Despite treacherous weather, PAX East 2017 went off without much issue this past weekend in Boston, MA. The expo show featured the usual accoutrements; a huge expo floor for showing games, a console and gaming room, several panels featuring a wide variety of topics on video games and gaming in general, and of course the all-day JAMspace and late-night concerts. There was a wide assortment of acts playing this year, from rock to metal to classical and jazz fusion, and thus PAX-goers had pick of the litter in terms of their musical entertainment.
Just as we did for last month’s PAX South, we’re giving you the rundown of what you can expect to see from a game music and audio standpoint at PAX East 2017 next week in Boston. Some new and some returning musical performances shall be gracing the main stage concerts, as well as other tidbits you can check out through the event.
The fine folks of Materia Collective present The Travelers, a supergroup of some of the most passionate performers and arrangers seeking to bring a unique acoustic experience unlike anything before. The Travelers cover VGM favorites and obscure selections in European folk arrangements of various styles from Celtic, Nordic, and Slavic traditions. Their membership includes players of a broad variety of instruments from many different parts of the world, featuring members from the Materia Collective, Triforce Quartet, and Tetrimino.
Produced by Josh Barron and Masha Lepire with art by Val Choung, The Travelers album features arrangements from Final Fantasy X, Shadow Hearts 2, Romancing SaGa 2 and more. For those who love Yasunori Mitsuda’s “Millennial Fair” and his Xenogears CREID album you will be treated to something that embraces the source yet presents something fresh in a live acoustic setting.
If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy spinoff games and their music, then Materia Collective has you covered. ZODIAC: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed is a 63-track mega album devoted to the music of Final Fantasy Tactics and pays tribute to the game’s composers, Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata.
Final Fantasy Tactics was released on the Playstation in 1997 in Japan (1998 in North America) as a spin-off to the main Final Fantasy series. Deviating from the roleplaying of the main series, Tactics instead relied on tactical RPG gameplay. The game’s soundtrack was first released on two CDs by now-defunct DigiCube on June 21, 1997, and was re-released by Square Enix on March 24, 2006. ZODIAC: Final Fantasy Tactics Remixed presents covers of the game’s music in a variety of styles with one hundred artists contributing, including John Robert Matz, Dale North, Doug Perry, Annie Rosen, Sean Schafianski, Laura Intravia, Jack Menhorn, Amanda Lepre and more.
“The Final Fantasy Tactics soundtrack was darker and more atmospheric than other Final Fantasy soundtracks. In some ways, that makes doing straight covers of the songs tricky, so it has been really amazing to hear the interpretations that arrangers have given each piece. Especially for the pieces where the original had an organic, open ended structure, it has been really cool to hear what arrangers have done.” – Stephen Robert Froeber, Producer
Disclosure: OSV writer Michael Hoffman is featured on ZODIAC as a contributing musician.
In terms of mashups between musical genres and styles, I can safely say combining EDM and A Capella was never one I thought about before. However, Youtube VGM vocal star Smooth McGroove teamed up with the people at GameChops and decided “Why the heck not?”. Thus, we have Smooth McGroove Remixed Volume 2.
Remixed by music producers like A_rival, Dj CUTMAN, Grimecraft, and James Landino., the album features licensed EDM remixes of classic videogame music from Super Mario 64, Undertale, Pokemon, Mega Man and many more based on the the a capella talents of Mr. McGroove. The album is available now for purchase on ITunes and Google play, on Spotify for your listening pleasure, or you can just watch the neat music videos like the one above.
I can safely say that an a capella of Castlevania‘s “Vampire Killer” remixed into a danceable electronic music was never something I asked for, but I’m appreciative at the quality put into the production of such a chimera of VGM and can say I give such an effort a thumbs up.
Back in July I reported on the Kickstarter for the tribute album to American-composed video game music, American Pixels. Produced by Christopher “Mazedude” Getman, the album made it’s required goals, and is now available to those who missed the Kickstarter.
“After 5+ years of development, American Pixels, my tribute to American game composers, is now officially released. If you backed the project on Kickstarter (or pre-ordered it from the original American Pixels website), you should have received your download codes by now. (If you didn’t, let me know and I will re-send.)
If you’ve ordered a physical CD and/or a poster, those should be in hand within the week and on their way to your mailboxes. ” – Mazedude, Producer
Featuring music from Dead Space 2, Maniac Mansion, Mass Effect 2 and more arranged by Getman and contributed to by several well-known community musicians and artists, the album is available for purchase on Bandcamp, (with Google Play, iTunes and Spotify soon to follow) in 14-tracks of star-spangled glory.
