The Gameboy Singles 2002 (with "Gameboy" as one word) is the fourth release by Nullsleep, one of the two founders of the 8-Bit Peoples, a collective of musicians who make their music by utilizing technologies of long past. Coincidently, I personally came upon the 8-Bit Peoples after arriving at E2 one day to find the AnimeFu banner replaced with a completely foreign banner. At first I was shocked at this change in normality, but the word "8-bit" was too much, and after I used the left mouse button on the image I was extremely happy. From listening to chiptunes on and off for roughly three months before finding the 8-Bit Peoples my mind was pretty much set on what could be done with the primative, nostolgic equipment that was used in the creation of such songs. But after downloading The Gameboy Singles 2002 from the 8-Bit Peoples website my opinion changed dramatically of what exactly could be achieved with the chiptune aesthetic.
The first few albums by Nullsleep take on a similar tone to that of other chiptune tunes. Perhaps this is because he relied on the use of the NES, composing songs with the MCK tracker, or because, simply put, his musical knowledge was limited and eventually grew with the time. But for whatever reason The Gameboy Singles 2002 takes the art of the chiptune, and Nullsleep's art in general, to a completely different level.
As the title obviously states, The Gameboy Singles 2002 is a collection of songs that Nullsleep wrote in the year 2002 on his Game Boy, using his prefered GB tracker of choice, LittleSoundDJ. The songs are placed in chronological order, and the apparent maturation of his song writing abilities is blatant. The first four songs are simple, while at the same time highly chaotic and developed, which gives off the appearance of playing for pure fun. The concluding three songs, however, reveal a completely new outlook: while the fun sound is still there, another element is added with new technique and understanding of song composition.
1. Bump Yer Head (1:55)
Starting off with a simple drum beat, Bump Ur Head is the opening track to The Gameboy Singles 2002. For the first minute the song meanders around various melodies and 8-bit exploding bomb sounds, with the same drum beat that it started with altering every once in a while, and a lo-fi sample of a guy telling you to "check it out" going off once in between. The song really hits its stride around the one-minute mark, when some real melody and groove are set into place. As far as opening tracks go this is a pretty good start, as it does set the tone for things to come.
2. Hard4u In The Bayou (2:51)
Had this song been given a fuller sound it could have been on the same plane as those songs to come later on, but instead it is very content to just remain the minimalist that it is. The first part of this song revolves around an exaggeratedly long melody that repeats four times before a second part kicks in that brings things down a little. However, after this stop off at the calm things get real fast as the drums begin to freak out in a pseudo-IDM way. After the ensuing chaos the end of the song wraps everything up with a nice little outro.
3. Harm Parm (2:36)
Like Bump Yer Head this song starts off with a simple drumline, before an accompanying melody/drumline is introduced in the form of a weird buzzing sound. After this introduction of sorts things go off to such an extent that it’s hard to imagine describing Harm Parm at all. It’s easy to listen to this song and already see the progression from the first track, because things are so much more intricate and, in a way, meticulous. Also this song is one of the "harder" songs in the collection, and it lacks that certain Nullsleep sound, but is still very enjoyable none-the-less.
4. Playful Panda (1:36)
Playful Panda is a culmination of all three previous songs, as it takes the best elements of them and throws them together in a minute and a half of 8-bit fun. It starts off with the same drum scheme as Harm Parm and Bump Yr Head, and then has the ensuing chaos Hard4u In The Bayou, complete with pseudo-IDM tendencies. Interestingly enough, and even though this song comes right before the transition to the conclusion of the album, Playful Panda doesn’t sound a lot like the final three songs. In a way it is one last hurrah to the old Nullsleep, and less of a hello to the new.
5. I Love U (...Both Of U) (3:13)
Kicking the second section of the album off with a bang comes the cleverly titled I Love U (...Both Of U). It is virtually impossible to listen to this song without wanting to jump out of your seat and dance around your computer. When I listen to it I can see tiny stuffed animals marching along and doing various deeds of debauchery. The previous Nullsleep songs lack this level of creativity and emotion, which might be a good thing because it gives this song just that much more ummpff. And God Bless the key of C Major while we’re at it.
6. Chasing Summer Love (3:46)
It’s hard to follow up I Love U (...Both Of U), but Nullsleep makes an excellent decisions and takes things down a notch. Chasing Summer Love keeps the same marching rhythm but has less going on, with just the bass, a solid accompanying melody and then a wander treble melody. After a while some drumroll kind of drums come in and a little groove forms before everything is cut off and only the accompaniment remains. A drum fill marks the start of something new and the tempo changes drastically, causing the head-bob of I Love U (...Both Of U) to return in full force. After nearly of minute of the fast-paced section things go back down to a calmer outro that has a call and response between the two melodies.
7. Say It’s Not The End (3:20)
The final track on The Gameboy Singles 2002 does very much sound like a goodbye song in ways. This is another very danceable song, but might be the weakest of the three advanced songs on this album. Still, it is an excellent display of what Nullsleep can now do with the Gameboy, as it has a full, progressive sound like the previous two tracks. The nice thing about this track is that when you feel like it should end it kicks right back into everything, which has the eventual result of making you want even more.