This summer sees the worldwide digital release of Loose Canons 2.0, an epic soundtrack of original video game music and sounds performed on vintage 1970’s analog synthesizers.
The debut electronic music release by multi-instrumentalist/composer Steven Jaime Giacomelli, Loose Canons 2.0 is the official soundtrack to the the unrealized video game adaptation of the Loose Canons song suite, as composed and executed on Micromoog synthesizer and arranged into ten separate tableaux. In lieu of the imaginary video game representation, the listener is invited to use the music of Loose Canons 2.0 as a personal soundtrack to their favorite video game. In the event that no video game is available, the listener may perhaps use the enclosed music as an active listening pursuit, or alternately, as a soundtrack to real life.
Loose Canons 2.0 is an analog synthesizer and retro video game fan’s fantasy come to life, with monophonic Micromoog mandalas of vintage bleep bloops cascading through space and time like an 8-bit calliope of revolving sound. The album is the culmination of years of melodic electronic synthesizer experiments by multi-instrumentalist/composer Steven Jaime Giacomelli, whose dual abstract and hook-laden sensibilities were on display in multiple bands in the Gainesville FL underground scene in the early 2000’s. Chief among these was The Ohm, an instrumental four-piece with a varied m.o. of instant composition, epic noisepop psychfuzz and atmospheric environment enhancement.
A series of underground self-releases yielded new projects, new bands and new contexts, with Giacomelli stretching compositionally into classic American song forms, from doo-wop to metal to orchestral pop to country to surf rock to soul baroque pop to hip hop to americana to spoken word soundtrack to blues to ambient, all the while honing theoretical melodic approaches and atmosphere exploration that would ultimately express themselves after a chance re-discovery of the work of Californian minimalist composer Terry Riley and an embrace of a lifelong influence of Japanese video game music composer Koji Kondo.
Now making his home among analog synths in Silicon Valley, with Loose Canons 2.0 primed for placement, Giacomelli continues to work on his next opus.
Loose Canons 2.0 by Giacomelli is available now at iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, CD Baby, and all other major digital outlets.
When we last checked in with Chime Sharp it was racing towards its Kickstarter goal last July. Having been fully funded the game was launched on Steam Early Access in November and will see its final release on Steam by the end of this month. Today, publisher Chilled Mouse and Chime co-creator, Ste Curran, have announced the full list of artists whose music will be at the core of the game’s fifteen stages. The list looks to hit a good mix between electronic and acoustic styles with contributions from the following artists:
For those that don’t remember the 2010 original, the team sums it up perfectly as a “crossover between a music sequencer and Tetris”. Utilizing a sweeping time bar Chime hits that same hypnotic, rhythmic euphoria as the classic music puzzler Lumines as players slot pieces into formations to clear them from the screen in time with the music.
Chime Sharp offers new modes, new music and a sharp (whoops, didn’t see that coming) new visual presentation to bring its classic gameplay up to date.
Previously in the saga of Tim Wright’s Wipeout remix album, the original release date had slipped from late March into late April thanks to an intercontinental relocation for the composer and his family. Now that it’s mid-May and we still haven’t seen a release he’s issued another update detailing the woes of creating a physical product largely on his own.
“Doing these physical projects is a bit like giving birth I think. The reason mothers even consider having more than one child, given that it’s painful beyond belief, is because the human brain doesn’t actually remember pain that well, or so I read somewhere. In effect, the fun of having children outweighs the trauma and 9 months of feeling like you swallowed a beach ball.”
Yikes. The labor pains for Ch’illout” have been brought on by complications with the fulfillment company that’s pressing the 2-disc album and its accompanying mini-poster. A staff change has caused further delays on top of a renegotiated quote, increasing the cost as Wright puts it, “close to profitless”. He’s not increasing the price for those who pre-ordered the album but the situation has forced him to change his plans.
On the bright side, he’s taking the extra time to create even more tracks on top of the original fourteen and the whole album will be released digitally on Bandcamp ahead of schedule. Anyone who pre-ordered the physical album will also get a code to grab the digital version and there’ll be a period of exclusivity before it’s released to the general public.
Wright is clearly holding back some disdain for the fulfillment company in his email update which I won’t quote in full here. Suffice to say, he’s talking to other companies to see if they may be able to press and ship the album ahead of its new ETA in July. As a parting consolation he’s shared another sample from the album bringing us all 30 seconds closer to the eventual release.
