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"Roanoke Times Podcast: Receptors"

- Tad Dickens

"Receptors Feature Article" - Mason Adams

"8 Undiscovered Bands Worth a Listen" - Spin Magazine

"Kolosine interview on 8-Bit Operators"

and more reviews here: - National Public Radio

"Tribute albums: You're covered"

In the 1970s, Germany's experimental "robot pop" act popularized technology and forged the template for countless electronica acts, pioneering the blippy minimalism and hypnotic dance grooves that inspired multiple genres from synth-pop to hip-hop.

The ingenious concept finds Kraftwerk songs interpreted and arranged on lo-bit gaming devices, obsolete video-game consoles and outmoded computers, resulting in tinny, alien soundscapes that beautifully wed '70s tackiness to the cyberworld. Some tracks are stunners, but 8-Bit is more admirable for its Kraftwerk zeitgeist than its harmonious sonics. — Gundersen - USA Today

"Tech Tuesday with Dave Green"

Tech Tuesday with Dave Green
This week: Where "chip tunes" meet circuit bending - and play the songs of Kraftwerk!

Unusual electronic instruments are enjoying another renaissance, with the "Bent Festival" touring three US cities in April and the album 8-Bit Operators - The Music Of Kraftwerk Performed On Vintage 8-Bit Video Game Systems out now on Astralwerks records.

Among the games consoles used is arguably the most brutally primitive of them all, 1977's wood-effect-fronted Atari VCS 2600, which can play a surprising variety of musical(ish) sounds using the home-made SynthCart cartridge (US$25 plus shipping from the AtariAge online store).

But if you don't have a working VCS any more, apparently it's quite straightforward to construct your own bleeping Atari Punk Console with little more than an old joystick, some widely available electronic components and a soldering iron.

Also putting a much-needed performance element into circuit-bending are the UK's Modified Toy Orchestra, who also covered Kraftwerk's Pocket Calculator last year and recently supported Tunng.

They have a more "chiptune" oriented offshoot - the ZX Spectrum Orchestra - who use genuine 1980s-era software like the demented Wham The Music Box, which you can now emulate quite easily on the Nintendo DS with a cartridge like the 20 quid Games'n'Music from Datel.

And this sort of unofficial capabilities make it even tougher to decide between the DS Lite and the Sony PSP (which, with certain tweaks, will play most PS1 games), according to my former colleague and forthright games reviewer Stuart Campbell - despite his view that the DS costs "barely over half what a fully-functional PSP does". - BBC radio online

"Top 10 Playlist"

#2. 8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk

Is the technofuturist tunage of Kraftwerk not geeky enough for you? Interface with this tribute album to Düsseldorf's finest, which was made by some of the biggest artists in the chiptune world, where musicians use old Game Boys and Ataris as blippy lo-fi synthesizers. - Wired Mag

"8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk"

Here we have Kraftwerk songs, covered by artists whose instruments of choice are handheld gaming devices, old computers, and other assorted lo-res electronics. I can't help but think it represents some sort of dream realized for Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider. Kraftwerk's relationship to technology was always complex, pointing to a bright future while remaining wary of humanity's ability to make the most of its tools. But at their most optimistic, Kraftwerk saw technology as a powerfully democratic tide, and they hoped to see a day where powerful, portable, and ultimately useful machines would be found everywhere.

And here we are. It's at times striking to realize how closely these 8-bit artists with their Gameboys and Commodore 64s can come to Kraftwerk's sound when so inclined. Though Kraftwerk were committed to acquiring the latest technology when it became available in the 1970s and 80s, Moore's Law means that those machines could eventually be roughly approximated for very little cost.

The fidelity is especially noticeable on the material from Computer World, not surprisingly the Kraftwerk album best represented here. Though the fuzzy edges around each synth line give away the bit depth, Glomag's version of "Pocket Calculator" almost sounds like a 4-track demo version Kraftwerk themselves might have laid down before heading in to their Kling-Klang studio. "The Robots", even with a cut-up beat informed by drum-and-bass, recreates the tonal proportions of the Man-Machine source material with surprising accuracy. And the timbre of the snaking synth line through 8-Bit Weapon's lovely version of "Spacelab" remains true almost to a fault.

