Adventure – Adventure
Here to rock out with his Xbox out, Benny Boeldt is an adventure, or actually Adventure (and, in this case, Adventure). But it’s not the nerdy specs he sports that allow him to share a moniker with Atari’s classic videogame, rather his uncanny ability to weave elaborate tapestries of song with 8-bit sounds. With melodies of circuit-generated sound-bursts climbing towards sonic detonation, his eponymous album is sure to garner Boeldt serious cred amongst the chiptune scene, its fans devoted to archaic videogame blips and their musical potential. However, he himself would rather not define his music so narrowly.
At first listen, it’s easy to dismiss the sophomoric tone of “Loredo” or “Travel Kid” as a gag, but once you can see past the silly sounds of gaming yesteryear, Boeldt’s compositional might stands revealed. “Battle Cat” contains a dense structure of moods hand-crafted by precisely selected tones, notes, and striking scales reminiscent of honorary chiptuners Solvent. The album’s dance appeal doesn’t seem quite as deliberate in intention as work by contemporaries Crystal Castles, but perfectly timed break downs and frenzied builds could still easily induce glowstick madness amongst ravers of the world.
To a degree, the 11 songs are formulaic: one 8-bit sound or another is constantly dancing around a techno-inspired rhythm until an engrossing passage of music-exotica transforms the tune. The thing is, the formula works, every time, while regularly pushing the bounds of the genre. Boeldt incorporates sampled vocals at crucial moments in songs, and he does so quite well with a sound that comes across like a mix of the vocal explorations of Glomag and the epic temper of Nullsleep. Most effectively, “Lifeguard” and “Poison Diamonds,” use the human voice to shape a narrative that’s often lost in the characteristic, machined repetition that can plague lesser bands within the chiptune scene.
When I popped this album in I thought to myself Dang, I left my Nintendo on.’ I went to go turn it off and suddenly realized, I hadn’t owned one in 20 years. And that’s just it: to hear noise from the early days of videogames spun into functional grooves is quite exciting if you did own that Nintendo all those years ago. Adventure is a kind of Rorschach ink blot test in that sense, what one hears dependent entirely on what he’s experienced. If you were a gaming junkie of yore, this album will probably resonant loudly, if even only on a nostalgic level. If games were never your thing, Adventure may seem built on gimmick, more hackneyed than avant-garde. Still yet, to those that find music is just something to dance to, the whole video-game thing may prove entirely irrelevant. Basically, if you’ve never stayed up gaming into the wee hours of the morning whence your only friends were the stale farts escaping periodically from betwixt your ass cheeks, then this album may not deliver on the promise its title suggests. If you did, then this Adventure will surely surpass that one.