A new crowdfunding campaign has been debuted by the composer of of Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, Star Wars: The Old Republic and others. Wilbert Roget has taken to Kickstarter to help fund his original album, Beyond Libra, which is inspired by anime composers and features several cultural influences.
As a composer for games, I’ve always been influenced by classic Japanese anime and video game scores, with musicians like Yoko Kanno and Jo Hisaishi being some of my biggest inspirations. I’ve always wanted to write music for animation, and so 8 years ago, I embarked on an ambitious album project: I’d write an entire soundtrack for a show that existed only in my imagination, with commissioned artwork to accompany the music and an interplanetary adventure story to bind it all together.
Beyond Libra is a very diverse soundtrack, with songs ranging from j-pop to orchestral, dulcet small ensemble works, and uplifting afrobeat. There is no single “sound” for the album as a whole, but instead, a great variety of genres support the characters’ adventure across several planets and civilizations. – Wil Roget
The album will feature several additional musicians, including Jillian Aversa (Halo, Soul Calibur 5, VideoGamesLive), Offiong Bassey (featured on NPR Radio and The Boston Globe), Raj Ramayya (Cowboy Bebop, Wolf’s Rain) and others. It will also include the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus and several other cultural ensembles. The current goal is $1,500 for the 45-minute album and some stretch goals to help improve mixing and increase tracks and more.
When the original Xbox launched with its 10 gigabyte hard drive, one of the uses Microsoft touted was custom soundtracks. I was immediately enamored with the idea after having shoved my own music into several PC games in the past. But what I imagined for the console was more daydream-y than the reality that the Xbox, and even the Xbox 360, delivered.
All I really wanted was options: the ability to tell a game, “these are the songs I want to hear during a fight and these are the songs I want to hear when I’m at a shop”. Sadly, this kind of musical customization is so rare that I completely forgot how much I wanted it until I picked up Double Damage’s Rebel Galaxy. It’s an extra surprising feature to find in a game whose most striking stylistic design is its soundtrack. The typical trappings of interstellar, sci-fi ship combat are set to a melange of grungy rock and blues tunes and peppered with gruff vocals and plenty of slide guitar. It adds a rough ‘n tumble, space cowboy feel to the game which has earned it loads of praise as “Firefly: The Game”.
As good as that music is, when I load the game up and see the option for “Custom Music” I simply can’t proceed until I try out something new. It’s not as boring as “here’s my music library, play something”, that’s the stuff Xbox consoles have been able to do for years. Instead, you can define the music used during combat, when docked at stations and when idly flying around the universe; you can even set the title screen music.
Appropriately, the first thing I did was set the Firefly theme for the title screen. Fitting. Mark Mancina’s score to SPEED worked well for combat and Ghost Monkey’s soundtrack to Zen Bound perfectly set the ambiance of space cruising. Simply slotting in albums doesn’t always make for a smooth fit as I’m sure you can imagine. So now I’ve moved on to compiling a collection of songs fit for Space Business and I’m getting close to spending more time curating than playing.
It’s a fun obsession, though, and one I’ve been waiting a long time to indulge in. Ironically, I may have curated a soundtrack that’s more typical of the genre but it’s only my first attempt. It’s full of bombastic orchestral battle themes and twinkly strings and percussion. You can check it out in action above. Like the urge to create that Super Mario Maker inspires, the ability to bring my own creative touches to this game has sent my imagination running. I’ve got all kinds of ideas for new soundtracks to play around with now. Even if it only amounts to a handful of unfinished playlists it’s been fun playing a sound designer of sorts for the last few weeks.
What about you? Have you ever injected your own music into a game? Built a custom soundtrack on a console or swapped out the music files in a PC game? Leave a comment and let us know.
Back at the end of July Brave Wave announced the Generation Series that aims to remaster beloved, out of print and incomplete game music in excruciating quality. The first (and so far, only) album announced is Street Fighter II: The Definitive Soundtrack which is planned for release before the end of the year.
Since our original post Brave Wave have gone on to reveal some more details on the release. The album art has been updated (seen above), the playlist will include a staggering 100+ tracks encompassing the CPS1 and CPS2 versions of the soundtrack and the CD release will come on three discs. As previously reported, both the CD and vinyl versions will feature liner notes from original composer Yoko Shimomura and Polygon.com’s Matt Leone.
More importantly, they’ve released the eight comparison tracks embedded above that should give you an immediate appreciation for the work they’ve put into the album so far. On their vision for the new sound of Street Fighter, sound engineer Marco Guardia told Polygon, “We were trying to strike a balance between staying true to the song and it being authentic. We didn’t want to go overboard and mess with the sound to a degree that it sounds nothing like it used to.”