Still, occasional overfamiliarity isn't a complaint. The songs are too good, and too well suited for this environment to mount much criticism. Some of the non-vocodered vocals are annoying, but the reverent and respectful readings generally work well. That said, the real highlights come when interpreters opt for an imaginative twist. Nullsleep's dense, lumbering, and distorted take on "The Model" alludes more to Big Black than Kraftwerk's elegant original. And Herbert Weixelbaum gets the prize for originality of song selection, choosing to transform "Tanzmusik", a delicate exercise in repetition from Ralf & Florian. The 1973 track was led by a soft, almost new age piano, but here, Weixelbaum transposes the acoustic keyboard's notes to a blocky synth that would have grated in the 70s but now scratches a peculiar wooly itch for everyone raised on videogames.
And that's a huge part of the fun in this thoroughly enjoyable, if predictable, project. As forward thinking as Kraftwerk were, they also had an enduring fondness for the pleasure of nostalgia. And the music here draws from that well, adds a twist, and finds a way to look to the future and the past at the same time.

-Mark Richardson, February 12, 2007
- Pitchfork Media

"Paying tribute the right way: 9.2"

8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk
Paying tribute the right way: Micromusicians give Kraftwerk its due in an excellent compilation.
by Chris Carle

April 12, 2007 - Covering classic Kraftwerk tracks using 8-bit era videogame systems is perhaps the best way to pay tribute to the spare, seminal band that spawned much of the electronic music we listen to today, and that's exactly what 8-Bit Operators seeks to do.

The compilation disc repurposes 15 tracks from the legendary German outfit who found the soul of music in the pared-down blips and feedback of hardware and machinery. The artist list reads like a who's who of micromusic: everyone from Bit Shifter to firestARTer to 8-Bit Weapon is on the roster.

The result is an exercise in low-fi but heartfelt interpretation. Kicking off with Bacalao's hard-kicking, hauntingly funky reinterpretation of "The Robots [Die Roboter]," complete with boss battle trills and thick slabs of vocoder. It's one of the best tracks on the compilation and the perfect way to start the party.

It's followed by the bouncy redo of Glomag's "Pocket Calculator." Even as a remix, it's very obvious just how influential Kraftwerk was on some of DEVO's most popular work. From there, Covox hands out some low-end "Computer Love," which is steady and heavy on the chunky bass and distorted Contra-style drums.

Role Model serves up a near-menacing rendition of "Showroom Dummies," complete with hard-driving bass and pronounced drums (almost too hard to befit true 8-bit sound). But the track is boss, so squabbling about "true" 8-bit is moot.

Next up, Nullsleep delivers another thick slice of computer aggression with "The Model," which, the instrumental sections, plays as the build to a crazy digital space battle. David Sugar's "Radioactivity" picks up the pace, featuring one of the most danceable beats on the compilation, and a hardscrabble, eked-out guitar line before exploding into an intricate, sound effect bonanza. Brilliance.

Oliver Wittchow's "Kristallo" plays like a warped 8-bit chopsticks on speed. Following that, 8-Bit Weapon serves up a spacey, warbling ode to "Spacelab." The track feels alien, with an edge of menace: like a Dalek with a shotgun. As with many 8BW songs, the vocoder is used to punctuate the action, and to good effect.

Following it is firestARTer's "Computerworld [Computerwelt]," a measured dance-by-numbers track featuring spoken German and layers of washed-out synth. "Electric Café," reimagined by Neotericz (and the original, to be fair), evokes visions of Michael Myers dressed in a black turtleneck as Dieter, which is perhaps a compliment. In any case, the Sprockets theme liberally borrows the three-note progression that defines this song.

