Chip Music, Featured, Indie Music

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The Glory Days (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook The Glory Days (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.24.14 | | Comment?

With the help of Kickstarter, another chiptune album has been brought into existence. Most people probably know Jimmy Hinson (a.k.a Big Giant Circles) and his music from games like Mass Effect 2 and Call of Duty Black Ops 2. It might surprise some people that in addition to the game music he writes, he also composes chiptunes. This latest album, The Glory Days, is a new collection of original pieces written by Hinson. The Glory Days was funded through a very successful Kickstarter campaign that far exceeded its original goal. Not only did the Kickstarter hit the goal of $5,000, but every single stretch goal was met as well. The Kickstarter receiving over $60,000 in pledges, allowing Big Giant Circles to hire several remixers and fellow game composers to help construct an extra remix album for release at a later date.

The Glory Days is a sequel to Hinson’s first album of original music, Impostor Nostalgia. This original album was a collection of music written by Hinson and featured several music remixers and composers. The concept behind Impostor Nostalgia was that while the music mimicked the sound and energy of chiptunes from older videogames, the music itself was original work that was never featured in any game, past or present. It was a cool experiment and generated some excellent new tunes. This time around, Hinson is flying solo with this sequel album, The Glory Days. Like the first album, this one aims to celebrate the sound of older game tunes while enhancing it with modern synth and electronic sounds that weren’t available years ago. Does Big Giant Circles pull this off on this second solo album? Read more to find out. (more…)

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Game Music

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Monarch: Heroes of a New Age OST Released

Email This Post Share on Facebook Monarch: Heroes of a New Age OST ReleasedTweet This Post Print This Post 02.22.14 | | 1 Comment

If you’re a fan of MMORPGs and the music associated with them, this might just tickle your fancy. The Korean game Monarch: Heroes of a New Age features a gorgeous orchestral soundtrack and an accompanying arrangement album that is sure to please fans of sweeping score and memorable melodies.

Korean composer Goomin  “Nauts” Nam, who composed for games like the drink mixing sim game Bar Oasis, has put together a fantastic and diverse assortment of music to accompany the fantasy MMORPG. If that’s not enough, the arrangement album, Monarch: Heroes of a New Age Arrangements & Variations, features an equally diverse cast of guest arrangers including Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater composer Norihiko Hibino and pianist AYAKI, as well as arrangements from Dale North and Joshua Morse. (more…)

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Game Music, Indie Music

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Indie Game Rhapsodies (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook Indie Game Rhapsodies (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.21.14 | | Comment?

With the popularity of indie games and their soundtracks growing, there has also been a surge in arrangements and remixes of these works. In fact there have been a few new arrangers who focus on indie soundtracks specifically. One of these emerging artists is Brent Kennedy. His previous albums include arrangements for Danny Baranowsky’s music for Binding of Isaac and Super Meat Boy. Kennedy’s specialty is solo piano arrangements. His writing style can be best described as impressionist (think Debussy or Ravel) with a small dose of minimalist writing thrown in the mix. The covered tracks can vary from energetic and climactic to calm and relaxing. In this latest album, he once again demonstrates a similar musical range.

Unlike his previous work, this newest arrange album, titled Indie Game Rhapsodies, takes a sampling of different indie game soundtracks. The composers covered include Big Giant Circles, Alec Holowka, Jeff Ball, and Austin Wintory. The soundtracks being drawn from are an eclectic selection. Some are chiptune soundtracks, while others are originally orchestral. Kennedy takes each of these selections and transforms them into relaxing and mesmerizing solo piano pieces. The result is a collection of tracks that showcases some excellent game music, while presenting a more classical take on the material. (more…)

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Featured, Game Music, Music Production

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Austin Wintory Talks About Music Democratization at the D.I.C.E. Summit

Email This Post Share on Facebook Austin Wintory Talks About Music Democratization at the D.I.C.E. SummitTweet This Post Print This Post 02.18.14 | | Comment?

At this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit, composer Austin Wintory gave a talk titled “Music’s Rising Tides”. In his presentation, Wintory discusses the emergence of technology that has allowed for the democratization of music writing and distribution. He strikes a very optimistic tone about the ability of creators to put their work out onto the internet and have it recognized. Among examples, he cites his own positive experience with releasing the soundtrack to Journey and his interactions with people who shared the album on Youtube.

Part of what he is encouraged by is the lowering of financial barriers for writing music. To help illustrate his point, he composes a piece of music on stage, using only a laptop computer and a midi keyboard. Making music that is commercially viable is something that has become accessible to more people in recent years, and Wintory sees this as a positive development for the art.

It’s an excellent talk from an experienced member of the videogame and music world. What do you think of the presentation? Do you agree that the ease of access to music making is a positive thing, or is it causing the market to be over-saturated with too much noise?

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Chip Music, Featured, Indie Music

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Chipzel’s Dance Floor Domination: Spectra (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook Chipzel’s Dance Floor Domination: Spectra (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.17.14 | | Comment?

