Anamanaguchi


Wanna know why I don’t have an aesthetic philosophy? Well, I ca… what’s that? No? You don’t care? …Of course you don’t. This isn’t seminar. What the hell was I thinking?

Anyway, let’s say you are interested. Here’s why: how the hell do you want me to deal with nostalgia - that creepy warm fluid, mmm, lubricating all the cogs of your perceptual machinery? Nostalgia is our collective Jake Bugg problem, that poor little boy: forever either a five-star New Dylan or an idiot wind bag facsimile. We certainly won’t ever, ever hear his music on its own terms, and we’re at risk of never seeing him in any genuine way, either. He could just as well be algorithm, spitting out the melodic equivalent to neologisms, and target marketed to hit a Facebook click rate quota. And while that’s certainly an existential nightmare for the artist, can you imagine the toll it takes on me, the hapless critic? Asking you to feel x or y about Shangri La means jabbing at the foundation of your Freewheelin’ appurtenance with an offensive little stick. I won’t get anywhere, and unless I’m sneaky about it, you’ll probably call the cops.

So fuck nostalgia (“also fuck Shangri La,” he said in parentheses… hoping no one would notice).

I mention all of this because I encountered the other day a band I cannot (and probably wouldn’t want to) maintain at an objective distance. Anamanaguchi, maybe the most famous and surely the best (I think [remember, we’re talking nostalgia here {those deeply ingrained prejudices <the ones at several removes from the present ~there is no spoon~>}]) chiptune band in planet Earth, in year 20XX.

With an NES (the 1985 Nintendo Entertainment System) and an original Game Boy (plus some weird shit like a guitar and a drum kit), these guys are a 8-bit nostalgia machina for kids - yes, kids - roughly my age up through 35. If I’m a typical case, than the music I heard most frequently as a sniveling pre-teen wasn’t anything on the radio, it was from whatever Mega Man level I played over and over and over and over and over and over because the… freaking, Jesus God, the wind keeps knocking me off the platform.. mom, just one more before bed, I can’t save it here! THIS ISN’T FAIR YOU DON’T DO ANYTHING FOR ME NOOOO.. You get the idea. Some of the orchestrations were so good, you’d either play the same levels repeatedly, or pause the game and just sit back. I’m thinking specifically of Dr. Wiley from Mega Man 2, the main theme from Zelda of course, and Super Mario Bros. 2 (Doki Doki Panic) - Overworld.

With some studio trickery, and real instrumentation to fill out and enrich the limits of 8-bit bloops, screeches and bleeps - Anamanaguchi contemporizes the feeling every youngish man in this country knows and loves at his very core: running upstairs after class or practice to blow off a shitty day. If you were one of the lucky ones, that process was eventually replaced by sex. There’s a debate to stage, concerning which is better.As for Anamanaguchi, there’s no debate. I can’t tell you this is good or bad music. It’s nostalgic. It’s awesome. Much older guys and gals, check it out. See if you can get past the first stage without developing a headache.