Experimental, Indie Music

Celebrate Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter with some Funky Tribute Music

July 23, 2015 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Celebrate Shenmue 3’s Kickstarter with some Funky Tribute Musicon Twitter

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.

I first discovered s ? e c i a l – k (Special-K) several years ago while poking around on Bandcamp and immediately jived with his self-professed “gross beat” style. The story behind it goes: “when I first started making beats and showing them off I would always hear ‘It’s off beat’ or ‘Sounds weird’ so I decided to start making off beat music on purpose.” Maybe that means something, but regardless I come back to his albums frequently to chill and reminisce about the games he samples. He’s also a big fan of Yu Suzuki which leads us to his first solo project, AM2 Pt 1 released in 2013.

“Yu Suzuki is a legend who continues to please his fans. I wanted to make an EP that I could pack some of my favorite Shenmue and Virtua Fighter memories into. Every track uses a voice or song sample from either Shenmue or Virtua Fighter.

Things start out pretty heavy with samples from Shenmue’s pivotal introduction. Villain, Lan Di, demands to know the whereabouts of the mysterious Phoenix Mirror over muffled, detuned bass backing. Crisp snares and the off-beat syncopation of rustling samples lead us out as Ryo calls for Fuku-san, his friend and confidant who helps set the game in motion. From there, well, it gets weird.

If you’re not familiar with Shenmue you may think it’s all serious business with Ryo hunting down the man who killed his father. Like a lot of modern games, though, Shenmue is filled with idle, everyday distractions and characters to interact with. The very next track, “100 ¥”, focuses on Tatsuya Yamamoto, a local kid who repeatedly asks Ryo for money to buy capsule toys. The sampled sounds and rolling cymbals are much smoother here, feeling more Downtempo or Trip Hop, but made hilarious with Tatsuya’s constant nagging for 100 Yen.

The rest of the album follows the same formula with voice samples from various characters laid over choppy bass and distorted music samples with simple snaps, drops and hi hats. It’s a good, and frequently funny, primer to the game’s cast of odd characters and encounters. From Mario Grianni, the stereotypical Italian pizza shop owner, to Delin Hong, Ryo’s co-worker at Fortune’s Pier who really, really needs Ryo to show up for work. There’s also the track above titled “INSULTS” where tough, street brawling schoolgirls, Yumiko and Rena, berate Ryo in the most NSFW way. It’s garish but somehow I still find it, and all these tracks, chill and repeatedly listenable.

There’s much more from Special-K out there including the follow up album “AM2 Pt 2” where he improves the production with expanded samples and variety. Do you have any favorite Shenmue tracks or remixes to share as Shenmue 3 officially gets under way?

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