Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"It's not that often that weird Internet s**t impresses me....but damn": MOON8 is the coolest thing ever, period, lock the door

Well said, Chris Holden, well said.

My fellow Charge-Shooter was referring to the newest musical/dork curio circulating the web, a complete re-creation of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon using the original Nintendo Entertainment System sound chip. The result, known as MOON8, is tinny, archaic, and wonderful.

MOON8 was created by, who else, a video game programmer named Brad Smith, who currently offices at Killspace Entertainment, a company who cites as its guiding philosophies as "creativity, loyalty, and aggression." Gah.

But despite hailing from a company whose mission statement sounds like a UFC fighting slogan, Smith creates some pretty compelling chiptune music. Chiptune, if you weren't aware, is a form of music created entirely on video game console sound chips rather than conventional synthesizers or, like, guitars.

I have been heretofore resistant to the idea of listening to video game music because I feared that, should I indulge this so utterly nerdtastic desire, I would instantly develop social-life-ending acne, become unable (or unable-r) to talk to girls, and develop allergies to just about everything.

What I now know as "chiptune" didn't appeal to me, either, because my insufferable snobbery led me to believe that any video game recreation of a song I enjoyed would amount to nothing more than rote gimmickry. And, as everyone ever believes, video games aren't art.

But Smith's re-creation may have changed my tune. First of all, there seems to be a perfect synthesis of content and medium here: both Dark Side of the Moon and the video game music of yesteryear evoke the same kind of transporting, vaguely escapist feeling. Better, the bleeps and bloops of MOON8 develop the anxious, antisocial quality of Dark Side. Gone are the warm tones of David Gilmour's blues-inflected tenor, replaced by a cold computer equivalent. It's alienating but strangely compelling, like a David Lynch movie.

The ingenuity of the transition is often striking: unable to recreate the soothing Hammond B-3 organ sounds that lead into mid-album highlight "Us and Them," Smith replaces them with a series of jarring, lightning-fast arpeggios. The change alters your overall impression of the track and foreshadows the thundering chorus ("Forward he called from the rear/And the front rank died") even more overtly. It's this kind of subtle alteration that makes MOON8 more than a simple translation.

Other highlights? The swirling paranoia of "On the Run," which sounded like video game music to begin with (at least according to Smith himself); Smith's ability to maintain the soothing quality of album opener "Breathe" despite the aural strictures; and, of course, the Mario coin plinks of "Money."

The whole thing is like nothing you've ever heard before, or perhaps just the best version of something that's actually been around for a while. Either way, it's free on Smith's website.