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Castlevania photo
Castlevania

Dave Cox: Lords of Shadow 2 is 'the last one for us'

Speaking with producer Dave Cox at San Diego Comic Con about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, we found ourselves surprised by the candid response we received when we asked about the future of the franchise: "I’ve always thought that th...   read

 
 
Archie Mega Man photo
Archie Mega Man

The world has been shut down in Mega Man #31

I've been so busy diving into Sonic and Mega Man's "Worlds Collide" comic mini-series that I've neglected to talk about Mega's post-crossover story arc. How do you raise the stakes after a dimension-bending war against both Drs. Wily and Eg...   read

 
 
Teenage Pokemon photo
Teenage Pokemon
  Watch Video

Teenage Pokemon returns this month with some new friends

[Update: Slight delay! The new season is now set to start on June 23rd, with an episode about depression and E3. That's this Sunday! Max Scoville as Spiky-eared Pikachu! Anthony Carboni as his trainer! Eric Stuart as Brock! Real talk with ...   read

 
 
Etrian Odyssey photo
Etrian Odyssey

Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl coming our way

Destructoid has confirmed the rumor that Atlus will be localizing 3DS Etrian Odyssey remake Shin Sekaiju no Meikyu: Millenium no Shoujo for North America. They are, and it's coming our way this fall, renamed Etrian Odyssey Untold: The&...   read

 
 
Mirror's Edge 2 photo
Mirror's Edge 2

Possible Mirror's Edge 2 details

We won't say where these character details come from. But we're pretty sure they're from an upcoming EA game, Mirror's Edge 2. And if they're not, they're from a big franchise game from the same publisher.  The details we have touch on...   read

 
 
Psychonauts photo
Psychonauts
  Watch Video

Feel doubly fine with Adam WarRock's Psychonauts single

Asian sensation Adam WarRock is a pretty chill dude. Our own Tara Long of course loves him to pieces, but it was I who managed to score a brotastic fist bump at last year's Nerdapalooza in Orlando. He's so skilled, he can turn literally an...   read

 
 
Castlevania hip hopera photo
Castlevania hip hopera
  Watch Video

Preview Mega Ran's Symphony of the Night hip hopera

I gotta give it up for my man Mega Ran, without a doubt one of my favorite nerd music acts around. He's got quite the spread, from Mega Man to Final Fantasy VII and even to River City Ransom. And next on the block is the turning point of t...   read

 
 
 photo
8===D
  Watch Video

Cart Life dev reveals new game, is humble and lovable

I'd like to pay Richard Hofmeier to talk to me about videogames. During last week's Sup Holmes (now on iTunes), he told me about so many great things, like the free online "game" Geoguessr, surrealist interactive text auteur Porpentine's p...   read

 
 
Banjo-Kazooie Symphony photo
Banjo-Kazooie Symphony
  Watch Video

Preview the upcoming Banjo-Kazooie Symphony

Abridged soundtracks to Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie were recently released online for free, and Banjo composer Grant Kirkhope has been popping his head seemingly everywhere. Is it just me, or is the classic Rare platforming series undergo...   read

 
 
 photo
8===D

Confirmed: Game sequel in development right now

Today, Devolver Digital has confirmed that a sequel to a game you like is in development as we speak. This exciting news, delivered by CFO Fork Park via Twitter, could be taken as absolute confirmation that Shadow Hearts IV is in developmen...   read

 
 

On "Nilin The Hunter"

[embed]252904:48472:0[/embed]

"This is the main theme, during its first half it represents Nilin, a strong female character whose memory has been wiped out. The main melody is performed by a morphed sound between a synth and a voice. Throughout the whole cue you can hear "Remember Me" several times in the far back (listen carefully: five times). The second half is more about Neo Paris and the echoing sounds of memories. The last part is back to Nilin’s reconstruction up to the end. During the entire game the main melody is exposed piece by piece (as Nilin is reconstructing her memory) and this track is played at the very end of the game, when Nilin gets her full memory back."

On "The Fight"

[embed]252904:48473:0[/embed]

"This music plays during some big fights. It's mostly hand-to-hand and the music reflects that with the punchy orchestra. The full cue is completely dynamic and reacts to the player's behavior. Its real length is about nine minutes to make sure all the situations are covered. I wanted the music to support as much as possible how the player will apprehend every situation. The final part of the track is when the player succeeds in doing many successful combos in a row, it's like a perfect play! (Once again, a lot of "Remember Me" hidden)"

On "Hope"

[embed]252904:48474:0" data-vidtitle="

Remember Me exclusive music samples, composer commentary Are you looking forward to Remember Me next month? I've been looking forward to the game's soundtrack, composed by Olivier Deriviere, who some may know from Alone in the Dark and Of Orcs and Men.We're now getting a sense of w...  
Full story

" data-purl="remember-me-exclusive-music-samples-composer-commentary-252904.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Remember Me Soundtrack photo
Remember Me Soundtrack

On "Nilin The Hunter"

[embed]252904:48472:0[/embed]

"This is the main theme, during its first half it represents Nilin, a strong female character whose memory has been wiped out. The main melody is performed by a morphed sound between a synth and a voice. Throughout the whole cue you can hear "Remember Me" several times in the far back (listen carefully: five times). The second half is more about Neo Paris and the echoing sounds of memories. The last part is back to Nilin’s reconstruction up to the end. During the entire game the main melody is exposed piece by piece (as Nilin is reconstructing her memory) and this track is played at the very end of the game, when Nilin gets her full memory back."

On "The Fight"

[embed]252904:48473:0[/embed]

"This music plays during some big fights. It's mostly hand-to-hand and the music reflects that with the punchy orchestra. The full cue is completely dynamic and reacts to the player's behavior. Its real length is about nine minutes to make sure all the situations are covered. I wanted the music to support as much as possible how the player will apprehend every situation. The final part of the track is when the player succeeds in doing many successful combos in a row, it's like a perfect play! (Once again, a lot of "Remember Me" hidden)"

On "Hope"

[embed]252904:48474:0" data-vidtitle="

Remember Me exclusive music samples, composer commentary Are you looking forward to Remember Me next month? I've been looking forward to the game's soundtrack, composed by Olivier Deriviere, who some may know from Alone in the Dark and Of Orcs and Men.We're now getting a sense of w...   full story

" data-purl="remember-me-exclusive-music-samples-composer-commentary-252904.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video

Remember Me exclusive music samples, composer commentary

Are you looking forward to Remember Me next month? I've been looking forward to the game's soundtrack, composed by Olivier Deriviere, who some may know from Alone in the Dark and Of Orcs and Men.We're now getting a sense of what the game wi...   read

 
 


Derek Duke (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: StarCraft series, WarCraft III, World of Warcraft, Diablo III

On being the “Zerg” guy and his contributions to Heart of the Swarm

“Helping Glenn out with this one was a lot of fun. With so many other composers dipping into zerg territory, it really forced us to clarify a lot of what’s at the heart of zerg music. Glenn wanted to build off of the Queen’s theme, as heard in the zerg rollout trailer and in various incarnations in Liberty. Sharing certain scales and chord voicings that are particular to the zerg was also cool. It’s not always just strange sounds and textures that make zerg music.

We spent time each week for a while specifically creating zerg music textures and source at my home studio, using all means of analog and digital music paraphernalia... analog modular synths, vintage synths and hardware effects, alternate controllers, and so on. We got some great 'music design' source material from those sessions.

We were also able to expand upon the electric guitar vocabulary. We had the opportunity to involve guitarist and composer David Torn, who has a very unique and extraordinarily musical approach to the guitar. In contrast to the guitar and Dobro stylings used in Wings, David was in our 'infested' guitarist.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48208:0[/embed]

“This comes from a piece called “Corruptors,” written for the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and David Torn. You’ll hear the zerg Queen’s theme featured and various nods to the zerg music from the original StarCraft. I was unable to attend the session—always a challenge—so having conductor Eimear Noone there at the podium worked out great for the music. She had also conducted for Wings, and really 'gets' a lot about my musical language.”



Russell Brower (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer / Audio Director of Blizzard Entertainment
Selected Past Works: World of Warcraft series, StarCraft II, Diablo III

On his contributions to Heart of the Swarm

“Since Glenn Stafford founded the Blizzard sound department and, along with Jason Hayes and Derek Duke, defined the sound and musicscape of StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War, my own musical responsibility—as the “new guy,” relatively speaking—continues to focus on staying true to the series’ roots wherever I have influence, and to suggest ways to evolve things where it makes sense in context. As composers, we also strive to cast ourselves into roles that are the best fit for our individual strengths. In the end, every Blizzard game to date contains the art of multiple composers—I believe this is part of the 'secret sauce' that makes Blizzard’s music and games timeless.

For instance, on StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, I had the opportunity to write a couple of themes that covered new territory or expanded character development: specifically, melodies for Jim Raynor, Zeratul, and the 'space opera' main title piece, which was a special request from Chris Metzen. I also had a hand in suggesting that we add to the terran music vibe with virtuoso, legendary live players—Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Jesse Gress, and others. The terran musical composition, production, and DNA, however, are 100% Glenn, and stay very true to StarCraft tradition. In fact, the majority of the Wings score was written by the original StarCraft composition team; I wrote what made sense for me to write, and wore my administration hat for the rest of that project.

This brings us to StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm: With the focus squarely on the zerg, Glenn and Derek built on their established musical vocabulary, as they’ve described, and created a spine-tingling score... and that’s really the heart of this particular musical swarm."

[embed]251947:48209:0[/embed]

"My musical contributions to Swarm happened in two waves. During the earliest recording sessions, the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra was so good, we realized that we were going to run out of music to record before the sessions were over, and it was too late to cancel the unneeded time. Gasp... ka-ching! This afforded me an awesome opportunity and challenge: I wrote about six minutes of additional music to leverage the remaining session time, with the clock ticking, in the control room—all while Neal Acree’s cinematic scores were booming live over the speakers. With pencil, paper, and an iPad piano sound in headphones, I wrote fast and furious during the sessions. No pressure! I’m proud of those two pieces, affectionately and nonsensically titled 'Zergs in the Banana Patch' and 'The Protoss Take Kiev.' These cues found their way into some of the later missions, and, yes, they’re big and loud... I couldn’t waste a world-class 87-piece orchestra!

As the later missions’ gameplay matured, we found some opportunities for additional music, to which I contributed. Jason had rejoined the team by then, and he and I finally got to collaborate in person, on purpose, after all these years. A personal highlight is a piece called “Overdrive,” which was composed and produced by Jason and arranged for orchestra by me from his piano demo—It was such a blast to truly create something together. That experience pretty neatly sums up why I find Blizzard to be such a unique place to work, collaborate, and create."

