2K releases 12 orchestral tracks from BioShock for free

BioShock is an FPS just released on the 21st on this month by 2K Games. It is a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, another FPS that was developed by Irrational Games, which was acquired by 2K Games in 2006. The game is generally regarded as being pretty cool stuff.

A limited edition of the game was released with a figurine, making-of DVD, and CD. The CD was originally supposed to be a soundtrack of the game, but instead contained three remixes of classic songs from the time period the game is supposed to take place in (and which appear in-game), arranged by Moby and Oscar the Punk: "Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin, "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday, and "Wild Little Sisters" by Brian Lovely and Paul Patterson.

However, 2K Games has just released twelve orchestral pieces from the soundtrack of the game, composed by Garry Schyman. While it's not a complete score, the twelve tracks still give you a taste of the creepy atmosphere of BioShock. You can download the music from 2K's "The Cult of Rapture" BioShock community site, or directly download it from their site through this link.


The Problem With Beginners

I'm back to once again write about more or less interesting things about OCR, VGM and everything else I can think of. This time I will tell you a story about OverClocked Remix and a phenomenon known as "Beginners" or more often "n00bs" and how they could potentially take over the world with their ever-evolving talents.

When I first got in touch with OverClocked Remix I was a boy that just wanted to hear more music that was connected to what I loved. At that time Final Fantasy remixes was all I ever listened to. Slowly but surely I started to find other pieces that was highly enjoyable even thought they were NOT Final Fantasy arrangements. My eyes opened to the world of VGM arrangements. I wanted to be a part of this too.

So eventually I started trying to arrange some of that music I loved oh-so-much. Being young (It was two and a half years ago damnit) I started playing some zelda themes at my guitar. I wasn't good.. at all. But that's beside the point. The point is that I thought I was really good at that time. I hooked up with VGMix and actually got some pretty nice reviews, they made my head grow to the size of the sun and I submitted it to OverClocked Remix. Instant reject if I recall correctly. I stopped remixing video game music for one and a half years after that.

And THERE folks we have it. The problem. I often hear a promising remixer with a wip that is at least decent and often very creative. Then they submit it as soon as they've worked at the song for a week or so. It gets rejected, sometimes with a message regarding resubmission. I never see the remixer again. And this my friend is a terrible loss. You see if the remixer would have stayed, maybe got some production and arrangement tips from seasoned pros who, by the way, often are very helpful we would have a winner.

It's also because of this we have judge hate. The remixers are so sure they will get accepted, so sure they are amazing that when somebody says they're not they often go in to some kind of rage. I know I did. But in reality judges have made OverClocked Remix a better place. Most of the time they give constructive criticism that can actually help the remixer evolve. Also, try to sort the remixes after year. Starting with 2007 and moving your way backwards. Do you hear the difference? OverClocked Remix is slowly but surely going towards a better future and the quality has really improved during the years I've been listening. And if the remixers that got rejected looked back at their rejected material a couple of months after they made the song most of them realize what was wrong with the remix. Then instead of sulking, use your new found skills to make an even better remix. Keep evolving. Evolution got OverClocked Remix this far, why couldn't it get you the same distance? Everyone has to start somewhere. And believe me, #ocrwip, wip forums, asking an ocremixer or even reading some online tutorials is all for the better. Some of you has the potential to be far better than everything OCR ever has seen if you just put a little effort in it.
Now go remix! :)

PS: I did start remixing again, took a lot of advice and it was worth it. Coming soon to an OverClocked Remix front page near you.

The OneUps take over Penny Arcade Expo

Ok, well in a perfect world, they'd have taken over Penny Arcade Expo. With prejudice. But as such, they're just performing. Today. I'm jealous, but we wish these bros the best, for undoubtably their biggest performance to date at Seattle's Washington State Convention & Trade Center.

When they were announced for PAX back in March, what resulted was a humungous influx of traffic to OneUp Studios and new fans for The OneUps. They look to be going stronger than ever headed into the festival where they'll be performing along with the NESkimos (also on today) and Minibosses (closing things out Saturday).


The Wingless makes the move to Pandemic Studios

We don't have enough eccentrics in the game arrangement community, but truth be told John "The Wingless" Burnett could fill in for 10 of them. He's his own improv troupe, although why he isn't in The Second City is beyond me (he's auditioned with them before).

