Read the quote below to get a better idea of what Mint Potion is all about. As long as Jake 'virt' Kaufman is releasing new music I am elated. The fact that he grabs a crew of other talented musicians and gets the funk out. Well I am all on board. Check out their website mintpotion.com to find, hear, see more.
With a catalogue of music the size of Jake 'virt' Kaufman's, it is no small task to decide on the best one. What is much easier, is to choose one of the earliest songs I had ever heard from Virt. That honor goes to the ten year old Dwelling of Duels champion, "Crystal Flash." The track is over twenty minutes of music from the Super Metroid soundtrack. Nearly every song from the foreboding collection is represented in this arrangement.
I have said many times that it takes a real musician to make a Metroid cover. Well Virt takes that notion, freezes it, then blasts it with a super missile. An entire soundtrack rearranged and performed in one month, and the result is a brilliant track unmatched even ten years later? Sounds like a real musician to me
Happy birthday to Jake 'virt' Kaufman, and thank you Virt for all the wonderful video game soundtracks, arrangements, and performances!
Rumor has it that virt was on the short list of composers to be contracted to write the score to Retro Studios' Metroid Prime, unfortunately such a partnership never came to be. Every time I hear my beloved MP soundtrack, I can't help but wonder what could have been.
What are some of your favorite virt memories or music? Share them in the comments below.
Virt is a man of many hats, and the number two song on the countdown is a testament to that. Along with Ailsean, Norg, and many others, Virt takes part in the incredible super band known as the Smash Brothers. This gathering of elite VGM talent is behind the number two song on the Virt week countdown.
Shaking Hands With the Devil is a full band rearrangement of the incredible Air Division stage of the SNES version of Capcom's UN Squadron. The Smash Brothers' hard hitting heavy metal rendition is right in line with the non stop shoot-em-up action of the classic sidescrolling shooter. The song comes from the Bacon EP, which I reviewed after its release in January 2010. The song has only continued to grow on me since then.
A few facts about UN Squadron.
- Titled Area 88 in Japan, the game is actually based on a Manga series of the same name. (The number 88 can still be seen in many sections of the game, including the introduction, and as the symbol for completed missions.
- The game had completely different composers for the Arcade and SNES versions of the game. Manami Matsumae (also known for her work on the original Mega Man titles) &
Takashi Tateishi composed the lesser known arcade version of UN Squadron while Mari Yamaguchi &
Yoshihiro Sakaguchi worked on the SNES version of the game.
- Coming full circle, Manami Matsumae arranged two tracks for Jake Kaufman's soundtrack to Shovel Knight.
To celebrate the upcoming birthday (April 3) of Jake Kaufman, an incredible video game musician and composer by any measurement, I'm counting down my three favorite virt tracks that I've heard throughout my years of covering VGM.
Number three on the list is from the Shantae: Risky's Revenge soundtrack, a song I first heard performed live a few years ago.
"Burning Town Forever Remix" is an intense chiptune dance track that encapsulates the vibrant fun of the Shantae series, This remix is included as the final track to the Shantae: Risky's Revenge Original Soundtrack by Jake 'virt' Kaufman. The critically acclaimed DSiWare game was released on October 4, 2010.
A few facts about Jake 'Virt' Kaufman.
- Also composed the original Shantae for Game Boy Color (a very rare game that can now be found on ebay for over $200)
- Credited in over sixty albums (via VGMdb)
- The first WayForward title composed by Jake Kaufman is the Game Boy Advance game The Scorpion King: Sword of Osiris, released April 2, 2002.
- Founded landmark video game music community VGMix website in 2000.
What are some of your favorite songs and soundtracks by Virt? Help celebrate by sharing them in the comments.
Great games. That is what Mighty Flip Champs and Mighty Milky Way are. One of the qualities of a great game is great audio. Jake 'virt' Kaufman provides that great audio. Flipping and floating to your hearts content.
Download the games!
Dear WayForward, I am officially ending each post about you with some variation of, "Sigma Star Saga successor please!"
