Groundislava’s self-titled album is an 8-bit take on electric grooves that’s tastefully narrated with crooning vocals and house beats—an arcade game score for real-life role playing. The album is a production of the label, Friends of Friends. Jasper Patterson AKA Groundislava found collaborative efforts as a member of the Wedidit Collective, “who make shit and want to give you the shit we make.” Groundislava is their latest representative—taking the podium and taking us back to birth of 8-bit.
When arcade games really caught on, sometime in the 70s and 80s, scores of digitized music sparked and underground genre unbeknown to the average anti-gamer. This genre while not a typical section in the records shop had a market. When a new video game was created, someone somewhere had to score the music. To increase the game’s longevity, that music had to live on a computer chip, rather than a fragile magnetic tape. These chip tunes were enduring. Ask anyone in their 30s or 40s to hum the Mario Brothers, Dig Dug or Pack Man tune and you’ll be sure to spark some old memories. Groundislava’s self title debut has tapped into that enduring quality and reintroduced it as a theme for this modern day electric beats album. The end product is a beat strong electro-pop album with a vintage feel.
The album is theme-driven. As such, it’s reminiscent to Tipper, whose albums also carry distinctive themes. But unlike Tipper, Groundislava penetrates a few sub-genres by featuring the likes of Shlohmo and Jon Wayne, Weary and Clive Tanaka, whose remix of “Panorama” opens with a Speak and Spell, a popular handheld game in the late ’80s/early ’90s that taught children how to spell by punching in letters to get and atomized, computer-voiced pronunciation of any given work. Lately, these vintage toys have been plucked off the shelves for circuit bending experiments, a technique that re-solders circuits and adds controls to create new sounds, reminiscent to early synthesizers.
The tracks “Animal” and “Panorama” both occur on the album twice with their respective remixes. “Panorama” takes advantage of Weary’s spacey vocal melodies. “Animal ft. Weary” is a haunting expression of nocturnal beings. Weary’s vocals seems heavier and perfectly distorted when compared to those of Panorama. And while I personally would rather hear remixes on a separate album, these last two tracks (“Animal (Young Montana Remix)”, “Panorama (Clive Tanaka Remix)”) offer refreshing takes on the album’s gems.
“Young Lava” has a ’80s spandex feel, similar to Twin Shadow, but on a pallet constructed of beats and samples. The track still adheres to Groundislava’s 8-bit theme, but retro enough to sound—well retro. Likewise, “The Dig” sounds like Patterson’s take on house music, yet still retains traces of that Chiptune sound.
If you’re a fan of 8-bit, arcade beats, definitely give this one a spin. By the end of the album, you’ll have smeared that line between 2D and 3D.