"Trans-Europe Express," as interpreted by Receptors, features amped-up bass and hard-hitting, distorted drums, and almost feels like a filthy, chunky jungle track. Good stuff. "Tanzmuzik," which in German means "dance music," evokes some of the happier platformers of youth, and Herbert Weixelbaum's version, glowing with happy synths, is a nice contrast to some of the darker interpretations in the mix.

Bubblyfish's crunchy "It's More Fun to Compute" is another stand-out gem, with mangled, decayed vocals and an underworld bass groove. Bit Shifter's "Antenna," another dancey, upbeat groove, also succeeds, mostly due to the in-song contrast of poppy vocals and hard-edged scumline bass.

gwEm and Counter Reset dishes out the final track, a live rendition of "The Man-Machine [Die Mensch-Maschine], an excellent, almost fascist ripfest, providing a fitting endpoint to a kick-ass tribute record.


"It's More Fun to Console."

Five artists who use old video game systems to make music discuss their contributions to the album 8-Bit Operators: The Music Of Kraftwerk.
By Paul Semel | Feb. 1, 2007

For many of us, the electronic beeps of video games make up the soundtracks of our youths. But while those sounds have been replaced by licensed rap and rock songs by today's hottest artists, not everyone has forgotten those MIDI-driven days of yore. Dubbed "8-bit," "chiptune," and "bitpop," there are a number of musicians who use such old school video games machines as Game Boys, the original NES and the Atari 2600 to make music. And how better to explore this burgeoning music scene than with a compilation paying tribute to the pioneering German experimental electronic band Kraftwerk? Okay, yeah, fine, a compilation of bands covering tunes from the Mario Bros. games might've worked better, but since there isn't one, yet, we present five of the bands from 8-Bit Operators: The Music Of Kraftwerk. Their album is scheduled for release next Tuesday, February 6.

GameSpy: What video game machines do you make music on?

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: Both the Nintendo Entertainment System and original Game Boy and Game Boy Color. I also need to keep an old PC running Windows 98 around to use the EPROM burner to write my NES music to memory chips. But besides that, all of my music for the past 5 or 6 years has been written solely using the NES or Game Boy.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: A big, gray old Game Boy. Though I also use a Commodore Amiga. Mostly the Amiga 1200.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: Game Boy, Atari 2600, NES, and SuperNES. But I also use a Commodore 64.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I use Game Boys, an NES, and an Atari 2600. I also use an Commodore 64 since various cartridges, both old and new, are available to make it an awesome dedicated synth, and a Sidstation, which uses the sid chip from the C64.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: I use a couple Nintendo Game Boy classics, an NES, and an Atari 2600, as well as a Commodore 64 and 128, an Apple IIc and IIe, an Intellivision synthesizer, a Speak 'n Spell and Speak 'n Music, some hybrid lo-fi acoustic-electric drums, and an assortment of other vintage and toy synthesizers.

GameSpy: How, if at all, have you modified the game machines to make them more musical?

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: I wrote Little Sound DJ, a music program for Game Boy. It's possible to put it on a custom cartridge so that it runs on the real hardware.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: The modifications I've done to the actual hardware were pretty negligible. I've Prosound modded a couple of Game Boy Colors, which gives you an additional 1/8" line-out jack with a cleaner signal. For the Nintendo Entertainment System, I've had to remove the metal guide-bar inside the console, above the cartridge slot. This was necessary in order to play NES cartridges that had been hacked with slotted PRG EPROMS containing music data. Neither of these mods really makes the hardware itself more musical though - the software is where the magic happens.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: I only modified the Atari to get a direct audio output.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: All of my gear is used as it was sold off the shelf.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I use certain homebrewer's cartridges, such as the midiNES cartridge for NES by x|k and Synthcart for the Atari 2600 by Paul Slocum, as well as the LSDJ and Nanoloop for Game Boy.

GameSpy: How did you first start making music on video game machines?

