Shnabubula: Game Genie tape (Ubiktune, 2011/reissued by Hausu Mountain, 2018)

November 23, 2018 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Shnabubula: Game Genie tape

How on earth did it take this long for Hausu Mountain to release a chiptune album?! Unless I’m forgetting something. But considering how the label’s visual aesthetic is heavily based on pixelated artwork (as well as, well, millions of other things), one might initially think they’re closely related to the chip scene. This is the first (AFAIK) cassette release from scene veteran Samuel Ascher-Weiss, who contributed to the infamous/controversial Miles Davis tribute Kind of Bloop nearly a decade ago. This album, originally released on Bandcamp in 2011, owes equally to 16-bit video game compositions, jazz fusion, prog-rock, and J-pop. It’s filled with complex time signatures, virtuosic playing, and an overall sense of embarking on a grand quest, but with an undying sense of optimism and glee. It is, without mincing words, a pure joy to listen to. While always sounding like it’s emanating from a vintage console, the music always bursts with excitement, and so much passion is put into the arrangements. “Aqua Fever” is the most “live”-sounding track, with acoustic-sounding drums and fluid bass soloing, while the title track is arguably the most overwhelming and complex (although really, all of this is). I must admit that even though I’ve always had an enormous amount of love and respect for the chiptune scene, I haven’t paid much attention to it since I moved from New York in 2009. This tape reissue is a reminder of how creative the scene can be at its best, and Game Genie was entirely worth digging up and presenting to a new audience.

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