If you had the fortune of being born early in the ’80s, you might agree that some of the most memorable melodies you ever heard weren’t on the radio, much less the MTV. Though they could be `played’ on TV, assuming you owned the right 8-bit game console. Turn your head from the flashing images vying for your attention on screen long enough and you’ll witness the latest phenomenon in electronic music, a return to the sugar-high synths from the video game libraries of yesteryear.
Twenty-four year-old Benny “Adventure” Boeldt wraps his nostalgia in Saturday morning savvy. This is a man who understands his roots, as gleefully blip-influenced as they are. Adventure is the sound culled from the dust-covered cartridges so many suburban kids still hold dear, whose hum-worthy electronics guided us through dungeons, outer space excursions, and countless other lo-res landscapes, blocky but bright. Boeldt’s debut is montage-ready dance abandon, invigorating enough to shake even the smuggest hipster from their crossed-arm stupor.
A recent Baltimore transplant, Boeldt makes good on his recent induction into the Wham City Arts Collective. Like Dan Deacon before him, Adventure’s hyperactive compositions capture the childlike joy that once soundtracked hours of button mashing and homework procrastination. The Collective’s emphatic aesthetic—fun over fame, absurdity before affluence—shines through in swaths of synths, piled high, one upon the other. And Adventure is just that, 40 minutes of non-stop thrills that remind not only of the video games that so enthralled us in our youth, but the blissful innocence that accompanied it.
With the most rudimentary of programmed beats and a tapestry of synth tones that run the gamut from eerie to ebullient, Boeldt constructs instrumental choruses and verses of surprising complexity. On “Hyper Glow,” synth lines ping-pong back and forth with dizzying speed. “Travel Kid” embodies side-scrolling scenarios with bright melodies that threaten to out flare the sun. Lips are set to snarl on the funky insistence of “Iron Stallion.”
Elsewhere certain songs even recall specific games. ” Crypt Castle Cult” is a creepy crack of Simon Belmont’s whip. “Ultra Zone” is pure Mega Man megalomania, as futuristic as outdated synthesizer bleeps get, which is another way of saying, totally rad. The urgency of “Battle Cat,” its wobbly synths wavering dramatically as they spin faster and faster, seems to warn of an imminent boss battle. But nothing is quite as cathartic as the churning, whirling, ever persistent chug of “Wild Wild Ride,” a laser blast of pure white light.
It’s not hard to imagine it now: clubs writhing full of youngsters hell-bent of reliving the 8-bit glory of their not-too-distant pasts, the sounds of Adventure blasted from ceiling to floor in a reckless display of nigh ecstatic release. Game over? Not even close.