Click for full size flyer
Los Angeles is all set for a chiptune/chipthrash/thrashchip invasion this weekend, and the party is going all weekend! As the flyer above states, the big show, Frequency 2.0, is happening at The Smell January 19th and 20th, but for those who can't even wait that long for some chiptune action, there is also a preshow happening in Pasadena on the 18th.
How can you even play video games to this album? Should be working through a training montage right now! Jake 'virt' Kaufman has the tunes that will pump you up in the Double Dragon Neon Official Soundtrack. Also buy the game! Also, WayForward, make a successor to Sigma Star Saga!
Just a reminder, Pizza and Chips 4, a free concert in the Los Angeles area, is happening tomorrow night! It is a free show of chiptunes and nerdcore, with tons of great performances! Full info on the flyer above, or through the event page.
A bit of bad news though, unfortunately Mr. Spastic has had to cancel his performance due to unforeseen circumstances, but taking his place is the amazing Jake 'virt' Kaufman! He has composed the music to Contra IV for DS, as well as the new game Shantae: Risky's Revenge (soundtrack available free) and tons more! Not to mention his brilliant chiptune music on his website Big Lion Music and his VG cover band The Smash Brothers. So be sure to check out his tunes before you see him rock the stage tomorrow night!
Also, many artists will have merch and we will be taking donations to help organize more chiptune events in the future, so be sure to bring a few bucks for some great merch and delicious hand tossed pizza!
Now check out some footage below of Wizwars performing at Pizza and Chips 2 to get yourself in the mood for tomorrow!
Just watch that video up above! All done? Alright, I have just gotten word from Jake 'virt' Kaufman that this amazing soundtrack is available to download right now over at the official page at Big Lion Music. The album consists of the 29 tracks from the upcoming WayForward game Shantae: Risky's Revenge, as well as an extra special bonus remix, rounding out the album to 30 tracks and an hour of catchy dance tunes.
I hope to give a full review on the album soon, but for now I just want to tell everyone of this breaking news, as well as remind everyone to prepare to download the brand new chapter in Shantae's adventures on the DSi this October 4th. Judging by the amazing WayForward games of the past, and the dedication these developers have shown to Shantae, this highly anticipated sequel is sure to please any and all fans of classic platforming action!
After a very long time in the making, OverClocked Remix has reached their 2000th ReMix, and alongside this landmark for VG inspired music, we also see the release of the newest OCR ReMix project, Donkey Kong Country 2: Serious Monkey Business, An OverClocked ReMix Album.
As the title indicates, the album is a tribute to the classic game Donky Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest and it's incredible soundtrack by David Wise. Speaking of which, David Wise, alongside Grant Kirkhope and Robin Beanland actually contribute a track to this amazing album. Many other musicians are included all across this album, including virt of VGMix and The Smash Brothers and amazing vg composer for several great games himself. Also personal favorites such as Nicole Adams and Starla, Sixto Sounds, zyk0, and way too many more to name individually.
Simply put, I have been very excited about this album ever since hearing about it a very long time ago from Nicole Adams and others from the OCR community, and it surely doesn't disappoint any fans of the original. It has been a long time since the original games release (fifteen years!? I feel old now), and now it finally has a tribute worthy of the game itself. So if you haven't yet, check out the video below and then head over to dkc2.ocremix.org and download the album via torrent or direct download right now for free!
What happens when you take some of the best known and most beloved folks in the video game rock and ReMix community, and force them to play together at the biggest gathering of VGM lovers in the world? You end up with The Smash Brothers, who recently threw down another memorable set at this year's MAGFest.
Their debut and so far only album, the Bacon EP, came out at MAGFest 7, but to celebrate this year's concert, they decided to release this collection of seven, over the top tracks of video game rearrangements absolutely free at their website thesmashbrothers.com.
Things kick off heavy with the opening track Makes You Starowngahhhh/Lifeforce. Heavy drums and guitar lay the groundwork for some space fighting solo work. The song brings on some horns to drive the cosmic and epic feel home. Then things break down and we reach a lull before another insane guitar fronted climax. After soaring through the skies we crash-land right at Dracula's doorstep. Actraiservania/Actraiser Castlevania IV is a strong straightforward track skillfully combining the haunting yet heroic music of Castlevania, and the mighty sounds of Actraiser. The action builds until the very last moment. Then we find ourselves in Onett/Earthbound for a lively, jazzed up and funked out version of the town theme that would make the Runaway Five proud. Staying true to the upbeat sounds of the original, the song does an amazing job taking you back to your first time playing earthbound (not to mention a few other game worlds that are sprinkled throughout the song).
