Now that most of us have had our chance to call out some favorites from 2015, it’s your turn. This time around we narrowed down our categories to:
Game Soundtrack of the Year
Artist/Composer of the Year
Arrangement Album of the Year
Let us know your top picks in the comments and feel free to throw in any special categories or mentions of your own. If you need some inspiration or missed them the first time around you can always check out our OSVOSTOTY picks for 2015: Michael, Brenna, Patrick, Ryan and Shawn.
The ZEN ALBATROSS is different from your average albatross. You see, the ancient mariner has nothin’ on him. Nor do invasive government spy agencies. Confused yet? You need to get to know ZEN ALBATROSS then. This bird is a master of cryptography, and he is also good at dodging the slings and arrows of would-be seafaring jerk wads.
My single favorite chip music album from 2010 was a double-single featuring “Mastada Gestalt” and “April 10,” both songs by ZEN ALBATROSS. Since then, we’ve heard precious little from him. Now he’s back with a new EP (almost 30 minutes long), which you can get digitally or on cassette tape via the artist’s Bandcamp page.
This new EP, “SIGINT,” is a head trip from start to finish. Interested in the finer details? Keep on reading… (more…)
Coming to you horribly later than the rest of my compatriots, I feel it still necessary to cast my vote on the VGM releases of 2015. So much came out last year that was notable that it’s hard to settle on any one thing. Fortunately, my fellow OSV writers have touched upon the best of things, so it’s a matter of following up on their fantastic lists with my own.
Keiji Yamagishi’s Retro-Active was originally planned as an overarching, three-album journey to be released across 2015. While we got the first installment on February 5th with Retro-Active Pt. 1 the follow up has taken a bit longer than expected. One year, to be exact.
Brave Wave has revealed that Retro-Active Pt. 2 will be released on February 5th, 2016 bringing listeners back to Yamagishi’s “futuristic emotional chiptunes world”. Along with new solo tracks the famed Famicom/NES composer will be teaming up with Ninja Gaiden II composer Ryuichi Nitta. The first track from the album, “Chaotic Code”, will be released on January 14th to give listeners a taste of Part 2’s sound in advance of the full album release on February 5th.
For now we’ll have to settle for the new album art above which is a continuation from Part 1. That’ll make for one sweet panorama once the final part is released. Are you excited to finally hear Retro-Active Pt. 2? Did you pick up the original album or the remix album? Let us know in the comments below.
MAGProm, the one-night excuse to dress fancy and listen to classy video game music at MAGFest… is over. Ok, it’s not really over but this year it’s transformed into the MAGCabaret. Why a cabaret instead of a prom? Because the proceedings will star the super-jazz-fusion super-group, V-Jams, featuring members from The OneUps, Eight Bit Disaster, Rekcahdam and many more.
This is the same V-Jams I’ve been flipping out about since I found their stealth release last August. If you want an idea of the musical majesty they’ll be performing, check out my previous post or just start playing any of the tracks embedded above, they’re all great! Along with arrangements of these tracks V-Jams will debut brand new material and they’ve got some special surprise guests in store for those in attendance.
The cabaret will take place Thursday night, February 18th in the main concert hall at MAGFest. Formal attire isn’t required but having fun with the dress code is encouraged. It’s also encouraged that you grab your tickets as soon as possible because — Holy Toledo — MAGFest is just over a month away!
Each game generation seems to have its set of favorite tunes that people just love to remix and arrange. The NES era in particular has a long list of classic game pieces that we never seem to get tired of, no matter how many versions of them we hear. With that in mind, this week’s selection is an arrangement of “The Moon” from the DuckTales NES soundtrack.
This arrangement of “The Moon,” originally composed by Hiroshige Tonomura, comes from artist WillRock (William Harby) with a synth/rock interpretation titled “Apollo Duck.”
The arrangement opens up with some very light synth and piano, but quickly begins to build with a synth arpeggio. At the 0’30” mark the lead melody emerges in the high register to launch us into the main section of the track. The guitar solo work is what really sells this arrangement for me. The clean electric guitar sound works really well with the iconic melodies from the source piece and WillRock delivers a solid performance with the solos.
Part of what puts this particular arrangement up above other interpretations of “The Moon” is the instrument balance. I hear so many rock arrangements with really in-your-face drums, but WillRock makes sure that they are present without drowning out the other instruments. The guitars and synth elements also blend really well together, making for a powerful and energetic sound. Overall, a really solid rock arrangement of a classic NES track.
Have any favorite VGM rock arrangements that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out and download WillRock’s “Apollo Duck” at OCReMix.
