Here at Black Metal & Brews, I typically try to alternate themes in my New Music Monday posts. If I feature something that is decidedly not “metal” one week, I try to make up for it the following week with something aggressive. This week I’m breaking that rule because I’ve come across something that was simply too fascinating to leave out. Composer Tristan Perich creates music that defies categorization. While the music I’m sharing here falls under the umbrella of experimental or modern classical, these terms would only serve to prevent folks from clicking the “play” button. I know that “chiptune” music and stripped sounds have become overdone and are off-putting to many, yet the music of 1-Bit Symphony exists outside that realm while simultaneously occupying a lonely throne in a strange corner of the genre.
Admittedly, part of the appeal of 1-Bit Symphony lies in the physical artifact. Given the nature of black metal collectors and our coveted wooden box editions, I think you can see why I’m drawn to this. I’d rather quote the artist directly than try to put it into words myself:
“Tristan Perich’s 1-Bit Symphony is a dazzlingly low-fi electronic composition in five movements on a single microchip. A complete electronic circuit utilizes on and off electrical pulses, synthesized by assembly code, to manifest data as sound. The Wall Street Journal wrote, ‘Its oscillations have an intense, hypnotic force and a surprising emotional depth.’ The device treats electricity as a sonic medium, making an intimate connection between the materiality of hardware and the abstract logic of software. “
It’s a heady, yet apt way of putting it. We live in an age in which interacting with and consuming music is done easily and, often, thoughtlessly. We no longer seek music in the same way. If it is not given freely, it is found freely. Consequently, an experience with a new piece of music is seldom given much consideration. With this package of a microchip and a headphone jack, the listener is given an experience unlike any other. The album flows from jarring to blissful, with songs like “Movement 3” displaying a surprising degree of warmth and depth considering the restrictions of the medium. While I can’t say I’ve purchased the album in its intended format, it’s something that has me fascinated and excited for the innovative nature of music in an era where detachment from the art is increasing.