Game Music, Reviews

Magnificent Mech Melodies: The Answer (Review)

Magnificent Mech Melodies: The Answer (Review)

May 18, 2011 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook Magnificent Mech Melodies: The Answer (Review)on Twitter

Let me ask you a question. If Michelle can paint a house in 4 hours, and Mark can paint the same house in 6 hour, how long will it take for both of them to paint the house together? Or how about this; if Mark travel 10 miles at 5 miles per hour,12 miles at 4 miles per hour, and 18 in three hours, what was his average speed for the trip? Or maybe you can answer the biggest mystery of all, how did I manage to become pregnant with a badger even though I am a man (and what a man I am!).

Actually, don’t worry, because today is not the day for you to provide me with the answers to life’s greatest mysterious. Today it is my turn to give you The Answer, a look at the Armored Core centered arrangement album by the Swedish Christer Sjögren enthusiast and musical mastermind Another Soundscape.

Find out if the answers can be found within the jump!

Though the album saw a release on Overclocked ReMix servers eventually, The Answer was actually young Soundscape’s first entry into the world of the game music doujin market in Japan. Released by circle Aspina Formation Flight Team at M3 (Music Media-Mix Market) in Autumn 2010, Soundscape joined the likes of Tim Sheehy and zinger to become one of the few to take part in or release a doujin release through the standard procedure. The album quickly gained the attention of not only the audience, but also a host of game composers who managed to snag themselves a copy. That alone deserves an amazing amount of praise for the young Swede who, at near 5 years my junior, can still grow a much more manly beard than I could ever hope.

The Answer is a 40 minute, 11 track arrangement album based on the scores of Armored Core, the relatively well known mecha action game series from From Software. Despite the series becoming a stable on the Sony PlayStation systems, with over 15 titles across them as well as a tie-in manga and anime to go along with it, the music has largely gone unnoticed which is a great shame since the game holds a wealthy amount of catchy heavy rock and atmospheric electronic sounds. The tracks on this album come from a careful selection of top tier material from each game, with the main portion of the original compositions being done by Kota Hoshino. Hoshino himself can be heard on the album on the tenth track, “Over the Pain.”

Another Soundscape can be seen as more than just a name and rather a general indication to what to expect from Gerdt’s repertoire as it has become a near signature for him to take the source material and add an unmistakable personal sound and creative expansions to the overall melody, while never losing track of the intentions of the original composer’s approach. Throughout The Answer, you’ll find more synth solos and manipulation of sound than ever heard on any Zapp & Roger album, and in the midst of the electronica mayhem, you will still hear the familiar rock sound of Armored Core always being represented.

Some tracks even utilize vocals. Now for many, this inclusion will trigger a feeling of objection and reluctance since the ratio of well executed vocals used in fan remixes is relatively low. Soundscape however makes great use of the female voices the Swedish playah has gathered on this release by focusing more on their range and skills rather than writing long winded cliche-filled lyrics sung in a language barely grasped. The results are an all around win for all parties, the simple lyrics become insanely catchy and hummable, the vocalists come out shining and Soundcape’s album gets an added boost of professional sound due to their involvement. While Deia Vengen’s vocals are more straightforward rock vocals with some manipulation, Jillian Aversa’s work is an awesome blend of true pop vocals with clean and a wonderful natural talent and sound manipulations and effects to make it increasingly mechanical and synthetic, fusing human and digital sounds like the humans are fused with their mech suits in the combat field.

As noted, the album takes a more electronic dance approach rather than the metal and heavy rock the series’s music is most recognized for, but the clever bridging between the music genres makes the change seamless and in some cases preferable over the original. Soundscape puts so much fun and excitement into his original synth sections and intricate arrangements that the album from start to finish becomes a serenade of movement and makes it impossible to not move with to the sounds and music. Along with his electronic leads, Soundscape also makes use of easy yet effective power chords on his guitar, which keeps the original feeling of Armored Core alive at all times. Being a master of none but an expert on everything, ‘Scape dives into a variety of sounds and approaches to the music, like funk, jazz, acoustic and industrial metal, though the flow and progression of the album is never sacrificed for the sake of a wide range of takes.

For listeners who have never listened to the music of Armored Core, or at least never taken notice of it, The Answer will feel almost like a futuristic racing game soundtrack rather than a tribute to combat-based mech suits, but this is a fine example of Another Soundscape’s talents and influence. Despite the sometimes near drastic change of sound, his influences and direction are so strong that in addition to being a fine tribute to something personally close to him, he managed to inject so much personality and flair that for the causal listener it becomes more than just an arrangement album; it becomes a proper album worthy to stand on its own two legs without looking into its source.

If you are over 500 pounds, if you have no legs, if you lack fun and excitement in your life then don’t worry, The Answer is the solution to your mobility problems because this album will get you on your feet and dancing before you even know it.

The album is now freely available at Overclocked Remix as a digital download.

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