Thursday, February 17, 2011

Game Music Remixes

When I was younger I would spend hours in front of my television with a small rectangular controller (that was thankfully quite resistant to throwing) in hand and escape from the horrors of reality into the world of games. Even with the joys of having to blow on the cartridge and finding just that perfect way to insert a game so that it would play 'this time', I often look back on what is now an ancient piece of nostalgia that is the NES as some of the few positive memories of childhood (or the least trauma inducing at any rate). So many of those 8-bit songs would get stuck in my head and despite my parents thinking they were some of the most annoying sounds on Earth, I had always thought they had potential for greatness.

Over the years I have indulged myself in various forms of gaming, be it on the original consoles or on emulators to relive the games of my youth or titles I had never had a chance to get my hands on. It has always been an escape for me, a separate world to explore and become a part of that isn't constrained by the problems of the real world. Throughout this entire time, the music has always been a major draw for me. The music of a game can make or break a scene. It can transform and eerie landscape into a truly alien and desolate world. A well placed piece can induce your panic as you run against a timer or fight a particularly difficult opponent. It can even bring up the strongest emotions as a character in a story we have grown to love dies or is betrayed.

With so many who have grown up with these games filled with now iconic characters and gripping stories it is not surprising that a loyal fan base has developed around the music of this art form (I do not care what some haughty critics think, games can be and are an art form). Many of these followers have taken the next step, they have gone back and created updated tracks and remixes of the very songs that have become a part of so many's fond memories.

These remixes range from simple updates of songs that were limited by early processors to a full re-imagining of the score. Be it in a pulsing electro, a sweeping orchestral, a thrashing metal track, a smooth jazz piece or anything else the musician can imagine. A whole sub-culture of dedicated remixers and artists have grown around their mutual love for the songs of games both old and new. By far the most prominent of these is OCRemix. Here you can find hundreds if not thousands of remixed songs, full albums dedicated to a game or theme, the original chip sounds from even the oldest of games, workshops on how to remix or improve your skills, forums and everything else a well established community of like minded people could hope to find.

Some of the tracks I have found by such remixers have blown me away. They were familiar and faithful to the original soul of the piece while also breaking new ground and pushing it in ways I could never have imagined. Do not think these are mere tinkerers or social pariahs as many of these are serious musicians who share a passion for the music that has been so much a part of their lives.

I hope to, over time, begin to post some of my personal favorites or new discoveries. For now I would like to introduce you to a few I believe any lover of music, even those not familiar with the original pieces, will enjoy.

First, a remix of the Maridia 1 region of Super Metroid, entitled Kindred. It was done as a collaboration between remixers Pixietricks and Zircon. A slower piece that is perfectly fitting for the source material with added lyrics quite suited for the mysterious Samus Aran. For those interested, it can be found here (track #28 of a two disk album created as a get well gift for an ailing remixer and friend, the whole album is well worth the free download).

Next is a track from the legendary PC open world adventure Deus Ex. Entitled Siren Synapse, it was done as a collaboration between the remixer Big Giant Circles and Alexander Brandon, the composer for the score to the original game. It is a fusion of the music for many of the areas of the game giving a sense of wandering through a futuristic metropolis. More information as well as a download may be found here.

Finally, here is a track from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past entitled Dark World Ballad. Done by Cliff Hooper & Effinjerk, they have come together to create a simple but absolutely beautiful acoustic guitar and piano jazz piece. While the theme is certainly recognizable, it has been taken in an entirely new direction and it works wonderfully. I have a weak spot for jazz as it is so I could not help but include this. The download and further information may be found here.

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