As enthusiasts about video game music and everything attached to it, a good majory of those in the community have a incredible sense of nostalgia for the old days of gaming and how it influences all of our lives. Documentaries that delve into the media itself and its background are a hot topic because of this nostalgic desire, with several being kickstarted to help really dive into the nitty-gritty of game music.
“Diggin’ in the Carts” is actually a unique entity for two reasons: 1.) It’s sponsored by Red Bull Music Academy; yes, as in the energy drink but it’s actually a world-traveling music workshop that focuses on today’s “musical landscape”. 2.) The series is specifically about the origins of video game music in Japan with Japanese composers and the history of companies like Namco and Konami.
Diggin’ In The Carts is a new series from Red Bull Music Academy about the untold story behind the most influential music to come out of Japan. Check back each Thursday, from September 4th to October 9th, for new episodes, mixes, and bonus interview footage.
So far two of the six, 15ish-minute episodes have been released and I have to say that the work behind the series is phenomenal. Having people like Anamanaguchi and Haruhisa Hally Tanaka explain the influence of game music and things like the history of the VRC6, and then featuring what I can only describe as delightful interviews with the likes of Masashi Kageyama (Gimmick!), Junko Ozawa (Galpus, The Tower of Druaga) and Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka (Metroid) just to name a few, is beyond wonderful. I admit I got misty-eyed through parts of each episode (especially ep.2) and it’s so refreshing to see Japanese composers who otherwise might go without knowing the impact their games had on so many of us as children and beyond getting their spotlight.
Diggin’ in the Carts will be released every Thursday for the next month, so be sure to tune into each episode. I dare you not to feel some form of excitement while watching it.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this album. I have listened to and reviewed game composers remixing game music before, but I have never reviewed an album of original compositions by game composers, that aren’t attached to any games. I admit I was dubious. Also, looking at the list of composers, I was only familiar with a few of them, most notably Akira Yamaoka, composer for the Silent Hill series. This album raised another question for me. Do I listen to game music because I associate the music with the game, or is the music good in its own right? I personally believe that there are elements of of both and I find an album comprised of original music from game composers to be very interesting. Will the music follow gaming tropes and conventions, or will the composers write music purely for the album and allow their music talents to flourish. Let’s find out what this “East meets West” album had to offer. (more…)
Fellow fans of Mega Man music, this will be a good year for us. Thanks to a deal with Sumthing Else Music Works and Capcom, there will be a digital release of the original Mega Man soundtracks in the west. Each volume consists of music from one of the Mega Man games, meaning that there will be individual digital soundtracks available for Mega Man 1-10. In addition to the NES versions of the music, the soundtrack volumes also include tracks from the PlayStation versions of the games.
The first four volumes are currently available, with the remaining six due to come out this year. Two volumes are planned to be released every month up through November of 2014. These volumes are based off of the 25th Anniversary “Rockcan” box set that was previously released in Japan. While it’s a shame that the west won’t have a physical release of the set, it’s nice to see that we will still be able to obtain the official digital soundtracks. The first four Mega Man soundtrack volumes can be purchased on Amazon, iTunes, and the Sumthing Else Music website.
Fans of Final Fantasy music rejoice!! The third Piano Opera: Final Fantasy album has been announced. For those unfamiliar with the Piano Opera albums, they are albums that feature piano arrangements of pieces from the Final Fantasy franchise. Despite the name, there is no actual opera music in any of these collections. Each album in this series focuses on three specific Final Fantasy games. The first Piano Opera album contained arrangements from Final Fantasy I, II, and III, while the second album featured the music of Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI. These first two albums were released back in 2012, with only a few months in between each release.
Predictably, this latest album will focus on the music from Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. Tracks on this album will include “Opening ~ Bombing Mission” and “Those Who Fight Further,” from Final Fantasy VII; “Liberi Fatali” and “Force Your Way,” from Final Fantasy VIII; and “Rose of May” and “Melodies of Life,” from Final Fantasy IX. The album is set to be released on April 23, 2014 in Japan and will cost around 2,800 yen.
There is no word yet on a release date for the United States or Europe. Considering that the previous albums have received western releases, through services like iTunes, this album hopefully won’t be far behind. The Piano Opera: Final Fantasy VII/VIII/IX album will be available on Amazon Japan and Square Enix’s e-Store on the day of release. So for those of you outside of Japan, who have some skill at reading Japanese and don’t mind paying for importing the album, you will potentially have a means of acquiring this latest album on day one. I know that I’ll have this album on my wishlist. Hopefully we’ll be getting a release here in the west in the near future.
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!
When it comes to Touhou Project, there seems to be an endless stream of music coming out on the doujin music scene every year. A cursory look inside stores specializing in doujin products in Akihabara reveal large swaths of retail space dedicated to all types of Touhou Project music. Monthly sales ranking from shops such as Toranoana also reflect the dominance of Touhou Project although Vocaloid-related music appears from time to time to shake up things up. Nevertheless, it becomes a bit of a workout to sort through the horde of music out there, especially for the uninitiated.
Enter Arte Refact’s GensouYuugikan -Fantastic Casino-. Released originally during Reitaisai 10, the annual doujin event dedicated to Touhou Project, the 10 track album featuring a veritable who’s who of major doujin music groups with Touhou Project being there common link. This concept album’s theme centers around the idea of what it would be like if Gensokyo, the place central to the Touhou Project series, had a game center in it. Alongside this theme is the character, Marisa Kirisame’s adventures through said game center. The anachronistic theme aside, I had rather high expectations for this album given the star power driving it. As mentioned before, with such a wide variety of arranges, remixes and so forth out on the market, it can be difficult finding a gem in an endless sea of music.
Did Arte Refact nail it on their release? Or perhaps this is simply the case of more of the same? Hit the jump and find out! (more…)
Over 150 game, anime, and related albums were released this past August at Comiket 82. That’s a lot of music: I’ll never hear 95% of it.
But I sit up and pay attention to the second album in a new original works / demo series from Pinokiti Records, “Fruited Vagabond.” Featuring music from some of Namco’s best in-house composers, as well as some new faces that generally only work in the doujin scene, these albums feature some really enjoyable dance/electronic music.
After the jump, we have the Soundcloud demo reel for the album, as well as my impressions of all five tracks. (more…)
Every six months, Comiket sweeps Japan, and a boatload of doujin music albums are released (alongside some legitimate game and anime soundtracks, as well).
Generally, it’s just too much for one person to take in. You could easily spend $1000 there and still miss something cool. Especially if you’re down with all things Touhou-related.
Recently, one of our friends at SEMO (Don Kotowski) pointed us in the direction of “Fruited Vagabond.” It’s essentially a demo reel of music made in FL Studio, one track per composer, and the composers being some of Namco’s greatest assets (AJURIKA, Ryo Watanabe, Hiroshi Okubo, etc).
Tomorrow, we’ll have a review of the album newly released “Fruited Vagabond Vol.2″ from Comiket 82. But before that, we have a review of the first album, which is four tracks and runs 24 minutes. After the jump, our review (alongside some soundcloud samples, hurray!). (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…)