HarleyLikesMusic – Game Changer
It’s always refreshing when an album comes along that’s so instantly different from everything else out there.
HarleyLikesMusic’s Game Changer is eleven tracks of dancy electro wackiness. But what takes the album from middling to downright extraordinary is that every sound is generated by the obsolete circuits of a Nintendo GameBoy SP.
Starting with the eclectic, slowly-building ‘Drop the Bomb’ and terminating in the downright bizarre ‘Anchor to Reality’, something you notice quickly about Game Changer is how well it would fit into club playlists of more mainstream fare.
It makes for an entertaining listen and earns kudos for sheer DIY ingenuity, but a big component of this kind of music is seeing the nuts and bolts of its creation, which is of course somewhat lost outside a live setting. That’s clearly not putting off listeners though, with Game Changer still topping the Bandcamp charts.
The 8-bit melodies emanating from the microchips of old game consoles, also known as chiptunes, had their heyday in the 1980s, where the low cost of the hardware compared to the Yamaha and Roland synths of the time led to an explosion of popularity, with all kinds of hobbyists deconstructing and rewiring them to uncover their musical secrets.
Nowadays, chiptunes are undergoing a bit of a renaissance, perhaps driven by the new retro appeal of classic consoles themselves. New software tools, like GameBoy’s LittleSoundDJ, are making chiptune art easier and faster to generate with less trial-and-error, feeding into a new trend of wholly 8-bit albums, and even a lively subculture centred around live shows.
Certainly give Game Changer a listen if you have a hankering to relive the video games of your youth, but the magic might be lost on those who never owned a Gameboy.