There are plenty of chip music makers out there these days. I have respect for all of them — it’s difficult work, to be sure. But one person I especially admire is Chipzel. She broke onto the scene when she wrote the three-track OST for Super Hexagon. But she has plenty of original works out there too.

The latest among them is Spectra, released in September 2013. This full-length album was created entirely in LSDJ, so it’s pure Game Boy goodness. The nature of this album? I think the headline gives it away, but if you want a detailed report, as well as where you can pick up the album, keep reading!

(more…)

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Chip Music, Game Music, Indie Music

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PAX East 2014 Music Guests Announced

Email This Post Share on Facebook PAX East 2014 Music Guests AnnouncedTweet This Post Print This Post 02.15.14 | | 1 Comment

This week Penny Arcade announced its concert line-up for the upcoming PAX East 2014 convention. The event, as usual, will take place at the Boston Covention & Exhibit Center from April 11-13. Each of the concerts, the first on Friday and the other on Saturday, will feature performances by three different groups. A number of previous music guests will be returning to perform this year, including Metroid Metal, The Video Game Orchestra, and Anamanaguchi.

The PAX East 2014 concert roster is as follows:

Friday Night

-Bit Brigade
-Metroid Metal
-Anamanaguchi

Saturday

-MC Frontalot
-The Doubleclicks
-The Video Game Orchestra

It looks like it will be two nights of great music for PAX East attendees this year. A few of us from Original Sound Version will be checking out the concerts as well. Information on events, guests, and hotels can be found at the PAX East website. For those of you who were not able to grab tickets for the event, the concerts will be streamed live on the PAX Twitch stream. The event is less than two months away. Which bands are you looking forward to hearing?

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Game Music, Indie Music

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Threes OST by Big Giant Circles is now available!

Email This Post Share on Facebook Threes OST by Big Giant Circles is now available!Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.10.14 | | 1 Comment

Jimmy “Big Giant Circles” Hinson has released his soundtrack to Threes!, the hit iOS puzzle game. The album contains the original track,”Threes is the Bees Knees,” from the game, an alternate and unused version of the same track, and an extra unused piece that he wrote for the project. It’s a small set of music, but definitely a must have if you’re a fan of the game. To sweeten the deal, the soundtrack is currently available with a pay-what-you-want price tag. Not a bad deal for a 3 track album. If you enjoy the game’s music or enjoy some light and soothing jazz tunes, check out the album on the Big Giant Circles Bandcamp page.

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Game Music, Indie Music

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Legend of Dungeon OST (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook Legend of Dungeon OST (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.10.14 | | Comment?

In continuing our coverage of some of the notable soundtracks from 2013, we are taking a look at some of the indie soundtracks that slipped under the radar. There was one that caught my eye fairly early this past year. The game Legend of Dungeon is another indie title that started from a successful Kickstarter. Developed by Robot Loves Kitty, a team comprised of Alix Stolzer and Calvin Goble, the game is a rouge-like dungeon brawler that can be played by up to four players in local co-op. The gameplay is fairly straight forward. Like many rouge-likes, you explore a randomly generated set of dungeon floors which become increasingly difficult as you progress. Your actions are limited to jumping and using a selected item from your inventory. You pick up experience, currency, and items as you delve deeper into the depths of the dungeon. For this project they brought on composer David Dirig to help create an appropriate atmosphere for Legend of Dungeon.

What really grabbed my attention with this game was the way the music was handled. Much like the dungeon setup, the music is different every time you play. It’s more complex than having a random track that plays every time you start up. Each time the game is reset, a new set of instrument tracks are chosen. In other words, a different collection of looping instrument patterns are randomly selected and combined to create a new piece each time you start a game. For example you may have a game session where the music consists of a piano track, a synthesizer track, and a bass track which play in sync with each other. To take it a step further, each instrument responds according to your proximity to items, objects, and enemies in the game. This use of dynamic music (music that responds directly to the player’s actions) helps create a relatively new experience every time you play. (more…)

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Featured, Game Music

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Austin Wintory is a Viking in The Banner Saga (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook Austin Wintory is a Viking in The Banner Saga (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.07.14 | | 2 Comments

After a highly successful Kickstarter campaign and a very long wait, Stoic Studios has released their debut title The Banner Saga. The dev team was largely made up of ex-Bioware employees, but they knew exactly whom they needed to craft the music for their Norse-set RPG: Austin Wintory.

Yes, the man who blazed a trail, setting new standards for VGM with his incredible soundtrack to Journey (which we gave our top award to in 2012), agreed to write a full soundtrack for this ambitious project. Now the game is out on Steam, and Kickstarter backers such as myself got the game and its soundtrack a few weeks early.

Thus, I’ve had time to digest the contents of this soundtrack, which is available on Loudr and Bandcamp. My thoughts on Wintory’s latest release, after the jump! (more…)

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Miscellaneous

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“Just Fun” Kickstarter Fully Funded!