The best kinds of April Fool’s gags are the ones that wind up becoming real things. The Mega Man tie and the Tauntaun sleeping bag spring to mind but this year’s gag-to-grab is VGM NXC 001. Released by GameChops, the 17-track album is the work of “international video game remixing super group” Party Members. The guilty parties behind the music include DJ Cutman, Ben Briggs, Mega Flare, Grimecraft, RoBKTA, DJ Mykah, Ralfington and many more.
Leading up to the release several of the artists renounced their chiptune and electronic heritage in favor of nightcore, the increasingly misinterpreted act of speeding up electronic tracks close to 200 beats per minute. However you feel about the sub-genre the album is worth a listen offering spastic remixes from Final Fantasy, Cave Story, Undertale, Animal Crossing, Katamari Damacy and more.
VGM NXC 001 is available on Bandcamp for whatever price you want to pay or you can listen on SoundCloud or check out the entire album in this hyper-bouncy YouTube video. Did you come across any other noteworthy April Fool’s game music or remixes over the weekend? Let us know in the comments below.
The name Ben Prunty may call to mind the foreboding outer space sounds of FTL but for his latest release Prunty has ditched ALL synthesizers to capture the rural 1965 setting of Dead Secret. Out now on Steam and available for the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR (PlayStation VR coming soon), Dead Secret is — no surprise — a first-person virtual reality experience.
Though it can now be played on a 2D monitor thanks to the Steam release, the murder mystery is designed for VR. As the game begins you find yourself at the scene of a murder. With the sun quickly setting you explore the home and life of the victim to discover what happened but soon realize you may not be alone in this isolated house. The combination of the 1960’s setting, the lonely environment and the looming threat of madness and murder gives Prunty plenty of themes to explore with the soundtrack.
The title track, “Dead Secret” begins with a dusty and jazzy melody on guitar and piano that would work as the theme song for a Bogart era gumshoe detective. As the album unfolds things turn dark and ominous but avoid the typical shrill strings and pounding drums of many horror soundtracks. It reminds me a little of Carter Burwell’s score for Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, implementing organic sounds and non-traditional instruments.
“There are no synthesizers; even the things that sound like synthesizers are actually heavily modified samples,” says Prunty of the album. “There are lots of unusual sounds: light bulbs, a glass harmonica, wooden planks, and scraping metal, all to drive home the very analog feel of the […] setting.”
Thanks to the varied themes and atypical sounds Dead Secret is one of the more listenable horror game soundtracks I’ve heard in awhile. It’s a bit short with only ten tracks but if you’re in the mood for some spooky ambiance or cool detective accompaniment it’s worth checking out. The album is available now for $6 on Bandcamp and the game is currently on sale on Steam for 10% off its normal $14.99 price.
Just about two weeks after publishing his first update, Tim Wright is back with a second post on his downtempo Wipeout remix album, Ch’illout”. In his previous update Wright mentioned that an intercontinental move was in store for he and his family and that he’d soon be working remotely from Switzerland. Understandably, this upheaval had the potential to push the Ch’illout” release beyond its promised date of March 31st… and it looks like it has.
“That teeny-tiny issue of moving here has indeed impacted completion. I had to move a week before I thought I would, so that put a lot of pressure on sorting out my main day job so that I could fly out earlier. This has added maybe a week to the proceedings, but nothing too worry-some,” Wright states in his update email.
The advanced move wasn’t the only thing that’s gotten in the way of the album release. “The company I’m using to produce the whole thing have told me they can’t fit me in until mid-late April now, as they have a large production run in front of my proposed job.”
There’s no time to sit on his hands until the production run begins. Wright adds that the album is “almost completely mastered now” and that work continues “finishing off those last few mixes”. He finishes off the update stating that his best guess is that he’ll begin final shipping to buyers in the last week of April.
It’s been a long time coming but one of the soundtracks most fitting of a vinyl release will soon see its first pressing. Dennaton Games, Devolver Digital and Laced Records have teamed up to bring the throbbing, dark and diverse soundtrack from Hotline Miami to a 3-LP release this June.
The first run of the album will be limited to 5,000 copies and if you’re at all interested in the physical release you may want to hurry on over to the kickstarter page. The cheapest tier has already been sold out but a few thousand of the $50 version are still available. Higher tiers that include posters of the new album artwork and signed editions are also up for grabs. Here are a few more details on the packaging and some new tracks included in the mix:
Spread across three 12” 180 gram discs, the soundtrack comes packaged in a deluxe gatefold sleeve featuring brand new cover artwork by original Hotline Miami artist Niklas Akerblad. Featuring remastered versions of all 22 tracks from the original game, this collector’s edition also includes 4 new bonus tracks from Perturbator, M|O|O|N, El Huervo and Jasper Byrne. Additional artwork is provided by Protski, an artist hand-picked by Dennaton Games whose neon-drenched depiction of The Masks adorns the inner sleeve.