Jason Hayes (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: StarCraft, WarCraft III, World of Warcraft



On his return to Blizzard Entertainment

“Being back at Blizzard is like coming home for me—I couldn't be more thrilled! And yes, it was especially exciting to arrive during the final push on Heart of the Swarm. Working on StarCraft again is so cool.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48210:0[/embed]


“I came up with the idea for 'Overdrive' while thinking of the past between Arcturus Mengsk and Kerrigan—his unquenchable thirst for power, and hers for revenge. As I was coming up with ideas, a musical theme from StarCraft: Brood War occurred to me. This was in the intro cinematic, where Admiral DuGalle abandons a group of confederate colonists to be overrun by the zerg. There seemed to be a symmetry between this and Kerrigan's situation—after all, she was also abandoned to the zerg by Mengsk.

I found that by taking this musical idea and punching it up with a militaristic insistence, it could help to frame some important events to come. Collaborating with Russell on the arrangement was a lot of fun—after years of indirect collaboration with him on a number of pieces, it was great to work with him in person.”



Neal Acree
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: World of Warcraft series, StarCraft II, Diablo III

On being the king of cinematics and contributing in-game tracks as well

“First of all, it was an absolute thrill to be involved in helping tell the continuing story musically through the cinematics. So many talented people put their hearts and souls into making them what they are, and getting to write music to that is a dream come true. What made it even more fun is that the story runs the gamut of emotions and stylistically asked for some very different things from I had done before. I felt a huge responsibility in taking on the cinematics, but it was ultimately a lot of fun and I'm really proud of the final result. Getting to work with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and choir was a thrill as always. They are some of the best musicians in the world, and I never get tired of recording there. I wouldn't say we did anything too wild with the orchestra but we did hire an extended low brass section for an absolutely massive sound. See if you can spot those moments in the soundtrack.

As for in-game music, I had done a bunch for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, so I was familiar with the process, which is quite different than writing for the cinematics. Though I very much enjoy the process of writing to picture, writing without it can be a very freeing experience. Writing for the cinematics takes a lot longer because the music tends to evolve as the cinematic evolves due to the collaborative process. This can result in some really cool stuff that none of us had necessarily envisioned when we started out. In the case of Heart of the Swarm, Glenn wanted me to write some in-game music that would incorporate some of the stylistic and thematic DNA of the cinematics, which was a lot of fun. I got to blend a lot of orchestra with synthesizer and get really experimental, which is the most fun part for me—there’s definitely a lot of zerg-specific stuff in there.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48211:0[/embed]

“This is a standalone version of a theme written for Kerrigan and Raynor that underscores some of the cinematics in Heart of the Swarm. It's a slow-building piece that is somber and tragic with an epically heroic yearning... I hope that's not reading too much into it. It's not your typical love theme, but this isn't your typical love story. My inspiration for it was the story and the characters who have a lot going on beneath the surface. It was really cool to be able to write something like this for a game. It also features vocals by Laurie Ann Haus, who was a big part of the Kerrigan sound on both Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.”



Cris Velasco
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: God of War series, Darksiders, Borderlands series, Soul Calibur V

On being brought on to contribute to Heart of the Swarm and his love for StarCraft

StarCraft is one of my all-time favorite games. I cannot even begin to count the number of hours I put into the original one. A couple of friends and I used to pull all-nighters, just building our units up, and then having a massive 3-way battle that would ultimately crash the computers. So even though I didn't have a huge role this time around, I still consider it one of my favorite projects to work on simply because I couldn't believe how amazing it was to be writing music for this franchise."

[embed]251947:48212:0[/embed]

"Writing for the zerg let me be really experimental with my music. There was a definite dark slant to it, although not necessarily horror. I did some fun things like taking the sound of an insect, slowing it way down, pitching it down a few octaves, and then using it as a percussion bed. Another fun one was taking the sound of a heartbeat, reversing the sound, then lowering the pitch again and adding a touch of distortion. I used this sparingly as a percussive hit. These kinds of things felt in line with how creepy, weird, and insectoid the zerg are.”



Evan T. Chen (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Sound Design Lead
Selected Past Works: Diablo III, Starhawk, Killzone 3, Dawn of the Dead, Futurama

On the scale of StarCraft II’s sound design and the unsung heroes who undertake it

“I'm just one of many sound designers on this project. The other members of the StarCraft audio team did all of the heavy-lifting with the support of the audio department at Blizzard and a myriad of other amazing talent. Here's a sound design montage that offers a glimpse of our collective work, which includes contributions from sound designers Jonas Laster, Ed Cerrato, Pedro Seminario, JP Walton, Paul Menichini, and Alex Ephraim.

[embed]251947:48213:0" data-vidtitle="

Meet the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm sound team Maybe you played StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Maybe you enjoyed the soundtrack disc that came packed in with the collector's edition, or perhaps you simply enjoyed it in-game. With this expansion focusing on the Zerg, I ...  
Full story

" data-purl="meet-the-starcraft-ii-heart-of-the-swarm-sound-team-251947.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">StarCraft II Music photo
StarCraft II Music


Derek Duke (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: StarCraft series, WarCraft III, World of Warcraft, Diablo III

On being the “Zerg” guy and his contributions to Heart of the Swarm

“Helping Glenn out with this one was a lot of fun. With so many other composers dipping into zerg territory, it really forced us to clarify a lot of what’s at the heart of zerg music. Glenn wanted to build off of the Queen’s theme, as heard in the zerg rollout trailer and in various incarnations in Liberty. Sharing certain scales and chord voicings that are particular to the zerg was also cool. It’s not always just strange sounds and textures that make zerg music.

We spent time each week for a while specifically creating zerg music textures and source at my home studio, using all means of analog and digital music paraphernalia... analog modular synths, vintage synths and hardware effects, alternate controllers, and so on. We got some great 'music design' source material from those sessions.

We were also able to expand upon the electric guitar vocabulary. We had the opportunity to involve guitarist and composer David Torn, who has a very unique and extraordinarily musical approach to the guitar. In contrast to the guitar and Dobro stylings used in Wings, David was in our 'infested' guitarist.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48208:0[/embed]

“This comes from a piece called “Corruptors,” written for the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and David Torn. You’ll hear the zerg Queen’s theme featured and various nods to the zerg music from the original StarCraft. I was unable to attend the session—always a challenge—so having conductor Eimear Noone there at the podium worked out great for the music. She had also conducted for Wings, and really 'gets' a lot about my musical language.”



Russell Brower (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer / Audio Director of Blizzard Entertainment
Selected Past Works: World of Warcraft series, StarCraft II, Diablo III

On his contributions to Heart of the Swarm

“Since Glenn Stafford founded the Blizzard sound department and, along with Jason Hayes and Derek Duke, defined the sound and musicscape of StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood War, my own musical responsibility—as the “new guy,” relatively speaking—continues to focus on staying true to the series’ roots wherever I have influence, and to suggest ways to evolve things where it makes sense in context. As composers, we also strive to cast ourselves into roles that are the best fit for our individual strengths. In the end, every Blizzard game to date contains the art of multiple composers—I believe this is part of the 'secret sauce' that makes Blizzard’s music and games timeless.

For instance, on StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, I had the opportunity to write a couple of themes that covered new territory or expanded character development: specifically, melodies for Jim Raynor, Zeratul, and the 'space opera' main title piece, which was a special request from Chris Metzen. I also had a hand in suggesting that we add to the terran music vibe with virtuoso, legendary live players—Tony Levin, Jerry Marotta, Jesse Gress, and others. The terran musical composition, production, and DNA, however, are 100% Glenn, and stay very true to StarCraft tradition. In fact, the majority of the Wings score was written by the original StarCraft composition team; I wrote what made sense for me to write, and wore my administration hat for the rest of that project.

This brings us to StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm: With the focus squarely on the zerg, Glenn and Derek built on their established musical vocabulary, as they’ve described, and created a spine-tingling score... and that’s really the heart of this particular musical swarm."

[embed]251947:48209:0[/embed]

"My musical contributions to Swarm happened in two waves. During the earliest recording sessions, the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra was so good, we realized that we were going to run out of music to record before the sessions were over, and it was too late to cancel the unneeded time. Gasp... ka-ching! This afforded me an awesome opportunity and challenge: I wrote about six minutes of additional music to leverage the remaining session time, with the clock ticking, in the control room—all while Neal Acree’s cinematic scores were booming live over the speakers. With pencil, paper, and an iPad piano sound in headphones, I wrote fast and furious during the sessions. No pressure! I’m proud of those two pieces, affectionately and nonsensically titled 'Zergs in the Banana Patch' and 'The Protoss Take Kiev.' These cues found their way into some of the later missions, and, yes, they’re big and loud... I couldn’t waste a world-class 87-piece orchestra!

As the later missions’ gameplay matured, we found some opportunities for additional music, to which I contributed. Jason had rejoined the team by then, and he and I finally got to collaborate in person, on purpose, after all these years. A personal highlight is a piece called “Overdrive,” which was composed and produced by Jason and arranged for orchestra by me from his piano demo—It was such a blast to truly create something together. That experience pretty neatly sums up why I find Blizzard to be such a unique place to work, collaborate, and create."

Jason Hayes (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: StarCraft, WarCraft III, World of Warcraft



On his return to Blizzard Entertainment

“Being back at Blizzard is like coming home for me—I couldn't be more thrilled! And yes, it was especially exciting to arrive during the final push on Heart of the Swarm. Working on StarCraft again is so cool.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48210:0[/embed]


“I came up with the idea for 'Overdrive' while thinking of the past between Arcturus Mengsk and Kerrigan—his unquenchable thirst for power, and hers for revenge. As I was coming up with ideas, a musical theme from StarCraft: Brood War occurred to me. This was in the intro cinematic, where Admiral DuGalle abandons a group of confederate colonists to be overrun by the zerg. There seemed to be a symmetry between this and Kerrigan's situation—after all, she was also abandoned to the zerg by Mengsk.

I found that by taking this musical idea and punching it up with a militaristic insistence, it could help to frame some important events to come. Collaborating with Russell on the arrangement was a lot of fun—after years of indirect collaboration with him on a number of pieces, it was great to work with him in person.”



