Today in Music Week we’re going back to 2005, to Nintendo DS, and to the experimental Electroplankton.
Even if Electroplankton wasn’t about various things that live in the water, I suspect that looking down into its depths would still feel a lot like moving between different rockpools, each one its own little universe filled with unique creatures, swarming and multiplying. In 2005, when the game, directed by Toshio Iwai, an interactive media and installation artist, was released in Japan, sound toys were just starting to spark and judder in browsers and Flash players. Something was happening! And yet Electroplankton already felt very different. It wasn’t just sound, it was sound and life. As you moved between the scattered electroplankton and worked out what noises they might make, you were also learning what they liked to do, and how they lived.
Some of these creatures I loved immediately. Take Tracy, who opens the game, a little kite-shaped delight who follows the spiked trails you lay down with the stylus, playing as she goes. Is that the piano? Maybe. Tracy is a glissando doodler, speed and precision and the tumbling together of different tracks. I always let all of the Tracies go and then inevitably end up scribbling them together into a little snarl of jangling noise – a bait ball, and we’re back in the oceans.