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: When I was introduced to Oliver Wittchow's Nanoloop cartridge for the Game Boy classic.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: I started with an old handheld toy called Master Top when I was child. It used LEDs and simple bleeps for sequencing simple melodies. Then, after some years, I found a Commodore, then a mod tracker on 286 PC, ensoniq sampler, dxsynths, and back to the Commodore before falling in love with a Game Boy twenty years after I started.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: I have used the Amiga since about 1990, when it was very popular. I later started working with the Game Boy about 2000.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: I first started writing electronic music around 1999, and at that time I was just using a PC and various trackers and sequencers. Early on I found that I liked the idea of trying to do a lot with a little. So I would do things like limit the number of channels I would use in a song or create instruments out of basic waveforms like squarewaves. From there it was a pretty natural transition to using actual videogame hardware, which has those limitations built into them. Around 2001 I discovered Nanoloop and LSDJ and began writing music on the Game Boy. A little while later I started writing NES music using a text-based music language called MML.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: I used to remix Commodore 64 SID tunes for fun. Then when my remixes got popular, I started investigating how to make my own music with the commodore 64 sid chip.

GameSpy: What is it about the sounds of old video games and video game machines that you find so inspiring?

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: It was fresh sounding to my ears, the impact of the bass. Also, the sound seems more electronic than other digital or analog synth music.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: The sounds are so simple and pure in tone, but they're also very nostalgic to people as well.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: I like the raw digital nature of it, and playing around with that. Sometimes you want to push that gritty aspect of it and just let it stand on its own, but other times its fun to use little tricks in order to soften it a bit and push it to the other end of the spectrum. It's the challenge that comes with pushing these cheap electronics to make new and unexpected sounds that I really find exciting.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: Most of all, it's a way of working that suits me very well. I get very creative and productive with it, the fact that it's not possible to do anything sound-wise helps me focus on making good songs instead of working a lot with details. Also, I like the sounds, of course, they have a lot of edge to them.

GameSpy: Do you ever perform live, and if so, do you cover any songs from video games, or do you feel that's just too obvious?

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I don't because that's not where I came from musically.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: I play gigs pretty regularly in and around NYC, once or twice a month usually. Last year I also went on my second tour along with Bit Shifter, a fellow 8-Bit Operator, where we circumnavigated the planet, playing 20 shows throughout Europe, Japan, and North America in just over 4 weeks. As far as doing cover songs, it can be fun now and then. But I think it's a lot more fun to reinterpret a pop or rock tracks, rather than covering videogame songs.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: We have performed live all over the USA and Europe many times, and we do perform covers because that's how I got started and that's what the hardcore fans expect to hear. We usually play songs from M.U.L.E., Metroid, and Super Mario Bros. 2.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: I love to perform live, and I like to cover pop or disco songs. But video game songs would be good, too.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: I have performed in most European countries and also went to New York once. But I don't do video game covers since it's not really what my music is about.

GameSpy: How big of an influence has Kraftwerk been on your music?

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: Very big, one of our top influences. Vince Clarke of Depeche Mode/Yazz/Erasure is #1, Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO is #2, and Kraftwerk comes in probably around third for me of my all time biggest influences. After that, Alan Wilder of Recoil and Depeche Mode comes in fourth and Telex comes in fifth.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I would say they have been the biggest influence of all.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: They're obviously some of the true pioneers in the electronic music scene, and their influence is pervasive. I would say that they were a pretty significant influence on a lot of my earlier music, right before I transitioned to the Game Boy, where the sound I was going for was more minimalist and playful. What I'm doing now is probably more influenced by artists and bands such as David Bowie, Joy Division, and My Bloody Valentine - moving towards a more textured sound, in an attempt to rock out rather than do the robot.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: It was the band that really made me interested in music for a start. I thought it was entirely amazing when I heard "The Mix" as a kid. So from the very beginning, I would have to say they made a profound impact on me. I still think they're the best band ever.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: I guess they're such a big influence on me that I can't even notice, though I'm also influenced by disco, house and retro techno, new beat, industrial and other dance styles.

GameSpy: How did you decide which of their songs you'd do for the 8-Bit Operators album?

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: Well, being the one spearheading the compilation, I chose to let everyone choose their track first, then I chose my favorite of what was left, which was, unbelievably, "Trans Europe Express."