Neal Acree
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: World of Warcraft series, StarCraft II, Diablo III

On being the king of cinematics and contributing in-game tracks as well

“First of all, it was an absolute thrill to be involved in helping tell the continuing story musically through the cinematics. So many talented people put their hearts and souls into making them what they are, and getting to write music to that is a dream come true. What made it even more fun is that the story runs the gamut of emotions and stylistically asked for some very different things from I had done before. I felt a huge responsibility in taking on the cinematics, but it was ultimately a lot of fun and I'm really proud of the final result. Getting to work with the Skywalker Symphony Orchestra and choir was a thrill as always. They are some of the best musicians in the world, and I never get tired of recording there. I wouldn't say we did anything too wild with the orchestra but we did hire an extended low brass section for an absolutely massive sound. See if you can spot those moments in the soundtrack.

As for in-game music, I had done a bunch for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, so I was familiar with the process, which is quite different than writing for the cinematics. Though I very much enjoy the process of writing to picture, writing without it can be a very freeing experience. Writing for the cinematics takes a lot longer because the music tends to evolve as the cinematic evolves due to the collaborative process. This can result in some really cool stuff that none of us had necessarily envisioned when we started out. In the case of Heart of the Swarm, Glenn wanted me to write some in-game music that would incorporate some of the stylistic and thematic DNA of the cinematics, which was a lot of fun. I got to blend a lot of orchestra with synthesizer and get really experimental, which is the most fun part for me—there’s definitely a lot of zerg-specific stuff in there.”

On his exclusive audio sample

[embed]251947:48211:0[/embed]

“This is a standalone version of a theme written for Kerrigan and Raynor that underscores some of the cinematics in Heart of the Swarm. It's a slow-building piece that is somber and tragic with an epically heroic yearning... I hope that's not reading too much into it. It's not your typical love theme, but this isn't your typical love story. My inspiration for it was the story and the characters who have a lot going on beneath the surface. It was really cool to be able to write something like this for a game. It also features vocals by Laurie Ann Haus, who was a big part of the Kerrigan sound on both Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm.”



Cris Velasco
Role: Composer
Selected Past Works: God of War series, Darksiders, Borderlands series, Soul Calibur V

On being brought on to contribute to Heart of the Swarm and his love for StarCraft

StarCraft is one of my all-time favorite games. I cannot even begin to count the number of hours I put into the original one. A couple of friends and I used to pull all-nighters, just building our units up, and then having a massive 3-way battle that would ultimately crash the computers. So even though I didn't have a huge role this time around, I still consider it one of my favorite projects to work on simply because I couldn't believe how amazing it was to be writing music for this franchise."

[embed]251947:48212:0[/embed]

"Writing for the zerg let me be really experimental with my music. There was a definite dark slant to it, although not necessarily horror. I did some fun things like taking the sound of an insect, slowing it way down, pitching it down a few octaves, and then using it as a percussion bed. Another fun one was taking the sound of a heartbeat, reversing the sound, then lowering the pitch again and adding a touch of distortion. I used this sparingly as a percussive hit. These kinds of things felt in line with how creepy, weird, and insectoid the zerg are.”



Evan T. Chen (Blizzard Entertainment)
Role: Sound Design Lead
Selected Past Works: Diablo III, Starhawk, Killzone 3, Dawn of the Dead, Futurama

On the scale of StarCraft II’s sound design and the unsung heroes who undertake it

“I'm just one of many sound designers on this project. The other members of the StarCraft audio team did all of the heavy-lifting with the support of the audio department at Blizzard and a myriad of other amazing talent. Here's a sound design montage that offers a glimpse of our collective work, which includes contributions from sound designers Jonas Laster, Ed Cerrato, Pedro Seminario, JP Walton, Paul Menichini, and Alex Ephraim.

[embed]251947:48213:0" data-vidtitle="

Meet the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm sound team Maybe you played StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Maybe you enjoyed the soundtrack disc that came packed in with the collector's edition, or perhaps you simply enjoyed it in-game. With this expansion focusing on the Zerg, I ...   full story

" data-purl="meet-the-starcraft-ii-heart-of-the-swarm-sound-team-251947.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video

Meet the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm sound team

Maybe you played StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. Maybe you enjoyed the soundtrack disc that came packed in with the collector's edition, or perhaps you simply enjoyed it in-game. With this expansion focusing on the Zerg, I was most lookin...   read

 
 
Halo 4 soundtrack, but did feel it was a bit too cinematic. It contained only a fraction of the in-game soundtrack and was meant to tell the story of the game through sound. That makes Volume 2 the perfect place to explore the amazing atmospheres that Neil Davidge and Kazuma Jinnouchi were able to create for the game. This album is much darker and much more atmospheric, featuring lots of orchestral elements with interwoven electronics.

Half of the tracks are provided by Jinnouchi, who was mostly absent from Volume 1. His opener, “Atonement,” will have you thinking of Halo soundtracks of old with its use of choir, and he even goes as far as to remix a past Halo track. From there, we launch into chugging electronics with heavy-hitting bass in percussion in “Intruders,” “Mantis,” with added glitchy percussion, and “Gravity” with its ominous pulsating bass synths.

Davidge returns with similarly-cool soundscapes. “Kantele Bow” and “Pylons” give off a very bad ass vibe along with “Convoy,” which really gets down to business and reminds me of some of my favorite Halo moments. I love the siren-like sounds in “Escape,” the reverberating electronic tones in “Swamp,” the familiar tribal percussion in “Push Through,” and the Metroid-esque ambiance of “Foreshadow.” Finally, “Aliens,” my favorite track on the album, sports deep bassy tones and exotic female chanting.

Halo fans who didn’t appreciate the Halo 4 soundtrack last year will want to give this album a try. It more effectively combines the old and the new quite nicely, and having played the game, I knew these moments were in the game despite not appearing on the soundtrack album, so I’m happy to be able to enjoy them outside of the gaming experience.



FINAL FANTASY XI: Seekers of Adoulin Original Soundtrack
Release Date: March 27, 2013
Price: 2,000 Yen ($21)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Naoshi Mizuta

[Official soundtrack samples]

We posted about this album a few weeks back, and with its lovely packaging and over 50 minutes of new music, I have to say this is the most excited I’ve been for new Final Fantasy XI music in a while.

After an upbeat orchestral opener titled “A New Direction,” the album launches into a number of playful tunes including the adventurous “Breaking Ground” with its funky slap bass, the fun rhythmic pizzicato strings in “The Pioneers,” the prehistoric vibes of “Into Lands Primeval – Ulbuka” with its bongos and bell tones, and the relaxing tropical escape, “Mog Resort.” My two favorites are “Water's Umbral Knell” with its abstract use of water drops and metallic bell tones that are dark and unsettling and the decisive and foreboding “Hades.” Two bonus tracks, likely from content updates between major expansions, are also appreciated inclusions.

This price is right with this one. Naoshi Mizuta continues to grow with the series and shows off some of his best.



Magical Chase Original Soundtrack
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Price: 2,625 Yen ($27)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata

[Official soundtrack samples]

Get ready for a history lesson. Back before Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata became known for their orchestral RPG scores for Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics, they worked together on this PC Engine shmup title that earned quite a following for its vibrant visuals and upbeat and bubbly soundtrack. Yes, Sakimoto and cute videogame music.

If I had to pick a title that this music most closely resembles, it would be Fantasy Zone, which I also love. From the incredibly catchy chorus section of the first stage theme, “Rampish Chase” to the playful “Ripple’s Theme,” there’s lots of sticky sweet melodies to enjoy. Then there’s the rambunctious “Azure Way,” the decisive “Waltz of Meditation” that hints at the Sakimoto/Iwata that would appear in later years, the chippy final stage theme, and boss themes that will have you bopping your head. The ending theme is also incredible.

And that doesn’t even touch on the 26 minutes of arranged and unused tracks provided by Basiscape Records to commemorate this album. There are five arrangements in all, updating the retro sound of the originals with orchestral or electronic sounds, although Sakimoto’s Sakimoto-esque version of “Ripple’s Theme” is probably my favorite. The undiscovered tracks are similar to other tracks found on the album, so no biggie.

I’d always heard about this game and soundtrack. After listening and watching some gameplay videos, I want to play it. If you’re a fan of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata, you need to pick this up. It’s a piece of history and it’s amazing that it’s finally out there.

Other Releases

[embed]250730:48106:0[/embed]

Alter Ego Dreamwalker OST
Release Date:
 March 21, 2013
Price:
 Name Your Own Price
Availability:
 Bandcamp via Ubiktune
Artist(s):
 Ken “coda” Snyder

Yogurtbox is back. Well, at least half of it. We’ve featured coda a few times here on Destructoid, and this time he’s bringing his chiptune magic to a game soundtrack courtesy of Ubiktune. In addition to providing some upbeat and pumpin’ chiptune action with a swagger (the pop-oriented and super catchy “Sweet Home” and powerful epic final stage, “Void,” being my favorites), there are also some fantastic remixes from other artists including the amazingly talented kulor, Madbrain, Blitz Lunar, and DJ Bouche. All for name-your-own-price, so do it now.

[embed]250730:48107:0[/embed]

Fly’n OST
Release Date: November 9, 2012
Price: $4.99 EUR
Availability: Ankama Shop
Artist(s): Guillaume Pervieux

We need to give Ankama’s Guillaume Pervieux some love. He wrote a lengthy and amazing score for the beautiful Islands of Wakfu a couple years ago, and his latest work for Fly’n will also surprise you with its eclectic and abstract electronic soundscapes. 

The meandering and gamey opener, “Adcoffe,” hints at aural joys to follow which include the tense yet playful “Andndamm,” the bassy chill-fest “Yservat,” the Radiohead-esque “Sonwide,” the comical and mischievous “Fucus,”and the dreamy and psychedelic “Oysicide" and “Carbonic.” There’s lots of gamey stuff and other more serious electronic music, but it’s all great, and there’s nearly two hours of it. Check it out.



Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Sounds of that other Gamindustri
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: NISA Online Store (Sold Out)
Artist(s): Nobuo Uematsu

I admit that my primary draw to this game was its soundtrack by Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. I’ve since found myself interested in the game’s world and characters more so than the music!

What you have is a lot of bubbly electronic music and typical JRPG rock themes. That’s fine, as that’s what we know and love Uematsu for, but this isn’t his most inspired work. The upbeat tunes fit the game’s visuals and quirky sense of humor perfectly, but the sticky-sweet melodies lack substance and memorability. Aside from several character theme remixes from previous titles (“Rom's/Ram's Theme ver. V” is particularly cool), you’ll mostly want to keep your ears peeled for the Japanese-flavored “The Rock Garden” and the Earthbound Papas rockfests, “4th Dimension” and “Invader 1960,” but I wouldn’t feel too bad if you missed out on this one.

