Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chrono Cross OST: A Lost in the Music Review

It has taken me a very long time, but I am now ready to forgive. For too long there has been so much anger and hatred in my heart that it was turning me into a bitter, jaded, hateful person. However, I have learned that I simply have to let go of my anger as it was holding me back. This past week, I have finally forgiven Chrono Cross. I have come to terms and have accepted that the game is part of the series and while I cannot forgive to what they have done to my favourite characters, I can acknowledge that because of the time wimey bullshit nature of the series, there are probably several alternate worlds where the Kingdom of Guardia and the main characters did not fall to Porre. As usual I will not be looking at the entire game, but simply looking at the music.

Like Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross' soundtrack is rich and diverse with each track well suited for the each part of the game. Time's Scar, much like the original game's opening theme invokes feeling of adventure and heading into the unknown while Another Termina seems to take its cues from port towns in the Mediterranean giving it a festive vibe. Much like its predecessor, the music in Chrono Cross has the world feel like a living breathing place and it is sad knowing that these days the music that comes from Square Enix seems not to be as good and that they put graphics and voice acting above story and music.

It is music like this that makes me wish that at times, gaming wasn't this big industry. Aside from indies, it seems that the love developers once had for the games is gone and the only thing they care about is the almighty dollar. As someone who has been gaming for almost 25 years, seeing this trend is rather depressing. Yes there are exceptions on occasion such as the Mass Effect series but those are too few and far between.

One of my favourite songs in the game would have to be fan favourite The Girl Who Stole the Stars, the theme song to the character Kid. The track is a stark contrast to Kid's persona. She has a passion for adventuring and loves lifting things from other people. Kid is an outgoing person with a zealous personality, but the track would belie that as it is more introspective and thought provoking. Witht he character, its gives a great dichotomy as the music reflects her inner persona. On the outside, the young woman has a mischievous streak and a penchant for trouble while inside, she is quiet and morose.

While Kid does display some of the more annoying qualities that almost every teen female jRPG character exhibits, this track seems to showcase that she has some depth. Not even Final Fantasy is immune as several of its teen characters are more obnoxious and lack the depth that Kid has. For a really awesome cover of the track, I would suggest checking out the cover from Year 200x's latest EP, World of Ruin.

While I am still not a fan of several aspects of the game, I do have to acknowledge that the soundtrack is just as good as the originals and Yasunori Mitsuda does a fantastic job replicating the feel of Chrono Trigger's soundtrack. This is a must have for any fan of video game music. You can find the album at Amazon and Ebay. I would highly encourage you to buy the album as it is a great example of what Square Enix Music used to be.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

History Repeating: Red by The Megas ~ A Lost in the Music album review

This has been a good week for music. Not only has The World Is Square released their latest album, but The Mega's have also released their latest album, History Repeating: Red, the epic conclusion to their History Repeating duology.

History Repeating: Red continues its trend in performing the songs from the perspective of the Robot Masters but this time the story is more focused on Megaman's wayward brother Protoman. I love how the perspective shifted to give Protoman his moment in the spotlight. Instead of delving more into how Rock feels about being a hero, we learn what drives Protoman and why he is angry.

The album is divided into two parts with the first 5 songs involving the remaining Robot Masters as well as Rock's faithful companion Rush. However with The Red Song, the overall tone of the album turns dark. This is where Protoman makes his debut and instead of music, you hear the sound of robotic footsteps rushing down the streets while a familiar musical note plays in the ground. The entire piece has no dialogue, but it is easily one of the deepest parts of the story. Megaman is looking for Wily's 9th robot and in his search this single tune keeps following him. The last 20 seconds of the song is nothing short of amazing as you can visualize Rock stopping in his tracks as Breakman stands high above him. Their eyes for a brief moment before the latter robot blasts at him sending the younger robot flying back.

Normally I am not fond of bands splitting a song into two parts, but this time I am willing to make an exception as The Red Song as it sets up the climactic battle between the two characters. The following song I Am Not Breakman is an introduction to the character itself while The Red Song is merely the set up for the two characters to confront each other.

The rest of the tracks are nothing short of brilliant. Make Your Choice is a track that Protoman offering his younger brother a place by his side as he helps secure robot domination for Dr Wily. His reasoning is that as a robot, they will never be accepted as equals amongst the huiman population and that only through Wily will they achieve their dreams. Obviously Rock doesn't believe that and strives for peace, but is reminded that as long as the two sides are fighting, there will be no peace.

