t's a good thing I post about New Temp Sound Solutions / Shawn Phase once a month now, because that almost (but not quite) matches his musical output. I began temp sound solution Tuesdays in the apparently futile attempt to dig into the very, very extensive backlog of TSS albums I have never written about, or in some cases, even heard yet.Read More
It's the long awaited debut studio album from Vancouver's The Runaway Four. The six song album reminds me of classic rock albums like Pink Floyd. I'm talking, the type of album that only has half a dozen tracks, but lasts an hour and takes you through a variety of genres and emotions.Read More
A review of the haunting collection of creepy chill beats by Voodoo Lion in his Halloween themed tribute to video games, Rust & Blood
30 years ago, Konami released a game called Castlevania. The horror themed adventure game came out in Japan for the Famicom Disk System on September 26, 1986. This also means that the soundtrack, composed by James Banana AHEM i mean Kinuyo Yamashita, has also existed for 30 years! In my personal opinion, the finest waveforms to ever flow out of the NES' 2a03 sound chip.Read More
Even though I've been talking about 8 Bit Duane and the Amazing BrandO since 2008, it's been a long time since one of their albums has been in my album review periphery. To be plainly honest, I wasn't going to review this EP. I tend to review albums that could use my meager push, but D&B are killing it. Well, as killing it as you can be in this VGM niche. They don't need my help. OR SO I THOUGHT.Read More
Check out the epic dance beats of DJ SUPER SONIC's Castletwerkya in a new VGM video review!
Despite the fact that many classic video game tunes are indelibly seared into my brain, it has become less and less often that I actually get to go back and hear the original music that made me start this website in the first place. Luckily the debut release, Boss Chamber Music, from the duo of Frog & Cid have collected and rearranged a variety of vintage RPG jams. F&C do them up right with live arrangements from classics like Chrono Trigger, several Final Fantasy titles, Pokemon, and the Legend of Zelda. Over a dozen tracks, including several intriguing medleys that will take you through not just different scenes, but different games entirely.Read More
More than any other product, franchise, character, or story, I feel like Earthbound is the most malleable. Many people who play the game have a heartfelt relationship with the old gray cartridge. It's obvious to say that Earthbound has become an incredibly influential piece of work among video game fans.Read More
Check out some of the sounds of Jay-Zelda: Beats Awakening by AQUMA in my first VGM video review!
Rhymes from the heart.
Alt rap flows from Jahn Rome, who readers may know better as one half of beloved hip hop duo Marcus and Rome. Rome takes on some personal demons in five laid back songs. It took me a moment to get drawn into this album, and at first I was hoping for something grittier, more visceral on the first go through. More in line with the Rated 'D' For Dope album that introduced me to Jahn Rome. As I shifted through various new music though, I caught myself mumbling some of the hooks from the album, namely Way Back (Prod FKA Yandere). So despite my innate reluctance to get into a more personal type of hip hop flows, the album grabbed hold of me like a great squid.
Technically there are no true references to video games, but the light, flowing electronic grooves clearly evoke some clear chiptune stylings. Each track is produced by a different composer, but the album keeps the airy flow of rhythms consistent throughout.
As I mentioned, Rome takes a personal, introspective look at himself over five tracks. The vulnerability and self doubt he expresses in I Know You're Scared (Prod. swell) and Lead You, You Go (Prod. Alice) are expressed clearly, but far from the cornball direction some 'serious' rap can go. There are plenty of emotional highs as well, such as the aforementioned Way Back, which features plenty of hopeful and uplifting lines.
When you juxtapose this with Rome's previous album, M&R's Rated 'D' For Dope, you can see quite a bit of versatility in Rome's flows and writing.
Expect to hear a track or two from this album on future episodes of SUBCON. Needless to say, this album gets bonus points for also being a Winter album. I'm highly partial to season based music, especially ice cold winter tunes that I can bump as I melt in the summer heat starting in about a month.