Take a listen for yourself and check out that Polygon article while you’re at it; there are some insights into Brave Wave’s process and the story behind the album’s origins.
Gaming and nerdy music has pretty much become a staple not of just video game conventions and festivals, but at anime-related events also. Going to concerts and performances after a long day of walking the halls of an event can provide some nice downtime, and sometimes can be the main draw for a lot of con-goers.
NekoCon, going on this weekend in Hampton Road, Virginia, had a three-hour block set aside last night for Nerdcore artists to perform prior to the DJ and dancing set later in the night. According to reports, after one song into the Professor ShyGuy performance, the artist’s mic was suddenly muted and after some confusion as to what might be going on, concert-goers were told to start exiting the concert hall – the block had been cancelled. This affected fellow artists MC Lars, Tribe One and Dr. Awkward as well. The dance party was then started early, and concert-goers were given this official reason for the move.
Due to unforeseen circumstances the Nerdcore concert has been canceled. The dance will begin at 8:15pm and go until 2am.
I emailed NekoCon to clarify on their reasoning, but got a similar response as the above tweet. “Per our official statement on our Facebook page, due to unforseen circumstances the nerdcore concert has been canceled. ”
According to sources and the artist, ShyGuy proceeded with his normal activities during a set, moving around on and off stage. That’s when concert staff began yelling at him and the audience to exit the concert hall, some staff claiming he “stage dived”. ShyGuy and those close to him report that nothing was ever communicated to them about restrictions or rules, and he was given no warning before everything was cut off and all other acts punished as well.
Just experienced one of the most unprofessional con events. I climbed off stage like sound guys have been doing & they cancelled all bands.
Considering my previous article about the treatment of game music composers within the industry, the treatment of game and nerd bands and performers by events seems to be a topic worth discussing as well.
BT’s Electronic Opus was released digitally to all Kickstarter backers on October 9, 2015 and released digitally worldwide three days later. Since it’s release I have been following fan’s of BT’s reception of the album which has been enthusiastic and full of praise. Feel free to take a look back at OSV’s earlier coverage of the album regarding its release and first preview.
I have spent a considerable amount of time listening to the album since it was released digitally, and now have a copy of the physical CD. I hope you’re take some time to read my thoughts on why Electronic Opus is worth your precious listening time.
A tribute arrangement album titled Prescription for Peace has been released by Scarlet Moon Records and features the renowned duo of Metal Gear Solid composer Norihiko Hibino and AYAKI, also known as Gentle Love, paying musical respect to the late Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata.
“It’s with great sadness and respect for the recently departed that Scarlet Moon Records makes available a soulful musical tribute to late Nintendo President and CEO Satoru Iwata and renowned musician from the Niigata region of Japan Eiki Oshimi. Prescription for Peace: A Tribute to the Departed features GENTLE LOVE, the musical duo comprised of Metal Gear Solid series composer Norihiko Hibino and pianist AYAKI, and covers the Onett theme from EarthBound–also known as Mother 2 in Japan–a title that Mr. Iwata had a significant role in developing. The second track, “Sincerely Yours,” pays tribute to Mr. Oshimi, a musical mentor to the Hibino family who passed within a few days of Mr. Iwata.
The tribute is being sold for $1 to cover licensing fees to Nintendo with any additional revenue generated to be donated to the American Cancer Society. It’s available now from LOUDR and from other digital retailers”
Part of the “Prescription…” series of empathetic and soul-soothing arrangements, Prescription for Peace is a fitting memorial to the beloved Iwata-san.
One of my favorite things about searching for remixes and arrangements for videogame music, is that it often leads me to discover music from games that I’ve never even heard of. Today’s Arrangement of the Week selection led me to one such discovery.
The “Desert Castle Theme” is a piece from the Nintendo 64 game Chameleon Twist. The game is a 3D platformer that stars a blue chameleon, named Davy, who traverses the game’s difficult levels by using his incredibly long tongue. Despite owning an N64 back in the 90’s, I don’t recall ever seeing or playing this game. So it was a cool surprise to find a track from the game being covered by metal remix artist ToxicxEternity.
As with many of the other metal remixers on YouTube, ToxicxEternity performs the various parts of his creation on camera, with gameplay footage displayed behind him. Like the original piece, the arrangement opens with a few chord riffs before launching into the melodic material. The melody itself transfers quite well to the electric guitar and doesn’t receive a whole ton of embellishment, which I actually like in this instance. There are a few dramatic flourishes added during repeats of the melody, but each iteration sticks fairly close to the original “Desert Castle Theme” track.
