The DS Life is a weekly feature in which we scour the known world for narrative images of Nintendo's handheld and handheld gamers. If you have a photo and a story to match it with, send both to thedslife at dsfanboy dot com.
We really don't give chiptune artists or the micromusic scene the amount of attention they deserve here at DS Fanboy; to remedy that distressing fault, this week's installment of The DS Life turns your ears towards the clicks, pops, and wheezes of chiptune musician Maru's circuit-bent toys and Game Boy systems, low-tech instruments working in concert to sing a high-tech song.
There's something noble about a young geek unpacking a collection of obsolete handhelds and modified appliances, plugging them into each other, and putting on a humble sidewalk performance in downtown Fukuoka, Japan. Already dark, street lamps and shop windows light the show. A small crowd gathers around the electronic music buzzing out his doddering speakers while he sits on the concrete, Indian-style, head nodding to the beat and slipping over waves of noise.
Maru, or Kubimaturi as he's sometimes known, has put on a number of these modest concerts in his hometown with USK, his partner in chiptune crime. The two can be seen in this photo taken at a New York show, USK on the left, playing a PC keyboard hooked up to a Game Boy, and Maru on the right, moving at a speed too fast for cameras or human eyes to capture. They performed as Portalenz for a while before discarding the name, taking in several other artists and forming Tsuji Techno, a Fukuoka-based "chip music street-art collective."
The song Maru plays in the latter half of the video we've embedded above is "Insane Youth," a six-minute piece that speeds around you like a world shot in time-lapse, minutes flickering away with each frame, passing cars appearing only as ghosts with their trailing, titian eyes. The song takes you from uncertainty to urgency in its first minute and a half, testing you with its fuzzy hum before picking up its pace and volume.
"Insane Youth" is best enjoyed with your own raucous or bittersweet high school memories streaming along -- an unsupervised party someone threw while their parents were out of town, dances where everyone but you seemed to have a partner, or nights when you thought you'd never feel any angrier or more alone than you felt right then. You can listen to the song in its entirety at Maru's MySpace page.
Maru and USK are both currently making their way through Europe, traveling with the Chiptune Alliance Tour. These shows are probably much bigger productions than their street corner performances, but we imagine the songs are still every bit as personal.