If you like the Casio VL-Tone, video games, Commodore sound chips, bloops, noises, and scronks, you’ve found heaven. But if you hate the lo-fi, 8-bit memories of a bygone era when waveforms varied all the way from pulse to square (with an occasional dose of sine) — better turn the page.
It’s impossible to audition this CD without smiling. Despite the premise, this is a serious project. There’s a broad array of sounds, from Pac-Man-type gobbling to what sounds like outtakes from “Da Da Da.” And, there are plenty of those totally weird arpeggio thingies that were the hallmark of video games.
So, how do you use this musically? Good question. The sounds are so idiomatic, and so evocative of a particular time, that you’re locked into a time warp as soon as one of these samples appears. But as contrast/relief in a dance track, a goofy interlude in a comedy flick, or a left-field element in an otherwise, uh, “normal” track, these samples get their game on — literally. Some of the “mix” loops make pretty good breaks for any kind of music; and it would make sense to layer some of the drum loops right in with heavy rap drums, especially if you do a little downward pitch-shifting to make some of the toy-like sounds more substantial.
Okay, I admit it: I love this downright charming CD, which isn’t just old school quirkiness but also lets you use the sounds with tools like Reason. Check out the audio example I created at www.eqmag.com; if it spins your crank, you’re gonna flip when you hear what this baby can really do.