Thursday, April 1, 2010

The 8 Bit Dark Side Of Pink Floyd

I wish this was something that I made up for April Fool's Day but not even I could come up with something, prank or real, that would be this awesome. Brad Smith, however, did and brought the world an 8-bit, Nintendo sounding version of Pink Floyd's 1973 classic Dark Side Of The Moon entitled Moon8 . It is definitely one of the most ambitious projects ever recorded and Smith more than captures the sound of a video game era long gone. I seriously could imagine playing this alongside games like Clash At Demonhead or Metal Gear unless there is a version of The Wizard Of Oz on Nintendo which would be much better.

I interviewed the creator/programmer of Moon8, Brad Smith, via e-mail to find out a little more about this project.

Hightower & Jones: What made you decide to do cover an album in its entirety in an 8-bit NES sound?
Brad Smith: There are a couple of contributing reasons. I like to transcribe music, rewrite things for different instruments or ensembles. I also like the challenge of making something big fit into a small space. I am a chiptune enthusiast, and am interested in old game hardware in general.

H & J: What made you choose Dark Side of the Moon? Were there any other albums that you considered before going with Dark Side?

BS: Dark Side of the Moon is an album that's been around me all my life, and it's one of few that I've sat around listening to with friends again and again.

H & J: How long did it take?
BS: I did it a little at a time over a long period, so it's hard to say, but I'd estimate more than 100 hours.

H & J: What was the easiest and hardest parts of recreating the album?
BS: Sometimes it is hard to represent the sound with just three tonal instruments to play with.

Things like the guitar solos were usually easy; all I really needed to keep was a bassline, and put the solo in one of the pulse channels, leaving me with an extra channel for an echo effect.

Other times, I really want to get a chord sound, but I don't have channels to spare, so I try to cram it into one channel with a really fast arpeggio, i.e. if I play all the notes in the chord really fast, it's almost like you're hearing them together. This effect was more typical in home computer game music, like the Commodore 64, but the NES could do it too.

Still other times, the original album is just really dense with tones, like with the organ echoes in Any Colour You Like. In these cases I try to pick out the more salient sounds and just give an impression of the rest.

There's a weird moment in Any Colour You Like, after the opening passage on the organ, I was trying to represent the stereo hocket between the two guitars, and I had to do it with mono sound. What came of the attempt sounds very strange to me. It's a musical passage I would never ever have thought to write, but at the same time I really liked it.

H & J: Do you have any plans to cover any other albums in the future?
BS: No, no plans to do any others at the moment.

H & J: In addition to Moon8, you have other music projects on your site,what can you tell readers about them?
BS: Some of my projects are musical, but I am also a video game programmer, and a lot of the things on my website are programming projects. Some of them involved the challenge I mentioned, fitting something large into a small space, like my 256 byte version of Pong, and my 4 kilobyte demo Bunchbox. I've done a few video game covers, and there are some recordings of my own music on my website. A lot of my composition work hasn't been recorded, and I haven't made any version of it available yet, which is why most of the MP3s there are older.

H & J: Lastly, what's your next project?
BS: I am currently working on a video game project for a company called Killspace Entertainment. I can't say too much about that because we haven't made any public announcements yet. Other than that, I will probably have other music or game projects simmering in my spare time, I am not sure what I will do next.

Download Moon8 here.



  1. Great stuff!
    Either you get it or you don't IMO

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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