New Release: Tufty – Spectronica

Today we have another new release – ‘Spectronica’, from an artist that is brand new to the label – Tufty.

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Spectronica is a 1-bit ZX Beeper album, written for and recorded from both vintage and modern ZX Spectrum hardware. It is both rare and unique, and for that reason, we’re especially pleased to add this to our roster. Some more info:

Harnessing the rich harmonics of 1-bit lo-fi and exploring synth, digital, speech synthesis, triangle waves, phaser and minimalistic square wave beeps.

No dedicated sound chip was used to produce the basic tracks just clever, modern 1-bit sound engines developed by ZX Spectrum coder/musicians Shiru and Irrlicht Project.

  • Tracks 2,4 & 14 have Vocoder speech overdubbed, performed and recorded by Tufty.
  • Tracks 1,2,4-8,10-14 recorded from 48K Rubber keyed ZX Spectrum.
  • Track 3 recorded from a 128K+2A ZX Spectrum.
  • Track 9 recorded from a ZX Spectrum Vega+
  • Track 15 recorded from a ZX Spectrum OMNI 128K HQ.

Mostly written as competition entries in the Beeper category for Battle Of The Bits, DiHalt and the 1-bit Forum music contests. 2015-2018

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We chatted a bit to Tufty to discuss the release:

Cow Tongue Taco Records: Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself. Who you are, where you’re from, and all that jazz.

Tufty: Hi, My name is Richard and I first used a ZX Spectrum in the mid 1980s to write music. I then moved onto the Atari ST where I produced digital music for the Manchester based demo group Chaos. I used the handle ‘Tufty’ in the demo scene (a school nickname) and it’s just stuck. My passions are chipmusic, synth pop and 1970s analog synth. All genres I try to include in my lo-fi music.

CTT: For those that aren’t familiar, how would you explain the 1bit music scene – and how did you get involved with it?

Tufty: 1-bit music is the simplest form of music, being just an ‘on’ or ‘off’ signal sent to a speaker. Music in this way was written for early PC games like Monkey Island (before PCs had sound cards) and the original ZX Spectrum 48K. I became interested in ZX Spectrum 1-bit ‘Beeper’ music again when I came across whole albums published by Polish musician Mister Beep in 2013, such as ‘A Thousand Furious Bees’. Since 2006 new 1-bit sound engines have started to be developed for the ZX Spectrum becoming increasingly complex and allowing multi-channel, multi-timbral and even digital tracks to be coaxed from the old hardware. The ZX Beeper music format is now often included in retro music contests on sites such as Battle Of The Bits and demo parties such as DiHalt.

CTT: This album was recorded solely using a ZX Spectrum, which I’m sure many won’t even realise is possible. Can you give a bit more info on the process, and the tracks themselves?

Tufty: I write the ZX Spectrum music on a PC using utilities such as Beepola, 1-tracker and Bintracker. I then load the sound files into a real vintage ZX Spectrum, play the music back and record the output from the mic socket of the Spectrum into a PC. The sound recordings are then EQ’d and volume equalised but kept as authentic as possible.

CTT: Why did you want to go with a cassette release?

Tufty: I just liked the idea of a retro cassette release, having seen the others produced by Cow Tongue Taco Records. It’s vintage, cool and just seems right for lo-fi chipmusic. Also ZX Spectrum owners like to collect cassette releases and I hoped they’d find this very unique release interesting and authentic.

CTT: Where else can we find you online?

Tufty: I have a bandcamp site tufty1.bandcamp.com where my other music releases can be found and a new site which I’m currently working on spectronica.org.


The album is available digitally for £2, or £5 for a limited edition cassette tape – which has an alluring blood red case and all black screw-type shell. It looks pretty damn good if we do say so ourselves. Get your copy from our Bandcamp, or hold out until 22nd of December when it will be on Spotify.

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