Following Make Your Choice is I Refuse (to Believe) and I am guessing it depicts Protoman confronting Dr. Light and how that he should move past the betrayal and work with Wily again. The second part of the song is Rock confronting his brother and using his own arguments against him, by stating that they have the capabilities to make their own choices and that they are not bound by coding. The only thing he has to do is let go of his anger.

Finally we have Melody From the Past, the last song on the album which is sung from Protoman's perspective. He has come to terms that he was abandoned in favour of Megaman and that he will hold no ill will towards either of them. He even sings that if he was in Megaman's place he would have acted as his younger brother would have. It is a great way to end the album

The tracks that focus on Protoman gives an insight to how the robot perceives his lot in life. Where his brother Rock has a family to support him in his heroics, Protoman has nothing. He is a loner who believes that his father rejected him for a newer son. In the song I'm Not the Breakman, Protoman speaks on how he felt Doctor Light betrayed him. He sees this world that his father built and he hates it. There is so much more to Protoman's story that The Megas have created that it would be criminal for me to spoil it.

If you are just getting into The Megas I would hold off on getting History Repeating: Red until you have listened to History Repeating: Blue. I suggest this because previous album sets up the bands version of the Megaman 3 story. You can find the albums on The Megas Bandcamp page.

History Repeating: Red is a great album and I love how The Megas have given all the Robot Masters their own unique quirks but the real joy in this album is how band has crafted Protoman and his story. They turned the aloof robot into a dark and hateful character, wanting vengeance on his “father”. I am curious as to where The Megas take their rock opera from here.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Stay a While and Listen by The World is Square ~ A Lost in the Music album review.

After months of waiting, it has finally been released. I have not been this excited for an album since the OCReMix album Of Balance and Ruin. No this is not the OCReMix Final Fantasy V-2 album (seriously guys where is that?) but instead it is the second album from one of my favourite cover bands. The World is Square has finally released its second album, Stay A While and Listen and it was defiantly worth the wait.

Stay a While and Listen is an album I have been waiting a long time and it completely blew my expectations away. While they are primarily a Square Enix cover band, it does appear that they are branching out by covering a track from the cult classic Grandia II for the Ps1 and Sega Saturn. Another positive about the album is that it covered tracks from Square Enix that you normally don't hear covered such as Shop Theme from Final Fantasy Tactics, Zozo's Theme from Final Fantasy VI and the aforementioned Grandia II.

Another positive mark for the album is that it is an acoustic album. Instead of using electric guitars the group opted to go unplugged for this album and I have to say it is incredibly enjoyable. As much as I enjoy the sounds of the aforementioned instruments, there are times I wish for something softer and more relaxing such as acoustic covers.

There are many great tracks on the album and as I have said before many of them are tracks that artists tend to overlook. One of the tracks that stand out to me (at the time of this writing) is the groups cover of Scars of Time. When I first heard this track, I was curious how the group could keep match the intensity of the original track. However instead of trying to match the original, they turned it into something unique. The World is Square's rendition of the song is far more subdued then the original. I do find it a bit weaker only because Scars of Time was Chrono Cross' intro theme and the accompanying movie, while starting off slow, showcased the intensity of the game. That is not to say the remix track is bad, it just underwhelms the original.

Another great track on the album would have to be the cover of Under the Apple Tree from Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Many people lambaste the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and while I tend to ignore most of the media from the series I will defend Crisis Core as a great action RPG for the PSP. One of the great aspects about the game was the music which was far more subdued, in comparison with the original games medley of instruments. The World is Square's cover of Under the Apple Tree is a wonderful way to end Stay A While and Listen. The group captured the song's essence perfectly in this cover making it easily the best song on the album. This track is quite possibly my favourite on the album, which is hard to choose because the album has many great tracks on it.

If you are familiar with Crisis Core, you know what happens after this song plays. If you are not familiar then I would suggest playing the game. This is a bait and switch song and just when you think you are done with the game, it throws you one last boss fight.