Now we come to a particular favorite track, from a game I am constantly complaining about needing some more coverage in the VGM world. We are now at Shaking Hands With The Devil/UN Squadron. Starting ominously, and not out of place in a catalog of Led Zeppelin albums, the stellar arrangement lifts into a Guitar/Keyboard fronted combo. The rhythm section keeps things hard and heavy while the leads build and swirl around one another, building an atmospheric dogfighting atmosphere that definitely gets you in the mood to take down an entire army of enemy jets all by yourself. Things get a little more relaxed with the soft nostalgic tones of ff1town.wav/Final Fantasy I. I have gone on record many a time talking about my lack of interest in new FF arrangements, having heard more than enough in my time. But this track may be one of, if not the most phenomenal recreations of the classic Final Fantasy music I have yet to hear. Any fan of FF, VGM, or music and video games in general owes it to themselves to hear this track.
Finally we come to Missile Ride/Contra IV. For those of you who have not played Contra IV, you really need to get on that. Anyway, some back story here is that the one and only Jake "virt" Kaufman was hired to create the music for the game, and virt being virt, and Contra being Contra, the game and music kicked considerable ass. So now we have a band with virt in it, rearranging game music that virt arranged originally for the game. Whoa. Anyway, that means this is one furious and over the top manly metal track, and will blow you away just as much as the previous five tracks.
There is also one more bonus track, but I will leave that to you to find out about that one. Just make sure you do not miss out on this incredible EP. Once again, you can grab it over at The Smash Brothers official website.
After a breezy Autumn, Ubiktune is back with another all star collection of nostalgia driven chiptunes in Autumntunes. For those like me who are fans of prior release Summertunes, then you will no doubt find much to enjoy in this longing look back for the colorful days of autumn during these chilly holidays.
There is much to be heard here as well. In this 16 track collection we hear from big time chiptune composers like Virt in his worldly track Mecha-Kukai Travels To Chang'An, which is a fast paced six minute romp/action sequence through what seems like a gently shimmering chinese city on the edge of the forest. We also have Shnabubula in Use a Rake, which is a two minute battle of wits between a man, armed with his rake, and the ever cunning pile of leaves he hopes to defeat, at least that's what I interpret in this crunchy, ever changing and surprisingly in your face track.
We also have relative unknowns, but with fantastic tracks. Zinger's Ashen Emotion is an epic little track that comes highly recommended. A spacerock feel gives you the idea of rocketing out of earth's orbit in mid October, or perhaps blasting through a hostile alien world that seems to be going through the same earth seasons we have back home. Five Minutes Of Autumn from Megus closes the album with a clacking metronome which is swiftly covered by ominous tones and winds. The song slowly builds until about a minute in when we hear the main theme come in. The song feels like an ending reprise and reflection on both the album, as well as the season and one long adventure. The gentle melody sways along adding guitars and effects along the way. The song slides it's way through several different moods as instruments drop in and out, finally bringing things to a close with an abrupt somber end.
We can't leave out chiptune staples like Temp Sound Solutions with his glitched out rained in Phrt, with it's plodding pace, claustrophobic feel and great use of samples, this one will definitely stick with you well after it is finished playing. Or Alex Mauer's Gentle With The Hand, a stirring piece that slides from intimidating blasts of sound to high relaxing notes. As if coming in and out of consciousness.
And that is only a small handful of what is encapsulated here! Nearly an hour of finely crafted chiptunes to mourn the end of fall, and step into the cold of winter. Did I also mention the album, as with all Ubiktune releases, is free? Well it is! So head over to the Autumntunes page and download it right away!
Also click on through to see the full list of songs and artists.
