4 out of 5
Label: Ship to Shore Records
Produced by: Dietrich Schoenemann (mastered by)
In theory, I love all chiptune music. 8- and 16-bit bleeps and bloops are what I grew up with, and the general pop-rock dance-beat detuning of the scene strikes right at a crossroads of catchiness and soul-stirring rawness that’s very easy to get down with. But of course, I don’t actually like all chiptune music, and maybe don’t like the majority of it enough to listen to it more than in passing. But Bit Shifter’s got a magic trick: whereas most of the stuff in the scene I’ve heard falls into a distinct camp of either video game music, or dance music, or radio-single style hits transmuted into chiptune, Shifter found a style that combined all of those into one. Not flipping back and forth intra-song, or alternating per track: rather, his songs seem to exceed the borders of the genre, patching a unique style together from all of its bits and pieces into a cohesive, wowing whole. Tracks start with the familiar and then instantly become more dense and emotive – and that emotion can be happy, or contemplative – and then manage to take further twists and turns, all while holding on to a core, irrepressibly catchy beat. While this skill would evolve over the few years of Bit’s output, it’s still present on this EP, reissued on a great sounding vinyl by Ship to Shore. It’s not necessarily as tight as later album Closed System Blues, sticking more to a straight-forward, dancey style – and there’s one track, ‘Reformat The Planet,’ that maybe falls into one of the categories mentioned above, sounding like a “typical” single, as translated through Gameboy chirps – but all of the creativity and passion is intact throughout, surprising with the way nearly every track blossoms into something special beyond its initial kick.