Poking around Bandcamp new releases again (an exercise that could easily be a weekly feature) I stumbled upon the fantastic self-titled debut album from V-Jams. The six-member group out of Idaho aimed to rearrange some familiar video game tunes in styles that are completely different than the source material. As my initial listen to the album left me speechless I’d say it was an immense success.
Though the album’s tags wander across go-go, jazz fusion, neo-soul, R&B, bossa nova, hip hop and more it mostly feels like a unified style thanks to the amazing and consistent guitar and percussion performances. If I had to pick just one of those tags it’d be jazz fusion as the whole album has a smooth, cool, soulful feel despite the various influences.
Nothing encapsulates the group’s desire to get far, far away from the source material like this track. An arrangement of “I Sawed the Demons” from DOOM, the original track amped up the game’s insane movement speed and gory hellions with sawing guitars and spastic drum fills. V-Jams’ version is anything but hellacious but it’s still pretty intense. The drum work is incredible and though things are slowed down to fill nearly nine minutes the percussion is constantly juking, jabbing and driving as an ethereal guitar plucks out the familiar tune.
Around two minutes in a wailing funk guitar features and around the four-minute mark a heavily effected, almost synth sounding guitar joins for a bit. Things pick up again from here with more outstanding drum work, another funk guitar run and a soaring climax.
Remember when people would take pop songs and slow them down by 1000% to create mesmerizing soundscapes? Take the Killer Instinct theme and slow it down by only 300% and let V-Jams noodle on it and you get the slightest hint of how incredible this fifteen minute improvisational jazz track can be. The wailing electric guitar of the original is replaced here by a smooth, wandering saxophone that doesn’t even get to the most recognizable melody until two minutes in. It passes back and forth between a smoldering soul guitar and the two frequently duet. In the final minutes a grungy blues guitar and bass jump in and the sax keeps up on accompaniment.
There are other tracks that the group mentions were their favorites but I keep coming back to this epic and masterful piece. Man, this track doesn’t rock, it simmers. You soak in it and absorb it and now it’s part of you.
By far, the most unique track of the album. It’s essentially a smoky, bluesy arrangement of “Aquatic Ruin Zone” from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with electric guitar riffs and solos that remind me more than a little of “Hotel California”. But during each breakdown the members rap and vamp (musically and conversationally) about the differences between Sonic and Mario, Dragon Ball, how music is like making a game, reality simulations and more. I don’t know if it was intentional but they also rap about the Aquatic Ruin Zone in the same way Knuckles rapped about his stages in Sonic Adventure 2 which is fantastic.
The rest of the album features similarly awesome arrangements from Link’s Awakening (“Ballad of a Winded Fish”), Ocarina of Time/Majora’s Mask (“Stormy Day in Clock Town”), Pokemon Silver & Gold (“National Pork”) and Metal Slug (“Living on the Deck”). All of the songs besides “National Pork” and the bonus track are available for free on the group’s Bandcamp page.
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”.
Having officially wrapped up their Kickstarter with 6.3 million dollars in funding, it is now assured that Shenmue 3 is going to happen. When and in what form it’s released will be closely watched and reported on over the next two years. But for today I’d like to take this time to celebrate the crowdfunding success, and the history of the series, with some great and peculiar tribute music.
We’re all familiar with the likes of Humble Bundle and the Game Music Bundle but there are a handful of other bundling sites out there. Groupees is especially noteworthy as it regularly bundles games, music, graphic novels and digital art collections. Sometimes it’s a game and its soundtrack, other times the collections are curated by a game’s creator or even left to you to pick and choose individual items.
Debuting this week is the Badass Banana Bundle curated by eccentric electronic musician, Remute. The bundle includes nine games, five albums and access to a livestream on July 13th where Remute will mix a bunch of his favorite 16-bit game music. Giving the bundle its name is You Are Not a Banana, a humorous, pixelart audiovisual experiment that includes its own chiptune soundtrack. Other highlights include Remute’s 2009 album Grand Slam, a collection of Frederic “Elmobo” Motte’s demoscene tracks from the late 80’s/early 90’s and his entire soundtrack to the Amiga game, Fury of the Furries.
You can get all of that for a minimum donation of only $2.00 but you can give as much as you’d like. The bundle is scheduled to end on July 15th.
The game prototypes created from Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight 2014 are now available on the Humble Bundle store. As with other bundles, this one also includes the soundtracks for the games. The games include Dear Leader, Mnemonic, Steed, and Little Pink Best Buds. These are not full or complete games, but prototypes that were created during this year’s Amnesia Fortnight.
For those of you not familiar with Amnesia Fortnight, it’s a two week long event held within Double Fine. The company selects a handful of game pitches from company employees. Once the projects are chosen, the employees who came up with each selected pitch is made the leader of a small team. These small teams spend the next two weeks building a prototype of the game idea. It’s a chance for employees to gain some experience designing and creating a game, and it allows them to see their own ideas being formed into an actual game.
This year’s Amnesia Fortnight included guest team lead Pendleton Ward, the man behind the TV show Adventure Time. The two week event was also recorded and broadcast as a documentary series by 2 Player Productions, that you can watch on Double Fine’s Youtube channel. It’s an interesting set of game prototypes and it’s also a great way to grab the soundtracks to these unique games. For those of you interested in trying out some interesting game experiments, this may be worth a look. The Amnesia Fortnight 2014 Bundle will be available for the next few weeks on the Humble Bundle store.
