Bearded Review. July 2009. Reviewed by Rob Evans
A while ago, right, someone decided it would be a good idea to rip a Gameboy apart and make some music with it. It kind of became trend and Tristan Burfield has now taken it upon himself to, as he puts it, ‘explore the limitations of the Gameboy’s 8-bit soundchip’, kind of like chiptune meets IDM. Recorded ‘directly via Gameboy to CD, with no sampling or overdubs’, this is a potentially interesting example of really seeing what can be done with one instrument. So does Tristan Burfield push the Gameboy to his limits? Yes he does. Should he have bothered? To be honest, probably not. See, chiptune isn’t like the electronic genres Aphex Twin and the like explores – it doesn’t need to be inventive or unique, it just needs to be straight up fun. Simple and pounding tunes for dancing to or blasting over old video games because, well, that’s kind of all it’s good for. Burfield seems to have set out to get as much as he can out of his Gameboy but realised that you really can’t experiment much with the thing. It’s telling that none of the tracks on this 14 minute album reach the 2 minute mark: there’s simply not much that can be done with the limited technology being used to flesh them out any more. There are some good moments: ‘Push Pin’ and ‘Escape Plan’ bounce along in a cutesy, heartwarming fashion, and all the songs have surprising depth given their simplicity, but I am far more interested in seeing what Burfield can do when he spreads his wings a little and plays with more than one thing at a time. If you’re new to chiptune, though, and aren’t quite ready for the genre at its most intense, then this is good, gentle introduction.