“14 American game composers honored. 9 guest soloists featured. 65 minutes of some of the best music I’ve ever put together. I’m immensely proud of the finished product, and I hope you enjoy it as well.” – Mazedude
Upcoming MAGFest 2017 Final Fantasy tribute band Knight of the Round is getting a leg up on their impending performing with the release of their new EP “SIN”.
Already having 3 full length albums under their belts, Final Fantasy metal titans Knight of the Round just released their new EP, “SIN”, containing 4 re-imagined tracks from Final Fantasy X. After “forming” the project in 2008, the band broke into the VGM scene in 2013 and features former members of See You Next Tuesday and Iscariot. Catch Knight of the Round live on their winter tour dates with Machinae Supremacy, Urizen, and Danimal Cannon as part of the “MAGFest: Expansion Pack Tour”
Following up the start of their tour at MAGFest 2017, you can catch the band on the following dates:
1/5-1/8 – Washington, D.C. – MAGFest
1/9 – Brooklyn, N.Y. – Saint Vitus
1/10 – Pittsburgh, PA. – Cattivo
1/11 – Warren, MI. – The Ritz
1/12 – Crest Hill, IL. – Bada Brew (with Psychostick)
1/13 – Valparaiso, IN. – Big Shots (with Psychostick)
1/14 – Dayton, OH – Rockstar Pro Arena
It’s never fun when a Kickstarter project you’re interested in fails, and it’s even less enjoyable when you see it cancelled when it looks like it won’t make its goals. It seems the latter was the reason for the death of the Rayman By Rémi Rayman OST orchestral project. When I reported about it a few weeks ago, the project was in full swing and hoping to meet it’s basic goal of creating a brand new jazz/symphonic arrangement album for the original Rayman game, composed by Rémi Gazel. Since then, however, it seems things did not pick up the steam the project directors were hoping for. On an update to the project, Gazel’s team states the project hadn’t even reached 45% funding of its €50,000 goal as the deadline drew near.
We already spent some time analyzing what went wrong. We changed our introduction video that was probably not good enough at the start, we unveiled a full support from Michel Ancel and did as many press relations and communications as we could. But it looks that there is nothing we can do anymore to revive this project. We missed our chance, the “momentum” as it is called has passed.
It’s often hard to see projects not makes their goals due to lack of exposure, or press campaigns that come well after the project launches. We received word of the Kickstarter well after it had already been launched, and with crowdfunding being as big a method of launching projects large or small, not getting a proper leg-up on promoting your campaign can have dire consequences.
Fortunately, the project team is not completely squashing hope for future endeavors.
All the team behind this project, starting of course with Remi, still deeply believe this is a very cool project. So, rather than leading it to its grave we decided to stop this campaign. Our goal now is to collect as many feedback as possible and to start working on a comeback. We believe there is chances to make Rayman by Remi possible by making things differently. We will take our time and make it happen.
The Kickstarter update currently includes a link for feedback on how to improve the project campaign, should they relaunch. We’ll keep an eye out to see if the project reasserts itself in the future, and hopefully some day Rayman will gets its musical makeover.
It is now officially the holiday season, and we can no longer deny the onslaught of questionably festive music that started well before December graced 2016. The good news is that there tend to be a good handful of arrangement albums and collaborative efforts each year towards building fun and interesting holiday music albums, both video game related and not, to keep us all mostly sane. The fine people of Scarlet Moon Records have kicked off the season with one of our first offerings of such sanity-saving musical projects with their Scarlet Moon Christmas Album 2016.
Featuring joint contributions from both video game and film composers, including Hiroki Kikuta (Secret of Mana), Dale North (Silent Horror), Vince DiCola (Transformers, Rocky IV), Robyn Miller (Myst, Riven) and more over nine tracks, Scarlet Moon Christmas Album 2016 is a charming and subtle way of easing yourself into more festive feelings.
“Dale North and I are both massive fans of Christmas music. After releasing the Scarlet Moon Christmas EP in 2014, we wanted to rekindle that passion by creating even more Christmas-themed tracks to get music fans of all ages and genres in the spirit of the season. And as it would turn out, most of the artists on the roster love Christmas music just as much as we do!” – Jayson Napolitano, Producer
The track listing gives you an idea of what to expect to hear, including both video game music arrangements and arrangements of classic Christmas tunes.
