C-Jeff – Still Flying: Original Chiptune Album

C-Jeff’s Still Flying is a 13 track album comprised of some of C-Jeff’s earliest music from 2002. With heavily-delayed leads, rolling basslines, rich arpeggios, and rocking drum grooves, C-Jeff exposes us to invigorating but also tranquilizing music.

Still Flying is made with the ZX Spectrum, an 8 bit personal home computer which was released in the UK in 1982 by Sinclair Research Ltd. The Spectrum shared the same significance to 80’s computer gamers in the UK as the Commodore 64 did to those in America. The audio, which was on cassette tapes, is derived from the AY chip.

The AY chip only has 3 Channels, unlike the 5 channels of the 2A0X chips found in the Nintendo Entertainment System. Furthermore, noise generators and envelope generators can only be used on one channel at a time. These limitations made the AY chip not as powerful as some of the other chips in game systems of the time, but it has a unique, buzzy sound quality that Spectrum enthusiasts look for.

The instrumentation and compositional style of the music has much to do with the limitations of the AY chip. The overall composition puts much more focus on melodic and harmonic content rather than percussion or chiptune sound design. The moderate tempo, flowing basslines, and spacey leads are relaxing, while the drums carry the excitement and energy.

Many of the tracks sound quite similar, which creates a cohesiveness to the album and a sense of a complete work. Track no. 9, ‘Amazonia’, stood out to me as the most unique track on the album. It featured a different harmonic scheme, a metallic sound in the percussion not heard in any other track, and features the arpeggios more predominantly than the lead.

Still flying is available, name your price, on Ubiktune.

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