’

    …Whereafter the bird suddenly found himself nailed to his perch.

  23. Mister Staal says:


    Even the not so 8bit sounding tracks he writes are still comprised in large by heavily modified video game samples.

  24. AirPillo says:

    IMO the best chiptunes come from the demo scene.

    Razor1911 (yes, one of the world’s most prominent piracy groups) has some really damned exceptional chiptunes (and they’re totally free to download… pirates, duh).

    Blz’s Whispers is an exceptional example of their stuff.

    One minor qualm, however… their tunes come in the form of an .exe, so it’s kind of like opening up a keygen just to listen to the music (something I have done before, actually).

    Their main site:

    you can find their demo stuff for windows here, scroll down until you hit Blz’s Whispers.

    (I’m not sure if they do Mac, but I don’t think so)

  25. toasterfire says:

    There’s always Bit Shifter, seems to be about the only chippy sonics in my mp3 list. Also, nerdcore artist ytcracker rhymes over chiptunes, but I’m not sure if that really helps.

    Not chiptunes, but curious what the esteemed HJH thinks of The Knife. Sonically might fill a similar need. Or might make his head pop. Hard to say.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      Oh, good call, Toasterfire. The Knife’s “Silent Shout” is the gift that keeps giving in my iPod. HJH should give that a whirl, stat.

  26. AirPillo says:

    Oh, one additional, minor note of praise: Razor 1911 manages to fit an entire “album”, if you’d call it that, into an .exe that’s under 500kb.

    I’m guessing the tunes are stored as MIDI instructions, but I’m not nearly savvy enough to figure that out.

  27. Freddie Freelance says:

    OK, just for his humble Budgieness, I present an 8bit cover of the classic Pearly Shells.

  28. alowishus says:

    I’m thinking maybe Humbert would like Figurine. But you prolly heard of them, right?

  29. Downpressor says:

    I’ve never been able to sit through more than 28 seconds of a chiptune track but I’m most gratified for another Humbert post.

  30. AirPillo says:

    Oh bugger, I seem to have confused chiptunes and chipdisks…

    Oh well, both are cool. Listen in, or god will kill a LOLcat.

  31. toasterfire says:

    Ah, I forgot the Boy Playground V/A compilation. Could be a decent place to start.

  32. Amplifier says:

    Exodus ska-dub by Dubmood. first track on this EP

    hella fun.

    Also quarta330’s nintendostep stuff is awesome, though maybe not quite what you’re after.

  33. bobsyeruncle says:

    Humbert J. Humbird? He really goes for the young chicks?

    I was going to suggest you could also try boy bands or techno ;^)

  34. Anonymous says:

    I’m just trying Technology Crisis on my ‘keet, and he’s really enjoying it.

    A friend told me that parakeets have vocal systems that can only produce a couple of waveforms at once, so it could be that the waveform simplicity of chiptunes is exactly what the budgie ear has evolved to respond to.

    This would also explain why my bird tends to like electric guitar.

    As far as chiptune recommendations: bitshifter.

    We got our bird an album of ambient sound recordings from the Australian outback. “Spirit of the Outback”, it’s on iTMS and eMusic. The bit he finds most interesting isn’t the recording of wild budgies, it’s the black-tailed cockatoos–I think he feels compelled to compete and squawk them down.


  35. doktor tchock says:

    sabrepulse –
    all of his albums are downloadable from his myspace

    firebrand boy –
    his postal service cover is amazing –
    grab it here:

    treewave – lovely analog warm awesome-ness

  36. Cassandra says:

    I don’t know if this is technically a chiptune, but I loved the music from the C64 game “One Man and his Droid.”

  37. jakekingdead says:

    Can’t believe no one has suggested hitting up 8-bitpeople yet.

    Call yourself nerds…

    Check out bitshifter. Also I think Virt is on there. If he isn’t, find him.

    And it’s all free!

  38. toasterfire says:

    Oooh, jakekingdead, eff tee double-u.

    off to download some things in case I ever acquire a pet bird

  39. V_metoikos says:

    A band called 8-bit operators did a Kraftwerk remix album.

    Also SLAY Radio can be a good source (and you can make requests from the robot when no live show is on); if Kohina is still on the air an even better bet. NectarineDemoscene if it still exists also. All three have feeds you can listen to in iTunes.

    Also Makke’s album It’s Binary, Baby! can be fun (you can buy that any many other lovely such things at

    But really…just check out and when is back up check it out too. Lots of free good stuff.

    Hmm, and if you’re into instant gratification, also on youtube look up YouScope (an oscilloscope demo) and snag the music; others include this analog video demo

    and this truly 7337 VIC-20 demo

  40. shahryarrakeen says:

    I recommend Disasterpeace. I would explain his stuff as as prog with 8-bit treatment.

  41. kaiza says:

    I found Random on 8-bitpeoples – the track Lightyears 500 is mindblowingly awesome:

    Lightyears 500 by Random

    Also, this:

  42. danilo says:

    I say go retro and revisit the excellent musical stylings of Mega Man X and Mega Man X3.

  43. Stakker says:

    Why, Kohina Radio of course.

  44. contra31 says:

    I, Cactus is actually this guy:
    (Download links included)
    Highly recommend all his stuff.

  45. Waelwulf says:

    Copy and Slagsmålklubben are musts.

    pocketmaster has some really good tracks.

    For more mainstream bands that have built on 8-bit’s foundation, there’s my favorite band of all time, Crystal Castles and Kap Bambino. They’re both electroclash, usually very lo-fi but not necessarily 8-bit meets noise. It’s gloriously fevered destruction.

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