01 Megus - Five Minutes Of Autumn 02 Alex Mauer - Gentle With The Hand 03 Zinger - Ashen Emotion 04 Joule - Bursting Bubble Boy 05 Kulor - Doorbellsplosion 06 Malmen - Flirt Talk 07 Blitz Lunar - Heavenly Spores 08 Shnabubula - Use A Rake 09 Virt - Mecha-Kukai Travels to Chang'An 10 Manwe - Rotagilla 11 Syphus - Drop Table 12 Coda - Harvest Moon 13 nq/skrju - The Whiskey Has Been Drinking, Not Me 14 Zan-Zan-Zawa-Veia - Fixt Path 15 Temp Sound Solutions - Phrt 16 C-jeff - Last Minutes Of Autumn
After almost a year of radio silence, the Gamewave Podcast returns! Episode 46 is guest hosted by Steve Jenkins of Crystal Labs and STFUAJPGM and features some killer music, including chiptunes from Spamtron, Disasterpeace, Little-scale and Virt. If, like Steve, you'd like to host your own episode and become a very minor internet celebrity, please do get in touch at contact at gamewavepodcast dot com.
Netlabel Concatenation Records is back with a new all star compilation of artists from The Shizz Minibosses boards. That album is an indescribably epic 25 track collection of chiptune music brought to you by the dozens of incredible musicians who inhabit The Shizz, and goes by the quite clever name of A Chip off the Shizz Block. As with some prior releases, A Chip Off the Shizz Block is another compilation that is using all donations to contribute toward the MAGFest fund to help many a shizzie make their way to the hallowed halls of MAGFest this January.
The album is available in both digital as well as physical form. The 320kbps MP3 files will run you a minimum $5 donation, whilst the fancy pressed copy will only set you back a meager $8 ($9 Canada, $10 Worldwide). Oh man that's about 32 cents per song! Let's see iTunes beat that price! Not to mention that they are all quality arrangements. From Shnabubula's jazz infused Virtigo to Alex Mauer's fast paced I Guess Your Face Fell Off. Not to mention temp sound solutions' grimey A New Dawn, and even chiptune star Neil Baldwin with his adventurous tune Trapped. That is just a mere handful of the quality tracks on display here. I plan on discussing them in greater length soon as this is an impressive album which I would certainly like to expound on further.
Finally, I hope you are sufficiently prepared to have your own face fall off at the amazing full track list I am including below!
01. MetalBishop - Famiclone Beatdown
02. M-H - Welcome To...
03. Mystic Nova - Fury of the Cyborg
04. bucky - The Exorcist (Final Area BGM)
05. Disasterphase - Ascend
06. temp sound solutions - A New Dawn
07. virt - Turbonugget
08. Wizwars - Fly Away
09. Phlogiston - I Was in the War, Damnit!
10. Zio and TEH LOLZ - Soul Snob
11. Norrin Radd - A Barrage of Hostile Abstractions
12. Alex Mauer - I Guess Your Face Fell Off
13. cacomistle - Blue, Brown, Pink, Grey
14. Alex Atchley - RUFFTRADE
15. Bit_Rat - Sunbeam
16. Prizmatic Spray - Desert Dilemma
17. temp sound solutions - Psionic Blast
18. RushJet1 - Boss9
19. Norrin Radd - Paradoxes Are Unveiled
20. Bit_Rat - Gimmick
21. Mystic Nova - Aerosaga
22. optomon - Hysteria
23. Shnabubula - virtigo
24. Neil Baldwin - Trapped
25. virt - Sorcerors Battle
As was announced a few months back, an amazing collection of chiptune artists gathered together to pay tribute to one of the most seminal works in 20th century music, Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue. The resulting effort is Kind of Bloop, and is available for download at the very low price of $5 at kindofbloop.com right now. This is a landmark moment in chiptunes and I am proud to be able to write about it as it happens. Also to commemorate this moment I am happy to present Zen Albatross, who comes to us with his second guest article for GM4A. This time he has landed an interview with two of the folks behind Kind of Bloop.
Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue was a landmark achievement in the history of recorded sound. It not only pioneered modern Jazz as we know it, but also refined the art of recording and completely changed the way musicians produced albums. Since its release in the summer of 1959, Kind of Blue has been consistently regarded as one of the most influential recordings of all time. In honor of the record’s 50th Anniversary, Andy Baio of Waxy.org assembled an all-star team of chiptune musicians to create Kind of Bloop, a complete re-imagining of the seminal Jazz classic, created using obsolete videogame hardware.
Go ahead and shout ‘blasphemy’ now, if you like. But take a moment to consider the amazing nature of this project and the manner in which it came about; a method which very well may be just as revolutionary as the artistry it pays tribute to.
I had the pleasure of chatting with both project organizer Andy Baio and chip musician Rich Vreeland about the ambitious plan to create the ultimate chiptune jazz tribute album. Hit the jump to discover the story behind Kind of Bloop and a new breed of fan-funded projects that are changing the way people make independent games and music forever.
The setting of the story is Kickstarter, a collaborative fundraising website brainstormed by internet entrepreneur Perry Chen. The site launched earlier this year, featuring a smattering of start-up projects. Just 4 short months later, it now hosts hundreds of prospective projects, allowing users to get funding in order to create albums, games, books, magazines, iPhone applications and pretty much any other form of media you can think of. When Andy Baio was paired up with Chen through a mutual acquaintance, he began to realize Kickstarter as the perfect platform to launch a project of his own. Shortly after, Andy was made CTO of the site.
First off, where did the idea for Kind of Bloop come from initially, and what made you decide to raise money for it on Kickstarter?
Andy Baio: It started a couple years ago, a silly idea wondering what jazz standards would sound like in a chiptune style. I went searching for more information online, but amazingly, couldn’t find anything. After Kickstarter launched, I wanted to come up with a project to try it out and the idea came back to me. So I went digging deep, looking for chiptune jazz, and found a total of three covers. So I tracked down two of the musicians that did those covers, ast0r and sergeeo, and asked if they’d be interested in covering Kind of Blue. They both agreed immediately.
What was the criteria for the artists who contributed?
Andy: I was looking for musicians that were both capable videogame musicians and jazz lovers, which was surprisingly hard. I approached Virt, whose music I’d admired for years. He came on board, and introduced me to Disasterpeace and Shnabubula, both extremely talented chiptune artists and Miles Davis fans. Once the lineup was rounded out, I started the project on Kickstarter.
How did the fundraising go once everything was in place?
Andy: I was hoping to raise $2,000 in three months, to pay the artists and legally license the songs from the original publisher. I hit that goal in four hours.
With $2,000 raised in a mere fraction of a day, the artists involved were rightly enthusiastic about the project. One of the artists, Rich Vreeland, known also by his creative handle, Disasterpeace is a Staten Island-born musician who composes 8-bit style music for videogames and films. Rich joined us to discuss his experiences tackling the monumental task of making a Miles Davis tribute using only electronic instruments.
Kind of Blue is considered a Jazz bible of sorts, and proponents of Jazz will usually contend that music like that can’t be replicated by machines. Do you feel that the albums music does justice to the source material? Or were you going for a looser interpretation where the new instrumentation doesn’t try to be something it isn’t?
Andy Baio: Many jazz purists will hate the album, arguing that it’s too rigid and mechanical. But that’s what drew me to the project in the first place: making art within constraints is a good thing, and what’s more constrained than making music for a 25-year-old videogame console?
Rich Vreeland: I think all five of us approached the source material in different ways, which will hopefully at the very least provide something for everyone. Kind of Blue is such a human piece of work that it’d be silly to try and transcribe the whole thing and think that it would work, so many of us decided to play to what makes Jazz so successful and incorporate original solos and reharmonizations. In trying to incorporate some of who we are into the pieces I think we also took some liberty with the form at times, and the style, but in the end I think those were necessary to keep things fresh.
Andy: If the guys had made faithful note-for-note translations of the original album, it would’ve been deadly boring and borderline offensive. But they’ve made music that is true to the fundamental tenets of jazz: highly improvisational, interpretive, emotional, and personal.
What are your thoughts regarding the funding efforts on Kickstarter and how did that affect the finished product? Did you expect to get so much support?
