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July 31, 2007Glenn Turner

Every Tuesday I take a look at a piece of music that's derived at least portions of its sound from video games! If you'd like to suggest a chiptune, bitpop track, or any video game-inspired music selection, please leave a comment or contact me at gturner at thenewgamer dot com!
Golden Shower - Video Computer System Screengrab

Artist: Golden Shower
Album: Digital 2600
Track: Video Computer System (download)

For better or for worse, the sounds of the Atari 2600 Video Computer System are inextricably tied to the cultural memory of the 80s. Perhaps that's because the console's tones were ones that world had never imagined they'd hear, perhaps because the noises are so odd and misrepresentative of any natural sound, or perhaps it's simpler than that and people remember them just because of repeated exposure to the unique audio.

So, any band that wants to evoke the 80s can't do much worse than to toss some VCS tones into the mix, which is exactly what Brazilian band Golden Shower did. Golden Shower formed in the 90s explicitly to return the 80s sound to pop music (or at least have fun trying), and one of their most successful singular attempts was through their Atari 2600 mash note 'Video Computer System'.

The track is solely comprised of VCS sounds (although composed on a Mac) and, despite the (presumably intentional) muddy production, it's still extremely infectious. 'Video Computer System' opens with the sounds of 2600 switches being toggled and inserting/removal of VCS carts, before lunging into the percussive backbone of the song. From there, Golden Shower smoothly builds up the melodic elements, never allowing the dominant sounds to become too cloying, before culminating in a brilliant solo that shows how versatile the 2600 can aurally be.

Perhaps even better than the song itself is the 'Video Computer System' video. Produced for the 2000 MTV Brazil Video Music Awards (and eventually winning for 'Best Electronic Music Video'), it tells the simple tale of a man traveling through a number of classic Atari 2600 versions of games in order to attend a Golden Shower concert. While similar videos have been executed in the past (and present), few have been executed with the same amount of precision as 'Video Computer System'.

The renditions of the games are relatively spot-on, even though some are a bit more visually detailed than they should be and several characters have been slightly tweaked (such as Pac-Man), presumably to avoid thorny legal issues. Despite these issues, the reverence for the original 2600 version of the games shine through, and certainly don't inhibit one of the most pleasing parts of the video: the transitions.

The editing between games – flying from Missile Command into River Raid, then parking at a shopping mall only to be chased through Keystone Kapers – each scene is quite marvelously sewn together and great fun to watch, even if you don't recognize half of the games. My only complaint with the video is, sadly, the terribly out-of-place recreation of a Matrix bullet time shot. I'm not sure why it was included, other than to show the normally 2D games from a 3D perspective but, while it's visually appealing, it only serves to unimaginatively date the video.

But enough of my blathering – watch the video for yourself!

While 'Video Computer System' is the sole console-based track from Golden Shower, they do have quite a bit of additional, 80s-like, material, including the blippy tune Total Control (which also has a rather splendid video). Actually, until last year, they had been mostly inactive for several years but came out from the abyss with a handful of tracks, including a 'Bollywood'-inspired rendition of Kraftwerk's 'The Man Machine' that's well worth checking out. And the best part? Their discography is freely available at their website, along with higher quality versions of the 'Video Computer System' video (embedded Quicktime) and 'Total Control'.

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4 comments for ‘Chiptunesday - Golden Shower: Video Computer System’

#1 WholeFnShow Aug 3, 2007 02:13am

That really was terribly catchy. A lot more so than I expected it to be. Furthermore, the video was everything you built it up to be. I love it when videos match up visual stuff right on the beat of the song, so the opening to it was just great. High quality track, definitely going into the playlist.

#2 R. LeFeuvre Aug 3, 2007 04:11am

Oooo I love this thing. It's always fun to recommend too!

#3 w3a2 Aug 3, 2007 06:23am

that is cool. i am slowing getting into this stuff.

#4 zman Aug 3, 2007 12:04pm

Hah, that was pretty catchy.