In the realm of infinite realities Darbo’s Island is one of your favorite adventure cartridges from the world of 16-bit video gaming. You fired up your SNES and explored seemingly endless destinations filled with mysterious creatures, nearly impossible dangers and a true ending dance party that few witnessed firsthand outside of gaming magazines.
In this reality, Darbo’s Island is the turbo powered full-length soundtrack to a game that never existed from the mind of Cody Uhler (previously known as Nahnee Bori). At the inception of the project, Uhler spent months poring over the musical mechanisms and restraints of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System; learning its limitations on memory and how many samples could be played simultaneously. These tenants laid the groundwork for what would flourish into Darbo’s Island.
While not researching vintage gaming system audio limitations, Uhler spends his days composing music for mobile games. Within that framework, the soundtrack is meant to be unobtrusive and gentle; inviting the player to spend as much time within the app as possible. As an outlet away from that style, he crafted Darbo’s Island to be highly percussive and outgoing. Tracks like “Space Antler” or “Purple Barreling” invite the listener in for an irresistible journey of wild sounds and high danceability. Lead single “Fairy Tech” hurdles along with several sweeping movements that aren’t hard to imagine as different stages of your favorite side scroller.
Ultimately, Darbo’s Island does not abide by the rules of any gaming system. The techniques used by early 90s programmers inform the syncopated and punctuated sound of the offbeat album but Uhler has created a modern marvel. Darbo’s Island manages to hint at a specific era of nostalgia while crafting a landscape that is entirely fresh. The game may not have ever existed but with this soundtrack, you’ll find yourself wishing it had.