Whether Jahn Rome decides to drop more solo music, or team up with Marcus for another album, I can't wait to hear more from this guy, I'll be playing this album on repeat in the mean time.
Remixes, covers, collabs, and more.
It's been quite a while since this album officially dropped, but there is a lot more to this album than a quick glance would suggest. It's like an inversion, or prism type album. JKLOL drops a ton of new beats, clearly inspired by some well known names for chiptune fans and readers of this blog. The second half of the album does the exact opposite, with a variety of fantastic composers and chip musicians spinning classic JKLOL tracks in their own distinct ways.
With the variety of tracks and styles on display, giving the album a quick glance would hardly do it justice. That's why I had to dig deep, and in so doing, destroyed the timeliness of this post.
Listen for adventure.
This stuff is so soothing. We all know that I love them funky rhythms and in your face hip hop jams, but growing up as a Square fanboy, and also a fan of lighthearted games like Kirby, Chibi Robo and Animal Crossing have given me a soft spot in my heart for the light and fluid melodies such as 'The Princess.' One of the opening tracks on Ryan Stunkel's latest, Echoes of Adventure.
Stunkel is releasing music at a surprising clip, and I'm glad to hear it. The quantity hasn't affected the quality though, as EoA seems to be the fullest album to date. Ten tracks of wonderful RPG fare that would make a Square Enix fan of any era get sucked into the swelling horns and drums on the more epic tracks such as Kidnapped, and Beneath the Shadow.
Ever since I started ending SUBCON with OST ending themes, I've become far more attentive to ending themes in general. "Friends Forever" is the closing track to the album, and although I know nothing more about the protagonists of this story beyond the evocative artwork, the heart of the track seeps through, and helps conclude the album with some surprising poignancy.
Can Stunkel keep up the frenetic pace he has been composing at? While he finally release a few more VG covers? Find out whenever I review another one of Ryan Stunkel's videogame inspired albums. That day is certainly sooner than I think.
Another monster collection of beats from Voodoo Lion. I'm not sure how long his Press Start series will last, but as long as they keep coming out you'll get no complaints from me.
This time, the songs take on a more new age approach to retro games with soon to be classics such as Mirror's Edge, Smash Bros Melee, Portal, StarCraft, and more! The set list definitely makes the most of Beyond the Stars' space theme.
I'm posting this soon after the album has dropped, so I haven't gotten enough time to dig deep with a review the way i would have wanted. Perhaps in the near future, but until then, expect me to sing the praises of this album throughout upcoming episodes of the SUBCON podcast.
The album features all the well timed samples, swaggering beats and surprising turns that Voodoo Lion has made his calling card. From the intense opening moments of First Contact the album seems to be pushing it's own narrative through the themes VL chose to tackle. The center of the album is well anchored by an unbelievable pair of Star Wars remixes that have single handedly gotten me excited for the upcoming Episode VII. the tracks, "I Am Your Father" and "Jimi Skykisser" have me super nostalgic about Star Wars Rogue Squadron as well, since Rogue Squadron was actually my true introduction to the Star Wars franchise.
The album closes on a far more upbeat tone than it opened with. Although, "Continue?" hides an unsettling undercurrent, like being on the moon in Majora's Mask, or getting the 'The End?' credits in the original DKC. Is the ending theme's ambiguous title drawn from that indecisive feeling?
So the final question I have left is, does Voodoo Lion got another Press Start trilogy in him? Or perhaps a side project is in order? Whatever it is, I can't wait to hear more from VL, although I could use more time to ingest these albums, but I said I wasn't going to complain.
Fate is calling.
Robby Duguay had me at 'SNES-style symphonic mix.' Listening to the album helped a lot too of course. you might remember Duguay from my praise for his previous OST release. Much like We Are Doomed from earlier this year, Robby has taken one of his dynamic game soundtracks and organized them into a soothing trek reminiscent of classic 16 bit RPGs in his newest album.