If you are wondering if you should get the album, I would say yes. While they didn't offer anything truly ground breaking on this album, they did cover a few overlooked tracks from the vault of Square Enix. I do hope that the group continues this trend and add more unique tracks to their repertoire. I would love to hear the groups take on tracks from Dragon Quest, the Seinken Denetsu series or even a non S-E title such as the Lufia series Lunar or Breath of Fire. This group is incredibly talented and I would love to see more from them.

You can find Stay A While and Listen on their Bandcamp page.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

One More: A Compilation Album for the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

There are times that I get embarrassed at the geek culture on the internet. This is usually following someone or some group making the news because they decided to “improve the image” of their particular fandom, only for it to blow up in their face and make them look like total buffoons. Then, instead of leaving the spotlight, they bask in it and complain how they were misrepresented.

More often then not however, geeks are willing to do damn near anything to help those in need. Some will donate time and money while others will start charities. Then there are musicians who will work together for a compilation album where the proceeds go to fight diseases. Today on Lost in the Music, I will be focusing on the album One More. This album is a compilation album of different artists from all sorts of genre's in support of the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and Vasculitis Foundation of Canada.

One More is a compilation album much like an OCReMix album. Each artist brings something unique to the album and it combines both mainstream music with indie chiptunes and game covers. You have music from lyrical funnyman Brentalfloss on one track while one other track is from Toronto rock group You Handsome Devil performing one of their own hits. There is enough variety on this album that you will find something to like.

One More is a triumphant example of what happens when groups and artists of all different genre's of music come together for a common cause. Disease knows no bounds and for a performer, Pulmonary Fibrosis is a career killer.

There are many great songs on this album and I suggest you buy it. Not only will every sale go towards the Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and the Vasculitis Foundation of Canada, but you will also experience new performers. This is a great way to be exposed to bands you haven't heard of.

All proceeds from One More goes towards Canadian Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and Vasculitis Foundation of Canada. You can purchase the album over at bandcamp.

This is Daimo mac and I am lost in the music.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shellshocked from OCReMix

When I was younger, aside from video games, one of my youth passions were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I built Ninja Snowmen, had the toys, colouring books and my dad even made me wooden Sai's, Bo Staffs and Swords. But no nunchucks as my parents thought they were too dangerous. I even played the occasional Turtles game such as the Manhattan Project on the Nintendo and Fall of the Foot Clan on the Gameboy. I even got to try the Arcade beat em up on occasion.

Sadly, I never really got to play the Super Nintendo game, Teenage Mutant Ninka Turtles: Turtles in Time when I was a younger because there were no dedicated game stores near my home and the game itself was a bit of a minor rarity in my region. So I never really got to play the game until the advent of emulation. The game is an enjoyable beat em up and I know I would have loved the game even more growing up.

The reason I am talking about Turtles in Time today is because the good artists over at OCReMix has released their 47th album; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shellshocked.

I do have to comment about the way that Shellshocked starts off. Instead of a basic song, remix group Alan Grant and the Velociraptors (made up of OCReMix veteran DusK and newcomer Brett Martindale) begins the track Heroes in a Half Shell as someone channel surfing before settling on April O'Neill of Channel 6 News describing the events that start the game. After that quick bit of expository dialogue, the actual track starts. The song is a cover of the original 1980's intro theme and while it is not an exact replica as the original, the two still do a great job covering the nostalgic track.

There are plenty of great songs on the album and the artists covering the tracks do a great job. I think one of the best songs on the album would have to be Viking Guitar's cover of Bury My Shell at Wounded Knee; Trail Dust and Turtle Wax. The song starts off as a homage to the old spaghetti westerns before picking up and it works wonderfully.

The album is great, but I have two minor issues with it. The first issue is that they seemed to be favouring heavy metal covers. I have no problem with metal music and the people here did a fantastic job, I just wish there was a little bit of variety. There are tracks that utilize different genre's at first, but soon move into the metal genre. Again I must reiterate that I like album, I just wish that there were a few more genre's present.

The other issue is far more minor compared to the first and that is I would have loved to have heard someone cover Vanilla Ice's infamous Ninja Rap. There is probably some legal reason why they didn't but I still think it would have been a nice easter egg.

Aside from those two issues, Shellshocked is a wonderful album and a breath of fresh. Between this and OCReMix's Bubble Bobble album, I believe this will be a great year for the artists over at OCReMix

If you are a longtime fan or new to the Ninja Turtles, you should give it a listen. You can find the album at shellshocked.ocremix.org.

This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.