[embed]250730:48108:0[/embed]

The Mystic Quest For Metal
Release Date: July 12, 2012
Price: $4
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Daniel Tidwell

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is one of my favorite games (ridicule all you want!), and that’s in large part due to the game’s amazing soundtrack. In fact, one of the highlights of my many years writing about game music was an interview with the composer about this game.

It’s heavy metal rock in game music at its best, and Daniel Tidwell (previously of Lords of Thunder) has given it a fitting tribute with some amazing guitar solos and great metal production work. You get the game’s three battle themes as well as the epic final dungeon and rockin’ “Lava Dome." Thanks to Nubuwo for turning me on to this one.



NanoSweep 15 / overdrive hell 9: Hizumi Tengoku Moeru Maharaja
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Price: 500 Yen / 325 Yen
Availability: Limited
Artist(s): SuperSweep

Here’s another round of original electronic music from SuperSweep Records.

In what’s probably my favorite NanoSweep to date, I loved the hell out of the dreamy chillout track, “Focus,” and the super funky “Oscillation” which features some great rhythmic electric piano. Ayako Saso’s appropriately-titled “Patchwork” combines a lot of different ideas, the most interesting of which is a modified female vocal section that reminds me a lot of The World Ends With You, while Hosoe himself closes out with “Killing Terramorphous,” a hammering electronic track that gallops along with mind-crushing bass synths.

Overdrive Hell 9 yields an ethnic experience focusing on what sounds to be Indian music. Lots of vocals abound with the lovely “Ethno Vibration,” which is pretty tame by overdrive hell standards. “Curry Burns,” “Screaming Yoga,” and “Go Go West” get back on track, however, with crazy effects on the vocals and throbbing bass drums that never let up.

As always, these are hard to come by as they’re sold at events in Japan, but they do exist!

[embed]250730:48109:0[/embed]

Sidetracks - Music from Sidescroller
Release Date: June 25, 2012
Price: $9.99
Availability: iTunes
Artist(s): High Frequency Bandwidth

This month concludes my look back at the PixelJunk franchise. Sidetracks is similar in style and even borrows a few tracks from PixelJunk Shooter (including an even more laidback version of “Fotographik,” my favorite track from that album). There’s the grungy opener, “Dog is No Hero,” which combines rock and electronic elements, but aside from this and the glitch rock track, “Zodiac 3 Arts Klub” with its catchy male chorus section, it’s mostly an icy trip-hop affair.

“More or Less” is a perfect example of chill hop with its snazzy hip hop stylings, while “Planet Thanet” brings in alien-sounding synths, “Ghetto World” gets funky bass and percussion, and “MNP” goes for a spooky vibe with lots of weird sound effects and organ. The two remixes featured of “Planet Thanet” and “More or Less” get more icy ambiance and reverb, and are nice additions.

As my favorite tracks from Shooter are also presented here, this is definitely by favorite PixelJunk soundtrack to date. We’ll see what the future brings!

[embed]250730:48110:0" data-vidtitle="

Halo 4 OST Volume 2 is everything I wanted out of Halo 4 Welcome back to Note Worthy, our monthly soundtrack round-up. This issue marks one year of Note Worthy, and I'm changing up things a bit with formatting. In the past, I've featured our ten monthly reviews in alphabetical orde...  
Full story

" data-purl="halo-4-ost-volume-2-is-everything-i-wanted-out-of-halo-4-250730.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Latest Game Soundtracks photo
Latest Game Soundtracks
Halo 4 soundtrack, but did feel it was a bit too cinematic. It contained only a fraction of the in-game soundtrack and was meant to tell the story of the game through sound. That makes Volume 2 the perfect place to explore the amazing atmospheres that Neil Davidge and Kazuma Jinnouchi were able to create for the game. This album is much darker and much more atmospheric, featuring lots of orchestral elements with interwoven electronics.

Half of the tracks are provided by Jinnouchi, who was mostly absent from Volume 1. His opener, “Atonement,” will have you thinking of Halo soundtracks of old with its use of choir, and he even goes as far as to remix a past Halo track. From there, we launch into chugging electronics with heavy-hitting bass in percussion in “Intruders,” “Mantis,” with added glitchy percussion, and “Gravity” with its ominous pulsating bass synths.

Davidge returns with similarly-cool soundscapes. “Kantele Bow” and “Pylons” give off a very bad ass vibe along with “Convoy,” which really gets down to business and reminds me of some of my favorite Halo moments. I love the siren-like sounds in “Escape,” the reverberating electronic tones in “Swamp,” the familiar tribal percussion in “Push Through,” and the Metroid-esque ambiance of “Foreshadow.” Finally, “Aliens,” my favorite track on the album, sports deep bassy tones and exotic female chanting.

Halo fans who didn’t appreciate the Halo 4 soundtrack last year will want to give this album a try. It more effectively combines the old and the new quite nicely, and having played the game, I knew these moments were in the game despite not appearing on the soundtrack album, so I’m happy to be able to enjoy them outside of the gaming experience.



FINAL FANTASY XI: Seekers of Adoulin Original Soundtrack
Release Date: March 27, 2013
Price: 2,000 Yen ($21)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Naoshi Mizuta

[Official soundtrack samples]

We posted about this album a few weeks back, and with its lovely packaging and over 50 minutes of new music, I have to say this is the most excited I’ve been for new Final Fantasy XI music in a while.

After an upbeat orchestral opener titled “A New Direction,” the album launches into a number of playful tunes including the adventurous “Breaking Ground” with its funky slap bass, the fun rhythmic pizzicato strings in “The Pioneers,” the prehistoric vibes of “Into Lands Primeval – Ulbuka” with its bongos and bell tones, and the relaxing tropical escape, “Mog Resort.” My two favorites are “Water's Umbral Knell” with its abstract use of water drops and metallic bell tones that are dark and unsettling and the decisive and foreboding “Hades.” Two bonus tracks, likely from content updates between major expansions, are also appreciated inclusions.

This price is right with this one. Naoshi Mizuta continues to grow with the series and shows off some of his best.



Magical Chase Original Soundtrack
Release Date: February 26, 2013
Price: 2,625 Yen ($27)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata

[Official soundtrack samples]

Get ready for a history lesson. Back before Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata became known for their orchestral RPG scores for Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics, they worked together on this PC Engine shmup title that earned quite a following for its vibrant visuals and upbeat and bubbly soundtrack. Yes, Sakimoto and cute videogame music.

If I had to pick a title that this music most closely resembles, it would be Fantasy Zone, which I also love. From the incredibly catchy chorus section of the first stage theme, “Rampish Chase” to the playful “Ripple’s Theme,” there’s lots of sticky sweet melodies to enjoy. Then there’s the rambunctious “Azure Way,” the decisive “Waltz of Meditation” that hints at the Sakimoto/Iwata that would appear in later years, the chippy final stage theme, and boss themes that will have you bopping your head. The ending theme is also incredible.

And that doesn’t even touch on the 26 minutes of arranged and unused tracks provided by Basiscape Records to commemorate this album. There are five arrangements in all, updating the retro sound of the originals with orchestral or electronic sounds, although Sakimoto’s Sakimoto-esque version of “Ripple’s Theme” is probably my favorite. The undiscovered tracks are similar to other tracks found on the album, so no biggie.

I’d always heard about this game and soundtrack. After listening and watching some gameplay videos, I want to play it. If you’re a fan of Hitoshi Sakimoto and Masaharu Iwata, you need to pick this up. It’s a piece of history and it’s amazing that it’s finally out there.

Other Releases

[embed]250730:48106:0[/embed]

Alter Ego Dreamwalker OST
Release Date:
 March 21, 2013
Price:
 Name Your Own Price
Availability:
 Bandcamp via Ubiktune
Artist(s):
 Ken “coda” Snyder

Yogurtbox is back. Well, at least half of it. We’ve featured coda a few times here on Destructoid, and this time he’s bringing his chiptune magic to a game soundtrack courtesy of Ubiktune. In addition to providing some upbeat and pumpin’ chiptune action with a swagger (the pop-oriented and super catchy “Sweet Home” and powerful epic final stage, “Void,” being my favorites), there are also some fantastic remixes from other artists including the amazingly talented kulor, Madbrain, Blitz Lunar, and DJ Bouche. All for name-your-own-price, so do it now.

[embed]250730:48107:0[/embed]

Fly’n OST
Release Date: November 9, 2012
Price: $4.99 EUR
Availability: Ankama Shop
Artist(s): Guillaume Pervieux

We need to give Ankama’s Guillaume Pervieux some love. He wrote a lengthy and amazing score for the beautiful Islands of Wakfu a couple years ago, and his latest work for Fly’n will also surprise you with its eclectic and abstract electronic soundscapes. 

The meandering and gamey opener, “Adcoffe,” hints at aural joys to follow which include the tense yet playful “Andndamm,” the bassy chill-fest “Yservat,” the Radiohead-esque “Sonwide,” the comical and mischievous “Fucus,”and the dreamy and psychedelic “Oysicide" and “Carbonic.” There’s lots of gamey stuff and other more serious electronic music, but it’s all great, and there’s nearly two hours of it. Check it out.



Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Sounds of that other Gamindustri
Release Date: March 21, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: NISA Online Store (Sold Out)
Artist(s): Nobuo Uematsu

I admit that my primary draw to this game was its soundtrack by Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. I’ve since found myself interested in the game’s world and characters more so than the music!

What you have is a lot of bubbly electronic music and typical JRPG rock themes. That’s fine, as that’s what we know and love Uematsu for, but this isn’t his most inspired work. The upbeat tunes fit the game’s visuals and quirky sense of humor perfectly, but the sticky-sweet melodies lack substance and memorability. Aside from several character theme remixes from previous titles (“Rom's/Ram's Theme ver. V” is particularly cool), you’ll mostly want to keep your ears peeled for the Japanese-flavored “The Rock Garden” and the Earthbound Papas rockfests, “4th Dimension” and “Invader 1960,” but I wouldn’t feel too bad if you missed out on this one.

[embed]250730:48108:0[/embed]

The Mystic Quest For Metal
Release Date: July 12, 2012
Price: $4
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Daniel Tidwell

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is one of my favorite games (ridicule all you want!), and that’s in large part due to the game’s amazing soundtrack. In fact, one of the highlights of my many years writing about game music was an interview with the composer about this game.