Andy: I was stunned by the response and happy that I could pay the artists. Getting funded that quickly meant the artists had much more time to work on their projects, which was a very good thing. The additional time really shows on the album.
Rich: I think we were all surprised at how much support we’ve gotten and obviously, we’re very grateful. Knowing that so many people were looking forward to what we were doing was definitely some additional encouragement to make this project as good as it could be.
What about the future? Do you think we’ll be seeing more chipmusic projects like this on the site?
Andy: I’d love to see more genre experimentation in the chiptune scene in general, whether on Kickstarter or not. Currently, Kickstarter is invite-only for new projects, but we’re opening to the public very soon.
Rich: I imagine that there will be more projects down the line similar to this, both in terms of concept and as far as using sites like Kickstarter which seems to have been a success. At the moment, I’m lucky enough to be a part of another Kickstarter project for an indie game that has just ended and we were able to reach our funding goal, so I can’t say enough good things about the site and its service.
Kind of Bloop is available for download now on the project’s official website. Backers of the project received an advance copy of the album earlier this week, among other goodies depending on how much they contributed. Thanks again to Rich and Andy for answering all our questions! For more fan-funded goodness, check out Steve Jenkins’ 12-bit adventure game, High Strangeness.
I can't really say much about this. Kind of Bloop: An 8-Bit Tribute to Miles Davis project has been announced. 5 amazing chiptune musicians creating an amazing tribute to one of the most important people to ever write music. An interview I heard with Rich Vreeland on Meteor Radio also made mention that the individual artists will be writing solos for one another's tracks in true jazz fashion! Basically this is going to be an amazing milestone in chiptunes and anyone who doesn't order a copy is surely going to be kicking themselves for some time. Here is more info straight from the source.
What would the pioneers of jazz sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System? Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga? For years, I've wondered what "chiptune jazz" would sound like, but there are only a tiny handful of jazz covers ever made.
To satisfy my curiosity — and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" — I've asked five brilliant chiptune musicians to collaborate and reinvent the entire album in the 8-bit sound.
To create this album, I hope to raise $2,000 to pay royalties, pay the artists, and print CDs. Legally releasing cover songs requires paying mechanical licenses to the song publishers through the Harry Fox Agency, totaling about $420 for every 250 downloads and a $75 processing fee. I'll be using the remainder to print a very limited run of CDs for Kickstarter backers, and split the rest evenly among the five musicians for their painstaking work. (This is a labor of love for me, so I won't be keeping a dime.)
I hope to have the entire album download ready for Kind of Blue's 50th birthday on August 17. (Printing and shipping CDs will take longer.)
All project backers will get exclusive first access to the album download before anyone else in the world, and exclusive updates during the album's creation. Backers donating $30 or more will receive an extremely limited-edition CD, printed only for this Kickstarter project. Once the August 1 deadline is reached, the CD will never be sold again!
Track Listing (Tentative):
1. So What - Ast0r
2. Freddie Freeloader - Virt
3. Blue in Green - Sergeeo
4. All Blues - Shnabubula
5. Flamenco Sketches - Disasterpeace
Thank you so much for being a part of this.
("Kind of Bloop" pixel art by SnackAdmiral.)
We just released episode 43 of the Gamewave Podcast, and we tried something a little different this time - we recorded it using a Talkboy; I'm pretty sure that's the first time it's ever been done before.
The audio quality isn't actually that bad, but don't worry, we didn't record the music using the Talkboy - that would have been silly! And we did play some rad music this week: Je deviens dj en 3 jours, temp sound solutions, alex mauer, Pixelh8, Spheres of Chaos, Spamtron, NESMETAL, Starship Amazing, Dudymas, Skip and Virt. There's also a return of the 'Website of the Week' feature! Don't miss this show!
Virt, chiptunist, creator of VGMix, and all around creator of things most awesome, has been tapped to create the music to forthcoming DS title Contra 4. Not too much is known about the title yet, except that it will be in the old 2D contra style, and is being created by WayForward. The developers behind a personal favorite of mine, Sigma Star Saga. As for what the music may sound like, check this mp3 of Contravirt for reference.