Bleeping Beats, Chiptunes, and Hyperdub 5


A couple weeks ago I posted a 40 minute mix on nerd music (you can download it here) that focused on (mostly) instrumental hip-hop and dub(step) musicians that incorporate the chiptune sound in their music. The genesis of this mix goes back to the end of August. I started compiling some tracks, quite a few of which I had previously posted on nerd music, that highlighted this sub-sub-genre. Then work and this whole moving to another continent thing got in the way and it sort of languished until about three weekends ago when, during an annoying flu, I finally pieced it together. I’m a little biased, but I very much like the mix. I think it flows nicely from track to track, includes a few little fun references, and it’s short enough to not be tedious. Here is a tracklist.

Coincidentally, in-between conception and final upload was when Hyperdub, home of Burial and Kode9, started issuing its 5 year anniversary EP series culminating in, two weeks ago, the massive 2 CD “5 Years of Hyperdub” compilation. That CD has, by my count, about 7 or 8 tracks that use chiptunes to some degree, and that’s not even counting the few tracks that use indeterminate lo-fi bleeps and synths or the Martyn track “Mega Drive Generation” with its obvious nod to videogames. If you like the 8-bit videogame sound then “5 Years of Hyperdub” is essential; doubly so since a lot of the other tracks are quite fantastic. The second disc also gives a pretty solid overview of Hyperdub’s output thus far.

When you look at the dubstep scene you realize quickly that it’s a fairly young genre. Not in terms of its own existence as a named thing, but as a measure of the age of many of its prominent musicians. They’re of the generation that doesn’t know a world before the Nintendo Entertainment System and a lot of the music reflects that. There’s Rusko dubstepping the Bionic Commando theme (and it’s pretty badass) and Joker cutting up the Metal Gear Solid 3 theme and the countless others bringing in Gameboys, and videogame samples and aesthetics. If you had a giant Venn Diagram of dubstep and 8-bit chiptunes, you’d see a large overlap between the two.

Why dubstep is particularly prone to this, more than other electronic styles, I don’t know. Maybe it has to do with its relatively lo-fi, home studio feel of the genre? Burial’s claims that he produced his first album entirely within Soundforge come to mind. There’s a hidden, untold history there, but it’d be best told by someone that knows the genre, and its players, better than I do. In the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying it until it’s pillaged and destroyed for all its worth. And if you do enjoy videogame-like music, but are afraid of the stigma that “pure” chiptunes can bring, you can’t go wrong with Hyperdub’s compilation.

I’ve also just uploaded my mix to SoundCloud. Interesting service. It’s embeded below:

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