A few years ago, before I started this site, I was treated to the aural quality of what is now one of my favorite albums of all time. That album was by an artist named Xoc and that album was the classic SMW. Xoc has released tons more incredible material since then and I for one have become more and more amazed with him with every new album.
Well a brand new album is on the horizon now! Xoc goes back to the Super Mario well and pulls up a project that may excite some people even more than even SMW. That album is Xoc Plays III and is available now to download for the incredibly low price of only $5. The soundtrack spans 20 memorable tracks, all recreated using live instruments while keeping the same lovable and classic feel that puts you right into the original game.
I have had my copy of the album on repeat since getting a hold of it upon release just a few days ago. It's incredibly tough to choose a stand out track amongst this whole album of stellar music, but I will try and highlight a few. The opening track actually comes from a remake of SMB3 which you might remember if you had an SNES. All-Stars Title Screen is the opener, and kicks off the album with a great lively feel, and makes a fantastic introduction with it's warped intro, as if you have suddenly gone back in time. The drums and warbling guitar work give this oft forgotten song some of the respect it deserves for being just one small song in a collection of classic games. From there we get into SMB3 proper with Overworld Theme #1 / Death Jingle. We get a gruff countdown and we are presented with maybe the most memorable track from the game. Too bad we die before it finishes..possibly by drowning?
Another incredible tune is the incredibly catchy Iced Land / Underground / P-Block (medley) which, as the title states, combines three tracks into one incredible and cohesive tune. Kicking off with the creepy (I even thought so as a kid) theme from world 6. We quickly tumble into the high energy of the underground theme, which just as swiftly moves us into P-Block territory. Suddenly we find ourselves in an even stranger version of Iced Land with wailing guitars and the continuously ominous keys. The song gets progressively wilder in this fashion until we our lead out the same way we came in with the Iced Land theme once again.
The King is a soft reflective track. With it's simple guitar strums it reminds us of defeating that first boss on that epic airship and how it felt returning peace to the land. Another stand out arrangement that isn't in the game proper is Advance Bonus, which as you may guess comes from the GBA re-release of the game. With it's chiming children's piano and heartfelt kazoo playing it is tough to not love this track, even if it is probably the least nostalgic of the tracks on the album, it certainly makes itself known with it's playful nature.
From the lively opening to the lo-fi dream like ending, this album spans a multitude of moods, and is able to reach many of those nostalgic soft spots we have for our gaming youth. I can't recommend this album, nor any of Xoc's other albums enough. His versatility and carefree music making style lets him create songs that are as diverse as they are amazing. Be sure to purchase the album now at xocmusic.com/xocplays3 and grab anything and everything else that catches your eye on his site! 99% of his albums are free to download, including the aforementioned SMW album as well as the amazing What's Pink and Sucks? Xoc's Kirby's Adventure tribute. Finally I leave you with Xoc's own commercial for the newly released XOc Plays III album.