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Chip Tanaka – Django
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Chip Tanaka – Django

A light, enjoyable chiptune snack from one of the genre’s founding fathers.

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Here at Popzara we try to shake things up a little from time to time! You’re probably coming here for games, books, TV or movies in particular, but we’ve got ’em all if you ever want to branch out. We love you here at Popzara. Never leave. In fact, let’s spice it up a little more by talking about some music. Specifically, let’s look at the first studio album from Hirozaku “Hip” Tanaka, also known as Chip Tanaka. It’s titled Django and it’s the musical equivalent of a Lunchable.

If you’re big on video games you might already be familiar with Tanaka’s work; in particular, Django immediately calls to mind the soundtrack from cult classic RPG Earthbound with its warbly synths and general whimsy. It’s a light-hearted album with strong reggae influences that seemingly encourages you to put it on as background music to work or gaming. Given that contemporary music tends to go in the opposite direction and demand the full attention of the listener to ensure that every nuance receives its due appreciation, that’s an interesting and perhaps risky decision.

That’s not to say Django is free of nuance, of course, but Tanaka’s video game background is undeniably present throughout. Take the album’s first single, “Beaver,” for instance, a bouncy and light-hearted affair that sounds like the town theme from some long-forgotten RPG. Calmer tracks, like the titular “Django,” might work for more subdued moments and cutscenes.

We can make similar comparisons throughout, leading Django to feel like the soundtrack to a game that was never released.Naturally, this means your opinion on the album may vary based on your appreciation for video game music as an endeavor in itself. I’ve personally never been a fan of listening to soundtracks on their own, though I’d say Django can still work for EDM and reggae aficionados looking for something a little offbeat.

It’s a little easier to talk about the merits of a game than it is to discuss whether or not any random listener might enjoy a given album. That said, Django is a little more welcoming than many EDM or trance albums in several senses of the term: it’s possible to appreciate what Tanaka did here without necessarily having knowledge of the modern musical lexicon or of Tanaka’s work specifically. It’s a pick-up-and-play album, a light snack to nibble on while you’re otherwise occupied, and there’s nothing wrong with a little more of that in the world. If this is a Lunchable, it’s one of the better ones. Pizza, probably.

About the Author: Cory Galliher