Friday, March 14, 2008

Tristan Perich's 1-Bit Music

I have just acquired what is hands-down the coolest thing in my music collection. Tristan Perich's 1-Bit Music is not available on vinyl or CD or tape or any other traditional media. What you receive in the mail when you order from Cantaloupe Music is a clear plastic CD jewel case sans CD and CD holder. Inside is a series of 6 components connect by wires. There is the power switch, battery, processing unit/circuit (aka the music maker), a "skip" button, volume knobs, and a headphone jack. Yes, to listen to the music, you plug headphones or speakers directly into the jewel case. That alone is the coolest thing I've ever heard.

But the music you ask. What does it sound like? It sounds similar to regular 8-bit music. The major difference is that 1-bit music is so stripped down and lo-fi, it is only capable of making a handful of sounds. It's not just a "beep" or a "boop," though. I am most definitely surprised at the range of noises that come out of this jewel case. There are piercing high notes and low end bass notes, along with what sounds like a character walking/shuffling away on to the the next level in some NES game (Double Dragon, perhaps?).

The first song starts out with just 3 notes I think, making a really cool beat. But then it kicks in with these layered syncopated rhythms that just make me wanna dance. This is definitely not the minimal music you would expect from only being able to work with 1-bit. These are some awesome pop/dance/glitch songs (along with a couple of some more experimental type stuff). But there are actual songs. 11 of them to be exact. The electronics are programmed to play specific, named songs in order that you can skip through using the skip button. But seriously, there isn't anything on here you'd want to skip through. I think the addition of that button was more out of politeness than necessity.

So not only does this thing look awesome, it also plays some of the best electronic music I've ever heard. And definitely the most original. I don't really know what else to say about it. You need to experience it. If you liked the Buddha Machine or you're into electronic music or you like to mix your music with your art, then please please please check this out. I can't recommend it enough.

You can listen to some of the music on his website and the website for 1-Bit Music.

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