Continuing in the vein of yesterday's blog regarding Mazedude, it's good to see individuals take their hobbies and successfully run with them into the professional world. Having already made his way into the gaming industry, The Wingless recently posted of an employment change via Facebook and MySpace, announcing a move from Chicago's Midway Games as a user interface artist to Los Angeles's Pandemic Studios as a senior user interface artist this past Monday.
So those of you in the know already caught wind of this, so if this is shocking news to you, please do not think ill of me for not telling you. Either there was no good way to tell (which happens) or I just flat-out don't like you (which, while implausible, most certainly is possible).

I accepted a job with Pandemic Studios in L.A.

So I'll be moving out to Cali (Westwood, to be specific) by probably the 10th of September to start my new life between Santa Monica Beach and Hollywood. My last day at Midway Games will be August 31st, the very last trembling drop of Summer.

But in the meantime, I'll be around for at least 3 weeks and I would *love* to spend as much of my time with all of you as possible. Send me a line if you'd like to do something, and I will try my best to be with you. Also, if you've had a crush on me, but were bereft of a charming way to ask me out, now's as good a time as any :)

In any event, I will miss you all very much. Believe it or not, the hesitation to move was based largely on all the resplendent personalities I have met. I adore everything about you.

All my love and all my luck. I have more than enough to spare.
With the move, John's now in the hub of American video game development. If you've followed his website over the years, through its many core design changes and plethora of side projects, his design skills are already mutil-faceted. Will he eventually make the transition to sound design or music composition? Well, he's already got some mutual acquaintances with VGM professionals based in the area through friendships with members of OneUp Studios, so the future looks bright no matter what the angle is. We definitely wish The Wingless the best of luck as he valiantly attempts to trim the wings off of the City of Angels.


Mazedude's music featured on Capoeira Nation

The members of the VGM fan arrangement community are a diverse bunch. But arguably no one stands further away from the mean than Chris "Mazedude" Getman. Not only are his sound programming and composition styles unique unto themselves, but he's got some attention-grabbing hobbies.

He's a stuntman. And he can dance while kicking your ass, because he's a disciple of capoeira. A truly lucky individual is able to mesh his hobbies with his professional life, and Mazedude has done just that yet again by providing music and video production to a website promoting instructional videos on the art of capoeira, Capoeira Nation.

Chris says, via the OC ReMix forums:
I am very proud and excited to announce the launching of a new website. It is the first of its kind - to teach the martial art of Capoeira via Instructional Videos on the Internet.

I am even more delighted to share the kickass news that I am the composer for the website, and all of their video productions. For those who are not aware, Capoeira is from Brazil, and the music that accompanies the martial art is very unique and ethnic. The vocals are in Portuguese, and the beats are performed by such instruments as the berimbau, atabaque, and pandeiro. I play each of these instruments, and am fluent in the various traditional beats and songs. However, for this project I have been given the freedom to fuse the traditional style with that of my own, and I've had just oodles of fun putting it together. :)

I invite everyone to check it out: http://www.capoeiranation.com

Even better examples can be heard in the Promo videos [...] although the timing is off slightly due to YouTube's conversion.

Enjoy the music, but furthermore, enjoy the site. If you're at all interested in learning Capoeira, but don't have any teachers near you, well, that's what this website solves!


SGX & zircon offer 3-CD sale

SGX & zircon are teaming up to bring their material to the masses with a limited time sale on their electronic warez. Via CDBaby, US$15 (plus shipping & handling) will get you...

SGX's Better Than Sliced Beats

SGX's Chroma

and zircon's Antigravity

How long will said sale last? I've got no idea, those cryptic bastards! Check out the free previews and hook it up soon, because as zircon says, "this deal won't be around forever." Good things come to those who ORDER NOW!

Fast Talk: Gamer Controls Music 2.0

Andrew "zircon" Aversa is a long-time colleague of mine on the OCR judges panel, and has a remarkable business sense about him. He's always trying to learn everything he can not just about the creation side of music, but the fiscal side as well. Currently attending Philadelphia's Drexel University, he's in a great place to soak up knowledge, and always passes along cool information he picks up along the way.

Via the July issue of Fast Company (#117), Andy clued me into something regarding Electronic Arts that I read about a year or so ago in the conception phase having recently resurfaced. The article by Cora Daniels features EA Worldwide Executive of Music and Marketing Steve Schnur discussing his plans for a record label inspired by video game music.

