EUROPE IN 8 BITS: recycling, innovation and evocation of the past

By Garbiñe Jaurrieta. May 7, 2012


Our childhood memories are inevitably tied to images, sounds and objects. The cartoons that kept us company every morning, a film, a book, a song. Products for our leisure time that sometimes, when we feel nostalgic, we like to evoke and share with those who also enjoyed them. If you belong to that generation that grew up in the 80’s, you will start to name titles you thought you had forgotten. Michael J. Fox and Back to the Future, The Goonies, those Ghostbusters with a young Bill Murray or the Knight Rider with a still acceptable David Hasselhof, among others. And inevitably words like Nintendo and Super Mario Bross, Sega or Gameboy. The incipient and revolutionary culture of videogames that was still moving at an 8-bit rhythm.

But, what became of those innovative machines that faded into oblivion followed not too long after, and fast, by its successors? And where are those melodies, now unthinkable, with a quaver rest between repetition and repetition?

There is a musical trend which, at the dawn of the 21st century, before the collapse, before this search for the locus amoenus in a more prosperous past became widespread, decided to recycle this 8-bit technology to create new sounds. We are talking about Chip music, a trend –or “culture” as some of its creators prefer to call it– that is escalating in the European scene.

From every corner of the old continent, audiovisual designers, software programmers or simple composers willing to innovate join this new technique. A trend that the documentary Europe in 8 bits has tried to portray by filming the Chip music movement in countries such as Germany, France, England, Sweden or Spain. The project, a Spanish-German joint production by Turanga Films and Films-kollektiv that started more than a year ago, gathers recordings from more than 60 artists that have turned the “prehistorical” videogame consoles NES, Sega, Atari, Gameboy or Commodore 64 into their instruments.

Now the film is seeking funding, so the Turanga team has started a campaign to raise money through the crowdfunding platform Verkami. An initiative that aims for the release of the first documentary that portrays and analyses this thriving music style. Because, as the creators of Europe in 8 bits say, “in times such as these, creativity becomes honed and good ideas take on an unexpected yet necessary role”.

It seems like 8-bit music knows how to make an efficient use of this formula: recycle and innovate. 

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