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”.
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.
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.
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 VermeulenThe 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!
Zanasea a staff member from the Video Game Music Database just added a new album slated for release October 14, 2015: Harukanaru Toki no Kanata e: Chrono Trigger & Chrono Cross Arrangement Album.
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!
The zeitgeist game of the moment, Psyonix’s Rocket League, is one of the first PlayStation 4 games I’ve seen to use its space on the home screen to advertise a soundtrack. Clicking on the icon loads up this page in the browser with links to get the music from CD Baby and Google Play or to stream it through Rhapsody and Spotify. It looks like they’re planning on bringing it to every streaming service and digital marketplace under the sun which is good because this soundtrack is bangin’!
A little softer than you might expect from a game where rocket-cars wage Battle Soccer in domed arenas, it’s full of thumping bass, chirping synths and smooth vocals. A different singer accompanies almost every track with lyrics about angel’s wings and “flying forever”. It’s very reminiscent of Genki Rockets or maybe the mellow cousin to the old Sega Touring Car soundtrack.
What’s odd is that the music only fades up in the game on the menu screens so you barely get to hear it while playing. What I wound up doing was turning down the in-game music and streaming from the PS4’s Spotify app to listen uninterrupted. It’s a little ironic if you think about that but it keeps the music playing! Check it out on your music service of choice and let us know what you think.
Pixels is a new Hollywood blockbuster that features several classic video games including Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Q-bert to name a few. The movie is getting two soundtrack releases in and I had the opportunity to listen to a copy of the score. The score was composed by Henry Jackman, who wrote the music for super hero films X-men: First Class, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Big Hero 6. He also wrote the score for the animated video game film Wreck it Ralph, and he has also written the score to the upcoming game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End which I can’t wait to hear.
Prior to listening to the score I was curious to find out if it offered symphonic representations of some classic video games, or something entirely different. Read on to find out what I thought of the score.
One of the great things about looking up game music arrangements is that it can lead you to the discovery of a game or game franchise that you didn’t know too much about. Such has been the case for me and the Ys series. The action RPG franchise has been around since 1987 and has featured music by Yuzo Koshiro and Meiko Ishikawa. It was a cool discovery for me, so now the Ys franchise is on my gaming bucket list. Today’s arrangement that we’ll be looking at is one of Ishikawa’s pieces from Ys III: Wanderers from Ys.
This week’s selection comes from Dr. Manhattan with a rock arrangement of “The Boy’s Got Wings,” which Dr. Manhattan has titled “The Freak Winged Boy.” Whether you first experienced the soundtrack on the SNES, Sega Genesis, or the other platforms the game was released on, this track in particular had a great amount of energy to it.
The arrangement maintains an upbeat and energetic vibe throughout the track, keeping in the spirit of the original soundtrack. As rock arrangements go, it keeps everything relatively simple. The lead guitar gives a clear performance of the melodic material that never feels like it’s competing with the other instruments for attention.
At around the 2’20” mark the arrangement enters into an improvisation section. I like that it allows a moment for the rhythm guitar and percussion to shine while the lead guitar focuses on arpeggios in the background. It’s a good little break from what’s heard in the rest of the track. At 2’56” the lead guitar returns for some more decorative melodic riffs. The piece ends with a statement of the guitar motif that the arrangement opened with. A nice concise ending to a great arrangement.
Are there any cool game music rock remixes, arrangements, or covers that you’ve heard this week? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out and download “The Freak Winged Boy” on OC ReMix.
Rhythm games are an interesting genre in the gaming world. The titles can often feature wildly different mechanics or provide game changing twists on familiar formula’s. One of the more popular entries emerged back in 2008 with Dylan Fitterer’s puzzle/rhythm hybrid Audiosurf. The game had a simple premise. Use the music in the player’s existing music library to generate three lane block highway patterns, similar to the note lanes of Amplitude or Rock Band, and challenge the player to collect and form clusters of three or more of the same color blocks with a spaceship avatar. After over half a decade, a sequel to the original game is finally out in the form of Audiosurf 2.
I never played the original game back when it was released, so this sequel will be my first time with the series. Because of that, this review will be an examination of Audiosurf 2 on its own merits and I will not be comparing it to its predecessor. While I’m aware that many of the modes and mechanics have been carried over to this latest title, you’ll only be getting my perspective on how they work in this game. With all that said, let’s take a look at Audiosurf 2. (more…)