Old music technology has been making a comeback with sales for vinyl, cassette tapes, and analog synths increasing over the past few years, but one musician is leaning into our collective retro embrace in an unusual way. Serbian techno DJ Remute’s forthcoming LP, Technoptimistic, was programmed entirely using the sound chip for ‘90s game console Sega Genesis. And, it’s being released on a Sega Mega Drive cartridge.
This isn’t Remute’s first foray into unusual music-making limitations. In 2017, he released half of his techno album Limited on floppy disk as a way to exercise working with severe space constraints. Speaking with Magnetic Magazine, Remute says saving the music in .mod format allowed him to compress songs down to about the size of a Word document, and he could fit between four to six songs on a single floppy disk.
This follow-up using the Sega Genesis expands on Remute’s friendship with machines and love for pushing format boundaries. He says this is the first techno album to be programmed and released for the legendary 16-bit console and that all the music was generated in real time.
There’s quite a history with people being fascinated by the musical capabilities of the Sega Genesis. The system’s main sound chip is a six-channel FM synthesizer that has, among other things, a sine wave low-frequency oscillator, interval timers, and the peculiarity of being able to create a type of distortion that fans call a “ladder effect” (a loose nod to Moog’s iconic Ladder filter). Over time it’s been modded, recreated as the basis for digital synths, and used for DIY videos that show how to make your own video game music player with the chip.
Remute’s 16-track album isn’t being released until March 22nd, but there is a preview of it on Bandcamp which you can listen to below. If you ever owned or played a Sega Genesis, you’ll probably recognize some of the sonic qualities, and the result is a quirky blend of obviously old sounds repackaged with a modern bend. It definitely sounds like the kind of music that should be loaded onto a Sega Mega Drive cartridge.
When the album comes out, it can be purchased on Bandcamp for €33.33, which will include unlimited streaming on Bandcamp, high-quality downloads in MP3, FLAC, and more, and of course, the album shipped to you on a Sega Mega Drive cartridge. Streaming Technoptimistic is fine, but Remute says listening on a Sega Mega Drive is the optimal experience. So, if you have a Genesis Model 1 or Model 2 in storage gathering dust, here’s a reason to break it out again. Along with the cassette player, turntable, and all the other things you’ll need to listen to everyone’s limited-edition releases of 2019.