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Another Game Boy MP3

Overthruster‘s Meth Date Dance Party is the sound of geriatric robots taking their last dance, all creaky and sad, occasionally tripping up, and not moving entirely under their own power. Reportedly recorded last November as a live DJ set, the nearly 20-minute track has the steady underlying beats and limited palette of German minimal techno, but with two tasty switches.

First of all, it was rendered entirely on a Nintendo Game Boy, using the Little Sound DJ software. Even most minimal techno, for all its sonic doldrums, still is glossy and aurally rich, those dubby subterranean bass tones oh so murky. No such production concerns for Overthruster (or “Overthrustr,” occasionally, in the documentation), which is satisfied with the four channels of four-bit sound inherent in the Game Boy’s circuitry.

Second, the Meth Date set is offered as an unambiguously lo-res, lo-fi 16kbps file. What this means, in practical terms, is that the data is saved at less than one tenth the fidelity of the average MP3 file. What this means, in audio terms, is that every beat, every note, flutters with interference. For a piano recital, this would be unacceptable. For Overthruster, it’s ambience. Overthruster’s Meth Date Dance Party is techno heard through a CB radio, darkly. It’s available as a free download from the appropriately named 20kbps netlabel, at 20kbps.sofapause.ch (zip file here, complete with cover art and a text-file liner note); it was added to the 20kbps site on January 28, 2004. More info on Little Sound DJ at littlesounddj.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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