8 bit Music Goodness

I’ll be starting on another game trailer project in June but for now I’m moving on to a couple of game music projects.

Any music can be used for games nowadays – if it suits – but one type of music that will always be associated with videogames is chip music – to use a broad definition: music created using sound chips on game console hardware. I’m keen to create music for the first game project using PXTone, the tracker (i.e. chip music creator) made by Cave Story‘s Daisuke Amaya; I’ll be taking a more traditional approach with the other project (more on that later).

Chip music has its superstars – especially from the C64 era – and some tunes stick in my head to this day. Ben Daglish and Rob Hubbard are two such personalities – Ben created one of my favourite soundtracks from the 8bit era: Last Ninja. Rob was responsible for some stonkin’ great tunes like the Commando theme.

Just recently I came across a morsel of greatness – Christopher Voss has created an 8 bit version of The Pixies’ Where Is My Mind, combining two great artforms in one. Now I’m more than ready to dive into some 8bit music creation for Tom Mulgrew‘s Thunderbolt!

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Dope Myoozik

Dope D.O.D. hail from the Netherlands and bring a fresh take on hip hop that matches pulsing electronica beats to euro-inflected street rap.

Their videos are a big part of their appeal for me, showcasing the grimy and gritty with a polished cinematic visual aesthetic. I like the way the videos are tweaked by effects that twitch and stutter like a visual representation of the electronic backbone of the music.

Their bio makes for an interesting read – they have a visual arts team comprised of four artists who handle the photography, videos and paintings. After seeing the video below and being taken by the marriage of dubstep and street rap I went poking around the interwebs and was impressed by the cohesive brand they present to the world via their strong visual style. It’s a great idea to have a dedicated art team – hopefully they will all evolve together in new and interesting ways.

Their debut album “Branded” is due September this year (2011) and I’ll be keeping an eye and ear out to see whether there’s enough depth to the group and their music to herald a new wave in euro hip hop.

Thanks Ashley for the heads up!

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Puddy Babypants

Those talented boffins at Mukpuddy Animation have put together the perfect little video for a track by Caspar Babypants called “Mister Rabbit”. (I always wanted to use the word “boffins” and now I really regret it…)

Caspar Babypants is a side project for the talented lead singer and songwriter of PUSA, Presidents of the USA, Chris Ballew.

The song is as catchy as any PUSA song; Chris Ballew reworks many children’s classics like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Mary had a little lamb” and makes them sound fresh and engaging all over again.

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Cover Zen: Super Conte Theme

Well, it’s yet more music on this blog but as it also includes a game angle I’ll use it as a segue…

Jack Conte is back with more Cover Zen madness – a version of the Super Mario Bros theme that I like a lot! He’s obviously a talented musician but I also have a lot of respect for his editing skills and sense of manic visual energy; this video jumps and blits about like the video game junkie the song speaks to.

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KeepAnEyeOut: Crescendo Mafia

I love NZ music.

With tinges of Kings of Leon and sweet harmony smatterings a la Crowded House, Crescendo Mafia are a power trio that sound as good acoustic as they do in full rock mode (check them out live on Balcony TV). There’s something vaguely Del Amitri about them too – I think it’s the sweetly interwoven harmonies and the sophisticated pop sensibilities that leak through in the bass lines and chord choices.

Big things are surely coming for them and I had an interesting chat with a friend tonight that has me optimistic about possibilities in the future!

Oi! Speaking of “NZ music”… two of the band members – vocalist/guitarist Matt Vankan and drummer Luke Vankan – are brothers hailing from Sydney, Australia; bassist/keyboardist/vocalist Eddie Gaiger is an NZ Idol Top 10er from Coromandel, NZ. It’s about time we stole some Aussie talent after all the artists they keep stealing from us! ;)

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Retro Reminiscence: Digable Planets Old Skool Kool

Digable Planets are a class act old school hip hop group whose Rebirth of Slick burnt up the airwaves on the charts and music TV back in the early 90s.

Here’s a performance of the funky syncopated groove track 9th Wonder (Blackitolism) live on some show starring Jon Stewart in 1994. Something about Ladybug’s live delivery of her memorable phrase-turns “ninety three million miles above these devils… A alike, B alike…” makes them snap for me and really brings home the street poetics in a way the recorded version doesn’t… but that’s just me… And doesn’t Jon Stewart look like a spry young lad?

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Cover Zen: Tyler Ward sings Katy Perry

Tyler Ward’s garnered a bit of a following by this stage (this video alone has over 2 million hits). I really like Katy Perry’s original version and I like Tyler’s take on this song too. As with all effective covers I think he wins a few more fans who wouldn’t normally give the original a second listen.

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I don’t know if this interview with Katy Perry about the meaning of the song (from her Official Youtube Channel) is real or not but if it’s a joke (maybe hubby Russell had something to do with it?) then it’s hilarious lol… If you thought the song was a metaphor for otherworldly love and being transported to another place and time by transcendent union then let Katy explain what it’s really about.

Grunta’s Pick: The Galvatrons play the chord progression U2 made famous

So much great stuff comes out of Melbourne that I’ve been dying to go there for a long time now. Just tonight on Master Chef NZ they were talking about Melbourne being the food capital of Australia. The games scene over there seems to be thriving (once again – let’s not forget old favourites Melbourne House and The Way of the Exploding Fist – classic!) and the music scene’s been off the chain for a long time!

Melbourne band the Galvatrons prove that you can’t keep a good chord progression down. U2′s “With or Without You” brought this progression to the fore thanks to the bass line taking front and center in the song, but many others have used the familiar chord structure in one way or another.


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Cover Zen: Look at this cover now

I can’t resist a great cover. A few years back I sustained a(n almost) daily music blog for a brief time that consisted largely of well-realised cover songs. One of the most popular posts from that blog that still gets a regular chunk of hits can be found here: The 5 Best Covers of Britney Spears’ Toxic

@juilaroy tweeted this great cover the other day (my imperative post title overstates things a tad… the name of the song is “Look At Me Now” ok?) Amy, of acoustic-pop duo Karmin, has an engaging, sassy presence that oozes confidence and entices – not least because it really looks like she’s having fun with this performance. Here’s the original for comparison… Somma dese white chicks can RAP yo!

For more great covers click the “Cover Zen” tag below!

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Producer Showreel

Towards the end of last year I put together a showreel for South Auckland Producer Anonymouz.

As you can see in the showreel, Anonymouz is a very talented musician and Producer with an impressive range of skills and depth of experience at his disposal. Putting together the reel was a really interesting experience, not least because I got to learn a lot more about Anonymouz – I thought he was talented based on the little I knew before I started the work…

I hope to get the chance to direct a music video for him in the future – fingers crossed!

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