Segment 17 – Christian Chiptune

What happens when 80s video games meet Christianity? Here us chat about it here:

Songs we played: ‘Mystic Quest‘ from the Retro Pylits; and an 8-bit remix of ‘Jesus Paid it All.’

Chiptune is synthesised electronic music that either uses or is inspired by the sounds of old-school computers and 8-bit video game consoles. True chiptune actually uses the sound cards from these ageing devices, but these days it’s also done through emulators. The heyday of chiptune was in the 1980s when these games were kicking off – the music was lo-fi, single channel, used white noise for percussion, and so on. But it’s had a resurgence in the last decade, with chiptune sounds being mixed with pop and house aesthetics. It’s a wonderful combination of dance music culture and computer game culture. As the Retro Pylits once tweeted: “Dance it up and geek it out!”

The Retro Pylits, from New Mexico, are one of the few chiptune outfits out there who explicitly identify as Christian. They cite God as one of their ‘Influences’ and have songs and albums titled Crucifixion, Spirit, and other Christian-inspired names. While Christianity is not exactly evident in their music – chiptune does not tend to have lyrics, and their music is pretty consistently like a retro video game – they frequently refer to their faith elsewhere. A quote from their Twitter profile summarises the mash-up that we covered today: “We kill Nintendos and Segas. Music paying tribute to salvation.” So chiptune can be prayerful. Ah, the modern world is brilliant.

I also tracked down an 8-bit remix of the popular Christian hymn, ‘Jesus Paid it All,’ from the YouTube profile of Halo44327. The above image comes from the video for the track. The hymn was originally written by Elvina Hall in 1865 in Baltimore, Maryland. The refrain is, “Jesus paid it all / All to him I owe / Sin had left a crimson stain / He washed it white as snow.” It became very popular and covers have been made in many many styles. Just imagine what good Ms Hall would be thinking if she heard the chiptune remix – makes you wonder what twists and turns will be exacted upon today’s cultural products in the centuries to come.

I’m sure the god Shiva is thinking the same thing about next week’s topic: Hindu rap. Remember to click follow in the right margin if you want to keep in touch with Rad Religion!


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