The sole (lyrical) vocal track from Module’s original album Imagineering (released last year, reviewed here), entitled “The Pieces Fit,” now has a music video. I am psyched out of my mind to watch it.
For those who don’t remember, Jeramiah “Module” Ross is the New Zealand-based musician who was also responsible for the hit soundtrack for the game Shatter. If you’ve never seen it, that soundtrack also has its own music video, for the song “Amethyst Caverns.”
Our “Other Release” category — a catch-all miscellaneous category for stuff that isn’t technically game music, but close enough that you all probably know about it — had some great nominees. There were plenty more than six albums to choose from. But we narrowed it to six, and now we’re going to give the bronze / silver / gold medals. Well, digital medals. Still pretty sweet, though (thanks Connary!).
So, in case you’ve forgotten our nominees for Best Other Release:
Black Ocean (IMERUAT)
Indie Game: the Movie (Jim Guthrie)
Make Music, Throw Music (SleepyTimeJesse, et al)
SOUNDSHOCK 2: FM FUNK TERRROR!! (Various Artists)
And the winners are… (more…)
Welcome, dear readers, to OSVOSTOTY 2012! This year is our craziest year yet. Every day this week, we will reveal the nominees for seven separate categories. The categories are:
Best Other Release
Best Re-Issue Soundtrack
Best Arrange Album
Best Sound Design
Best In-Game Soundtrack
Best Soundtrack (Overall)
Composer of the Year
After the first week is over, we will announce the winners for each category each day of the following week.
We’re starting with “Best Other Release.” This miscellaneous category covers any original music not written for a game. In this way, we’ve collapsed previous categories such as chiptunes or film soundtracks into this category alongside the usuals: original concept albums. Our nominees for “Other” after the jump!
The Terms & Conditions to Unconditional Love is the debut full-length album, and an intensely personal project, from Simon “Sitorimon” Smith.
I’ve known Smith, the blogger behind Higher Plain Music, for quite some time. We have similar tastes in music. We both love VGM, Celtic/World music, Tori Amos, Derek Webb and many others.
So when Smith told me he had his own album coming out, completely about and inspired by his former significant others, I was psyched.
I want to tell you what I think about this album. So join me after the jump for the Bandcamp embed and my thoughts on this 15-track vocal album from a fellow lover of … well … *good* music. (more…)
That was supposed to be a pun.
This marks the end of “baiyon week.” We hope you enjoyed it, learned more about this particular artist, and perhaps scouted out a few more tunes for your musical library.
But we didn’t get to everything baiyon has ever done. So we just wanted to point out here that baiyon does have plenty of other work out there, if you’re willing to look for it. Some of those items include:
Evening Glow of a River – an EP released around the same time as In The Collaborations 04, you get the title track (10 minutes long), a remix of the track by photographer/musician/producer Eamonn Doyle, and a B-Side “Lupe.” For my money, “Lupe” is the better track.
Dejerabi – a techno/electronica/Arab-ethnic single from Ryoma Sasaki. Buy it, and you get the B-Side (baiyon’s remix of Dejerabi) too.
Vibes Against Vibes (Vol. 1) | (Vol. 2) – Almost everyone that worked with baiyon on the various “In The Collaborations” singles, and plenty more, release their own singles on these two “various artists” collaborations. Vol.1 has two tracks where baiyon collaborates with another artist, and Vol.2 has a baiyon solo track.
Have any more hot baiyon leads? Feel free to leave them in the comments section! Thanks again … and now, let’s go clubbin’! (Seriously, I gotta go to a decent club sometime … just, please, no designer drugs … )
Last night I had a chat with baiyon via twitter about his 2006 album “Like a School on Lunch Time.” I learned some cool things that I wanted to share with you. For example, the video above is a music video that covers two songs from the album and features incredible visuals by catchpulse. The footage is of the elementary school baiyon attended in his youth. In fact, that’s also where a lot of the sound samples come from.
Yes, baiyon revisited his school to get some field recordings. He told me that of the musicians that use this technique, he was most inspired by Aki Onda’s Cassette Memories series. As I mentioned in the album’s review, I’d heard the technique used prominently on Michael Bross’ Subway Meditations.
Finally, for those of you that can read Japanese (or who are okay with a rough translation provided by google), you’ll want to check out this 2006 interview with baiyon from Jet Set. It provides more background and insight on that full-length album; a little something to help you appreciate it more.
So baiyon released a series of four singles between December ’09 and April ’10, each one had him working with different artists. Of note to the VGM community was his “Hue / Saturation / Brightness” single (vol. 03) where he collaborated with Hip Tanaka.
The series seemed be over after the fourth volume. Nothing happened through the rest of 2010 or any of 2011. But then, in June 2012, baiyon surprised everyone by dropping vol. 05, “Take Away My Eyes,” a track that sounded so thoroughly like a PixelJunk Eden tune that one cannot help but wonder if this track was an outtake from PixelJunk 4am (a game whose soundtrack I’m still anxiously waiting for…).
After the jump, we’ll be exploring all five “In the Collaborations” singles and speculating on what might come in volume 06. (more…)