There’s a big community of people who will take old Nintendo’s from 1985 and use them as synthesizers; people in Sweden, New York, Japan, London; taking apart these old video game consoles and old home computers and using them as synths instead of game consoles. They’d write software specifically for producing music on them.
The appeal isn’t necessarily using the actual console. The appeal is the limitations. You get such a shortened language of electronic music. It really simplifies the idea of how to build the sounds that you want from the simplest building blocks. It’s kind of expanded to using this language of simple digital music but applying it to everything else as well.
The cool part about the NES as a sound chip thingy, you get all this bit-quantization which means it has 16 values for volume. When a note fades out, it looks like stairs instead if a diagonal line.
First off, Song Exploder is a brilliant podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway. Rather than explain it in my own words, here’s the official description:
A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.
If you’re not subscribed, do so now.
I have been a fan of Anamanaguchi since hearing Another Winter in the Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game demo in 2010. The song sent my mind racing back to the NES era gaming. There is such a comfort in 8-bit sounds.
Anamanaguchi has put out two EPs, a series of singles (including my personal favorite, Airbrushed) as well as a debut full-length in the form of a kickstarted double LP titled Endless Fantasy. Last year, I had a great time writing up an experimental dual-review of the record against Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City which you can find here.
Give this Song Exploder episode a listen. It’s fascinating to learn what goes on behind electronic (namely chiptune) music.