It’s heavy metal rock in game music at its best, and Daniel Tidwell (previously of Lords of Thunder) has given it a fitting tribute with some amazing guitar solos and great metal production work. You get the game’s three battle themes as well as the epic final dungeon and rockin’ “Lava Dome." Thanks to Nubuwo for turning me on to this one.



NanoSweep 15 / overdrive hell 9: Hizumi Tengoku Moeru Maharaja
Release Date: December 31, 2012
Price: 500 Yen / 325 Yen
Availability: Limited
Artist(s): SuperSweep

Here’s another round of original electronic music from SuperSweep Records.

In what’s probably my favorite NanoSweep to date, I loved the hell out of the dreamy chillout track, “Focus,” and the super funky “Oscillation” which features some great rhythmic electric piano. Ayako Saso’s appropriately-titled “Patchwork” combines a lot of different ideas, the most interesting of which is a modified female vocal section that reminds me a lot of The World Ends With You, while Hosoe himself closes out with “Killing Terramorphous,” a hammering electronic track that gallops along with mind-crushing bass synths.

Overdrive Hell 9 yields an ethnic experience focusing on what sounds to be Indian music. Lots of vocals abound with the lovely “Ethno Vibration,” which is pretty tame by overdrive hell standards. “Curry Burns,” “Screaming Yoga,” and “Go Go West” get back on track, however, with crazy effects on the vocals and throbbing bass drums that never let up.

As always, these are hard to come by as they’re sold at events in Japan, but they do exist!

[embed]250730:48109:0[/embed]

Sidetracks - Music from Sidescroller
Release Date: June 25, 2012
Price: $9.99
Availability: iTunes
Artist(s): High Frequency Bandwidth

This month concludes my look back at the PixelJunk franchise. Sidetracks is similar in style and even borrows a few tracks from PixelJunk Shooter (including an even more laidback version of “Fotographik,” my favorite track from that album). There’s the grungy opener, “Dog is No Hero,” which combines rock and electronic elements, but aside from this and the glitch rock track, “Zodiac 3 Arts Klub” with its catchy male chorus section, it’s mostly an icy trip-hop affair.

“More or Less” is a perfect example of chill hop with its snazzy hip hop stylings, while “Planet Thanet” brings in alien-sounding synths, “Ghetto World” gets funky bass and percussion, and “MNP” goes for a spooky vibe with lots of weird sound effects and organ. The two remixes featured of “Planet Thanet” and “More or Less” get more icy ambiance and reverb, and are nice additions.

As my favorite tracks from Shooter are also presented here, this is definitely by favorite PixelJunk soundtrack to date. We’ll see what the future brings!

[embed]250730:48110:0" data-vidtitle="

Halo 4 OST Volume 2 is everything I wanted out of Halo 4 Welcome back to Note Worthy, our monthly soundtrack round-up. This issue marks one year of Note Worthy, and I'm changing up things a bit with formatting. In the past, I've featured our ten monthly reviews in alphabetical orde...   full story

" data-purl="halo-4-ost-volume-2-is-everything-i-wanted-out-of-halo-4-250730.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video

Halo 4 OST Volume 2 is everything I wanted out of Halo 4

Welcome back to Note Worthy, our monthly soundtrack round-up. This issue marks one year of Note Worthy, and I'm changing up things a bit with formatting. In the past, I've featured our ten monthly reviews in alphabetical order, giving each ...   read

 
 
Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla photo
Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla

I-Mockery's next game is Bionic Chainsaw Pogo Gorilla

Last year, fans of I-Mockery's irreverent brand of pop culture humor were treated to Abobo's Big Adventure, a mashup of all things NES starring the muscle-bound Double Dragon boss Abobo. As hilarious as Abobo's Big Adventure was, I was just...   read

 
 
Planescape OST photo
Planescape OST
  Watch Video

Torment: Tides of Numenera OST sample just for you

Maybe you've been following the slew of information being released by inXile Entertainment about their recently-funded title, Torment: Tides of Numenera. While the release date is quite some time off, we've got something to whet your a...   read

 
 
Edge of Twilight photo
Edge of Twilight

Edge of Twilight has a new iOS prequel in the works

Edge of Twilight developer Fuzzyeyes has revealed to Destructoid that it will release a second Edge of Twilight iOS game following Athyr Above, which launched yesterday. This game will be a prequel, and aims to explain the game's racially c...   read

 
 
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Blacklight dev: 'Sony is really in to win this one'

Sony revealed several more indie titles last night during the Game Developers Conference that are set to hit the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, and even PlayStation 4. Sony has been showing a lot of support to smaller developers, and even...   read

 
 
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4
  Watch Video

Blacklight: Retribution is coming to the PlayStation 4

[Note: The images used in this article are from the PC version of Retribution.] Developer Zombie Studios has announced that its free-to-play first-person shooter, Blacklight: Retribution, will be coming to the PlayStation 4 as the first P...   read

 
 
 photo
8===D

Four Swords makes Shovel Knight dev's brain 'go electric'

Warning: Sean Velasco of Yacht Club Games doesn't want you to get your hopes up. Shovel Knight had a great showing at PAX, and is chugging along on Kickstarter, but the game is far from done and there is no way of telling what features (bey...   read

 
 
Daylight trailer photo
Daylight trailer
  Watch Video

Exclusive: Debut trailer for Zombie Studios' Daylight

Zombie Studios has shared details and screenshots for its procedurally-generated horror title Daylight, but now we're getting to see the Unreal Engine 4 game in motion. While the video is indeed a teaser, it should help put meaning to all ...   read

 
 
PixelJunk Eden and Shooter 1&2, and now I’m tackling PixelJunk Monsters. The colorful tower defense game features less music than the previous PixelJunk titles we’ve covered with only 40 minutes of music. The tracks are short and sweet in that regard.

What you have is some seriously dreamy electronic music. I’d say it’s highly reminiscent of Square Enix’s Mitsuto Suzuki’s solo productions paired with the whimsical melodies of Hiroki Kikuta. And I mean this in a good way, as those are to my favorite artists out there.

Even though the tracks are generally short (around the two-minute mark) and blend into one another, it’s a wonderful 40 minute journey. Very few tracks will jump out at you and prove memorable, but the overall listening experience certainly is. My favorites are “a-maze-ing maze” with its layered acoustic guitar and bells and the reflective lullaby, “bye bye monsters.”

This is great stuff. If it were more fleshed out, it could be my favorite PixelJunk score to date, but for now, Shooter 1&2 takes that honor with its innovative approach. Still, anyone looking to relax with some great electronic soundscapes, check out PixelJunk Monsters.



Emil Chronicle Online Original Soundtrack 6th Anniversary Memorial Soundtrack
Release Date: January 11, 2012
Price: 4,200 Yen ($45)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): ACE+

While Gravity picked up the publishing rights to Emil Chronicle, I was apparently too busy playing Ragnarok Online to pay much attention. This is also a highly-stylized MMORPG that instead employed the talents of Japan-based ACE+, who you may remember from their work on Xenoblade Chronicles and Code of Princess.

This four-disc collection adds a single disc of new music to the 4th anniversary soundtrack that was released years ago. I love the upbeat nature of the music that matches perfectly with the game’s aesthetic. There are tons of Celtic influences, bouncy towns, vibrant fields, and tasty pop-oriented themes to enjoy. I feel it’s ACE+’s best work, as Xenoblade Chronicles was a little on the ambient side and Code of Princess a bit lacking in the memorability department.

There are some key moments on the album, including the opening theme, “FAR AND AWAY,” which brings a heavy Celtic sound with woodwinds and a beautiful and touching string section. The distant and solemn “Sound of the ruin,” the fun accordion-laden dance tune, “Beyond the Destiny,” the pumping rock fest “Over the infinite helix,” the dark and reflective “Phantasmagoria,” the upbeat and jazzy “Theme of Emil,” and the weird (but good!) vocaloid vocal track, “Song for Battle Field” are some of my favorites. As far as the new stuff on the fourth disc is concerned, you’ll want to listen for the opener, “Lands of Groundbreaker,” which is also a moving orchestral theme, and the closing vocal theme, “12sec seno mano -the voice from yourself-.”

It’s great to get in touch with ACE+’s history, and this looks to be some of their best. There’s some great artwork to enjoy, although the booklet is admittedly pretty thin. Still, I recommend checking it out if you liked ACE+’s other works.



Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titan Rough Drafts & Outtakes

Release Date: February 26, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: First press bonus
Artist(s): Yuzo Koshiro

We reviewed the Etrian Odyssey IV soundtrack in Note Worthy 005 and loved it. Koshiro has done an amazing job transitioning the series from the retro FM synthesis featured in preceding titles over to a live orchestral soundscape featured in Etrian Odyssey IV. I was immediately interested, then, when it was announced that the bonus CD included with early shipments of the game would feature outtakes and rough draft versions of the tracks used for recording purposes.

What you get are five rough drafts and two outtakes. The rough drafts, as interesting as they sound, won’t do much for you if you’ve already listened to the OST versions. These are synth mock-ups that Koshiro created to prepare for the recording sessions, so they aren’t as vibrant or warm as their OST counterparts, although they’re fun to listen to for comparison purposes.

The outtakes are both village themes. “The Wind’s Gentle Touch” meanders about dreamily, sounding almost like a lullaby, while “All is Well” goes classical with harpsichord (one of my favorite instruments ever) and a lovely woodwind accompaniment. It almost sounds like something Koichi Sugiyama would write for a Dragon Quest game.

So there you have it. I’d say if you missed out on the disc, you’ll be okay. Just pick up the OST, which is one of the best albums released in 2012.



GUN FRONTIER/METAL BLACK/DINO REX Sound Tracks for Digital Generation
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Price: 3,780 Yen ($40)
Availability: Limited (SuperSweep Shop)
Artist(s): Yasuhisa Watanabe, Hidetoshi Fukumori, TAITO

[embed]248311:47531:0[/embed]

A new entry into SuperSweep’s GameMusic Discovery Series, this is a collection of arcade soundtracks from Taito’s catalog including two shooters and a fighting game. There are also some arranged tracks and a DVD containing complete playthroughs of each game (cool for those who want to know more about the music’s context).

The album kicks off with my favorite soundtrack of the bunch, Metal Black. This is a side-scrolling shooter about a fight against an alien invasion of Earth. There are a number of great melodies, including the intro stage, “Bone to be free” with its triumphant and sweet melody as players take back Earth. I also dig the ambient “Waste days” and the many boss themes which are somewhat atypical. I’m used to heavy action in my shmup boss themes, but all of these here take a more interesting approach, some slow and mysterious, and others a bit terrifying, highlighting the weird and alien-y appearance of the enemies you’re fighting.

