Never has electronic music’s inherent debt to the arcade been explored as broadly and, at times, magically as on Blip, Bleep (Soundtracks to Imaginary Video Games) (Lucky Kitchen). A dozen-plus musical acts mine the familiar sound effects of videogames to create 18 new instrumental pop songs. Some of the musicians take the opportunity more seriously than others, but the best tracks, including Colongib’s “MegaBlasterFiend” and Jake Mandell’s “Botanical Seppuku,” milk the conceptual art-pop project for all it’s worth: finding a common ground between Aphex Twin’s brand of syncopated synthetic music and Pac Man’s manic, mindless pace. Most common motif on the record? Perhaps the suggestion that the music accompanying the mid-game death of a player is the arcade composer’s equivalent to the bridge in a traditional song. All the samples you’d expect are here: phaser fire, a race car’s “vroom,” the inevitable “Game Over.” Sometimes, the sound quality says enough on its own, as with V/VM’s “The Swedish Model,” which imagines a raspy 8-bit synth-organ adaptation of Bacharach and David’s “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.” And the descriptions of the games are often a riot unto themselves. Wheaton Research has no delusions about the complexity of the average quarter-sucker; its “Soul Transport” involves “Walking around and getting zapped.” Suetso & Underwood get more carried away; their “Family Tree Polo” is described as follows: “Bounce through time in your ambulance. Save your injury prone ancestors so you may eventually be born.” The joystick may just be the conductor’s baton of the next century.
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5 Most Recent Posts
• October 13, 2016: This day marks the start of the 250th weekly Disquiet Junto project.
• November 16, 2016: I'll be sharing the mic at Adobe Books in San Francisco with my fellow 33 1/3 author Evie Nagy for an evening hosted, from 7pm to 10pm, by Marc Kate (facebook.com).
• December 1, 2016: A likely speaking engagement. Details to come.
• December 13, 2016: This day marks the 20th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 5, 2017: This day marks the 5th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
disquiet juntoThe Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects: • 0253 / Doorbell Rehab / Record some welcome music. • 0252 / Sonic Palindrome / Make music that sounds the same backwards and forwards. • 0251 / Soothing Sounds for Parents / Remix some music for infants with parents in mind. • 0250 / Soothing Sounds for Junto / Make some peaceful music for an infant child. • 0249 / 80 Phases / Wish the minimalist composer Steve Reich a happy birthday.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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