Well, not in the traditional sense of releasing original or arranged soundtracks. But with the Artwerk label (a cooperative venture with Nettwerk), Schnur feels that the exposure from popular EA franchise games like Madden NFL and NBA Street have the potential to launch breakout bands with original albums after clinching fan interest via the game soundtracks. So far, the label's first big signing in Tom "Junkie XL" Holkenborg this past March looks nothing but good. With such a conservative approach by Schnur and EA purposefully not aiming to create a big label, however, do you think a format like this could fully achieve its stated goals?


Sefiros releases new original album, Under the Roots

Bryan "Sefiros" Henderson announced the release of his new original album Under the Roots this past Friday via MySpace bulletin.

The album is free to download, so there's no cost besides time. Why should you check it out despite the cost of time? Well, Bryan's been on my radar for a while due to his material at VGMix. He later scored an successful submission to OC ReMix with a Final Fantasy VIII arrangement entitled "Everything = Nothing" which featured some of the most beautiful and emotive string sequencing I've ever heard in my time in the community.

With that said, Bryan constantly keeps himself busy with periodic album releases, never allowing himself to get stagnant. On the production side, some of the levels should be toned down, but my favorite tracks on the album have to be the opening track "Dependence", the high-powered "Warfare", as well as well-textured"Degeneracy" and the unassumingly titled "Oh". Swing by Sefiros's space and grab 'em all.


LaLa reviews Reyn Ouwehand's new album "The Blithe, The Blend & The Bizarre" at Remix64

One of my "failings," as it were, in covering the VGM arrangement scene is giving fair representation to the European side, primarily focused on the Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga computers (as well as lesser focus on the Atari ST and ZX Spectrum). I never have been as familiar with the Commodore scene as much as the U.S.-based one, so it's certainly more difficult to familiarize oneself's with the history AND goings-on.

However, the scene across the Atlantic has things covered well by Remix64, the first source on all things going on with the Commodore arrangement community. Unlike the American scene, the European side has a lot stronger ties to the demoscene as well as more acknowledgement and interactivity with the actual game music composers that inspired the movement. That means I'm extremely jealous!

But back to the love, Imre "LaLa" Olajos Jr. has recently reviewed the album The Blithe, the Blend & the Bizarre by Last Ninja 3 and Flimbo's Quest composer Reyn Ouwehand and put out by Reyn's label Prevue Productions.

I don't wanna crib Imre's whole review, which you should go out of your way to check out at Remix64, but part of his opening paragraph sums things up nicely.
If I had to choose one word to describe Reyn Ouwehand's latest SID remix album, it would be "fun". Because doesn't matter what mood you're in, I guarantee you will be 100% happier after you listen to it, even if you are not familiar with the original SID tunes the album is based on. The style of music here ranges from 70s rock to jazz, from carousel music to soundtracks, from the blithe to the blend, and even the bizarre...

That's a solid endorsement from LaLa expressing accessibility and diversity, and one you should take to heart with this album. Check out the tracklist and preview clips available via the album's page on C64Audio.com and you'll find some solid stuff including arrangements of the works of Chris Hülsbeck (The Great Giana Sisters), Martin Galway (Comic Bakery, Wizball) and my personal favorite VGM composer Tim Follin (Ghouls 'N Ghosts, Magic Johnson's Fast Break). Track 6, arranging Ghouls 'N Ghosts would be welcome on Dirge for the Follin, that's for sure.

The album clocks in at a relatively brief 40 minutes, but Weezer's asked for more money for less muzak. Via C64Audio, not only can you preview every track in high quality, but you've already also got access to fully downloading 5 of the album's 20 arrangements, perfect for getting a taste of the action. So considering plunking down for Reyn Ouwehand's The Blithe, the Blend & the Bizarre and making a really sound investment for a change!


I was brought here by HUMANS who wish to pay ME tribute

During my periodic search for the word "Dhsu" on Google and YouTube (for reasons completely unrelated to stroking my own ego), I came across this vid by YouTuber Dekreme:

To say that I'm flattered would be an understatement. To say I'm impressed would also not be enough...even though it isn't my most complicated arrangement, learning the whole thing by ear takes a special kind of dedication. Mad props, my man!

As surprised I was by this though, I'd be lying if I said this sort of thing hasn't happened before...