Mondrian: Abstraction in Beauty from Lantana Games is a block breaking puzzler in the vein of Breakout that trades on its diverse art style inspired by the De Stijl movement. As you play — keeping the ball bouncing in 360 degrees — the visuals change to represent different periods in both art history and video game history. Accompanying the ever-changing visuals is an equally eclectic soundtrack composed by Davidjohn Blodgett and Hannah Hoyt.
The soundtrack offers nearly an hour of trip hop, jazz, classical, techno and ambient themes. Even outside of the game it’s been one of those soundtracks to keep you moving with a unified feel across its diverse tracks. There are a few exceptions with some somber classical and piano pieces but overall it’s a pleasant, mid-tempo collection of music. Mondrian is on sale at IndieGameStand for a pay-what-you-want price until Friday, January 8th and if you beat the average you get the soundtrack to boot. If you’re just into the music you can pick up the 19-track album on Lantana’s Bandcamp page or listen to the entire thing on YouTube.
If you’re a huge oldschool Sega fan like myself, then you are likely familiar with Ecco the Dolphin; the game where you take control of a lone bottlenose dolphin and swim the seven seas achieving everything from reuniting with your pod to battling aliens to being a time lord. (that last one is speculation)
If you’re equally a fan of the game’s music by Spencer Nilsen, Brian Cobourn, András Magyari and several others through the series, then you’ll be happy to learn of the new arrangement tribute album that just released. Sound Waves: A Tribute to Ecco the Dolphin is a rather large compilation of arranged tracks from several music pieces from across the franchise created by a large assortment of musicians and artists across the game music fandom. Groups such as Armcannon, Do a Barrel Roll, Kirby’s Dream Band and even individuals like composer Alexander Brandon (Dues Ex, Unreal Tournament) have all lent their skill to the huge 39-track, three-disk album.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the entire series, or you only played for five minutes on your friend’s Sega Channel before quitting in a fit of rage, Ecco the Dolphin made a distinct impression on gamers across the globe with its unexpected, immersive, and haunting world of marine exploration, aliens, and time travel. Once Colleen and I began thinking about how we wanted to follow-up our last compilation, Super VG Christmas Party, the unique ambiance of these soundtracks came to mind almost immediately. – Ian Luckey, Producer
What’s best is that the album is completely free for download! Check out the album’s Bandcamp page to grab the entire tribute and enjoy yourself some awesome marine music marvels.
Sound Waves: A Tribute to Ecco the Dolphin – Bandcamp
This year we saw a lot of amazing games. Not only were there a lot of big anticipated titles like Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid V, and The Witcher 3, there were some great titles from smaller developers like Undertale, Ori and the Blind Forest, Life is Strange, and Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Of course with many of these games we also got some excellent soundtracks.
More than previous years, it’s been incredibly hard for me to pick just a few from the many great soundtracks that were released this year. It goes to show just how much talent there is out there in the game industry for creating memorable game music and audio. With so many artists and albums worth mentioning, I will have runners up and some special mentions included in my list. So without further fanfare, here are my personal picks for 2015’s Game Soundtrack of the Year and Arrangement Album of the Year. (more…)
Happy New Year everyone! It may be the start of a new month, but I still had one more winter themed remix that I wanted to share before going back to this series’ usual broader selection of game music remixes.
For our final installment of the winter and holiday themed Arrangement of the Week, we’re going to take a listen to another chill synth mix of some winter themed game music. This time it’s a remix by DCT of the track “Take The Snow Train” from NiGHTS into Dreams… titled “The Polar Express.”
The centerpiece of this entire track is the electric piano. It sets up a nice relaxing mood that is further established by the other instruments, particularly the synth elements. While the pads and other synth effects do a nice job of filling up the soundscape, the percussion has a very clean and up-close sound that contrasts surprisingly well against the other instruments. The kick drum is just a touch too loud in some sections for my taste, but it’s in no way a deal breaker.
Like many of the pieces that were in this winter and holiday themed Arrangement of the Week series, this remix is fairly simple. Nothing too dramatic happens in the mix, and this helps maintain a chill tone throughout the track’s duration. Once again, just a pleasant and simple wintery remix.
Did you find any cool winter themed videogame remixes, arrangements, or covers that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments below. You can check out DCT’s “The Polar Express” on OC ReMix.
It has been an incredible year for game music, as well as film soundtracks. Early in the year I predicted a title I reviewed would make my list of best soundtracks of the year, it did. Another important factor for me was the question, since its release am I still listening to it? I can happily say that I still regularly listening to all of my choices.
2015 also delivered some of the best film soundtracks on CD from a number of record labels, and for me its truly been a year to remember. Come read about my my picks for “Game Soundtrack of the Year”, “Artist/Composer of the Year” and “Arrangement Album of the Year” and a couple notable releases. (more…)