As of this writing the kickstarter has already received nearly double its initial goal of $56,792 with 26 days to go. It’s a pretty safe bet that by June backers will have this super slick vinyl release in hand or on its way. Check out the kickstarter page for more or if you suddenly need a quick hit of electronic brooding you can stream the original soundtrack on Soundcloud.
Back in December, composer Tim Wright (aka CoLD SToRAGE) announced plans for a chilled out remix album of his tracks from the classic PlayStation racing series Wipeout. After a brief extension in January the pre-orders have officially been closed and Wright has sent out the first update on the project for anyone wondering when their CDs will arrive.
“The music is progressing really well. I’ve completed the compositional work, and the next couple of weeks will see me mastering and getting everything ready for shipping at the end of March.”
He goes on to add one “teeny-tiny” caveat: He and his family are moving from the UK to France and he’ll soon be working in Switzerland all while running a company and finishing the Ch’illout” album. There’s definitely potential for the album to slip past its current shipping date of March 31st so we’ll be back with an update as the end of the month draws closer.
Wright also provided a couple test render images produced by original Psygnosis artists that will feature on the album’s two-disc packaging and poster. Though pre-orders have closed the site currently offers interested parties an email address where they may still be able to purchase a copy of the album.
Who do we have to thank for Ch’illout”, the surprisingly chill remix album of original music from the Wipeout series? None other than Wipeout composer himself, Tim Wright (aka CoLD SToRAGE, Shadow of the Beast 2 & 3). As the story goes:
“I was driving home earlier in the year, and I started whistling a tune. It seemed very familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. When I arrived at home, I happened to glance at my game collection and my eyes landed upon the Wipeout 2097 box. It was then that I realized the melody was from ‘Operatique’, one of my music tracks from the original WipEout game. However… I’d been whistling it at a much slower pace, and that’s when the idea of a chilled or ambient mix took hold.”
He continues, “As an experiment, I took that very song and broke it down into it’s component parts, to develop a more moody piece. I was really pleased with the results, and decided to put it to my fan base for a reaction… thankfully it got the thumbs up!”
The experiment has blossomed into Ch’illout”, a forthcoming 2-disc, 14-track album of slowed-down and chilled mixes of Wright’s contributions to Wipeout and Wipeout XL. Take a listen to a work-in-progress track in the video above and get a peek at Wright’s production setup. Aside from the music the £18.96 (approximately $30) album will also feature guest artwork from original Wipeout artists on the 6-panel CD packaging and double sided poster. Those who pre-order before December 28th will also have a chance to win one of three copies of Strix Memoria, Tim Wright’s rearrangements of his work on the Commodore Amiga presented on a Psygnosis-shaped flash drive.
The album is expected to be finalized by March 31st, 2016 at which point orders will begin shipping. Being a passion project by Wright and his colleagues there are a few details you’ll want to check out on the official site before you plunk down your money. But don’t wait much longer, you only have until December 28th to pre-order and secure a physical copy.
[Disclaimer: I immediately pre-ordered this album for myself as I was writing this post]
It’s always interesting to hear a composer go outside of their established genre of music. This sometimes happens in order for a composer to flex their creative muscles, while other times it can be the result of pursuing a passion project. Ben Prunty is probably best known for his sci-fi genre music. In particular his work on the soundtracks for FTL, Gravity Ghost, and Star Crawler. While he has produced a few albums that aren’t related to games, they still maintained a similar tone and style to his game soundtrack work. So when I heard that one of Prunty’s latest solo projects was an experimental horror album, I had to take a listen.
The album, titled Dark Window, is an eleven track album that aims to capture the spirit of horror movies, urban legends, and just good old-fashioned ghost stories. Each track has a title meant to suggest the scene that the music is accompanying. Since this is at its core a concept album, this review will be focus on how well the tracks hit the mark for evoking an unsettling horror experience. (more…)
Back in 2012, game designer Fernando Ramallo and composer David Kanaga created a game prototype that focused on altering 3D landscapes and having the music warp and change with the environment. What eventually resulted in this collaboration was an audio-visual experience called Panoramical. Over the past few years the game has been shown off at multiple events, festivals, and even a few museums. Next week the game will finally be receiving a commercial release.
The game will include fifteen unique environments, each with their own range of tones, aesthetics, and music elements. By manipulating various “dimensional controls” players will be able to alter the landscapes around them and the music along with it. Panoramical will be released digitally for Mac and PC on Steam, Humble, and itch.io on September 17th. You can check out more information about Panoramical on the official website.
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.