‘Tim Listens to Party Land’

wAs they started at the start of the first COVID lockdown last spring, Tim Burgess’ Twitter listening evenings had escape at heart. Artists from Oasis to Pulp, Blur and more walked fans through listening to some of canon’s most beloved albums. For an hour a day – purposely starting at 10 p.m. to clash with the evening news – fans could forget the impending tragedy outside their own quarters and delve back into the albums of their youth, guided by the informative storytelling. from their creators on the record stories via their Twitter accounts.

“It’s an inclusive thing and it’s fun, what we have to have,” said Burgess. NME at the start of the listening evenings, which became a real phenomenon over the next 18 months. Leaving the confines of Twitter as the lockdown ended, the Listening Parties have since entered the real world with a series of appearances at festivals and live events, and have also spawned a book celebrating the first year of the holidays. For his relentless positivity and community spirit throughout the lockdown, on listening evenings and beyond, Burgess has been named one of the NME‘s 10 People Who Defined 2020. As we wrote at the time, “Burgess’ album parties have proven to be a relentless savior to our sanity and a timely reminder that we have so much more in common than the things that divide us. “

As was the case in their embryonic stage early last year, escape has remained the fundamental tenet of listening groups and their subsequent ramifications. As we all know, there’s no better way to escape real life than to dive head first into a video game, so it’s brilliantly fitting that this weekend (December 5th), Burgess and a team of Japanese developers launch Tim listening to Party Land, a retro arcade-style mobile video game to take you even further into the happy and carefree world the series has to offer.

Tim listening to Party Land puts you in some of the most formative places in Burgess’ life. As the pixelated version of the leader of the Charlatans, you pass a Tim Peaks Diner (a pop-up store featuring DJs, coffee and more) and Manchester’s legendary venue The Deaf Institute, before heading to a Rough record store. Trade. Proceeds from the game will go to the Music Venue Trust, an organization that Burgess has always supported and that has kept hundreds of vital core sites afloat across the UK after their closure for much of the past 18 months.

Tim In Listening Party Land. Credit: Tim Burgess, Takeyiko.

“It’s the everyday story of a pixelated me, having my record collection stolen by evil birds who act for the big bad boss,” Burgess tells us of the idea behind the game’s story. “I have to go to Listening Party Land to pick up the albums.” Access to these different worlds is achieved by purchasing “magic copies” of NME from Rough Trade, letting you grab Tim’s record collection and dive into a plethora of shiny albums. “I meet other groups, a few ghosts, and I’m fueled by the coffee,” he adds. “This song is based on real life.”

To bring the idea to life, Burgess approached Japanese pixel art developer Takeyiko, who came into contact with Tim when he created a pixel version of The Charlatans four years ago. “We stayed in touch and loved the 8-bit versions of the Charlatans songs that sound creator Satoshi Ishikawa was doing with little Takekiyo animations,” he explains. “When the Listening Parties started, animations were popping up in my inbox – demos of platforming screens with the 8-bit me finding the albums involved. It was then a question of joining the points / pixels.

A series of late nights followed last year, with Satoshi and Takeyiko working in Japan and Burgess in the UK. “I wasn’t sure it would ever be a reality, but we loved the process,” he says. “It was like putting together an album – each screen being a track and the whole doing something greater than the sum of its parts.”

Tim listening to Party Land
Tim In Listening Party Land. Credit: Tim Burgess, Takeyiko.

Throughout the game there are five stages: The Charlatans, Blossoms, Badly Drawn Boy, Taffy – all groups that have been to Listening Parties for the past 18 months – and the “big bad boss guy” to finish. Inextricably linked to the parts themselves, Tim listening to Party Land is a delicious slice of escape, allowing you to dive into a colorful and vibrant 8-bit world, shop for magazines, meet bands, and build a record collection. All the best things in life, basically.

As developer Hiroaki Hayashi explains in NME, the idea was that the experience be the goal of the game, not the completion of the levels. “It’s a game that you’re supposed to enjoy the sounds and graphics of, rather than just ‘cleaning up the stages’ like other normal games,” he says.

For Burgess, the arcade feel of the game was inspired by his love of retro games from the early 1980s, and, in partnership with Arcade Now, a full-scale arcade version of Tim listening to Party Land has also been created, which should be deployed at selected events.

Tim listening to Party Land
Tim In Listening Party Land. Credit: Tim Burgess, Takeyiko.

“There’s a big gap that starts around 1983 and ended in 2020,” Burgess says of his video game training. “They had a Space invaders in a chippy near where I grew up and we would be there with our expenses on a Friday, ”he recalls. “The kids with their initials on the high score page were like mythical characters. My son is almost nine and he loves Minecraft and has a lot of games for his Switch – we knew we were on a winner when he spent 45 minutes playing the trial version. When asked for his comments on the game, Burgess’ son asked if he could make an appearance himself, which eagle-eyed gamers can look for among the salvage of the record collection though- beloved of Burgess.

“It’s something that everyone can do together, while being apart,” says Burgess of his Listening Parties and their continued success. “If you can access a streaming service or have an album and you can connect to Twitter, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. It’s just about sitting down and enjoying an album, but with a director’s commentary appearing on Twitter as you listen.

By distilling the allure of the parties, the game that followed, and the burgeoning franchise that surrounds it, which has allowed so many to escape the catastrophe of our current reality over the past year and a half, Burgess said: “It’s really simple but there are endless possibilities.

To see where Tim Burgess takes his next night of listening, be sure to follow him on Twitter.

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