Introducing yet another blogger at VGF

Whozzat? Sum n00b?

I know. You don't know me, therefore I'm not as interesting as the mighty Larry Oji. But it's okay. I'm still going to write stuff here from time to time. Let me give you a brief introduction to the man that is Another Soundscape.

My name is Mattias Häggström Gerdt. It's a strange name because I'm from Sweden. You know the ever-neutral country up north? Where Gecko Yamori is from? Yeah, that's the one. I am one of those new ReMixers that haven't really made it on the big scene yet. I am also one of the small percentage of new ReMixers who's still here, still trying, after rejections.

I do have some merits though. I have two finished songs for the FF7 project (schh, it's a secret) and I'm also a part of some other projects, including Larry's own Dirge for the Follin. I make all of my music in Reason 3.0 as it is now (you back there, yeah you FL user, stop booing) and I enjoy tweaking sounds beyond recognition and acoustic drums and percussion mixed with synths. When I'm blogging here I'm going to tell you about many things, including: OCR as a beginner, OCR as a European, ReMixing, video game music I enjoy, video game music in general and other more or less relevant stuff. Now, that's enough introduction for me. Let's get it on!

So it's 4.30 PM and I recently got home from work. All sweaty and tired, I get down to my computer and start iTunes. Since I'm such an impulsive fellow I usually have iTunes set to 'shuffle'. I clicked the VGM playlist and there it was. "Voiceless Poem" from Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, composed by Ken Nakagawa, Daisuke Achiwa and Akira Tsuchiya (probably just one of them but I don't know who to credit).

Atelier Iris is one of those series of RPGs that hasn't really made it here in Europe, I don't know about the USA but in Japan this series, produced by Gust, is a long-runner. The first game in the series (that I know of) is Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg, released in 1997 for Sega Saturn. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana on the other hand is for the PS2 and was released in mid-2004. Thinking it was a Disgaea rip-off (hey, 2D graphics in PS2 games isn't THAT common), I bought the game about a year ago and boy was I surprised. It's a classic 2D RPG with all elements you may and may not expect. Charming characters, incredibly smooth 2D graphics and the kind of plot that makes you think "ooh, the 90s". On top of this we have the soundtrack. Man, the soundtrack.

When the song "Voiceless Poem" was first heard in the game I thought to myself "this is one cozy track. It's got the melody and mood so right it's incredible. It's piano, it's synth pads and plucked stuff. Yum." And then out of nowhere comes an analogue, sharp, bouncy kickdrum. It could've been sampled right out of any psytrance song out there. Together with some 909-style hi-hats, the once so mellow tune goes downbeat-breakbeat, and I love it. The soundtrack is filled with those kinds of surprises. We have the regular Motoi Sakuraba-influenced songs, some sad themes and loads of the classic that's-the-funny-person-in-the-game-themes.

Although in Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana, all the tunes share an experimental and interesting approach to this. With loads of ethno instruments and bells joining hands with analogue-type synths, beats and strange FX, the composers created a soundtrack that is really interesting to listen to, especially as a composer or remixer. You don't even have to play the game to enjoy these tunes. Sometimes the soundtrack suffers from some low-quality instruments, not in the bad-MIDI-way, but in the this-is-like-SNES-and-PSX-but-cooler-way. So do yourself a favour, pick up the soundtrack. Or even better, get the game at a game outlet near you. It's pure pleasure.


CHz said...

I've never been a big fan of Gust's present sound team of Ken Nakagawa, Daisuke Achiwa, and crew. I know some people who think their work on the Atelier and Ar tonelico series are some of the best things to happen to RPG music in recent times, but their overall style has never really clicked for me. To each his own.

Speaking of which, definitely check out Ar tonelico music if you haven't already.

Another Soundscape said...

They have a very peculiar style indeed, and I'm sure it won't appeal to many people. I'm just throwing it out there :)

Ar tonelico you say? I'm on it :)