In today's instalment of Mac at PAXEast I am taking a look at the album that got me hooked into the Nerdcore scene. I have to thank Mike "The Birdman" Dodd for introducing me to these guys.
I am not a fan of modern gangsta rap. I find that the music tends to be sexist, homophobic and just straight up offensive. However the same cannot be said about Nerdcore. Over this past weekend, I had my eyes opened to this genre of video game music. It takes the smooth rhyming and musical themes of modern hip hop and gives it a nerd twist. From Spacewar to Mario to Halo, these artists incorporates various video game themes, into their songs giving it a unique blend.
One of these artists goes by the name K-Murdock. I was able to grab his album at PAXEast and too an instant liking to it as it is nothing but Final Fantasy 6 Character Themes. He even has Kefka's theme which is special because it features Megaran as Kefka and it is fantastic. What K-Murdock does is that doesn't add any lyrics to his works, but arranges the music and takes samples from other works for it. Through this he creates a unique sound to his work.
So let's look at my top 5 for K-Murdock's Hero Musik.
Special mention: Where the Wild Thing's Are (Gau)
Gau is an interesting character. He is essentially Mowgli from the Jungle Book. Well he was at least after K-Murdock worked his theme. Adding jungle drums into the background along side the sounds of wild birds. The original theme mostly focused on the softer side of Gau, not the wild animal. K-Murdock gave us the wild side.
What K-Murdock has done has perfectly blended the raw wild side with the soft human side in creating the song. While the softer parts dominate the song, the background sounds of the wild animals and a solid drum-line help keep the wild aspect.
5) A Dying Breed. (Terra)
Let's start off the CD with the theme of one of my favourite Final Fantasy Female protagonists. K-Murdock's re-imagining of Terra's Theme. The original is quite haunting in its own right but what has been done here is that the instruments has been changed to wood winds and synths, giving it a more melancholy feel to it. The woodwinds give this a cool touch because, in my opinion of course, it makes the song feel like a mash-up with something from Illusion of Gaia, which is always a plus in my books.
With the sound of blowing wind at the start and end of the song it invokes a feeling of not just melancholy but desolation and hopelessness.
4) The Ruler's Back (Edgar and Sabin)
When you first hear this song, you are presented with the sounds of grandness. With a military drum-line in the background and the sounds of people cheering, this is a song fit for a king. Musical motif is an important aspect for establishing characters and while the original theme is not bad, this one makes Edgar and Sabin seem like royalty. The added joyous cheering and military drum line is a good touch and establishes their character.
3) Gil Toss Anthem (Setzer)
Setzer is described as a man who finds freedom from society's narrow view of morality. He is a man who above all else values freedom above all else. He is also a man of fine wealth and taste. So when K-Murdock tweaked the Blackjack, he kept those parts of Setzer's personality in check. A man who values his freedom with his devil may care attitude. I can imagine that Setzer would be playing this version of his theme on his ship as it fits him perfectly.
The additions of chanting, a drum-line and even the occasional cash machine chime works wonder for this flying marvel and will forever keep Setzer flying high.
2) Whistles In The Wind (Shadow)
He comes and goes like the wind, swearing allegiance to no one. Hidden behind his wintry gaze lies a face known to none who live.
The previous quote is the flavour text for Shadow. A ruthless assassin, who according to some sources would slit his momma's throat for a nickel. I've said before that music can be effective in establishing a character. Well sometimes the opposite is true. What K-Murdock did with Shadow's theme is nothing short of brilliant. It fluctuates between heavy musical pieces and near absent musical parts. Near the end of the song, the musical pieces are more permanent until the last few seconds where it goes back being solo.
Why is this genius? It signifies Shadow's character in the game. When you first meet him, he is cold and aloof. He wants to be left alone. When you meet with him again, he willingly joins your party, for a price and again goes off on his own. You don't see him until you have to go to Thamasa in which, of course he ditches you. K-Murdock mapped the music to fluctuate between heavy and light the way Shadow is as a party member. It is pure genius.
1) The Last Laugh (Kefka) Featuring Megaran and Storyville
Ah Kefka. When gamers hear that name, the first thing brought to mind is the laugh. You know what I am talking about. That laugh is so iconic that it is no surprise that K-Murdock has included it in this track. But what makes this track shine is the inclusion of Megaran who raps as if he is Kefka Pallazzo himself.
The lyrics are tight and utilizes actual lines from the game sets this above all else. It is an incredibly solid soundtrack and is the perfect end of an awesome soundtrack. Of all tracks, this would quite possibly make an incredible music video and would love to see one. In my own opinion, this is quite possibly the best song of the album.
So what is my final verdict on this soundtrack. Awesome. If you want to get into the Nerdcore scene, this is a great introduction. You can find K-Murdock under the Neosonix label over at Bandcamp.
Tomorrow, I fight alongside Samus Aran as we take on Mother Brain and her Minions in Metroid Metal. I'm Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.