Though my name isn't specifically mentioned in the description, the source of the arrangement is obvious. Kazamajin1, the performer in the video, asked me directly for the sheet music to "A Clockwork Vampire" and kept me personally updated on his progress in learning this piece. The culmination of his efforts was the video you now see here.

As for the implication by certain smellyjdgfgts that I might be jealous of or threatened by these rising talents, I can assure you such claims are preposterous. I am in fact quite glad that "Nayru's Love" is fulfilling its purpose of getting people to give the Zelda Oracle games more, well...love.


Overlooked Soundtrack #1: Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!

Steven Spielberg didn't start off directing extremely well-known movies like Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In the beginning of his career, he directed small, independent films like Amblin', episodes of TV shows like Night Gallery, and made-for-TV movies like Duel. And even after becoming a big-name director after such box-office successes like the Indiana Jones trilogy, he still managed to direct some films that fell under the radar, like Always and The Unfinished Journey.

Tangent: the VG Frequency record for most links in a single paragraph is now 11.

The point is that, when a person has a large body of works, it's inevitable that some of them will be overlooked in favor of others, even if the person is as famous as Steven Spielberg. The same principle applies to video game composers as well. Most people are probably familiar with Yasunori Mitsuda's work on games like Chrono Trigger/Cross and Xenogears (certainly remixers are), and maybe even some of his lesser-known works like Tsugunai: Atonement and Graffiti Kingdom (his best soundtrack no matter what anyone says), but he's also worked on other games that don't immediately come to mind, like Mario Party.

I mentioned in my very first post that I'd write something about "overlooked works by big-name composers." And exactly two months later, here's the first one!

And since I used Mitsuda as an example above, let's just go with that.


Bomberman 64: The Second Attack!
Composers: Yasunori Mitsuda, Yoshitaka Hirota
Platform: N64
Release date: 1999-12-03 (Japan), 2000-05-28 (United States)
Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Vatical Entertainment

Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! box front

Mitsuda and Hirota have worked together three times, including this game; their other shared works are Shadow Hearts (co-composed with Masaharu Iwata and Ryo Fukuda) and Shadow Hearts: Covenant (co-composed with Kenji Ito, Tomoko Kobayashi, and Ryo Fukuda). And, if you listen from a distance and squint your ears, the soundtrack of Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! does sort of sound like what the soundtrack of a Bomberman RPG would be, if a Bomberman RPG existed.

Unfortunately, the Flash player I've been using to provide music samples, JW MP3 Player, chooses to play the tracks from this game at an accelerated speed. It actually is kind of amusing to listen to, but instead I'll just give direct links to the tracks. So long, convenience of being able to listen to the songs without navigating away. You shall be missed dearly.

>> "Sthertoth, the Demon"

>> "Warship Noah"

The music is unlike that of any other Bomberman game, befitting the fact that this is the only game in the series either composer worked on (and also befitting the fact that the story and atmosphere are unusual for the series as well). However, the music is also unlike that of the Shadow Hearts series which the two composers collaborated on; noticeably absent are the series's music's quirks and Mitsuda's Celtic trappings.

>> "LD Angel"

>> "Miheale Theme II"

The music of the game is quite difficult to track down, since there exists no complete rip of the game as far as I know (the samples in this post come from an incomplete rip where every track is 3:10 in length). If you're feeling adventurous and have the ability to play USF sets (as I am unable to, being Mac'd), there exists a preliminary USF set at USF Central that might not be complete, or work. There are also ten MIDIs over at VGMusic.com.

Sephfire interviewed re: Shadow of the Colossus by Tales of Shadows

After I read Alex Rowe's interview with SGX over at Tales of Shadows, I let him know that he should talk with other OC ReMixer fans of Fumito Ueda's games, including Sephfire and Binster. But before Alex ever heard from me, he already had his plans in motion to interview Daniel "Sephfire" Floyd.

Released yesterday, the interview discusses Sephfire's plans to arrange material from Sony's recent blockbuster hit Shadow of the Colossus. Floyd's arrangement, entitled "Snowfall on Forbidden Lands," was also his first released collaboration with his wife Carrie "ceili" Floyd, which made for an excellent pairing, resulting in a whole that, in my opinion, was greater than the sum of its parts.

