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September 06, 2006

A new kind of folk music


Some time back A Former Servant of Her Majesty mentioned a friend of a friend or possibly the brother of an ex-girlfriend or possibly a friend whose ex was in a band the salient feature of which was its being an 8-bit act and it was going to be playing somewhere some time. I did not know the term and he kindly explained 8-bit is a genre of pop music composed and performed on any chip that comes to hand and best known for using all video game hardware to generate its sound.

Which I think is a neat idea and entirely organic if in a Gramscian rather than a strictly instrumental sense. Malcolm McLaren saw it coming several years ago, naturally.

Until recently, I was feeling stifled by the tyranny of the new. New corporate lifestyles for doing everything well. Too well. iPod this. PowerBook that. Listening to albums, like Madonna's latest, that were made using Pro Tools - software that reduces virtually every mixdown effect to a mouse click - left me with a depressing sense of sameness, like everything on TV. I had decided to make an album about the "look" of music: the visual gestalt of youth culture. For me, music has always been a bridge between art and fashion, the two realms I care about most. It's one of the most natural expressions of the youthful need for confrontation and rebellion. Now it was lost in the hearts and minds of a karaoke world. I couldn't find my place in it.

Then I discovered chip music.

Some MySpace wandering let me find some for myself. The phenomenon may sound gimmicky but there is nothing contrived in the music of, for example, Mode7. These Super NES inspired musical stylings are by turns whimsical and moving. Listening leaves me with the feeling of half-remembered video game soundtracks of my childhood. Which is a nice thing.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 6, 2006 06:57 AM