Radio Quarantine -Random chiptune mix 50 (2021)

I’ve said it before. If you can conjure it in your brain, and then do a Google search, you’ll find it exists. It’s not magic. It’s mathematics. With over 6 billion people in the planet, there is very little beyond your DNA sequence that is unique. Maybe not even that. That said: “Chiptune, also known as chip music, is a style of synthesized electronic music made using the programmable sound generator sound chips or synthesizers in vintage arcade machines, computers and video game consoles.”

Yup, it’s CHIPTUNE. I mentioned it to a friend yesterday, with a brief description as above, and her response was, “That sounds horrible.” And it does sound horrible, right? The problem is, it’s really not. It’s weirdly compelling. The sound is so familiar that it’s almost nostalgic, provided you can imagine it outside the context of the games. It’s easier to take the quality of sound with a grain of salt when there is visual distraction. It’s not great. At the same time, there is an appeal that’s hard to explain. I’m not a convert, but I won’t dismiss it either. I used to live down the street from a composer who was internationally famous for toy piano music. My initial reaction was well who the hell wants to hear toy piano? Then I heard it. I guess it comes down to music. Good music is simply good music, no matter how it’s conveyed. Chiptune music is the new-ish toy piano genre.

These recordings do have that same nostalgic or even hauntological vibe as the synth-driven Sovietwave that I’ve been hung up on for about a year now. These sounds are sort of how we imagined the future way back when we brought the first video game consoles into our homes. It was all just so fucking new and novel and wonderful. Wait… wonderful… ? Yah it was really sort of wonderful. It was a new dimension. The music behind those game became almost a new life soundtrack without even really realizing it, while we were pushing for the next high score. And it can’t be denied that gaming culture threaded itself into the rest of our lives. Games became TV shows and movies. Movies and TV shows became games. If it could be imagined, it could be made into a game. Gaming, as much as hiphop (and the two did entertwine) became part of our collective world culture. It’s part of our human cultural DNA now.

So Chiptune makes sense, really. As much as anything else makes sense. I’d never really thought about the sweeping impact, but gaming, hiphop, animation, comic books, film, TV… It’s like one big android beast entity. It’s got a common language and fashion and rituals. That would make chiptune a sort of folk music. That’s not really such a stretch, is it? It’s still not going to occupy a lot of my listening time. This is more of an intellectual curiosity for me, similar to the toy piano compositions. It doesn’t really move me, beyond the academic interest. There is no real emotional pull for me. These are original compositions but they hit me in the same way that hearing the Legend of Zelda music might, like an echo from the past, but a distant echo. It doesn’t really resonate. I do understand why it’s become a thing, though. The music here, by the way, recalls late 70s pop jazz that I never really liked either. It does have more of an appeal in this context though, simply because of the novelty factor. Outside of that, it’s almost mall jazz. What can one say about mall jazz?

So that’s what’s going on here this morning. Curiosity and rabbit holes. There’s another storm sweeping in, supposedly. More cold. More snow. Nowhere to go. The kitchen is filled with food. No reason to go out even except to walk the dog. Ah well…

Ah well…

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