If there’s a modern pop musician that can pull off the wackiest genre crossovers – and still get the best possible results — I’d say it’s none other than Beck.
To back this statement, I give you a review of one of his most interesting musical endeavors to date.
Beck – Game Boy Variations EP (2005)
By furthering his exploration of the electronic sounds of old, in this release, L.A.’s favorite trippy troubadour broadened his variety of eclectic musical mixes. Featuring Game Boy-injected re-mixes of the four singles from his widely acclaimed “comeback” album “Guero”, this EP is one more proof of his ability to turn an unconventional blend of ideas into fun and captivating pieces of pop music.
For this ride,however, Beck wasn’t alone; he brought a group of 8-Bit sound explorers along with him: The L.A. based “chip-hopers” – for lack of a better term to categorize them – 8-Bit and Swedish electronic noise-maker Paza Rahm.
The two choices were spot on, and it shows. The 8-Bit crew took care of the two most hip-hop heavy tracks on the record: “Que onda Guero” and “Hell Yes.” Both numbers strike a great balance between chip-tune driven melodies and the more organic-sounding beats of "real" drum samples – which helped greatly in retaining the feel of the original songs.
On the other hand, Paza Rahm took it all the way and came up with full on electronic versions of “E-Pro” and “Girl.” Of these two, “Girl” undoubtedly shines a whole lot brighter; by bringing the song’s tempo way, way down, Rahm turns it into a complete re-interpretation that takes the original's pop-folk sound, drives it through an analog-digital converter and ends up with a quirky and catchy tune that’ll have that drunken friend doing the robot dance at your next house-party.
There’s not much else to say about this record – it’s only four songs long – except that it’ll definitely leave you wondering why Beck didn’t think about freestyling over the original Mario Bros soundtrack sooner. Just like the games whose music inspired it, the Game Boy Variations EP is a short, but very fun time.
P.S. I finished writing this while listening to Paza Rahm's original stuff , he's amazing.