Kupa Throws Back to 8-Bit Video Games on Chiptune-Centric ‘Bajo Tierra’ EP

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Whoever is familiar with 8-bit music/chiptune can tell you that it’s a genre that’s tons of fun. It reaches back to pluck your nostalgic heartstrings, reminding you of spending your afternoons playing video games. Producers working with these sounds up the ante in terms of musicality with intricate combinations of sounds. However, few of those working in this medium can truly transcend the initial rush of hearing vintage video game music done in a rave-centric way.

So let’s take a minute to appreciate an artist like Mexico’s Kupa. Born Cristian Cárdenas, the electronic producer is not merely content with reimagining Super Mario Bros set in a sweaty warehouse battling bad ‘shrooms (wait, I think I just described the basic plot of the video game…). He uses these sounds to dress up beats inspired by dubstep, footwork, and bass to give the style a more contemporary feel, as heard on his new EP Bajo Tierra, released by cult collective ENSAMBLE’s netlabel branch NSMBL NET.

At times edging on the more digital coast of the seminal Hyperdub label, Kupa likes to add elements that elevate his tracks to highlights. You can hear his talent as an arranger in the crescendos towards the end of the title track and on bouncier stuff like “Semilla.” Overall, it’s an inspiring dance album that wants to show this music is far more than a novelty.

To prove this point further, Bajo Tierra features a wide variety of producers who dabble in other sounds to mess with the lo-fi digital programming. From AntiGravity’s classic drum n’ bass stylings, to Pro.Tone’s unrock throwback breakbeat, to CltrlSntrck’s quieter setting, to Mock The Zuma’s genre-defying take, to Sonido Berzerk’s bone-rattling freneticism; these are all fine additions to the release.