8-Bit Rally Soundtrack, poisoncut, 2011
What’s in a name? Quite a lot, if you look at the reactions to the title of retro racer 8-Bit Rally. This homage to the straightforward arcade racing action of games like the Lotus and Top Gear franchises was generally well-received. But there was some confusion in online forums. Those screenshots didn’t really suggest an 8-bit game, more something from the following generation of consoles and computers. And while it was understandable that 8-Bit Rally’s developers wanted to reference yesteryear’s racing game classics, the Lotus series really only spawned a single 8-bit title – all other Lotus and Top Gear games appeared on 16-bit platforms. On the other hand, would ‘16-Bit Rally’ have tickled gamers’ nostalgia bone remotely as much as ‘8-Bit Rally’? Nostalgic fondness isn’t really an exact science, so maybe some leeway needs to be given to marketing departments.
Listeners should keep in mind then that this is not one of the many retro exercises in NES-style chiptune. Instead, composer poisoncut’s work here makes full use of contemporary sounds and production techniques. At the same time, he subtly alludes to the music of the games that inspired 8-Bit Rally. In a way, poisoncut is in a favourable situation. The Lotus and Top Gear soundtracks never really developed an unmistakable signature sound, despite some recurring stylistic features. This means that poisoncut doesn’t need to mimic particular musical gestures and is free to work in his own style of melodic, high-octane electronic music – which is enough to maintain consistency with 8-Bit Rally’s musical inspirations. It is somewhat telling that bonus track “Cockpit View (8-Bit Rally Version)” – the album’s most consciously retro-styled cue – is also its least interesting (if still worthwhile) creation.