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Various Artists: Space Invaders

Album Notes

EMI teams with Taito for this fun comp, which gathers DJs and assorted electronicists for a 25th anniversary reassessment of Space Invaders. It's a natural fit, this. SI dates from an era when constructing both amusement and music electronically was still clunky cool. Now, half a century later, technology frequently mines its own past for inspiration and regeneration. First issued in Japan in July 2003, Space Invaders features types like Towa Tei, Chester Beatty, Sketch Sponge, and Ken Ishii binding actual Invaders sound effects onto contemporary productions. Chester Beatty team with DJ Shufflemaster for the space dust techno of "Invader With the Stars," while Tei's cut'n'paste-style "Photography? Serigraphy?" incorporates a ray-gun squiggle. The sound effect -- well-known to any Atari head or arcade maven of the early '80s -- becomes a motif, recurring in tracks by Malawi Rocks and EL-KT. As it winds down, Space Invaders seems to lose its thread a bit, focusing more on techno beatmaking than incorporating the game's sonic legacy. From Ko Kimura and E-Male's "Defender" to material from Shin Nishimura and Q'Hey, the beat is solid, but detached from the record's theme. But Co-Fusion and Rebus Tape deserve credit for building a bassline from the stuttering advance tone of the invaders in "I.N.V.," and Trippy-Trapper-Music's "The Invader Who Loved Me Mix" powers its romantic spy theme with circuits heisted from a gaggle of vintage gaming sounds. Blaps, blips, gobbles, and squiggles -- they're all here, remixed for technophiles looking for a way to flip the game all over again. [Space Invaders is enhanced with a vintage-inspired Invaders screen saver; the release promotes Taito's aggressive reintroduction of the title in 2004, which will see it on PS2 and in newfangled console setups.] ~ Johnny Loftus



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