The Hills Are Alive With the Sounds of Gameboys
8-bit Rockers Anamanaguchi Release Endless Fantasy
Anamanaguchi, the bumpin’ indie-rock-meets-chiptune quartet from New York, are finally ready to present their second full-length album to the world.
If you’re not familiar with their brand of electronic fury, you might think you’ve accidentally clicked on a retro online game. The genre of 8-bit, or “chiptune,” refers to harnessing old school gaming systems’ soundcards to produce fast, upbeat electronic melodies: think Super Mario on acid.
Embracing their roots of mixing videogames and music, Anamanaguchi provided the soundtrack for the game adaptation of the 2010 cult film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, starring Canada’s beloved Michael Cera, a “total chiller” according to the band.
Their first full-length, 2009’s Dawn Metropolis, showcased their unique style of blending 8-bit bleeps and chirps with pop-rock style, including guitars and bass to jam along with the Gameboys and NES’s.
Endless Fantasy, out on May 14, boasts an impressive 22-song tracklist, with several songs already released, including a glitchy Japanese-themed music video for the single “Meow.”
The album has been over 4 years in the making, which drummer Luke Silas called “a truly arduous but totally rewarding process.
“_Endless Fantasy_ has been nothing short of a labor of love,” Silas said. “The whole project was pushed back plenty due to false starts and offers that ended up not panning out, but we wanted to take our time and make sure we could do things properly.
“Some of the songs on the record were started years ago, as early as 2008. As a stronger theme and cohesive sound for Endless Fantasy came into place, songs were reworked and expanded in a way that made sense,” he added.
8-bit to 16-bit: A New Sound Rises
This album is a slight departure from the raw, unrefined 8-bit tunes of Dawn Metropolis, and tracks have a more organic flow, most notably one of the album’s singles, “Planet,” a standout dreamwave-y track that took most fans by surprise.
“I was playing through The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask and the ‘Astral Observatory’ blew my mind,” songwriter Pete Berkman said, concerning his inspiration for “Planet.”
“The song is about Earth’s place in the universe, it’s a tiny zone floating through in an infinite abyss, and somehow there’s life on it,” Berkman said. “I wanted to create a sense of that melancholy wonder of being alone and knowing we aren’t.”
The shift in sound was “definitely a natural progression,” according to Silas. The polished electronica sound is the result of members endlessly tweaking the tracks to have them sounding as full as possible, and also due to branching into different sampling techniques.
“We expanded to using more sample-based 16-bit software, and spent a long time with our producer fine-tuning everything,” Silas said.
“Make no mistake, those abrasive [8-bit] bleeps are still the majority of the sounds on the record, but we wanted to expand everything.”
And Endless Fantasy marks another milestone in Anamanaguchi’s growth and progression as musicians with the introduction of vocals in their songs.
Their previous record and EPs remained firmly within the instrumental realm, but their latest effort features singing, looped soundbites, and even spoken word on a number of songs, including “Japan Air,” “Viridian Genesis,” and the trippy album closer, “(T-T)b.”
“We’ve wanted to work with vocalists for a while,” Silas said. “We had very specific vocal styles in mind for the tracks with singers, and we actually just looked to some amazing friends of ours on those tracks.”
The band will be playing their second Montreal show later this month—their first time being in the “coldest temperature I’ve ever been exposed to,” Silas admitted.
“The city was rad and we’re super excited to get back. We love Montreal and can’t wait to play a sweet, bright and loud show for you,” Silas said.
“And we’ll gladly wolf down some poutine.”
Endless Fantasy will be released May 14, by the label Dream.Hax.
Anamanaguchi // Il Motore (179 Jean Talon St. W.) // May 21 // 8:00 p.m. // $11 – $13