Last month, I took a look at the recent prevalence of video game music being released on vinyl records. The idea that older game music is being re-released onto a audio medium that was on its way out by the time the NES was dominating the gaming market was a fascinating concept, and I wanted to look deeper into it.
I was fortunate to be contacted by the fine people of Data Discs, who pride themselves as being the first record label solely dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks to vinyl. Having recently released licensed record OSTs for Streets of Rage and Shenmue, I was curious to learn more about this business and what goes into the process of getting classic game soundtracks onto a classic format such as vinyl, and they were gracious enough to answer some of my questions.
Brave Wave is now accepting pre-orders for their latest album titled Heart Beat Circut by Smoke Thief (George Arthur Baker). The album will be released on August 20, 2015. According to Brave Wave, the album has been a five year journey:
Heart Beat Circuit is an album five years in the making. After completing his Master’s degree in music performance in 2010, George “Smoke Thief” Baker began to conceptualize what would take shape into his first album. An image came to him of a futuristic female android who achieves sentience, which opens up a world of new experiences to her and the opportunity to forge a new life. This android, later named Krystal, serves as the main inspiration for the album, as well as appearing on the album cover.
Smoke Thief experiments with a variety of musical styles to explore Krystal’s world and experiences. He strives to contrast the mathematical, logical aspect of music with its more human qualities by mixing genres from ambient to jazz, and fusing electronic elements with instruments such as saxophone.
With contributions from renowned video game composers Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), Saori Kobayashi (Panzer Dragoon Saga), and Takahiro Izutani (Bayonetta), Heart Beat Circuit takes the listener on a futuristic journey through the mind of this groundbreaking composer and that of Krystal, his muse.
Brave Wave Productions
When you pre-order the album you’ll automatically receive a digital copy of the above audibly stunning track “Dusktone (ft. Manami Matsumae). The track reminds me of music composed by the electronic artist BT (Brian Transeau), but with a unique digital sound. The album is available for pre-order digitally for $10, or $16 for a gorgeous digi-pak which also includes the digital download.
Let me know what you think of the preview track, does it remind you of anything you’ve heard before?
Disasterpeace has released the experimental soundtrack from Necrosoft’s Gunhouse which is a “part puzzle, part active tower defense” game available now on Windows Phone, PlayStation Mobile and Amazon platforms. The game and its music are as funky as you’d expect from the preceding combination of words. Don’t believe me? Here’s how Disasterpeace describes it:
This soundtrack is largely an experiment in using pre-made loops and samples. I wanted to see how far I could get using loops as the primary source of inspiration. It turns out it’s a great way to not only work quickly, but to flex creative muscle and do strange aesthetic things.
With credit given to Apple and Spectrasonics for their loop libraries, you’re sure to hear something familiar amidst the mechanical loops and repetitious sounds. I wasn’t into it at first but I came around rather quickly, especially once I heard the wonderful horns and wild percussion on both “Decent Spirits” and “The Other Kind of Fork”.
The ten-track Gunhouse OST is available now on Bandcamp for $2 and the game can be found from the links at Necrosoft’s site here.
The music label Ubiktune has recently released a new chip album by artist Fluidvolt called Clay Memory. The album features a compilation of over 300 instruments organized into soundfonts, and based around the style of the GBA game, Mother 3.
After Bregalad created his fantastic program GBA Mus Riper, it’s been possible to dump Mother 3‘s sounds into a massive soundfont of 1668(!) instruments. – Fluidvolt
Condensing the soundfont by weeding out unneeded instruments and splitting others, Fluidvolt managed to create soundfonts with which he used to create his album, and will be featuring them bundled in with purchase.
You can find more information on the album on Ubiktune’s release announcement. The album is currently available on Fluidvolt’s Bandcamp for whatever price you deem fit. If you’re a fan of the music of Mother 3, or of Fluidvolt’s previous album, Reflections of a Dancing Leaf, then Clay Memory is worth checking out.
There are some game music tracks that get much more attention than others from the game music arrangement/remix community. This seems to be particularly true of David Wise’s “Aquatic Ambience” from Donkey Kong Country. It’s not hard to see why it’s such a popular pick for reinterpretations. The original piece is, true to its title, ambient but also has a great melody that works beautifully over the textures and sustained music elements. So today I will be talking about one of my favorite arrangements of this piece.
