Anyone who’s played an NES or a Game Boy has heard 8-bit music, but its cousin, 1-bit music, is an incredibly rare flower. Well, to satisfy that urge, there is 1-Bit Symphony by Tristan Perich.
The title of “symphony” may sound a bit immodest, but that’s precisely what it is; various sounds and pulses are layered in a way that is appealing to the ear. The music is quite beautiful and textural, which is incredible considering the limitations of 1-bit music – it’s far from minimalistic, which is quite a departure from most classic video game chiptunes. However, the music itself is far from being the only neat thing about this album!
What appears to be interesting cover art is actually the electronic circuit that plays music “live” when you turn it on. To listen to it, there’s a headphone jack mounted into the side of the jewel case. As an album, it’s instantly timeless – while CDs are waning in popularity, it’s unlikely that the standard headphone jack will be replaced anytime soon. So, essentially, you could listen to it a decade from now without having to first find something to play it on.
The curious packaging reminds me of the CD designed to look like salami, going so far as being encased in the sort of plastic bag you’d see meat in at the grocery store. However, I think that the 1-Bit Symphony goes beyond this artistic design, as it completely subverts the idea that you would need a CD in the first place.
You can buy your own copy of this album for $29.00, which is quite a fair price for a hand-assembled and programmed work of electronic art. It’s definitely something I’d be proud to display in my (pitifully small) collection of CDs.
Chiptune music, whether it’s true 8-bit or simply inspired by the sound, features in a lot of animations that have some sort of 8-bit influence. This desk animation is one example of using chiptunes with a retro art style, and this 8-bit video and song cover of Michael Jackson’s Thriller does much the same thing.