Features, Music March 16, 2010 By Sonaar Luthra

blippage2 Chip Music: a history of the future
     The marathon of sets churned out over the past six hours at Brooklyn’s Bell House this past December has witnessed everything from Rainbowdragoneyes‘ metal Euro-pop and Nullsleep’s post-cyberpunk to the live drum and Game Boy duo Starscream. All of them make music using the hardware found on seemingly obsolete video-game hardware, everything from Game Boys and Nintendos to the more exotic setups assembled by the artist little-scale (for tonight’s set: an Atari 2600, a Sega Master System and a Sega Megadrive).
     This week, many of the aforementioned musicians have descended upon Texas to play Datapop 3.0 at South by Southwest. This may only be the event’s third appearance in Austin, but the practice was pioneered decades ago. Not many would have thought chip music could produce so much variety when Bit Shifter and Nullsleep started performing it live in the city nearly a decade ago. “I don’t really see chip music as a genre — you spend enough time at Blip Festival and you realize all these guys are playing different types of music,” says Mike Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tank. “There’s some consistency because of the specific set of instrumentation these musicians have chosen to use, and set of confinements.”

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