The other two soundtracks don’t stand out as much. Gun Frontier is also heavy on the melody side, but nothing really stuck with me. Two remixes from the game, however, really shine as some of the best that this collection has to offer with a bumpin’ dance remix and a sort of world music/electronic jazz remix that somehow manage to take the unmemorable OST and make it into something worthwhile. Dino Rex, a strange fighting game featuring a variety of dinosaurs, gets a stereotypical dose of tribal percussion and sparse melodies. You have to watch the DVD footage, as this game looks truly terrible.

There’s another disc containing the Sega Saturn versions of Metal Black and Gun Frontier. The two versions are similar, except there’re more reverb effects on the Sega Saturn version, which I think I enjoy slightly more.

This is a nice collection for fans of Taito shooters. Metal Black is excellent, but probably not worth the price alone. If any of these titles have your interest, however, you may want to check this out.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Soundtrack
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Limited Edition bonus
Artist(s): Jamie Christopherson

This soundtrack is a surprise in so many ways. Generally, Konami keeps to itself with Metal Gear titles, relying on current Konami composers and former Metal Gear composers to maintain that “Metal Gear” sound. But Platinum Games had other plans, turning to Jamie Christopherson who certainly had a few tricks up his sleeve.

This album is the soundtrack disc that comes housed with the pricey limited edition version of the game. It contains in-game music by Christopherson, and doesn’t have much overlap with the Vocal Tracks album that has been made more widely available.

While it retains the Hollywood action stylings of past Metal Gear titles, it strays from that sound in many ways. I’d say it’s more of a Hollywood orchestral/electronic fusion with heavy rock elements. It’s really moody and cool in a lot of ways, but reminds me of, say, Deus Ex: Human Revolution more than Metal Gear.

That’s okay though. I love the opening track, “Title,” to death with its great melody and distant guitar work beckoning from beyond, while the furious drum ‘n’ bass “Chase” and exotic “Old City” are also pleasing. The gritty Western movie-esque “Plaza,” the Asian-flavored “Japanese Garden,” the ominous “Tension,” and the techy “Result” are also awesome. A few battle themes make an appearance in their vocal-less forms, but more about those later.

In all, this is a wonderful soundtrack. I haven’t played the game, but from what I can gather from Conrad, it works amazingly well, and Platinum Games ought to be pleased with their choice and Christopherson proud of his accomplishment. He had big shoes to fill and has successfully injected new life into the franchise.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Vocal Tracks
Release Date: February 18, 2013
Price: $15.44
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Jamie Christopherson, Various Artists

[embed]248311:47530:0[/embed]

Here’s the previously mentioned vocal tracks album. Contained within are the boss battle themes from the game that coincidentally are all vocal tracks. The tracks fit in well with the score, incorporating a blend of rock and electronics that is somewhere between ‘90s alternative metal and Linkin Park. Shredding guitars, wailing solos, and gritty vocals litter the album.

Before you balk, however, it’s important to note how the music is used in-game. In battle, the pieces generally appear in their instrumental form with cross-fades into the vocal versions as the action picks up in battle, which Conrad tells me works incredibly well to drive the action home. With that in mind, though, and the fact that many of the instrumental versions are included, even if the vocals aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy the musical backings as I found myself doing for tracks where the vocals didn’t really strike me.

Some of the vocals really do stand out, though. The explosive “Dark Skies” with its choppy vocals, the bass-heavy “A Stranger I Remain” with a great female vocalist, and the amazing guitar work in “The Stains of All Time” are among my favorites. The deep vocal stylings of Jason Miller in “Red Sun” are also particularly memorable. The moody and slower “The War Still Rages Within,” the longest track on the album, provides a nice closer.

My only complaint would be that the tracks are generally pretty short. In the two-minute range, actually. Still, fans of the game might even prefer this album to the OST, and it’s a lot more easily to obtain since it’s being sold separately. It’s worth checking out if this kind of music is your thing.



RARE SQ - BONUS DISC -
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Tower Records / Village Vanguard customer bonus
Artist(s): Various Artists

Here we are with yet another exclusive disc to fans in Japan who purchase Square Enix music at brick-and-mortar stores in Japan. This is the accompaniment disc to Final Fantasy Tribute -Thanks-, and features a compilation of past SQ customer bonus disc tracks along with new ones, and I have to say that this compiles some of the best SQ series music to date.

In terms of re-released material, you have the amazing “Aria” from Final Fantasy VI, redone by Reign of the Kindo, which is easily the best version of the touching opera scene I’ve ever heard despite it being sung in English by a man.

There’s a lot of great new stuff, too, including an arrangement from Soukaigi (composed by Secret of Mana’s Hiroki Kikuta), which is a rare treat, and a great arrangement. There’s a dreamy electronic remix from Einhander, a funky version of “MEGAROMANIA” from LIVE A LIVE that will have you thinking of The OneUps, a bumpin’ chiptune medley from Final Fantasy VII, and dubstep versions of “Battle on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V and “TWISTER” from The World Ends With You (which is fantastic). Finally, we get a 20-minute DJ set from a recent live event that Square Enix held which combines popular Final Fantasy themes including “Red Wings” from Final Fantasy IV, “Battle” from Final Fantasy VI, and more LIVE A LIVE in a great set.

This is a great album, but unfortunately it’s only available to those who purchase the album physically in Japan. CD Japan cells a combination of Final Fantasy Tribute -Thanks- along with this bonus disc, but it comes at a premium. So think hard as to whether these remixes sound worth it. I think they are.



StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Soundtrack
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Price: $10.99 (digital)
Availability: Collector’s Edition bonus / iTunes
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

I can’t help but be a fan of the musical universe of StarCraft. There are the rockin’ Terran, the creepy and textural Zerg, and the regal and serene Protoss. Wings of Liberty touched on all of these, but focused on the Terran race, and now we get our hands on a lot of Zerg-tinged themes, which is actually my favorite race, musically.

Derek Duke, the musical voice of the Zerg, does a lot of heavy lifting alongside sound lead Glenn Stafford (resident Terran specialist), and even Jason Hayes who was responsible for the Protoss in the original StarCraft returns to Blizzard Entertainment and is featured with Audio Director Russell Brower, cinematics expert Neal Acree, and contributor Cris Velasco.

So, how does it sound? This album is certainly much darker and heavier than Wings of Liberty. It really nails the Zerg sound right out of the gate with “Corruptors” which touches on classic Zerg themes that will awaken that sense of nostalgia within. Duke does an amazing job with textural electric guitar and ambient electronic backings, marrying them to tense strings and defiant brass. We get these sounds throughout.

Other tracks, including “Heart of the Swarm” and “Fire in the Sky,” bring in that bombastic Hollywood action sound with big orchestra with cool electronics in a very tasteful way, while there are a number of foreboding pieces featuring great choral work in “The Coming Storm,” moody rock in “Phantoms of the Void,” and some fantastic booming percussion in “Conscience.”

Other times I was reminded of Halo (and I make this comparison in the most flattering way possible), with “Collateral Damage” featuring emotional strings and bassy piano notes that are followed by the blistering electronic-infused rock that is typical of the Terrans, while “Stronger” really channels that badass Halo sound with rock percussion and heavy electronic guitar work. The final track, “Whispering from the Stars,” has some finality to it, although things sound pretty bleak. Be prepared for what sounds to be a pretty distressing end to the game.

This is really a fantastic soundtrack filled with great music and great production values. I have to say it’s one of my favorite Blizzard Entertainment albums in recent memory, and that’s saying a lot given the quality they are consistently able to deliver.



The Black Box
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Price: Name Your Own Price
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Aivi “waltzforluma” Tran, Steven “surasshu” Valema

[embed]248311:47529:0[/embed]

This album is so good that I had to post about it when it was released last week despite knowing that I’d be reviewing it here. The team, who you may recognize from the recently-funded Cryamore project, combines piano and chiptunes through a number of original tracks and remixes. Tran’s piano work is fantastic, and Valema’s chiptune work, constructed in Impulse Tracker, adds a dreamy quality that sounds so natural.

In terms of remixes, there’s my favorite track from Katamari Damacy, “Lonely Rolling Star,” which is upbeat, fun, and classy, while the bonus track, “Mabe Village,” from Link’s Awakening is simply sweet and adorable. The final remix is from Asturias’s Cryptogenic Illusion album, titled “Distance,” which gets a bubbly treatment.

The originals cover a lot of territory, with “Shapeshifter” exploring what feels like a contemporary jazz style that is smooth and mood-setting, while “Diamond Dove” flutters about an adventurous atmosphere and “Here’s How!” gets into some swankier jazz territory. “Mika” is an emotional ballad that feels rooted in classical piano, and “Pocket Universe” explores jazz-tinged pop.

It’s all quite lovely, and I can’t quite get over how natural this combination of sounds is. It also comes packed with a comic series that is “to be continued,” suggesting that we’re going to see more collaborations between Tran and Valema. I can’t wait! Stream it, and if you like it, throw some money their way! This is great stuff.



TOMB RAIDER ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Limited edition bonus
Artist(s): Jason Graves

[embed]248311:47528:0" data-vidtitle="

Note Worthy 013: StarCraft, Metal Gear, and Tomb Raider Welcome back! We're looking at recent soundtrack releases, and there are a number of big ones this month. We've got impressions of the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Tomb Raider soundtra...  
Full story

" data-purl="note-worthy-013-starcraft-metal-gear-and-tomb-raider-248311.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Latest Soundtracks photo
Latest Soundtracks
PixelJunk Eden and Shooter 1&2, and now I’m tackling PixelJunk Monsters. The colorful tower defense game features less music than the previous PixelJunk titles we’ve covered with only 40 minutes of music. The tracks are short and sweet in that regard.

What you have is some seriously dreamy electronic music. I’d say it’s highly reminiscent of Square Enix’s Mitsuto Suzuki’s solo productions paired with the whimsical melodies of Hiroki Kikuta. And I mean this in a good way, as those are to my favorite artists out there.

Even though the tracks are generally short (around the two-minute mark) and blend into one another, it’s a wonderful 40 minute journey. Very few tracks will jump out at you and prove memorable, but the overall listening experience certainly is. My favorites are “a-maze-ing maze” with its layered acoustic guitar and bells and the reflective lullaby, “bye bye monsters.”