Most of the build up and improvisation comes during the last section of the piece. Around the 2’03” mark ToxicxEternity turns his focus on the opening chord progression, with some rapid arpeggios building on top of the accompaniment guitar riffs. A few synth instruments come in as well around 2’55” before the arrangement starts to wind down. All in all, it’s a simple and well polished metal arrangement that highlights the music of a lesser known game soundtrack.
Have you discovered any cool game soundtracks through metal remixes, arrangements, or covers? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out more of ToxicxEternity’s metal videogame covers on his YouTube channel and you can support more of his work on Patreon and Twitch.
Like a shambling zombie that’s missing a leg, here comes a late Halloween-appropriate new release announcement. It’s Jason Graves’ original soundtrack to the PlayStation 4 teen slasher simulator, Until Dawn. The album was released on October 26th and, so far, is only available on iTunes for $9.99.
While it was originally designed as an interactive soundtrack, looping and building depending on the player’s actions, the album version features 13 lengthy arranged tracks. The final track is Jeff Grace’s rendition of ‘O Death’ which serves as the game’s intro and ending themes.
Coming from the composer behind the Dead Space series, 2013’s Tomb Raider, and loads of other horror and sci-fi games, you can expect plenty of tense, taut drama and creeping dread from Until Dawn’s soundtrack. Take a listen to three tracks from the game above before to get a feel for what the full album holds.
The music software company Impact Soundworks has launched a second volume of their Acoustic Revolutions series titled Acoustic Revolutions 2. The library features loops of an acoustic Taylor guitar and are designed to be useful for a variety of styles and genres. The loops, which are organized by tempo, time signature, and key, do not require a sampler to be played and the WAV files can be dropped and placed into any DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
Acoustic Revolutions 2 is available on Impact Soundworks for $49 and you can buy Acoustic Revolutions 1 + 2 as a bundle for $65. You can head over to the Impact Soundworks website for more details.
The organizers of the Music and Gaming Festival, better known as MAGFest, have begun announcing their guest list for next year’s event, set to take place on February 18-24 of 2016 in National Harbor, Maryland. The first guests being announced are none other than Golden Eye 64 and Banjo-Kazooie composer Grant Kirkhope and ReBoot creator Gavin Blair.
MAGFest will continue to reveal special guests and performers starting next week. A new batch of guests will be announced every Tuesday, and more MAGFest performers will be announced every Wednesday. To check out more info on tickets, hotels, guests, performers, and events for MAGFest 2016, be sure to head over to the MAGFest website.
Square Enix finally loosened the wraps on the previously announced NieR: New Project at Paris Games Week by revealing its official title and the gameplay teaser above. NieR: Automata is the name and if you couldn’t immediately tell from the footage, PlatinumGames is working on the combat.
“NIER struck a chord with many passionate gamers. It was something so special that we felt compelled to heed the fans’ call for a follow-up,” said producer Yosuke Saito. “To create the ultimate action-RPG, it dawned on me that a collaboration between PlatinumGames and SQUARE ENIX would be a dream come true.”
Of course, the other big reveal from the trailer is a new piece of NieR music from returning composer Keiichi Okabe. The sound effects are graciously minimal so you can really focus on the otherworldly vocals and that fantastic percussion. NieR: Automata is coming exclusively to PlayStation 4 but one thing Square Enix hasn’t announced yet is a release date. Check out a few more details on the starring heroine, 2B, and the story of Automata from the press release after the cut.
Nobody wants to think about it too early, but the Christmas season is a month away. However, you can get in early for the Golden Giving event in London coming this December.
Today, Games On Song, the UK games industry choir is proud to announce it will be returning to the stage for a LIVE Christmas carol concert, raising money for GamesAid.
Formed in 2012, the Games On Song choir is made up members of the games industry who volunteer their time and voices to sing and raise money for GamesAid; a UK based video games charity which acts as an umbrella to support a number of smaller charities who help disadvantaged and disabled children and young people. – GamesAid
So, the event won’t itself feature music from video games, but rather “classic carols and Christmas songs with a video game twist” sung by game industry members. What that twist is, exactly, remains to be seen, but it all goes to a great cause regardless and with members hailing from places like Bethesda, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and others.
The event is being held December 16th in London, and tickets can be purchased via the Golden Givingwebsite.