Floyd also provided background on how he got into video game music arrangement as well as his own take on the artistic merits of the Fumito Udea series of games. It's a quick but interesting read for fans of all types that you should check out. Let's hope Alex goes for the OCR trifecta down the line!


Songs The Lady Likes #1: Shivers "Cerebral Rose Jam"

Some of you might remember me from my days of guesting as Larry's friend, and later Larry's Lady, on his radio show. Back then, I was what people might call "a hater."

Most of the video game music I had heard back then was stuff I didn't like. It was too electronic, not very compelling melodically, and I wasn't familiar with most of the games being referenced to appreciate VGM even from a nostalgic perspective.

Back then, Larry was diligent in his effort to bring me over to the dark side. We had always shared music we liked, and Larry refused to see VGM as a point of departure in taste like the Beastie Boys.

Why is it that every guy I know creams himself over that band? I'd much rather listen to "Lonely Swedish" than "Brass Monkey" if I had to make a terrible choice in hell or Abu Ghraib.

My esteem for VGM, well, more accurately, OCR, grew slowly, hesitantly. Perhaps, it was my pride, or my general tendency to be sparing with my praise, but upon hearing a track that wasn't offensive, I would say something like "not terrible," or shrug my shoulders non-committally.

Over the years, as the musical selection available at OCR grew more diverse, and the quality of musicians and production increased exponentially, I found there were more and more instances where I would begrudgingly say "I don't hate it."

And then, one fateful day, the sky fell in and I actually liked a song...in fact, I liked it so much, I unabashedly added it to my iPod.

Israfel (aka Michael Dover) gets full credit for the dastardly deed, with his most appealing "Cerebral Rose Jam" from the game, Shivers.

When djp wrote his write-up of the ReMix, he was on target when he said, "I'd imagine this ReMix will get more listeners from fans of Israfel than of the source material."

What I loved about this mix was how atmospheric, exotic, and totally unexpected it was. Not to mention the fact that you can lull yourself into a gratifying stupor listening to CRJ on loop.

It's a pretty moody mix, that alludes to summer evenings in Cairo, smoking a cheroot as you wait for your "man" on the dig to bring you a souvenir from King Tut's Tomb.

It's also damn sexy, and I wonder if Israfel didn't spend his nights dreaming of someone special's flat, sweaty tummy as he added in the darbuka (I think), finger cymbals (possibly tingsha), and jingle bells.

There's lots of space in this track, which is what I think makes it so successful compared to other instrumental versions of "Middle Eastern-like" music, where usually the rhythm is so driving it's hard to really immerse yourself in the theme.

In that respect, I think Israfel's got a good vibe going on of what is very similar to maybe some Rabih Abou-Khalil's Blue Camel and Sufi trance music.

Larry says, "Damn, that's esoteric as fuck! Sufi trance music?"
I showed Larry a sample of what I was talking about. Larry thought I was talking about this.
That's "trance" as in meditative music.

Now my suggestion to the haters, or, ahem, lovers as it were, is to pick this track up from OCR, put it your Winamp and turn off the lights. It will give you the "shivers."

So, folks, if you like this, I'll come back regularly with other songs I, the nay-saying mistress of mainstream (and mystical world music), actually like.

Ayako Saso Chronology

A month ago, I blogged about two composer chronology videos, looking at works by two Namco composers, Shinji Hosoe and Nobuyoshi "sanodg" Sano.

The creator of those two videos, TYKUN, now has a third video about a third Namco composer, Ayako Saso:

Lots of love for the Ridge Racer series.

nyoro~n (You Sure Look Chilled Out!)

If I did quit the OC ReMix judges panel, I'd hope the aftermath was exactly like this:Who even made that? :-D I've seen the stock image before, but not with a black guy until now.

I've still got lots more work to do in terms of judging submissions. As of press time, we've got 54 submissions still on the panel, and I've yet to evaluate 11 of 'em. It was 12, but I just YESed one (t'was good).

In terms of my personal progress, where I'm at isn't so bad, but it's certainly time consuming going through the submissions, comparing them with the original tracks and formulating opinions. Guys like Vigilante and DarkeSword have the ability to crank out brief but accurate criticisms down to a science.

Hopefully by September 9th though (the end of The Lady's vacation), I'll be all caught up to present day, which will be the first time anyone's ever done it since what I'm guessing would be the first year of the OCR's existance. It's like moving a mountain. And there's nothing glamorous about moving a mountain.