Email This Post Share on Facebook “Just Fun” Kickstarter Fully Funded!Tweet This Post Print This Post 02.05.14 | | 1 Comment

Well that didn’t take long, now did it!

Looks like within 24 hours of it’s launch, the “Just Fun” album Kickstarter headed by composer Alexander Brandon and featuring a plethora of contributing composers and arrangement artists, has reached it’s $6,000 base goal thanks to feverish pledging by fans and supporters. So what happens next for the project? More stuff, that’s what!

The original goal might be reached, but that doesn’t mean those who didn’t get in on the rush can’t still pledge and reap the rewards of pushing the funding through multiple stretch goals! A digital version of the album available for just $10, a signed physical copy for $25, other albums in Brandon’s catalog and even a custom-created single just for you at the highest backer level of $500. If potential pledgers need additional incentive, how about the full album song list? (Courtesy of our friends at Scarlet Moon Productions)

01. “Introduction”

02. “A Thousand Words” (Feat. Jameson Sutton and Stemage)
03. “On a Dark and Stormy Night”
04. “Chronophasia” (Feat. virt)
05. “Twilight Floating” (Feat. Erik Peabody)
06. “Oath of the Matron” (Feat. Andrew Aversa and Jillian Aversa)
07. “More”
08. “God bless the child that’s got his own” (original by Avery Brooks)
09. “Infinity” (Feat. Big Giant Circles, original by Andrew Sega/Paul Schultz)
10. “Overture of the Avatar” (Feat. DJ Bottles)
11. “The Blue Hour” (Feat. Bryan Rudge)
12. “Hypercontrol” (original by Andrew Sega, guitar by Craig Rundels)
13. “The Willowdale Handcar” (Feat. Danny Baranowsky)
14. “Epilogue”
With 28 days to go in the campaign, getting an entire second album worth of music doesn’t seem that far a reach for a project this star-studded. Check out the “Just Fun” Kickstarter for updates and more goodies!

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Miscellaneous

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Alexander Brandon “Just Fun” Kickstarter Brings the Talent

Email This Post Share on Facebook Alexander Brandon “Just Fun” Kickstarter Brings the TalentTweet This Post Print This Post 02.03.14 | | Comment?


If you’re a fan of Dues Ex and Unreal Tournament composer Alexander Brandon, you might be interested in the Kickstarter that went live today. “Just Fun” is slated to be an original album of Brandon’s design, featuring 45 minutes and beyond of original compositions by the gaming composer. Even better than that, he’s not alone! Several big names are lending their musical skills to the project, including Jake “Virt” Kaufman, Andrew “zircon” Aversa, Grant “Stemage” Henry, Erik “Viking Guitar” Peabody and a ton more! All of this on a 14-song album with a ton of extras open to backers, including additional songs, download codes to additional albums, credits in the album notes and more!

Via the Kickstarter:

Roughly three months of full time effort has gone into this album over a period of over a year. Evenings, weekends, early mornings spent by myself as well as the fine folks who have collaborated with me. I’d like the ability to have this release be to a wider audience, with the ability to supply things like cool signed CDs as well as even more digital downloads of previous works.

The Just Fun Kickstarter goal for $6,000 ends on March 5th with several reasonable pledge tiers for the digital album, the physical album and thensome. Check out the page for the full list of contributors, rewards and details of the album!

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Game Music

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Broken Age: Act 1 OST (Review)

Email This Post Share on Facebook Broken Age: Act 1 OST (Review)Tweet This Post Print This Post 01.29.14 | | 1 Comment

Like many people, I was excited about the Double Fine kickstarter. The potential for creators like Tim Schafer to help revive the point-and-click adventure game genre was something I could get behind. After a few years of waiting, the Double Fine game titled Broken Age has had its first half released. As a backer I was able to play through an early copy and listen to the game’s soundtrack. For this game, Double Fine brought in game composer Peter McConnell. McConnell has previously worked with Tim Schafer on games like Psychonauts, Grim Fandango, and Brutal Legend. Since this is only Act 1 of Broken Age, this is technically only the first half of the soundtrack. When Act 2 comes out later this year, there will undoubtedly be more music and a second soundtrack.

Now because the main appeal to games like Broken Age are the story and the areas you explore, I feel a minor spoiler warning is due. With most of the soundtracks that I review, I like to take into account how the music relates and works within the game. The music can certainly stand alone and be critiqued for its own merits, but its interaction with the game is still an important aspect. Because of this, I will end up discussing certain sections of the game and that may spoil minor plot points or reveal parts of what you will experience in the game. I promise that this review will not contain any major plot spoilers or solutions to puzzles. However, there are inevitably things that may give hints or details about portions of the game. The very names of the album’s tracks can even give things away. So following the jump after this paragraph, I will be going into potential spoiler territory. Read on if you dare. (more…)

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