Today’s Arrangement of the Week comes from artists Martin “Mordi” Lande, with Michael Gibs assisting on electric guitar. Their arrangement of “Aquatic Ambience” is titled “A Hint of Blue.”
The piece starts off quietly with a set of mellow synth pads, a panning synth arpeggio, and a few notes from a piano. Then at around 0’52” the piece builds up a little to the main melody on a gentle synth lead, with some light percussion added in. The mix continues to build a little at a time. Some vocals come in, the drums get a little heavier, and more synth textures add to the ambient chord progression. Despite the continuing inclusion of these new elements, the arrangement never loses its calming tone.
At around 2’34” the piece relaxes back down to the lighter synth pad elements. The more complex mix comes back though with Michael Gibs’s lead guitar taking the melody at 3’03.” The lead synth sounds actually trade off with the guitar every once and a while. Even when the guitar is taking spotlight, the mix still maintains this light and relaxing feeling. The combination of all these elements creates an enjoyable and interesting listening experience.
I think my favorite part of this arrangement is the way it winds down. At around the 5’00” mark the piece removes the percussion and guitar, allowing the focus to shift to the piano and strings. There are also some great touches like an echoing bell pad that further adds to the piece’s ambient tone. Definitely one of my favorite interpretations of “Aquatic Ambience.”
Do you have any favorite remixes, arrangements, or covers of “Aquatic Ambience”? Let us know in the comment section. You can listen to and download “A Hint of Blue” on OC ReMix.
Game Music Connect, the international video game music conference, has announced some new sessions for their third annual gathering to be held in London on September 15th. Chuck Doud, Sony America’s Director of Music, will be the opening keynote speaker for the session “Vision Talk: Emotional Resonance in Video Game Music”.
Having worked on major Sony properties from The Last of Us and Gold of War to Journey, he “brings a unique game music world view [...] as he discusses Sony’s current and future visions for video game scoring and celebrates the vital role music plays in today’s and tomorrow’s interactive entertainment experiences, together with the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.” It will, no doubt, be a great session to step back and take a look at where modern game music is at. With so many games coming to so many platforms it’s harder than ever to get that kind of perspective nowadays.
One of those upcoming platforms for new games is virtual reality and Sony expects music to be supremely important and supremely challenging to incorporate with it. Since beginning development of Project Morpheus, the VR headset for PlayStation 4, Sony’s in-house music team created a series of trials to study the “aesthetics and functionality of scores for VR”. Their goal was to create “implementation systems which harness the inherent power of music without disturbing user immersion”. In the session “Virtual Reality & The Meaning of Music” Alastair Lindsay and Joe Thwaites, two music producers from Sony Europe, will demonstrate their findings. There’s sure to be some insightful (and potentially disorienting) revelations about sound and VR in this one.
You can check out much more on Game Music Connect 2015, its panels and presenters, and how to buy tickets to attend at the official homepage.
The classic, simple sounds of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) from the era of 8-bit video game music are for many, including myself, very nostalgic and heartwarming. This is where it all began! Video games have come so far from these original beeps and boops; now there are live orchestras performing this music, sometimes in the game itself, and they even tour around the world to perform. Many people love these sounds and music for the memories they hold, but even so, they may not want to listen to them regularly when they’re not playing these games. And if you play an original NES tune for anyone who doesn’t have similar cherished memories of sitting around playing video games while their mothers begged them to go outside, they’ll probably cringe at the cacophony of fake, electronic noise that you’re subjecting them to. Chances are they will be bewildered that anyone would enjoy such a thing or find value in it, even if they’re too polite to say so.
I am one of the folks who believes that there is a lot to be admired about the music from the 8-bit era of video games, and I believe that there is a lot that contemporary composers can learn from this body of work. If you listen closely, you can hear how composers writing for the NES learned to treat these sounds as instruments, not just sounds, and how they managed to create music, instead of just noise.
Software company Impact Soundworks has launched a weeklong sale on their sample libraries, with products on sale for as much as 40% off. This includes the guitar pack Shreddage, world instrument packs like Sitar Nation, and scoring tools Celestia and Vocalisa. There’s also special 15% sales on software bundles. These include a full Shreddage: Rock Band Bundle, a Complete World Bundle, and an Everything Bundle.
