Archive for the ‘gameboy’ Category

New Quarta330 Live Set

March 8, 2009

Quarta330 is a Japanese gameboy composer, who sticks out with his quirky and slow beats in hiphop/dub/step style (as mentioned earlier). He’s also one of the few chip artists that operates outside the “scene” – with appearances on Hyperdub and even Warp. So his music is not always easy to find free for download, which makes this live-set from Berlin even more interesting. It includes several songs that are new to me, and I like the development from melancholic melodies and quantised grooves towards a more skweee-ish playfulness. Maybe chip music has a future after all?!

And then a random piece of C64 pixel art by skurwy from last week (with good music!)

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Noise Music

March 2, 2009

Noise is not as boring as you think. Mathematically speaking, noise is maximum content. It is everything at once, all frequencies in random order. When other shapes have some kind of continuity to fall back on, noise goes full out to never return. It is random and lacks order,which does not mean that everything can happen. White noise always sounds and looks like noise, it doesn’t just randomize itself into an opera. That is why noise music is fascinating to me, because it explores randomness in a social sense. For me, ideal noise music keeps transforming and contrasting and makes me feel displaced, confused. Noisy soundscapes in all honour and cut-up frenetics yeah yeah, but making good noise music is something far more difficult. I am not sure I ever experienced something like that from a recorded piece of music.

8-bit noise music is not very common, which means that good 8-bit noise music doesn’t really have best of compilations (yet!). It is maybe a bit like someone over at 8BC said about breakcore: the certain particularities with a genre that make it so good, are quite tricky to reproduce with an old soundchip and is therefore often completely lost. Indeed, good 8-bit breakcore is also quite rare (nevertheless something we will get back to in that thing called future). Here are a few examples of 8-bit noise music that I appreciate, and if you have more suggestions then feel free to leavy a harsh and random comment with maximum content. I must have left out a lot of gems, right?

Fjyssel is a Dane that uses the C64 data cassettes as audio material. He cuts it up, adds effects and other sounds.

Apostleship of Noise – a Swedish duo that use two Amiga500’s and other things, including about 10 effect pedals. The results are not very much like chip music at all.

Neurobit – Dutch one-man noise/ambient-band. “Producing soundscapes, drones, Pulses and noises using 4bit, 8bit, & LCD console sounds based on the idea of a live situation.”

Herr Galatran: Show 1×04 for Radio ill. (MP3 2008) Live noise improvisation on Atari 130XE in Berlin.

Narwhalz of Sound: American noise, probably irritating for some. Visit  dotcomandshit and myspace.

More occassional noise

Overthruster: Legendary American chaos musician, usually more rhythmical than drone-noisy.

Environmental Sound Collapse: Occasional noise from this American, usually harsh and dark.

Shame On Me

But a bit of self-promotion has to slip by here. I’ve done a few noise experiments, but this audiovisual piece is very overlooked. The visuals are made by Rosa Menkman (who also does research on glitch, noise, etc). I give you Eastern Fire Swim. (audio is an unedited C64-jam)

Sound Chip Comparisons

October 15, 2008

I was always painfully aware of the differences between different sound chips. And I don’t mean the differences between the Atari-sound and the C64-sound. There is actually a difference between two chips of the same brand, model, and revision. Obviously this is not the most interesting topic for some people (eh, most?), but a while back there was an interesting paper on the topic made available online.

Sebastian Tomczak wrote a paper last year for Australasian Computer Science Conference and it was actually criticized a bit for being too specialized (even by computer nerds, hehe). Tomczak’s assumption was that in the production of this videogame toy, you wouldn’t be as thorough as you would with a musical instrument. (which the Gameboy has become) And it seems he was right. It is refreshing to read a methodological and academia-styled approach to the sounds of 34 different Gameboys! I especially like the focus of the noise character of different Gameboys (not the user-controlled noise channel, but the background buzz/hum, the ‘selfnoise’). Interesting to some would be that underclocking the Gameboy removed this noise, atleast in one case. As one conclusion, Tomczak states that although the sound in the original grey Gameboys are widely regarded as the best, they are also the ones that vary the most. This is similar to the soundchips of the C64, as the old model (6581) varies more than the new model (8580), but more about this some other time. In the paper, there is not really any more conclusions, but since I read the disclaimer (please, don’t expect too much) I am still satisfied.

Anyway. Read Tomczak’s paper here and get more info (sonograms, audio files) here. Tomczak also mentions a previous study of the Gameboy sound chips, by Herbert Weixelbaum, which is found here. (Btw, the Gameboy does not really have a dedicated sound chip – the CPU handles the sound) Recently, Tomczak also questioned the supposedly increased bass sound of the Pro Sound modification of the Gameboy. In this blog post he shows sonogram images which do not indicate much difference in bass. Don’t believe the hype! Bring back the bass!

To make up for this massive gameboy nerdery, here is something completely different.