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: I first chose "The Model," but Nullsleep wanted to cover it and I think he really deserves such a cool song. So I moved to "Electric Cafe," one I always loved. It also has that cold Spanish rap, a gift from Kraftwerk to my language.

Jeremiah Johnson of Nullsleep: Yeah, "The Model" was a pretty obvious choice for me, it's just such a great song. My next choice would have been "Computer Love," which Covox did a really kick ass job of covering.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: I got the offer to do "Neon Lights" but chose to do "Showroom Dummies" instead since I already had an old cover lying around that I was pretty happy with.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: "Space Lab" was always a favorite, and the words were vocoded, so we didn't have to sing with our real voices.
GameSpy: What is it about Kraftwerk's music that makes it so perfect for music made on video game machines?

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: For a start, their music is really based on good songs. Since their music is also made with analog synthesizers, the transition is pretty straightforward.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: The music of Kraftwerk is all about the combination and/or synergy between man and machine. The same goes for video games, in a way. The video game experience is only achieved when both elements - man and machine - work together. So it's a perfect match to have micromusic peeps covering Kraftwerk songs.

GameSpy: What other bands do you think would be perfect for a tribute album like this?

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: Abba, Kool & The Gang, KC & The Sunshine Band...

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: DEVO, Depeche Mode, Telex, Led Zeppelin...

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: Some kind of Italo disco cover collection.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I'm actually tossing around the idea of a Residents Commercial Album remake on Game Boys... it's about 30 or 40 tracks that are each exactly one minute long. It would go great on Game Boys, I think, though I have some other ideas I'm brewing, too.

GameSpy: What game has your favorite music?

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: Pac-Man, Suicide Express, Chordian, Space Harrier...

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: Power Drift, an arcade racing game.

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: Adventure Construction Set for C64.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: I love the theme to Metroid, and some of the Castlevania music.

GameSpy: Finally, what is your favorite game? To play, not to listen to?

Seth Sternberger of 8-Bit Weapon: Wasteland for any computer.

Ignacio Garcia of Neotericz: Pac-Man, Space Harrier, Double Dragon in the arcade, and Alien 3 on Sega Genesis.

Johan Kotlinski of Role Model: Right now, probably Rhythm Tengoku for Game Boy Advance, and Shadow Of The Colossus for PS2.

Jeremy Kolosine of Receptors: All the Metroid games, the Soul Reaver and the Blood Omen games and Turok, the old ones.

*the original article appears here: - GameSpy




RECEPTORS is electronic artist/producer Jeremy Kolosine aka Ksine, founder of electro pioneers Futurisk, and chiptune/bitpop vanguards 8-Bit Operators, among other projects. Exemplifying a longtime experimental electro ideal, Receptors stands equipped with everything from 8-bit gameboys, ataris and circuit-bent furbies, to vocoded stylophones, vintage synths and treated guitars. In recent years, Receptors has performed at at NYC's legendary Blip Fest, CMJ and Bent Festivals, showcased at Austin, Texas' SXSW Festival and Iceland's Airwaves Fest, and in 2007 Jeremy Kolosine performed the first ever circuit-bent performance (Leopold Mozart's "Toy Symphony") with a full symphony orchestra (The Roanoke Symphony). The debut 7" EP was released in 2005 and Receptors' full length CD "LO" is planned for 2008. Also OUT NOW is the critically acclaimed ReceptorsMusic production "8-Bit Operators - an 8-bit Tribute to Kraftwerk" released on Astralwerks/EMI. In 2009, Jeremy completed construction of "21st Century Retro-

Futurists", an audio/video installation for The Taubman Museum, and joined the Blip Fest Europe / 8bitpeoples tour of Denmark

and Poland (Era New Horizon Film Festival.) On 09/09/09, the Kolosine-curated 8-Bit Operators' "WANNA HLD YR HANDHELD" Beatles

Tribute was pre-released online to much positive attention, with physical release planned for the near future.

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