Ah, the kung fu flick. That amazing period in the 1970’s when a revolution in Chinese cinema barged its way into America. Over the decades it’s congealed in the global consciousness to also include funk, blaxsploitation and hip hop characteristics. It is from this muddled soup that several games have sipped their inspiration and one of the latest is Kings of Kung Fu. The setup is clever with Hollywood stuntman, Red Ronin (the game’s Sho’nuff stand-in), holding a fighting tournament amongst his fellow stuntfolk for a starring role. It’s a great conceit to bring lookalikes from the history of kung fu together in a one-on-one fighter. After the jump I’ll dig into the funkiest part of the game, it’s soundtrack.
Just released on Steam on July 17, 2015 Interstellaria is a real time space-exploration sim and crew management game where you can command a fleet of vessels wandering the galaxy for adventure and profit. “Every star and planet holds untold riches and dangers. Each encounter will require skills in trading, diplomacy, and combat. Allocate power to engines, charge all weapons, and take on the worst the galaxy has to handle.”
The music for the game was written by the very talented Niamh Houston, known as Chipzel and is available for purchase on bandcamp. Since its release many supporters have given it rave reviews:
This ost is a gem on its own. The varied musical themes take you on a roundtrip across the galaxy. Favorite track: Sakari. – Supporter, Niels Vermeulen
The soundtrack for Interstellaria is, well, STELLAR. Seriously. It’s like FTL and Super Hexagon had a baby, and it is awesome. Also, it was ridiculously hard to choose between Xiwang and Annihilation as a “favorite track”, seriously. Favorite track: Xiwang. – Supporter, Blazing Glaceon
My only experience with Chipzel’s music was the track “Menacing Wonders” he provided for Brave Wave’s hit album In Flux.
I’m still listening to the album but so far my favorite track is the final track on the album “Somnolence” which has a scratching vinyl lullaby sound.
The album is available now on bandcamp for 5 pounds, just under $8.00 US. The soundtrack can also be purchased as a DLC with the game on Steam. Have you played Intersellaria and experienced Chipzel’s music in the game? Let us know what you think!
Looks like it’s time to check out another new site that aims to collect and curate the world’s music. Soundsgood.co is a French site that’s been around since October of 2014 that emphasizes curated playlists and big, modern visual designs. It also hopes to minimize the work of those building playlists by matching up tracks across an array of services. Say you found a great track on Soundcloud but you’ve already built a playlist on Spotify. Or you’ve got a great collection on YouTube but some of your links mysteriously disappear. Soundsgood currently connects to YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify and Deezer with support in the works for Rhapsody/Napster, Rdio, Xbox Music and Beats Music.
While it sounds great for French hipsters looking for a playlist of dream-pop for their Summer music festival, how does it fare for those of the video game persuasion? Surprisingly, Ubisoft is already there as a music label with playlists from Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed Unity. Beyond that, the pickings are slim but the playlists are pretty good.
Galway to the Galaxy highlights Martin Galway’s Commodore 64 work which is almost completely foreign to me. Bit-nique is an eclectic collection of SNES, PC and arcade favorites from the 90’s. Chiptune Porn is a huge playlist full of the usual suspects and BAGARRE features 90 tracks from one-on-one fighters and character action games. If I may be so bold, I’ll include my own playlist I made while checking out the site for this post. Lounge Land 1-1 is a collection of original pieces and remixes with a jazzy lounge vibe. It’s a playlist I’ve been meaning to make for a long time and Soundsgood gave me the motivation to finally do it.
Despite the slight language barrier of some pages, Soundsgood is really easy to use. Playlists and channels are featured with huge images and the persistent player offers all the controls you’d expect including a little view of the YouTube videos. Something about it inspires artistic creativity even if you’re just pasting in links to Twisted Metal music; it’s very French in that regard. Have any playlists of your own to share? Maybe dress them up on your own Soundsgood page or just link us in the comments.
The album was revealed in the program for Yasunori Mitsuda’s Anniversary Concert being held this weekend in Japan. Twitter user @tomatogumi2 tweeted their photo of the advertisement in the program. This looks like it is the album we have all been waiting for and speculating about for several years!
All we know at this time is that the album will retail for 3000 yen. Keep checking back with OSV for further details on the album. Did you attend the concert this weekend, or know anyone that did? We would love to hear about it!