Growing Up Digital – Episode 2 – Mad Scientists of Music

Episode two explores the video game backgrounds of a variety of Irish experimental musicians – how video game culture and ready access to technology influenced their love of music and their aesthetic sensibilities. Chiptune music in particular reappropriates not only the machinery, but also the distinctive sounds of computer games of the 1980’s, and this helps to define its unique aesthetic. Kieran Dold (Karakara) discusses the aesthetic appeal of retro videogame music. Niamh Houston (Chipzel) explains how ‘home brew’ software like LSDJ, allows her to make music from classic Game Boy portable gaming consoles. Niamh talks about completing the loop – working with BAFTA award winning video game designer Terry Cavanagh to create retro video game inspired music for contemporary ‘indie’ computer games like Super Hexagon.

Download:
Episode 2 – ‘Growing Up Digital

About the Series

BAI logo mark colourMad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.

Credits

Part 1 – Gaming

Game experience intro: Sebastian Dooris (Deathness Injection)
Montage of Gamers: Emma (of Deathness Injection), Andrew Edgar, Kieran Dold (Karakara), John Leech (Siam Collective), Ed Devane, Colm Olwill, Ed Devane, Meljoann.

Part 2 – Chiptune

Interviewees: Kieran Dold, Niamh Houston.

Featured Artists

ChipzelKnuckle Joe
ZPGMalware Brigade
ZPGXai Unbound
ChipzelSuper Hexagon Soundtrack and Super Hexagon play through (courtesy of Terry Cavannah)
Menacing WondersChipzel (feat Manami Matsumae)
Super Gammy BoyMicrosoft Excel Swag
Super Gammy BoyI’d Have That Many Followers Too If I Dressed Like a Whore
Bitwise OperatorHows That

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8 Easy Pieces

chapter-01

The pitched fork has pronged another prize with the fantastic documentary, Reformat the Planet on the emerging Chiptune scene. Chiptune (as distinct from 8bit music per say) has been around for about a decade, and is finally garnering some critical acclaim. Not content with inventing punk music, Malcolm McLaren hopped on the bandwagon early, writing an hilarious piece for Wired in 2003 claiming the birth of a new scene, ‘Chipmusic’. In the article McLaren is escorted my mysterious French underground electronic musicians to a dingy factory where credibility and curry powder mix in malodorous clouds, and odd young hips with blackened teeth play unironic retro-future music on outdated consoles and computers. Since those halcyon days chiptune has conspicuously failed to set the world alight – though it has had an ‘influence’ on mainstream hiphop and indie acts, on underground scenes like nerdcore and laterly on art and fashion [1] [2]; ultimately achieving the honour of being featured in the latest issue of Analogue. Reformat the Planet is only available for four more days, so check it out!

Update: For an Irish take on 8bit, check out the hyperkinetic 0010100, who mercifully avoid the europop chinz of much euro chiptune.

Update 2: If you’re in the UK or can get your clogs on and hop on a ferry, there’s a Chiptune Alliance tour on right now in Scotland and England, featuring some of the artists featured in Reformat the Planet including Anamanaguchi, Sabrepulse, and Random.