Pulsing, "Anxiety"


The fine art of playing a Game Boy as a sound source might, at this point, be relatively lost to the archives of history (see: Brian Blomerth’s Narwalz of Sound project, the entire institution of musicians who used the bespoke LSDJ Game Boy sound module cartridge to program tracker compositions, the well-hidden in-game synth contained in the original Game Boy Camera). The Bettendorf-based project Pulsing, however, makes some sort of case for the continued relevance of Game Boy tones transplanted into other musical contexts – in this case, a strain of electronic weirdness that falls somewhere between dungeon synth and sludge metal.

Anxiety, a proper full-length album from the project that landed in late October, lives up to its title with its long chiptune compositions that betray virtually no sign of the usual pep and major-key euphoria found in video-game soundtracks from the original Game Boy era. Instead, the music here borders on pure hellish dirge, and its tracks bear such titles as “FAMINE,” “PESTILENCE,” and “WRATH.” Pulsing really wrings every bit of possible dark emotion out of that Game Boy though, and while the tracks tend to lope along at a molasses pace, frosted with cymbal strikes and heavy kick drums, the overall effect compels us enough to root us to the spot.

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