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  Review 2/Apr/03  
Lo-Bat, A Huge Micromusic Artist

Lo-Bat is big into micromusic. Micromusic is made with tiny 4 bit synthesizers built into Nintendo Game Boys.
Lo-Bat's Setup
Lo-Bat is active in the micromusic movement which is more popular in Europe than in the US. He is involved with organizing micromusic festivals which have been held in Berlin and Brussels.

At Lo-Bat's web site, http://www.lo-bat.be , you can download several pieces in mp3 format. I've heard other micromusic and I enjoy the enthusiastic expressiveness and creativity of these musicians. I think Lo-Bat's music is distinctive in that it has a special charm, a lively sense of humor and a delightful grace that is very appropriate for this instrument. His pieces are quite original and all different. It's amazing what he is able to coax out of these toys. Well, I won't call Game Boys a toys again; they are full fledged musical instruments in their own right.

Lo-Bat composes his music using a program called LSDJ, Little Sound DJ. It is simply a game cartridge for the Game Boy that provides an arcane interface to the internal sound engine. From the LSDJ website, http://www.littlesounddj.com

    The basic idea is to transform a plain Game Boy/Game Boy Color into a full-fledged music workstation.

    - Sequencer

    The sequencer of Little Sound Dj has a very open structure. It was designed to leave all the musical possibilities of the Gameboy in the hands of the user. The system can be said to be both simple and complex; it has a slight learning curve, but when learned, it is possible to transcribe a complete Bach piece to it on less than one hour.

    - Sound

    The Gameboy sound chip offers four channels with 4-bit sound. Custom waveforms can be created by free-hand drawing, or by using a subtractive synthesizer with resonant filters. For extra versatility, Little Sound Dj also contains a quite powerful arpeggiator, which possibilities go far beyond the classic C64-style chords.

    - Samples

    Sample-wise, Little Sound Dj boasts a set of 59 phonems for programmable speech. Besides that, it also features drum kits sampled from machines TR-606, TR-707, TR-727, TR-808, TR-909, CR-78, CR-8000, KR-55, DR-55, DR-110, DMX, Drumulator, RhythmAce, TOM and LinnDrum.

    - Synchronization

    It is possible to use a link cable to sync two Game Boys; great for party fun or for added polyphony! If you want to, you can sync LSDJ with Nanoloop. MIDI sync is possible too.
Interestingly, it turns out that the best Game Boys to use for music are the are the original ones with the gray cases. You can probably find them for very little money these days. They made millions of them and most kids have long sense upgraded to the new color units with lighted screens.

Working with LSDJ looks more like programming a cell phone than composing music, but the proof is in the results. In the case of Lo-Bat, at least, the results are tremendous. Obviously, I'm very impressed by Lo-Bat and the other micromusicians. I'd love to attend one of their festivals. What fun they must be. Check out his website, follow the links, and let us know what you think on the forum. If you know of other good micromusicians, let us know about them. Beep beep, buzz buzz, beep beep...
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