Another group that I file under “doesn’t release new material as often as I’d like,” veteran chiptune pioneers 8 Bit Weapon are back, now pared down to a duo, with some incredibly catchy new tunes. The opening volley, “Closer (Bitpop Mix)”, is an infectiously catchy song with the welcome return of a female vocal. While still heavily processed (a la vocoder epics like “One Last Mission” and “Micro Boogie”), it’s an interesting sound and one that, surprisingly, is a stand-alone here; it’s not as if 8 Bit Weapon’s instrumentals are suddenly chopped liver, but I wish they’d sing some more. When I look back at the group’s post-Confidential output, the songs that stick out as my favorites are the ones with vocals. 8 Bit Weapon has a gift for catchy tunes and their instrumentation gives them a unique sound by default; their vocal offerings, more often than not, have clever lyrics and just a little extra something that turns a good instrumental into a great, addictive, fleshed-out song. With only six songs on the Electric High EP, it would’ve been nice to have two, even three songs with vocals. I’d love for 8 Bit Weapon to bring the vocal-to-instrumental ratio to parity.
Not that the instrumentals are anything to complain about here; “Kiss My Bits (ComputeHer Mashup Mix)” and “Macro Disko (Minimal Mix)” are early favorites. “Chiptune Attack 2600 A.D.” features a rare foray into the nearly-atonal sounds generated by an Atari 2600, and yet still manages to be a catchy – if quirky – tune. All of the tracks on Electric High are worth a listen, and at only six tracks, there’s no filler material – the EP makes a strong statement and doesn’t outstay its welcome.
8 Bit Weapon has a unique, fun sound – so much so that Sony’s production music department singled them out to build an effects and instrument library so that anyone with Nuendo, Cubase or other sequencing software can start cranking out chiptunes. (That, in and of itself, could be a great thing, or it could lead to a flood of dreck – part of the compelling appeal of chiptunes artists is that they are, in fact, using this old computer and game hardware to make these sounds. Sequencing and sampling one’s way to a new chiptune opus almost seems like cheating. Of course, there’s probably some string quartet out there staring me down for all those string samples I mess around with in Cubase, so it’s all down to your point of view.) They’re still on top of their game (literally!) with Electric High – I just wish they’d belt out some words more often. (Seriously, guys, if you need help with lyrics, if that’d get some more songs with vocals out there, just call me.)
- Closer (Bitpop Mix) (2:52)
- Kiss My Bits (Computeher Mashup Mix) (2:05)
- Chip On Your Shoulder (3:24)
- FUNDanalogue (2:22)
- Chiptune Attack 2600 AD (3:16)
- Macro Disko (Minimal Mix) (3:38)
Released by: 8 Bit Weapon
Release date: 2009
Total running time: 17:37