This is great stuff. If it were more fleshed out, it could be my favorite PixelJunk score to date, but for now, Shooter 1&2 takes that honor with its innovative approach. Still, anyone looking to relax with some great electronic soundscapes, check out PixelJunk Monsters.



Emil Chronicle Online Original Soundtrack 6th Anniversary Memorial Soundtrack
Release Date: January 11, 2012
Price: 4,200 Yen ($45)
Availability: CD Japan
Artist(s): ACE+

While Gravity picked up the publishing rights to Emil Chronicle, I was apparently too busy playing Ragnarok Online to pay much attention. This is also a highly-stylized MMORPG that instead employed the talents of Japan-based ACE+, who you may remember from their work on Xenoblade Chronicles and Code of Princess.

This four-disc collection adds a single disc of new music to the 4th anniversary soundtrack that was released years ago. I love the upbeat nature of the music that matches perfectly with the game’s aesthetic. There are tons of Celtic influences, bouncy towns, vibrant fields, and tasty pop-oriented themes to enjoy. I feel it’s ACE+’s best work, as Xenoblade Chronicles was a little on the ambient side and Code of Princess a bit lacking in the memorability department.

There are some key moments on the album, including the opening theme, “FAR AND AWAY,” which brings a heavy Celtic sound with woodwinds and a beautiful and touching string section. The distant and solemn “Sound of the ruin,” the fun accordion-laden dance tune, “Beyond the Destiny,” the pumping rock fest “Over the infinite helix,” the dark and reflective “Phantasmagoria,” the upbeat and jazzy “Theme of Emil,” and the weird (but good!) vocaloid vocal track, “Song for Battle Field” are some of my favorites. As far as the new stuff on the fourth disc is concerned, you’ll want to listen for the opener, “Lands of Groundbreaker,” which is also a moving orchestral theme, and the closing vocal theme, “12sec seno mano -the voice from yourself-.”

It’s great to get in touch with ACE+’s history, and this looks to be some of their best. There’s some great artwork to enjoy, although the booklet is admittedly pretty thin. Still, I recommend checking it out if you liked ACE+’s other works.



Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titan Rough Drafts & Outtakes

Release Date: February 26, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: First press bonus
Artist(s): Yuzo Koshiro

We reviewed the Etrian Odyssey IV soundtrack in Note Worthy 005 and loved it. Koshiro has done an amazing job transitioning the series from the retro FM synthesis featured in preceding titles over to a live orchestral soundscape featured in Etrian Odyssey IV. I was immediately interested, then, when it was announced that the bonus CD included with early shipments of the game would feature outtakes and rough draft versions of the tracks used for recording purposes.

What you get are five rough drafts and two outtakes. The rough drafts, as interesting as they sound, won’t do much for you if you’ve already listened to the OST versions. These are synth mock-ups that Koshiro created to prepare for the recording sessions, so they aren’t as vibrant or warm as their OST counterparts, although they’re fun to listen to for comparison purposes.

The outtakes are both village themes. “The Wind’s Gentle Touch” meanders about dreamily, sounding almost like a lullaby, while “All is Well” goes classical with harpsichord (one of my favorite instruments ever) and a lovely woodwind accompaniment. It almost sounds like something Koichi Sugiyama would write for a Dragon Quest game.

So there you have it. I’d say if you missed out on the disc, you’ll be okay. Just pick up the OST, which is one of the best albums released in 2012.



GUN FRONTIER/METAL BLACK/DINO REX Sound Tracks for Digital Generation
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Price: 3,780 Yen ($40)
Availability: Limited (SuperSweep Shop)
Artist(s): Yasuhisa Watanabe, Hidetoshi Fukumori, TAITO

[embed]248311:47531:0[/embed]

A new entry into SuperSweep’s GameMusic Discovery Series, this is a collection of arcade soundtracks from Taito’s catalog including two shooters and a fighting game. There are also some arranged tracks and a DVD containing complete playthroughs of each game (cool for those who want to know more about the music’s context).

The album kicks off with my favorite soundtrack of the bunch, Metal Black. This is a side-scrolling shooter about a fight against an alien invasion of Earth. There are a number of great melodies, including the intro stage, “Bone to be free” with its triumphant and sweet melody as players take back Earth. I also dig the ambient “Waste days” and the many boss themes which are somewhat atypical. I’m used to heavy action in my shmup boss themes, but all of these here take a more interesting approach, some slow and mysterious, and others a bit terrifying, highlighting the weird and alien-y appearance of the enemies you’re fighting.

The other two soundtracks don’t stand out as much. Gun Frontier is also heavy on the melody side, but nothing really stuck with me. Two remixes from the game, however, really shine as some of the best that this collection has to offer with a bumpin’ dance remix and a sort of world music/electronic jazz remix that somehow manage to take the unmemorable OST and make it into something worthwhile. Dino Rex, a strange fighting game featuring a variety of dinosaurs, gets a stereotypical dose of tribal percussion and sparse melodies. You have to watch the DVD footage, as this game looks truly terrible.

There’s another disc containing the Sega Saturn versions of Metal Black and Gun Frontier. The two versions are similar, except there’re more reverb effects on the Sega Saturn version, which I think I enjoy slightly more.

This is a nice collection for fans of Taito shooters. Metal Black is excellent, but probably not worth the price alone. If any of these titles have your interest, however, you may want to check this out.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Soundtrack
Release Date: February 19, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Limited Edition bonus
Artist(s): Jamie Christopherson

This soundtrack is a surprise in so many ways. Generally, Konami keeps to itself with Metal Gear titles, relying on current Konami composers and former Metal Gear composers to maintain that “Metal Gear” sound. But Platinum Games had other plans, turning to Jamie Christopherson who certainly had a few tricks up his sleeve.

This album is the soundtrack disc that comes housed with the pricey limited edition version of the game. It contains in-game music by Christopherson, and doesn’t have much overlap with the Vocal Tracks album that has been made more widely available.

While it retains the Hollywood action stylings of past Metal Gear titles, it strays from that sound in many ways. I’d say it’s more of a Hollywood orchestral/electronic fusion with heavy rock elements. It’s really moody and cool in a lot of ways, but reminds me of, say, Deus Ex: Human Revolution more than Metal Gear.

That’s okay though. I love the opening track, “Title,” to death with its great melody and distant guitar work beckoning from beyond, while the furious drum ‘n’ bass “Chase” and exotic “Old City” are also pleasing. The gritty Western movie-esque “Plaza,” the Asian-flavored “Japanese Garden,” the ominous “Tension,” and the techy “Result” are also awesome. A few battle themes make an appearance in their vocal-less forms, but more about those later.

In all, this is a wonderful soundtrack. I haven’t played the game, but from what I can gather from Conrad, it works amazingly well, and Platinum Games ought to be pleased with their choice and Christopherson proud of his accomplishment. He had big shoes to fill and has successfully injected new life into the franchise.



Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance Vocal Tracks
Release Date: February 18, 2013
Price: $15.44
Availability: Sumthing Else Music Works
Artist(s): Jamie Christopherson, Various Artists

[embed]248311:47530:0[/embed]

Here’s the previously mentioned vocal tracks album. Contained within are the boss battle themes from the game that coincidentally are all vocal tracks. The tracks fit in well with the score, incorporating a blend of rock and electronics that is somewhere between ‘90s alternative metal and Linkin Park. Shredding guitars, wailing solos, and gritty vocals litter the album.

Before you balk, however, it’s important to note how the music is used in-game. In battle, the pieces generally appear in their instrumental form with cross-fades into the vocal versions as the action picks up in battle, which Conrad tells me works incredibly well to drive the action home. With that in mind, though, and the fact that many of the instrumental versions are included, even if the vocals aren’t your thing, you can still enjoy the musical backings as I found myself doing for tracks where the vocals didn’t really strike me.

Some of the vocals really do stand out, though. The explosive “Dark Skies” with its choppy vocals, the bass-heavy “A Stranger I Remain” with a great female vocalist, and the amazing guitar work in “The Stains of All Time” are among my favorites. The deep vocal stylings of Jason Miller in “Red Sun” are also particularly memorable. The moody and slower “The War Still Rages Within,” the longest track on the album, provides a nice closer.

My only complaint would be that the tracks are generally pretty short. In the two-minute range, actually. Still, fans of the game might even prefer this album to the OST, and it’s a lot more easily to obtain since it’s being sold separately. It’s worth checking out if this kind of music is your thing.



RARE SQ - BONUS DISC -
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Tower Records / Village Vanguard customer bonus
Artist(s): Various Artists

Here we are with yet another exclusive disc to fans in Japan who purchase Square Enix music at brick-and-mortar stores in Japan. This is the accompaniment disc to Final Fantasy Tribute -Thanks-, and features a compilation of past SQ customer bonus disc tracks along with new ones, and I have to say that this compiles some of the best SQ series music to date.

In terms of re-released material, you have the amazing “Aria” from Final Fantasy VI, redone by Reign of the Kindo, which is easily the best version of the touching opera scene I’ve ever heard despite it being sung in English by a man.

There’s a lot of great new stuff, too, including an arrangement from Soukaigi (composed by Secret of Mana’s Hiroki Kikuta), which is a rare treat, and a great arrangement. There’s a dreamy electronic remix from Einhander, a funky version of “MEGAROMANIA” from LIVE A LIVE that will have you thinking of The OneUps, a bumpin’ chiptune medley from Final Fantasy VII, and dubstep versions of “Battle on the Big Bridge” from Final Fantasy V and “TWISTER” from The World Ends With You (which is fantastic). Finally, we get a 20-minute DJ set from a recent live event that Square Enix held which combines popular Final Fantasy themes including “Red Wings” from Final Fantasy IV, “Battle” from Final Fantasy VI, and more LIVE A LIVE in a great set.

This is a great album, but unfortunately it’s only available to those who purchase the album physically in Japan. CD Japan cells a combination of Final Fantasy Tribute -Thanks- along with this bonus disc, but it comes at a premium. So think hard as to whether these remixes sound worth it. I think they are.



StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Soundtrack
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Price: $10.99 (digital)
Availability: Collector’s Edition bonus / iTunes
Artist(s): Blizzard Entertainment

I can’t help but be a fan of the musical universe of StarCraft. There are the rockin’ Terran, the creepy and textural Zerg, and the regal and serene Protoss. Wings of Liberty touched on all of these, but focused on the Terran race, and now we get our hands on a lot of Zerg-tinged themes, which is actually my favorite race, musically.

