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William Sides Atari Party: All Aboard for Mrs. Rifkind's House

William Sides Atari Party: All Aboard for Mrs. Rifkind's House

Label:No Sides
Release Date:2009

William Sides Atari Party plays Hexagon March 23 with Beeping Sleauty, Talk to Animals, and Armadillo Tank.

By Bret McCabe | Posted 3/18/2009

William Sides Atari Party makes some of the most gleefully low-tech chiptune music this side of a Pong soundtrack. Where many, though not all, chiptune producers tend to work with the more bubbly and warm electronics of the Nintendo and Game Boy, Commodore 64, and even classic Atari 2600 gaming systems, Sides--the major domo behind No Sides/B.Sides Records, which has put out fine slabs by Chicago no wave super group Miss High Heel and Malade de Souci--favors the Atari 7800, the Betamax of late 1980s game consoles, padded with some Nintendo Entertainment System and Darth Vader voice-changer here. All Aboard is raw and calamitous, noisy and rhythmic, and elemental in an almost industrial sense. On this four-song release, WSAP sounds like the Atari 7800 invited the Intellivision and Odyssey2 over to Mrs. Rifkind's house for a night of popping over-the-counter bronchial dilator stimulants while listening to Throbbing Gristle, Whitehouse, and the early Wax Trax! catalog. And then around dawn, when all their eyelids felt as heavy as garage doors, they decide to make techno.

Credit Sides' droll humor for that attitude. With song titles such as "Get Yer Ju-on!" and "Don't See the Movie Alien vs. Predator," WSAP injects a refreshing irreverence into the sometimes insular chiptune underground. But the tracks are choice, too. "Project Horizon" creates a jagged rhythm out of a buzzing percussive tone, over which Sides drapes background noises and bleeps until it accrues narrative drive. Best is the 16-minute-and-change "Alien vs. Predator" epic, in which strafing collisions of noises rise and fall into a car-chase beat that eventually stalls into an arrhythmic spitting of static bursts.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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