8-Bit Rally Soundtrack, poisoncut, 2011
Despite the album title, 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 – the Lotus and Top Gear franchises. 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. Instead he is free to work in his own style of melodic, high-octane electronic music. And in the end, that is enough to maintain consistency with 8-Bit Rally’s musical inspirations.
The 8-Bit Rally soundtrack differs most obviously from the Lotus and Top Gear scores in its melody-driven nature. One listen to opening track “Renegade Racer” confirms that poisoncut is much readier to hit listeners hard and fast with catchy melody hooks than Barry Leitch and Patrick Phelan were. Combine this tendency with heavier beats and 8-Bit Rally’s music is deliciously in-your-face and fuss-free. poisoncut’s melodic chops are evident throughout the album, as he serves up both memorable hooks and more long-winded melodies alike. The latter are also introduced on “Renegade Racer”, as a measured synth melody powerfully unfolds on top of pumping beats. It’s a perfectly judged combination of contrasts. Insistent, beefy beats deliver the necessary speed rush, while the determined, controlled melodies tell players that they are still in control of the frantic racing action around them, ready to capture first place.