Derek Duke, the musical voice of the Zerg, does a lot of heavy lifting alongside sound lead Glenn Stafford (resident Terran specialist), and even Jason Hayes who was responsible for the Protoss in the original StarCraft returns to Blizzard Entertainment and is featured with Audio Director Russell Brower, cinematics expert Neal Acree, and contributor Cris Velasco.

So, how does it sound? This album is certainly much darker and heavier than Wings of Liberty. It really nails the Zerg sound right out of the gate with “Corruptors” which touches on classic Zerg themes that will awaken that sense of nostalgia within. Duke does an amazing job with textural electric guitar and ambient electronic backings, marrying them to tense strings and defiant brass. We get these sounds throughout.

Other tracks, including “Heart of the Swarm” and “Fire in the Sky,” bring in that bombastic Hollywood action sound with big orchestra with cool electronics in a very tasteful way, while there are a number of foreboding pieces featuring great choral work in “The Coming Storm,” moody rock in “Phantoms of the Void,” and some fantastic booming percussion in “Conscience.”

Other times I was reminded of Halo (and I make this comparison in the most flattering way possible), with “Collateral Damage” featuring emotional strings and bassy piano notes that are followed by the blistering electronic-infused rock that is typical of the Terrans, while “Stronger” really channels that badass Halo sound with rock percussion and heavy electronic guitar work. The final track, “Whispering from the Stars,” has some finality to it, although things sound pretty bleak. Be prepared for what sounds to be a pretty distressing end to the game.

This is really a fantastic soundtrack filled with great music and great production values. I have to say it’s one of my favorite Blizzard Entertainment albums in recent memory, and that’s saying a lot given the quality they are consistently able to deliver.



The Black Box
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Price: Name Your Own Price
Availability: Bandcamp
Artist(s): Aivi “waltzforluma” Tran, Steven “surasshu” Valema

[embed]248311:47529:0[/embed]

This album is so good that I had to post about it when it was released last week despite knowing that I’d be reviewing it here. The team, who you may recognize from the recently-funded Cryamore project, combines piano and chiptunes through a number of original tracks and remixes. Tran’s piano work is fantastic, and Valema’s chiptune work, constructed in Impulse Tracker, adds a dreamy quality that sounds so natural.

In terms of remixes, there’s my favorite track from Katamari Damacy, “Lonely Rolling Star,” which is upbeat, fun, and classy, while the bonus track, “Mabe Village,” from Link’s Awakening is simply sweet and adorable. The final remix is from Asturias’s Cryptogenic Illusion album, titled “Distance,” which gets a bubbly treatment.

The originals cover a lot of territory, with “Shapeshifter” exploring what feels like a contemporary jazz style that is smooth and mood-setting, while “Diamond Dove” flutters about an adventurous atmosphere and “Here’s How!” gets into some swankier jazz territory. “Mika” is an emotional ballad that feels rooted in classical piano, and “Pocket Universe” explores jazz-tinged pop.

It’s all quite lovely, and I can’t quite get over how natural this combination of sounds is. It also comes packed with a comic series that is “to be continued,” suggesting that we’re going to see more collaborations between Tran and Valema. I can’t wait! Stream it, and if you like it, throw some money their way! This is great stuff.



TOMB RAIDER ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
Release Date: March 5, 2013
Price: Not for Sale
Availability: Limited edition bonus
Artist(s): Jason Graves

[embed]248311:47528:0" data-vidtitle="

Note Worthy 013: StarCraft, Metal Gear, and Tomb Raider Welcome back! We're looking at recent soundtrack releases, and there are a number of big ones this month. We've got impressions of the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Tomb Raider soundtra...   full story

" data-purl="note-worthy-013-starcraft-metal-gear-and-tomb-raider-248311.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video

Note Worthy 013: StarCraft, Metal Gear, and Tomb Raider

Welcome back! We're looking at recent soundtrack releases, and there are a number of big ones this month. We've got impressions of the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Tomb Raider soundtracks along with ...   read

 
 
recording.

$50 - You will receive a personalized autographed CD copy of the Soule Symphony No. 1,"The Northerner” recording.

$100 - Reward 2 plus a special thanks credit in the album’s booklet.

$500 - Rewards 2 and 3 plus an autographed bound copy of Soule Symphony No. 1, "The Northerner" conductor's score.

$1,000 - Rewards 2, 3, and 4 plus page one of the conductor's manuscript written entirely in the composer's hand. Marking a moment in history, this is the ultimate display item in 11"x17" museum quality paper and ready to be framed. This item will only be available to Kickstarter participants and will never be produced again.

4) Supporting a composer’s true expression of self

I’ve always wondered to myself why my favorite videogame and film composers aren’t more active in writing work that comes from within themselves, inspired by their own imagination. It seems odd to me that they can so effectively score a project and nail the thematic content perfectly, yet don’t have an outlet that is purely from their own life experience, liberated from the scenes that unfold on a screen.

Soule concedes, “A symphony is the hardest thing you can write as a composer. You set yourself up for ridicule if people don’t like it, and some composers have ended careers or even lives because they weren’t able to make people happy in the concert hall.”

In other words, this is truly a labor of love and an extension of a composer’s soul. The reason it’s not attempted more often by modern composers is because it’s risky, not only in terms of time and possibly finances, but also professionally.

“I wanted to tackle this in my 20s, but I didn’t have the life experience. I’m now in my latter 30s and have enough experience and knowledge.” The Northerner has literally been in the works for nearly 25 years, as this has been a goal of Soule’s since he was 12 years old.

5) The right guys as inspiration

How often do you hear the names Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, or even Nobuo Uematsu as an inspiration for today’s composers?

When I asked who some of Soule’s classical inspirations were, I got Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss. “I want to feature tonality,” noted Soule, “My goal is to create a piece that people want to listen to over and over again,” to which we both laughed that he has a lot of experience writing music that’s listened to repeatedly through his work on games.

I am incredibly excited to hear what Jeremy Soule is able to come up with based on his preference for the Neo Romantic period in classical music. It will be interesting to hear how it draws from both this period as well as from his thematic energy from Skyrim to give us something truly unique.

We apparently won’t have to wait too long, as the Kickstarter page is already live and he’s already begun work on the symphony. “The work is obscured in a fog in my head at the moment, but there are clear patches in that fog,” and we’ll hopefully be getting a taste of that very soon.

__

Let us know what you think. Is the traditional symphony an art form worth saving? Will Jeremy Soule’s beloved works in videogames act as a bridge to bring a new generation to the symphony? The success of Soule’s
Kickstarter campaign will answer these questions for us very soon, so join me in my support for the Soule Symphony No. 1 “The Northerner.”

Here's the audio clip in higher quality via our SoundCloud account:

 [embed]240075:47559:0" data-vidtitle="

Meet Skyrim composer Jeremy Soules first symphony Jeremy Soule's Skyrim soundtrack was one of my favorites in recent memory. I've been a huge fan of his work since he entered the videogame industry with his soundtrack to Secret of Evermore at the young age of 19, and he's si...  
Full story

" data-purl="meet-skyrim-composer-jeremy-soule-s-first-symphony-240075.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">Skyrim Composer photo
Skyrim Composer
recording.

$50 - You will receive a personalized autographed CD copy of the Soule Symphony No. 1,"The Northerner” recording.

$100 - Reward 2 plus a special thanks credit in the album’s booklet.

$500 - Rewards 2 and 3 plus an autographed bound copy of Soule Symphony No. 1, "The Northerner" conductor's score.

$1,000 - Rewards 2, 3, and 4 plus page one of the conductor's manuscript written entirely in the composer's hand. Marking a moment in history, this is the ultimate display item in 11"x17" museum quality paper and ready to be framed. This item will only be available to Kickstarter participants and will never be produced again.

4) Supporting a composer’s true expression of self

I’ve always wondered to myself why my favorite videogame and film composers aren’t more active in writing work that comes from within themselves, inspired by their own imagination. It seems odd to me that they can so effectively score a project and nail the thematic content perfectly, yet don’t have an outlet that is purely from their own life experience, liberated from the scenes that unfold on a screen.

Soule concedes, “A symphony is the hardest thing you can write as a composer. You set yourself up for ridicule if people don’t like it, and some composers have ended careers or even lives because they weren’t able to make people happy in the concert hall.”

In other words, this is truly a labor of love and an extension of a composer’s soul. The reason it’s not attempted more often by modern composers is because it’s risky, not only in terms of time and possibly finances, but also professionally.

“I wanted to tackle this in my 20s, but I didn’t have the life experience. I’m now in my latter 30s and have enough experience and knowledge.” The Northerner has literally been in the works for nearly 25 years, as this has been a goal of Soule’s since he was 12 years old.

5) The right guys as inspiration

How often do you hear the names Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, or even Nobuo Uematsu as an inspiration for today’s composers?

When I asked who some of Soule’s classical inspirations were, I got Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart, and Strauss. “I want to feature tonality,” noted Soule, “My goal is to create a piece that people want to listen to over and over again,” to which we both laughed that he has a lot of experience writing music that’s listened to repeatedly through his work on games.

I am incredibly excited to hear what Jeremy Soule is able to come up with based on his preference for the Neo Romantic period in classical music. It will be interesting to hear how it draws from both this period as well as from his thematic energy from Skyrim to give us something truly unique.

We apparently won’t have to wait too long, as the Kickstarter page is already live and he’s already begun work on the symphony. “The work is obscured in a fog in my head at the moment, but there are clear patches in that fog,” and we’ll hopefully be getting a taste of that very soon.

__

Let us know what you think. Is the traditional symphony an art form worth saving? Will Jeremy Soule’s beloved works in videogames act as a bridge to bring a new generation to the symphony? The success of Soule’s
Kickstarter campaign will answer these questions for us very soon, so join me in my support for the Soule Symphony No. 1 “The Northerner.”

Here's the audio clip in higher quality via our SoundCloud account:

 [embed]240075:47559:0" data-vidtitle="

Meet Skyrim composer Jeremy Soules first symphony Jeremy Soule's Skyrim soundtrack was one of my favorites in recent memory. I've been a huge fan of his work since he entered the videogame industry with his soundtrack to Secret of Evermore at the young age of 19, and he's si...   full story

" data-purl="meet-skyrim-composer-jeremy-soule-s-first-symphony-240075.phtml" data-vidsummary="" data-remodal-target="watch">  Watch Video

Meet Skyrim composer Jeremy Soules first symphony

Jeremy Soule's Skyrim soundtrack was one of my favorites in recent memory. I've been a huge fan of his work since he entered the videogame industry with his soundtrack to Secret of Evermore at the young age of 19, and he's since gone on to ...   read

 
 
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