Monday, April 18, 2011

MIX - Digitally Relaxed

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am a nerd. Maybe not so much anymore, but I definitely used to be a ‘nerd’ by most standards when I was younger, so I feel it’s still dormant in my blood. Throughout the latter years of middle school and the first few years of high school, I participated in Nintendo trivia in an IRC chat every friday night. I had VHS tapes of Japanese import Dragon Ball Z episodes not yet released here in the states; terrible, horrendous quality – recordings of recordings of recordings, sometimes so bad you could hardly read the subtitles – that I would spend all my allowance on and watch religiously. I have around 700 pages of a script I’d written for an RPG I was designing, and endless sketchbooks full of character, weapon, vehicle designs, etc. My pokemon card collection was unrivaled and looking back, kind of pathetic (1st edition base set, omgz). Its all hard to admit now, but it’s true.

Anyway, this is not my usual mix fare here..definitely a ‘niche mix’ to say the least. Composed entirely of songs from various video games, mostly from the 16-bit to 32-bit and 64-bit eras. The theme here is “music to relax to”, but can also be quite effective as creative background music…I actually do a lot of my drawing and painting to VG tunes as they provide a calming, colorful ambiance that stirs the brain nicely I’ve found. However, as most of these songs are pure melody, I think just about anyone will enjoy this. I tried to compile the tracks together so they’d flow and transition as smoothly as possible. I also tried my best to stray away from using some of the more popular gaming composers such as Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda, and keep things as fresh as possible for even casual video game players. If you have heard of more than a few of these games on the tracklist, then I commend you, and we should probably be better friends.

I believe there is a certain charm about the music from this specific era and I think it has a lot to do with the limitations of the sound processors of the systems that the composers had to work with at the time. Whereas assembling a song that is orchestrated or “full” would be far more complex and have many different factors involved in its composition, a song on a more simplified system allows for focus on the basic components: elements such as melody, tempo, etc. For example the sound card on the Playstation only allows for 24 simultaneous output channels, while the the SNES only allows 8, both of which present compression restrictions at least compared to modern technology. The NES era 8-bit systems had even less powerful sound chips and the limitations there were even greater, but to me its a bit -too- minimal. I won’t deny that there are certain 8bit masterpieces such as the Mega Man 2 soundtrack (among others), but I just prefer a little more richness than the what you hear in the 8bit sound. There is a subtle warmth in the sounds of 16, 32, and 64 bit midi compositions that’s not possible to achieve with 8bit programming and that gets left behind with the pastiche of faux-orchestration of many modern games.

It goes without saying that I highly despite the movement towards orchestration, among other “filmifying” adaptions in games nowadays, although that’s a whole ‘nother bag of bees that I won’t get into here. Maybe I’m just a purist at heart.

Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough, so here’s the track list…the whole thing clocks in just under 80 minutes and will fit nicely on a CD-R. Enjoy.

01) Jon Hallur – Below the Asteroids
02) Ion Storm – Deus Ex OST – Unatco (part 1)
03) Robin Beanland – Jet Force Gemini OST – Water Ruins
04) Ubisoft – Beyond Good and Evil OST – Home Sweet Home
05) Hitoshi Sakimoto – Breath of Fire 5 OST – Electric Power Building
06) Hitoshi Sakimoto – Legaia Duel Saga OST – Lost Forest
07) Pilotwings 64 OST – Birdman
08) Shoji Meguro – Digital Devil Saga OST – Muladhara
09) Toshiko Tasaki – Persona 2 OST – Azure Pearl City
10) Miyoko Kabayashi – Terranigma OSV – Evergreen (Arranged)
11) Tomohito Nishiura – Dark Cloud OST – Owl Forest
12) Kenichi Tokoi – Phantasy Star Online OST – Code Deck
13) Tomoko Sasaki – NIGHTS Into Dreams OST – Dreams in Silent Memory
14) Ikuko Mimori – Pokemon Snap OST – The Hut by the River
15) Yutaka Minobe – Skies of Arcadia OST – Ancient Temple Dungeon
16) Resident Evil 2 OST – Safe Haven
17) Bomberman 64 OST – Rainbow Palace
18) Tim Follin – Ecco the Dolphin OST – Perils of the Coral Reef
19) Michiru Oshima – Ico OST – Heal
20) Yoshito Hirano – Advance Wars OST – Sasha’s Theme
21) Richard Jacques – Sonic 3D Blast OST – Rusty Ruin Act 2
22) Bomberman 64 OST – Blue Resort
23) Tomoko Sasaki – NIGHTs Into Dreams OST – Soft Museum (Suburban Museum)


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