When Fans Make Their Own Versions

goldeneye-source-mod-update-bunker.jpg.optimal

I’ve interviewed, or just casually chatted with, enough synthwave producers over the years now to come to the conclusion that a lot of them were inspired by the synth-laced soundtracks of old movie soundtracks, namely those from John Carpenter, Tangerine Dream, and Goblin just to name a few. Therefore, it should come to no real surprise that there is a whole subgenre of synthwave wherein those producers make “faux-soundtracks” to movies that don’t actually exist, hoping that their soundscapes can fill in the blanks for the theater of the mind.

Now, before you think you know where I’m going with this, I’m not actually going to go into an article about all that because Bandcamp did a pretty good job (although I do think they left out a lot of other great examples). Instead, I would like to use this article to talk about a phenomenon in the synthwave scene that I feel is not as common but is just as interesting: the soundtrack replacement. Continue reading

Advertisements

Final Fantasy VIII Saved My Life

Final_Fantasy_VIII_PS1_cover_front__30863.1488659320

Final Fantasy VIII is my favorite video game of all time. That statement, right there, can elicit a variety of responses and over the years I’ve heard it all. There are those who will decry such an opinion, ready to cite all the reasons as to why I am wrong for actually having a personal opinion on something. There are others who will simply nod their heads in agreement, for they understand. While others will just shrug their shoulders and say, “whatever.”

Do I think that Final Fantasy VIII is a perfect game? No, of course not, but to paraphrase the immortal words of Kino from Kino’s Journey, “Final Fantasy VIII is not perfect, therefore it is.” Yes, drawing magic in Final Fantasy VIII can be a bit tedious for sure, the junction system is no doubt rather broken not to mention easily exploitable, and the story is a little convoluted at times but none of that means anything to me on a personal level because the game saved my life.

Continue reading

The Unnatural Ambiance of Synthetic Horror

image

I firmly believe that, when it comes to horror, less is always more because no matter what you’re presented with it’s nowhere near as terrifying as what your own mind can conjure up in its stead. Now, when it comes to video games, sound design is the true key component when trying to make a top tier horror title.

That said, I’ve been playing a lot of the Resident Evil 2 remake since it came out and, other than being blown away by the game visually, I really have to hand it to the sound design for heightening the tension. There’s nothing more dreadful than entering a room you’ve never been in before, hearing something shuffling around a corner and not knowing what’s there; other than maybe hearing the heavy footsteps of Mr. X somewhere near you and coming ever closer to you.

However, I have to say that there’s really only one aspect of the game which has left me feeling rather underwhelmed if not even entirely disappointed: the music. This might sound weird, but I found the music to be a bit too “modernized” for my tastes in terms of feeling too far polished. The music is not as gritty and/or raw as the original soundtrack, which I think really comes down to something being said about the progression in recording and listening technology actually taking away the organic nature of music, like the pops in vinyl or the hiss in a cassette tape being replaced by nothing but digital silence. Continue reading

“Night City Terror” by Fatalvector

a0093791817_10The debut album from Fatalvector could not have come out at a better time; the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting longer, and the temperature is going down. This album has therefore become just the right mood music for these cold dark nights, especially when it rains, as it instills within you an equal mix of creepy vibes and blood pumping beats. Plus, as someone who has followed Fatalvector since they only had one track on SoundCloud, it’s fantastic to see them get to this point.

“Not Dead Yet” by Wolfman Muscleford

a0676532284_10While not the actual intention, “Not Dead Yet” feels like the long lost soundtrack to a forgotten action game of an earlier generation regardless. There are songs on here which will make you paranoid to turn a corner, unsure of the horrors that might lurk behind them, and then there are songs on the other hand which will get you so fired up that you just throw caution to the wind and turn that corner by going in all guns blazing.

Simply put: this album is a non-stop thrill ride. Buy your ticket.

“Midnight Tentacles” by Big Lich

a2586619619_10Big Lich has always been quite the necromantic beast to try and categorize (which isn’t a bad rap as they do their own thing and they do that thing pretty damn good) but if I were to actually try and describe their sound I’d be hard pressed not to call it akin to old-school RPG boss battle music. Combining a special blend of chiptunes, darksynth, and power metal, Big Lich is like a hidden musical treasure just waiting to be discovered by a curious dungeon delver in the mines of musical madness.

“The Crystal Mountain” by Nightlights

a1916052898_10Nightlights first full-length album isn’t a new concept, as creating a real soundtrack for an imaginary film has long been a thing in synthwave, yet their take on it feels like a breath of fresh air as their more upbeat sound is welcomed in a subgenre which tends to be much darker. Their music, as well as their art, work together in perfect harmony to help bring this proposed animated feature to life and overall feels like rediscovering a childhood favorite which will bring a smile to your face.

“II” by Flash Cassette

a2341061153_10“II” is an appropriate title for Flash Cassette’s sophomore effort and follow-up to their self-titled debut as, much like a finely crafted sequel to an impressive movie, this release not only builds off the sound that they established on their first release but proceeds to masterfully supersede it in the process with tighter production, catchier hooks, funkier beats, and impressive vocal work.

This album begs to be listened from start to finish as each track smoothly transitions into the next.

“Burning Summer” by Wyndsrfr

In honor of #NationalPoetryDay, I wrote a poem for this review:

The calendar declares summer over,
and that might be true,
but the feeling of summer continues
inside both me and you.

Sirens sing their songs,
and bards tell their tales,
while Wyndsrfr recounts that lost summer
and all which it entails.

Like the waves of the ocean,
coalescing with the sand,
so do dream-like synths
and sultry vocals go hand-in-hand.

“Burning Summer” is lightning in a bottle,
a whole season captured in a song,
like memories that can be replayed
as you inevitably sing along.