I'm only describing half the album though. Tracks 10-18 of this 19 track album are collectively known as (Chaos) and feature a much heavier electronic vibe that gets surprisingly intense as Duguay's instrument choices vary wildly between tracks. So varied in fact, that before I looked at the track list I thought I was listening to a completely new set of songs. I can't help but be drawn into the synthy dubstep boss battle or whatever it is that is happening in the chaos version of "Pestilence," of course, the ominous squarewave wailing of the Serenity version has a place in my heart too.
Killer cut though? On first listen it was definitely "Fire (Chaos)" with that grinding march of an opener it's tough not to be immediately pumped before the song is even in full swing. As I listen again though, I am actually falling in love with the deep, driving sounds of winter in "Ice (Chaos)." In fact, I'm pretty sure I found all the background music I need for a future podcast thanks to these epic closing tracks.
Unlike many albums, Duguay closes with the titular Fate Tectonics, which comes as a restful reprise after the tracks I just mentioned. You can check out the Fate Tectonics game by Golden Gear over at FateTectonics.com and buy Robby Duguay's music on his Bandcamp music page.
Light it up.
Technically sound, extra catchy, lyrically smart, AND with heart. Been looking forward to reviewing this album, because that means I get to call listening to this album 'work.' The Maryland born, Philly based rap duo drop an eight track EP that burns hot straight through. This is the sort of album I created SUBCON to showcase. You can bet M&R will make an appearance on the show soon (like, the next episode soon).
M&R lay it all out as soon as the album starts with an autobiographical account most retrogamers have lived in the Yoshi based, Bknapp produced opener, "Press Start."
SHVKVZULU's glitched beats crack the album open, and quickly takes a dark turn to fit the mood. The shot firing "HM02 as Fuck" may already got my new vote for best Pokemon rap ever (No, the official Pokemon rap does not even make top five).
"Ice Cap/Aquatic Mine drops the duo in the back to back sonic beats. The flow gets out of control before switching into a smooth, low key closer.
I review the track Gorrila Tactics on an upcoming episode of SUBCON. Get hyped!
"Hero of Rhyme" is another banger over fan favorite Legend of Zelda theme Gerudo Valley. Judging by the love shown at the end of this track, I believe more LoZ based M&R is on the way. Sounds like they got enough memories in them to go full Zelda on the next release. I say all this because the track is a teasingly short minute long without the closing speech.
"Ring Out" may be the sneaky best track on the album. They bring back the grime, constantly dropping rings and some of the best lines on the album. So many replays for hip hop heads, with the fast pace and surprising rhymes.
The duo go clutch and kill it on the finale. "No Johns Freestyle" is dedicated to all the smash players, even 'filthy casuals" like me.
Rated 'D' For Dope is stuck in my rotation as I write this. If you hit play, it can easily infest your music player as well. Keep your finger on the rewind button for this one.
If Daft Punk decided to create music to late 80's Japanese shmups, this is their Gradius soundtrack.
I'm a sucker for story based albums, especially with stories set in space. Luckily I get quite my fill of such albums from the chiptune genre, but no matter how many chiptune space opera's I hear, it will never be enough. JKLOL is the latest album is this proud niche of a niche OF A NICHE of a genre. (Chiptune space opera, a genre I am dubbing right now. Dubbed.)
The album kicks off raucously enough with Plug Me in Baby. Considering this is part 3 of some galactic adventure I am suddenly thrust into, I can't help but consider this the opening flashback sequence that gets me all caught up, or maybe the kind of music that would play during the Star Wars-esque intro scene to the "8-Bit Crusades." Honestly though, I can't imagine just watching a boring wall of text during this bouncy intro.
