Power Blips: Listen to the new album from Boston chiptune/bitpunk trio (T-T)b
Boston-based electronic music group (T-T)b considers themselves a trio, but they are armed with a very dangerous and unofficial fourth member: a rigged Nintendo Entertainment System console.
Together, they create oddly warm and personable power-pop structured as chiptune and bitpunk songs, based off the type of synthesized video and arcade game sounds that usually soundtrack the act of saving a princess or destroying an evil planet. But for (T-T)b, who release their debut album Good Talk via Play it Loud! this week, the musical fantasy has become reality, and the record doesn’t require 30 lives or cheat codes to conquer.
“I got started writing chiptunes — music created from old computers and video game hardware — about two years ago,” says Joey Dussault. “Basically, I program music in my computer so that it will be compatible with the NES console. Then I run those files through the console itself, which is where you get those warm and nostalgic tones. Last year, I got a three-piece band together (my brother Nick and Jake Cardinal from Dinoczar) and recorded our first EP, Pizza Planet. None of us really have any background in electronic music, so that arrangement just made more sense to us.”
The band says they write songs about TV shows, extraterrestrial life, and feelings, and the music is billed as “deep-fried bitpunk for short attention spans”. But there’s some highly-motivational sounds on Good Talk, especially the uplifting blips and bleeps of instrumental anthem “Total Vacation” and the somewhat exhausting emotional journey of “Slurred Words (Hot Satan)”. It’s all strangely captivating, and, at times, exhilarating.
“Basically, I was writing music based on what I would’ve liked to have heard in video games,” Dussault recently told The Huntington News, the student newspaper at Northeastern University, where the musician is currently a senior journalism student.
If (T-T)b’s sound and musical identity doesn’t convey their approach, the band name certainly will. Unofficially pronounced “tee-tee-bee”, the moniker is actually an emoticon. “If you squint, you can see a crying face giving a thumbs up,” Dussault tells us.
Game on. Listen to Good Talk below.