(Coming at you with another guest review from Old Timey Hedgehog so get over there and take a look: http://www.amazon.com/Hedgy-Times-Issue-Magazine-ebook/dp/B00D47CEDM)
This month, I’m honored to be reviewing World 1-2, a compilation by Mohammed Taher of Koopa Soundworks, released through the GameChops label. I’m continually impressed by the enthusiasm, organization and discipline of the VGM Remix community. The combination of independent remixers and an impressive list of composers from the video game industry was a fantastic idea for this huge album, one that I hope is repeated often.
A youngling out of Lucerne named Andi Bissig opens the album with a sunny, breezy overworld map tune that begs for an RPG or a platformer. Manami Matsumae, the legendary composer of the scores of Mega Man (!!) & one of my favorite Sega Genesis games MERC, created the second track. It immediately reminds of running through a level of an 8/16bit game for the first time, doing decently, but still being stressed because it’s actually hard. ABSRDST’s remix of some Metroid Prime deliciousness is shimmering and triumphant which got me excited for the rest of the album as I adore well executed VGM remix work more than most.
Tokyo Skies by Chipzel is a speedy, authentic, adventure-y chip lick. It’s scrappy and fun, much like the wonderful Northern Irish lass who made it. Agent Whiskers drops a massive tune that pulls you right back into a modern, atmospheric feel that reminds how dated MIDI can sound sometimes. Marius Malasar gets points for having an absurdly epic name and very good taste when it comes to production value choices in orchestral VGM as he demonstrates in his Sword & Sorcery remix.
Eirik Suhrke contributes a fun little chip ditty in the form of Corrosion Jam. This is followed by a track by Keiji Yamagisihi, composer of NINJA FREAKING GAIDEN (!!!), which is frenetic, bad-ass and makes me want to scale walls, throw knives and avoid hawks. Danimal Cannon beats Marius for having the best name on the album and drops some heavy chip bass for your crunchy pleasure.
The last third of the compilation has a significant amount of non-chip & non-EDM work to show the breadth of VGM work these days. Akira Yamaoka, the composer of the Silent Hill games (!!), leads the charge with a heavy metal guitar-heavy track that surprises and delights. Jessica Curry from the UK plays classical piano melancholy that fits right in, while Austin Wintory commands some powerful violin featuring Tina Guo. Stemage adds an almost perplexing power guitar cover of Tetris which is bizarre but fun as hell.
A veteran to the scene, Benjamin Briggs has been a fan of mine on OCRemix for years and his work with DJ RoboRob was actually featured in an earlier issue of Old Timey Hedgehog, so you should probably get and read that OTH issue too. He contributes two tracks on the collab, with Driving Upwards being a dancey, major chord driven playland while Trolls! has a very late 80’s/early 90’s synthy feel to it which is amusing to no end. halc is the other composer who put a pair of tracks out for this release and has also been one of my favorite choices on OCRemix for a while. Blooper Reeling is the mandatory mario offering on the compilation and its dreamy, breezy Super Mario World remix was fun, while Dubsection wobbles into a chipstep remix of an old school Final Fantasy Tactics tune. Polar opposites but perfectly executed.
Module brings us back into some less organic music with a remix of Street Fighter 2, the Ken theme if I’m not mistaken. There’s a trancey beat with some Daft Punk-esque vocals breaks into some dubby beats and SFX from the game, which is totally welcome in this case. Ayco adds flutes to the mix for a relaxed but driving melody that continues the argument between organic and synthesized VG music, with the listener continuing to be the victor. The mega compilation of VGM win finishes out with one final guitar cover by the Video Game Orchestra, this time of the victory theme of Captain Tsubasa 2, a game I’ve never played, but now that I’ve heard what it sounds like to beat it, I’m thinking about it. It sounds fun as hell, and probably involves sweet lasers.
A fantastic project done by a cool guy out in Kuwait who deserves all the credit for snowballing a small project with his internet friends into something where some of the best talent in the industry came out to contribute. Can’t wait to see what’s next from this kid, and who else shows up once this really gets going. Pick it up and play it for your video game nerd friends. They’ll thank you.