[8 is great] Br1ght Pr1mate, Boston8Bit & Friends @ the Middle East 01.10.13

Photo by Ben Mason

You might not know it, but Br1ght Pr1mate are the most interesting band in the chiptune scene right now. They've accomplished this in the most boring way possible - by releasing Night Animals, a conventionally great album.

An album, of all things! At a time when such banal things as albums are dying slowly. In a genre of music that's the apotheosis of arch retro-cool pop-referencing Tumblr mixtape culture. These are people for whom MP3s are too old-school because you need to save them to computer, and yet not old-school enough because the files don't fit into floppies.

But Night Animals' albumness is unmistakable. A discernable narrative, songs that relate to each other, a richness and complexity in the instrumentation that belies countless hours of effort, and fantastic vocals. There's no barrier to entry.

Chiptune is catchy and wonderful, but to the uninitiated, there is often a qualifier. Most bands don't have a singer, which makes chiptune - by definition, created with outmoded-console sound chips - seem like the background music in old video games. But with Night Animals, it's not "This sounds great and they made it with Nintendos." It's simply "This sounds great."

Br1ght Pr1mate is James "Jimmy" Therrien and Lydia Marsala. Educated in music theory and performance at the New England Conservatory and Berklee, they have legitimate skills. They formed Br1ght Pr1mate in 2008 as an experiment in compositional style. Together with the Boston8Bit collective, they started playing shows in Boston. In 2010, they released an EP. Over the next three years, they built up a voracious fanbase. They composed soundtracks for critically acclaimed indie video games. They toured all over America, including a stop in New York for the Blip Festival.

This Thursday, Br1ght Pr1mate are playing the Middle East Upstairs. Joining them are fellow Boston8Bit chiptunesters Active Knowledge (with a new album!), Glenntai, Forrest James, Robotsexmusic, and Crashfaster, with visuals by VJ Beyonder. 8 is the time when doors open, and also all the bits you'll ever need.

Arafat Kazi's cat turns 2 next Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @arafatkazi.

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