01. “Jingle Bells” by Vince DiCola
02. “Christmas Garden (Yoshi’s Island)” by Mustin
03. “Peaceful Christmas (Chrono Trigger)” by Dale North
04. “Some Small Hope (Cherubic Hymn by A. Kastorsky)” by Osamu Kubota
05. “Angels We Have Heard on High” by Hiroki Kikuta
06. “Christmas Comes to Myst (Myst)” by Robyn Miller
07. “Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 64)” by Justin Lassen
08. “Melodies of Life (Final Fantasy IX)” by Goomin “Nauts” Nam
09. “Aspertia City – Winter (Pokémon Black & White 2)” by Materia
“Jingle Bells” (sample) – Vince DiCola
Even if you’re not a huge Christmas person, the album is worth checking out. I myself have a hard time getting into any festive mood around the holidays, but when Vince DiCola’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” makes me envision a Transformers Christmas Special (Complete with transforming reindeer, because why not?), it’s hard not to get a little into the holiday spirit.
Scarlet Moon Christmas Album 2016 is available now for purchase on LOUDr, and soon on iTunes and Spotify.
Who here like Undertale? (Cue metaphorical sea of hands outstretched begin popping up as far as the eye can see.) Well how about the Prescription for Sleep video game lullabies music albums from Metal Gear Solid composer Norihiko Hibino and Etrian Odyssey pianist AYAKI? Then you’ll all probably be very happy boys and girls come December 1st.
Prescription for Sleep: Undertale is a two-disc relaxation album from the aforementioned duo also commonly known as GENTLE LOVE and produced by Scarlet Moon Records. The album is fully licensed and is planned for release on December 1, 2016 in digital and limited edition physical formats from Bandcamp and other digital retailers. Even better news is that you can pre-order it now for $10.00 digital, and $25.00 for the limited edition physical release.
Undertale’s themes of friendship, sacrifice, redemption, and of course, determination, are all beautiful attributes that play well into what Norihiko Hibino is trying to do with his unique brand of healing music. Plus, Toby Fox’s score is so amazing and memorable, how could we not do an entire volume dedicated to it? – Jayson Napolitano, Scarlet Moon Records
The limited edition physical release of the album will only have 1,000 copies, and will feature 6-panel digipak with silver foil print on the cover, two discs of music, and a 20-page booklet containing featuring the character of Undertale in four comic strips and four stickers illustrated by artist Maximo Lorenzo.
You can check out more from the Prescription for Sleep: Game Music Lullabies on their website.
On October 7, GameLark will be releasing Mog’s Mixtape; a loving tribute to the Final Fantasy series featuring over 30 artists and 2 hours of covers. The album features music from every main game in the series, from Final Fantasy I to XIV, and even Final Fantasy Tactics. Listeners will enjoy some of the most popular tracks from the series as well as some of the more obscure. With a vast array of genres represented, Mog’s Mixtape is the most dynamic and eclectic album that GameLark has released to date. In fact, the variety and volume of music required a different approach to the album arrangement.
“Given the sheer amount of music on the album, it made sense to separate this into two distinct musical journeys,” says Allen Brasch, GameLark creator and manager. “Disc 1 is a more light-hearted affair with battle themes and beautiful soundscapes. Disc 2 presents a more arduous journey and ends with the Game Over theme. Each disc stands on its own and can be experienced individually or together. It’s really the listener’s choice.” No matter how you decide to listen to this album, the works of Nobuo Uematsu and other composers will come to life in captivating ways. Final Fantasy is a series revered for its music, and with Mog’s Mixtape, we hope to honor that legacy.”
Source: GameLark Remixes
The North American anniversary of the launch of the iconic Nintendo 64 console is coming up this Thursday, and it’s not going uncelebrated. The folks over at Patient Corgi (Super VG Christmas Party, SOUND WAVES: A Tribute to Ecco the Dolphin) decided to put together a massive fan tribute album to mark the momentous occasion!
Tribute Album 64 will be a huge 87-track mega album done by a large assortment of bands and musicians within the video game music community over five discs covering the greatest the Nintendo 64 had to offer us all.
“Some of the most beloved themes in all of video game history were born on this console from the minds of great composers like Koji Kondo, Grant Kirkhope, Robin Beanland, Kazumi Totaka, Graeme Norgate, and so many others. We’re incredibly thankful for the astounding number of talented bands and artists that have teamed up with us to pay tribute to the music of this iconic system, and I personally couldn’t be happier with the result. Be sure to check out the contributors’ websites for more great music (and the same goes for the original composers). Enjoy, and thanks for listening!”— Ian Luckey, Producer