David Wise ‎– Battletoads

3 out of 5

Label: iam8bit

Produced by: iam8bit (vinyl production)

While not necessarily as memorable some other classic 8-bit era soundtracks, David Wise’s Battletoads still is deserving of a highlight as it carves out its own particular “rock” sound from the scrabbly, lean effects afforded by technology of the era.

Some vague, recognizable themes – Zelda, Mario – flutter into ‘Toads 19 tracks, kicked into a boppy, moving and grooving vibe by Wise, with something of a dark edge – befitting the titular toads beefy, biker looks – with the way the deeper beats play off against the wandering, energized synths.  It’s surprisingly rather simplistic throughout, likely relying more off of the momentum of the game itself, but this also highlights how just one or two layers can make for a toe-tapping tune, and the score finds more shape as it goes along, concluding in some denser work towards the end.

Iam8bit’s mastering is clean, but nothing particularly special or crystalline, which is generally common for them.  Nick Gazin’s artwork is simple – figures against a solid color – but eye-catching and funny, with a nice green swirl to the vinyl.  One thing I think they botched, though, is the sequencing: there’s likely too much material here for a 45, but not enough for a full-length LP, so they misbalance durations (how long they let things loop) for the first side, where tracks just seem to go on pointlessly and then fade out, requiring the elongated repeating of the ‘pause’ theme for they end of side A.  This might be why side B seems a lot more compelling: tracks are shorter and more to the point, allowing for almost double the tracks on B vs. A.

A nice addition to a David Wise library, although probably more noteworthy as a collector’s item and nostalgia piece than as a repeat listen.