[Hiptunes is a new blog series where I talk about all the video game music I've been listening to as of late. If you want to discuss or flame, I'd love to hear your thoughts!]
I can probably recall every song or album I've looped that was not, in some way, related to a video game I had been playing these past, oh... several months. Alice In Chains' Dirt, Faith No More's The Real Thing, Earth Wind & Fire's I Say, Devin Townsend's Ziltoid 1 and 2, David Bowie's Hours, etc. Several of which have been mainstays for some time, at that.
For whatever reason, my brain has deviated from what I would normally find interesting. Call it a desperate need for change in my life or some level of regret for having not looked into the world of video game music much before a couple years ago. Whatever it is, that's been me.
Right now, it's about 95% of what I'm plugging into my earholes!
It's a pretty comfortable spot to find myself in, given my interests otherwise.
I've never been much of a movie-goer and I've fallen out of television since the widespread adoption of YouTube and Netflix. Heck, much of what I use Netflix for makes me question why we still pay for it. I have a ginormous Queue, but here I am watching Breaking Bad season 1 for the fifth time or lulling myself to bed with more Futurama.
(While we're on the subject, Breaking Bad consistently has fantastic music choices)
But, I still love my video games. And I still love my music. So, where does that leave me?
Throughout the past week, I've been plunging the depths of the Nuclear Throne soundtrack thanks to the physical CD that came packaged with the excellent Indie Box bundle I bought at PAX South.
I'd describe it as an "electric western". If a lone ranger on the high plains sported an Ibanez instead of his iconic six shooter. Firing earth-shattering guitar riffs, accompanying synth bass or booming drum lines.
Groundwork of the Past even sounds like it's sporting some sort of electric didgeridoo. It's great.
No, like, I REALLY love it.
The one franchise of games you can fairly reliably catch me listening to here or there would, without a doubt, be Shin Megami Tensei. Primarily composed by mastermind Shoji Meguro, it's quality never ceases. It's the butt that won't quit. High production values without being overly-produced, atmospheric without being dull, catchy without being tedious.
I especially enjoy Persona 3's various soundtracks. Beyond the vanilla game, FES and Portable fleshed out what was already an excellent and tonally interesting set of tunes. Combining a plethora of genres from jazz, house, hip-hop, trance, metal, and more to somehow create a soundscape that both remains consistent and super pleasant.
To that, I have been refreshing the FUCK out of "shin megami tensei iv final ost" on YouTube. Eventually, somebody's gotta upload most (if not all) the game's brilliant ear candy.
While Shin Megami Tensei IV wasn't composed by Shoji Meguro (instead, credited to one Ryota Koduka), that didn't stop it from being absolutely amazing. It's gotta be a Top 5 soundtrack. In the same vein as Persona 3, it nails being both quality and tonally interesting. From what I've heard, there is nothing quite like either.
I would absolutely love to play around with whatever effects, samples, and loops they've used for both IV and IV: Final. It's very hard to sound truly alien and frightening SMTIV was very good at that. It didn't permeate the entire soundtrack, but there were several moments where I had no idea what I was listening to and I loved it.
Finally, as of last night, I have begun my Xenosaga venture! I had little idea that Xenoblade-famous developer Monolith was also behind this series. I always thought it was a quirky coincidence that they shared the "xeno" prefix. Having now played it, I also see character design similarities (especially in the eyes) and, naturally, both titles are JRPG's.
I'm not a gigantic fan of orchestral soundtracks. They can very easily bore me. I usually prefer strings or horns to be meshed along with other genres of music or to be purely ambient. I love me some doo-wap, jazz, or big band. However, I can get down with winds. It's just that they aren't used anywhere near as often.
With that said, there have been some standout tracks.
Oh, but I am in love with Pain. It sounds a lot like something Bonnie Tyler would've done. Such a beautiful song.
Like I just mentioned, I'm really fond of the sound of wind instruments. There's something very natural and pleasant about them. And I also have an extreme bias towards guitar, which is prominently featured here.
All of this song pretty much encapsulates what I want out of Xenosaga's sort of music. Orchestral instruments blended with a power ballad and a wind instrument providing the lead melody. It's my wholesome perfect storm. It will be on repeat for quite some time.
See you next time!