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Column: Sound Current

Sound Current: 'Yokohama's MediaMix '09 - Game Remixers Unite'

December 5, 2009 12:00 PM |

[In his latest 'Sound Current' column for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska visits a Japanese music fan convention to discover the most interesting, often unofficial game music-related CDs and merchandising on sale there.]

Twice a year, fan remixers of videogame music exchange CDs at the Music MediaMix Market, or "M3" for short. Most recently, Yokohama’s Osanbashi Hall was host to the event’s aisles of booths run by professional and aspiring musicians.

More modestly sized than the comparable Comic Market festival, the single-day meetup caters exclusively to the musical side of fan service. Several dozen circles, or informally run organizations, turned out to the 24th chapter of the gathering's history with pressed arrange albums for sale.

This report takes a look at a cross-section of the remixes, covering everything from classics like Challenger to recent releases like Mamoru Has Been Cursed. Including comments by participants, the report offers various perspectives on the objectives that fuel creativity in the doujin remix music scene.

Sound Current: 'Aquaria Piano Jam - Alec Holowka's Watershed Soundtrack Release'

November 28, 2009 12:00 AM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska catches up with Aquaria co-creator Alec Holowka to discuss the soundtrack he created for the IGF-winning indie game, centering on the new deluxe double CD of the game's musical score.]

Having recently been nominated for a German MTV Game Award for Paper Moon, Alec Holowka has been busy shipping copies of his two-disc original soundtrack album for Aquaria.

The game, created in collaboration with Derek Yu as part of Bit Blot, took the top prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival, an event Holowka describes as a personal watershed moment, "where timelines diverge." He celebrated the album release with a streaming piano jam coinciding with the first CDs being packaged and shipped.

The new album includes cover art by Katie de Sousa, an eight-page booklet, mini-poster containing composer's notes, and additional audio content not found in the game. Jenna Sharpe's work providing the voice of protagonist Naija is represented by a never before heard nine-minute track. Danny B even throws in a scintillating remix of the miniboss battle theme.

This interview with Holowka touches on the thematic continuity bridging the Aquaria soundtrack with the upcoming Infinite Ammo-developed game Marian. The discussion also offers a look at how the making of the soundtrack reflects the game creator's broader perspective on design.

Sound Current: 'Concerto Tactics - The Music of Hiroki Kikuta and Hitoshi Sakimoto'

November 25, 2009 9:00 AM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska sits down with the composers behind Secret Of Mana and Muramasa, among many other titles, to discuss their art and new soundtrack albums.]

Previously composers Hiroki Kikuta and Yoko Shimomura joined us for an informal interview titled "Magical Planet" on their music for Square Enix role-playing games. Their songs from Secret of Mana and Kingdom Hearts were arranged for the orchestra for September's Symphonic Fantasies concert in Cologne.

In this interview, Kikuta is joined by musician Hitoshi Sakimoto, whose music for Final Fantasy Tactics was arranged for the orchestra earlier this month in Tokyo. Sakimoto acted as sound producer on the Nintendo Wii title Muramasa: The Demon Blade, which will be receiving an original soundtrack album release from his studio Basiscape in December. The game represents a continuation of the collaboration between Sakimoto and Odin Sphere developer Vanillaware.

With Secret of Mana having recently been ported to cellphones in Japan, here the two composers share impressions of their influential Super Nintendo game compositions. The conversation delves into the processes behind more recent soundtracks as well, including CONCERTO: The Extraordinary World of Concerto Gate and Romeo x Juliet. Both scores reflect an interplay between electronic and orchestral music that has been a central theme of the musicians' careers.

[Kikuta and Sakimoto at Basiscape Studio in Tokyo]

Sound Current: '2 Player Productions - Reformatting PAX for DVD'

November 20, 2009 12:00 PM |

[Continuing his 'Sound Current' interview series for GameSetWatch, Jeriaska sits down with video game and music documentary makers 2 Player Productions to discuss their work showcasing Blip Festival -- and, notably, this year's Penny Arcade Expo -- in cinematic form.]

When the chip music scene began to form in New York City, 2 Player Productions found a way to capture the excitement of Manhattan arts organization The Tank's live events in their video reportage. Their footage led to a feature-length documentary called Reformat the Planet, screened online on and at the 2008 Penny Arcade Expo.

Founded by Paul Levering and Paul Owens, the team has branched out into various videogame-related media, including capturing the behind-the-scenes making of the game Infamous and overseeing the mixing and mastering of the Blip Festival 2008 live album. Their next big media adventure will be translating the events of PAX 2009 to DVD.

In this interview with the filmmakers, taking place during their relocation from New York to Portland, Oregon, the Pauls offer some background on their history with PAX-headlining band Anamanaguchi and the Penny Arcade team. The discussion provides a history of their movie-making process and also hints of what to expect in months ahead.

Sound Current: 'West Coast Chiptune Romp - Data Beez Q&A'

November 11, 2009 12:00 PM |

[With the heavily video game-influenced Data Beez chiptune music tour hitting San Francisco tomorrow, with extra stops in Portland and Seattle, GSW correspondent Jeriaska spoke to some of the artists on their bleeptastic audio and visual output.]

The Data Beez West Coast chip music tour is currently in full swing, with stops planned for San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. The Los Angeles stopover of the music tour, which took place on Nov.7th, was sponsored by Adam Robezzoli, proprietor of game culture shop Attract Mode, and was intended to spread knowledge of the use of vintage game consoles in creating live music and visuals.

Beez got underway Saturday afternoon with a chiptune workshop, dubbed "the preliminary pollination," taking place at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. It was made possible by Eric Nakamura and took place in conjunction with a 15-year Giant Robot anniversary exhibition at the gallery space.

Featured speakers included chip musician Starpause, along with visual artists Paris Graphics and Daniel Rehn. In this interview, several participating artists of the Data Beez micro tour share thoughts on what the aesthetic of retro game devices means to them: