William Sides, aka William Sides Atari Party, and Ian Henningsen, aka Giveupnewyork, work in the small but growing world of 8-bit chiptune music. Both make pulsing, manic electronic collages out of lo-fi video-game soundtracks. The basic components of the music are recognizable in their songs, but just barely. The pair will headline a night of 8-bit music at Fairbanks next week. This is what they’ve been listening to recently.
Sabrepulse, Turbo City (self-released, 2007)
Just a gorgeous CD, really. He gets some ridiculous sounds and melodies to come out of his Gameboy, and the string intro to “Milotic” and the fade to delicious LSDJ beats is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard.
Various artists, Katamari Fortissimo Damacy (Columbia Pictures Japan, 2004)
The game Katamari Damacy is quirky, upbeat, and very clearly Japanese. The exact same can be said for the soundtrack. The fact that it’s definitely got some 8-bit influences/sounds in it is pretty awesome, too. My favorite track is “Sasasan Katamari” for its sheer ability to burrow into your brain and stay there forever.
Despised Icon, The Ills of Modern Man (Century Media, 2007)
Because sometimes listening to music for how pretty it is is fucking lame. Usually any band with more than one vocalist has me won over, but these guys get double points for having one guy just for the pig squeals. You’d be hard-pressed to tell one song from another, but it’s all so brutal it ends up being OK. The breakdown at the end of “In The Arms Of Perdition” is amazing.
Gigi D’Agostino, Hitz Collection (download-only DJ set, 2008)
I love me some eurodance, and this is an excellent example of it. The melody for “L’Amour Toujours” is one of my favorite melodies ever. He manages to have a pretty distinct sound in the genre, too, which is rather surprising. Bonus points because, for some reason, “Tammurriata Nera” always reminds me of “Robot Theme Song” off of the Aquabats’ Myths, Legends and Other Amazing Adventures, Vol. 2.
The Flying Luttenbachers, Incarceration by Abstraction (ugEXPLODE, 2007)
There are very few bands in the United States that are doing real music and, sadly, we’ve just lost one more—this is the final Luttenbachers album, once again completely conceived and executed by Weasel Walter himself. This album pulls out all the stops, bringing the band’s trademarked ultra-complex prog-metal compositions to a fever pitch.
Various artists, Bit Beat (To Lose La Track, 2007)
Despite my affinity for the genre, I find that most vgm/chiptune compilations are pretty mediocre and boring. This collection, made up entirely of artists from Italy, is one of the rare exceptions. Highlights are tracks by Tonylight, Postal_m@rket, Micropupazzo, Nrgiga, Lamette, and Fish and Chip 8 Bit.
Makeup and Vanity Set, Charles Park (Soundmachine, 2006)
This ski-masked Nashville artist is doing some really interesting and progressive IDM with a very palpable ’80s feel. His top-of-the-minute joints are staggering, but this 2006 album has some great songs on it as well. I cannot get “This Is It” out of my head! You may not know him now, but you will someday.
Xrin Arms, Disappearing Stable
This is one of three albums released within the first half of this year by this gabbercore artist, and it is the most intense and exhilarating. His music easily transcends the laptop-based breakcore genre that he is commonly associated with, crashing and careening between the chunklets of black metal blast-beats, sci-fi sound effects, and snippets of classic R&B jams that back his straight-to-the-soul poetry/lyrics. He is on tour 200 days out of the year so do not miss him if he hits your ’hood.