Sirens kicking off the second track, System Error, making me think of 'Aerodynamic' the second track of Discovery by Daft Punk with those warning bells. Not comparing the two, but an interesting coincidence. This track also feature's Glenntai, and you can feel his imposing style on this track, making this one of the more intense pieces on the album. That also set's it up perfectly for my favorite track on the album
Winter Chill absolutely kills the album for me (in the good way). I'm writing this at 2AM and it's still breaking 80 degrees outside. I'm dying. The meandering beat on this track creates a calm, cool feeling that I want to keep deep in my bones forever, especially since I can't afford air conditioning. The digital waves splashing on a rocky shore, the time-wasting notes. They all create one of the few relaxing moments on the album. This is the track I would hit repeat on before heading into cryogenic sleep for a long trek across intergalactic space.
Power is basically if shmups had soundtracks with lyrics, especially if the ship you pilot is sentient (or haunted). I heartily endorse such a world. The Oracle has a winding feeling that leads right into the meat of the album, the (tied for) longest track on the album, Quest (Feat. Rade Dobison), Unfortunately, I'm not as familiar with the likes of Lucy Black and Rade Dobison as I am with Glenntai, so it's difficult to separate them from JKLOL's style on these tracks. What I can say, is JKLOL's pace is crisp when he's collaborating, so I would love to see more of this (even though, how do chiptune collabs even work?).
Don't think I didn't catch that elongated Pac-Man death to kick off Survive. This is another track featuring Glenntai, and the frenetic beats will assure you it's true. I can feel JKLOL's high's pasting melodic beats, trying to reign in Glenntai's rapidfire attack, like a wild horse, and it makes for a track as intense as the title suggests. I assume this is the 'trying to escape the gravity of an alien planet in a ship you just repaired with old gum and native plants' theme.
JKLOL has to go it alone to finish off the album. It kicks off with an almost nod to the Moon theme of Ducktales. You can't unhear it. Initially, I said this album the lyrical shmup soundtrack of my dreams, well JKLOL absolutely makes sure that's the case on the album's epic closer, Back to Earth. I want this to be the credits to every space thing ever. One thing no one thinks about in a galaxy spanning video game like Gradius or R-type... I hope you have enough gas to get home. and this is the track that will be bumping on the long trip home.
If you grab the album for $5, you'll get another album's worth of bonus tracks that you can't stream anywhere. I'm not going to review them today, but I will say that I can't say no to a chiptuned dance party of a Persona remix. Not to mention a couple Katamari Damacy covers and some Shovel Knight as well. Constant shout outs to Virt. The initial album is worth the entry fee, so the extra collection of covers and remixes are just the delicious smothering of whip cream on top.
For an artist that doesn't even use every tag he can add into bandcamp, there is an amazing array of styles on this album. I absolutely adore albums that span a vareity of genre's but without the requisite knowledge in each genre, the album could come off sounding phony. JKLOL avoids this trap by teaming up with artists of other chiptune styles, and getting a crash course through the way they build music. Not to mention that JKLOL makes it onto a very small list of chiptune artists that actually include lyrics along with their wacky vocoder crap (also in a good way).
White Hot Summer
How could this album come out now!? I'm not sure, but I'm glad it did. The ice packed sentiments of every tune offer some auricular respite from the endless desert heat. (Did I mention I live in the desert? Sure they dress it up like the suburbs but don't let that fool you.)
I heard of arcadecoma just around the time I was discovering chiptunes in general, so him and a few other PteSquad faithful will always hold a special, glitchy place in my heart. Game Boy Tree adventures is a standard of chiptunes in my book, and was one of the first albums I ever blogged about (and amazingly that .gif image is still working after about 4-5 site redesigns). arcadecoma's now classic track Mega Man Is My Hero still gets plenty of rotation in my playlists.
Enough about the past though, because arcadecoma has finally risen from his ahem, arcade coma, and dropped a brand new, winter themed EP. Though billed as a horror concept album, this has got to be the most upbeat dance party of a horror story I have ever heard. Even ominously titled tracks such as "Don't Go (Out The Window)" are majestically upbeat.
Like other arcadecoma albums, it is all too short. Feeling more like a passing moment rather than a full album. And like other arcadecoma albums, that means I will be giving this one many repeat listenings.