The Lunatic is in the NES?


What if Pink Floyd wrote music for the NES?

This topic isn’t strictly Atari, but on the other hand it does nicely fit in under the ‘Low Res’ part of our remit, so what’s going on here? It seems that some mad soundchip botherer has only gone and done the big one. He’s made Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album into a NES soundtrack!

It was that great natural philosopher of our age, Homer Simpson, who once said that “Everyone knows rock attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact. “ He may have been listening to this 1973 released album, widely feted as one of the all-time best, to come to that rather startling conclusion.

The whole topic of ‘best of’, especially in music is an area where everyone’s mileage varies. I accept that, there will be no enforced missionary missives from me as to who is best. My views are as subjective as the rest of you. That said, Dark Side of the Moon (DSOM) would be smugly sitting in a safe spot in the memory of my hopefully remaining hypothetical ‘Desert Island iPod’ as one of the best of all time.

In a vain attempt to forcefeed some Atari perspective into an otherwise non-specific article, I did use parts of DSOM in direct-to-disk recording experiments in my very early Falcon 030 owning days. These were the days when there really wasn’t anything else around to use as a showreel at the local computer club, so WinRec and a decently loud stereo output with ‘Eclipse‘, the rousing endpart blaring out did the job back then.

DSOM is possibly my most perfect formative exposure to serious musical appreciation, after Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Equinoxe’. Like that album, DSOM is best appreciated as a complete work. It seems that for this reworking, the author has appreciated this fully, avoiding chopping the perfect whole up into individual tracks, and presented two MP3’s as side 1 and side 2, to listen to as you would have listened to the original vinyl.

To cut to whodunnit, a warped or inspired individual called Brad Smith presented a re-imagining of the whole album. This is a courageous decision on his part. It would be easy enough to take some easy to do instrumental only parts, like ‘On the run’ and be happy with the end result, but he goes through the whole damn lot.

I listened to this as intently as I would have listened to the original album. Brad used ‘Famitracker’ to create the work and everything was done within the limits of the standard NES soundchip. There was no extra hardware used.

It is fair to say that although the whole entity is awesome, some parts do come across slightly better than others. The opening part of side one,  ‘Speak to Me’ felt like the intro to ‘Money’ and did not immediately trigger any recall of the album. Other parts such as ‘Breathe’ managed to keep the essence of the original rather well.

By the time we get to ‘On the run’, we have hit the pace. This part was nicely carried off. The original was instrumental and synth and effect heavy so perhaps there was no surprise there.  ‘Time‘ was a definite re-interpretion tailored to the soundchip’s strengths and limitations, especially the opening part. I liked it.

The rest of side one manages to carry the essentials of the tune well. There are some worthy attempts to get some real ‘soul’ in the sound.

The opener to side two, ‘Money’ reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog at first, but settled down nicely. (It was the almost identical sounding ‘ker-ching’ when tokens are picked up!) ‘Us And Them’ was a lovely track and really captured the essence of the album.

The mid-section is held up by ‘Any Colour You Like’, with the Floydian sonic swirls decently interpreted. The last two tracks hold up the high standard, although on both ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Eclipse’, they really needed the vocals, especially on the latter track as the lyrics are a major feature. Apart from that, as I said, still a major piece of awesome to take the project on in the first place.

It had after-effects too. Listening to this version of DSOM stirred the dusty forgotten corners of the ‘iPod in my brain’. I’ve been remembering odd parts of the original in unguarded quiet moments. At some point I’m going to have to dig out my original and listen to it properly to compare it with this version.

But I’m going to be busy, it’s only two weeks to Outline and hardly anything has been done yet! Must get on!

For those of you inclined to investigate further. This and a bunch of other Brad-created work can be found on [1]

There are downloadable MP3’s for this, and links to YouTube versions as well. Enjoy!


  1. Brad Smith site and “dark side of the moon” upload

2 Responses to “The Lunatic is in the NES?”

  1. John Mates Says:

    Thank you for sharing with us !
    I think that the dark side of the moon album is actually the best album that ever made.

    • cihatari Says:

      I’m glad someone is reading this! Thanks for the nice comment.

      Eerily enough, to break in a new music player on my new Mac a couple of days ago, this was what I chose. Coincidence?

      I find that ‘Best Albums’ are very subjective territory, but Dark Side of the Moon would certainly make my personal top ten.

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