Monday, 7 January 2013

Lost in the Music: Top 10 of 2012

     Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Lost in the Music and I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with friends and family. To get the new year kicked off I decided to do a top 10 of 2012's best new releases. It was hard to choose which album would be featured because last year, there were dozens of great new soundtracks. So here is the top 10 of 2012 .

10: Torchlight II by Matt Uleman

Torchlight II was one of the games I was most anticipating last year and it did not fail to bring many hours of fun and joy with my friends. According to one friend, Torchlight II was everything Diablo III should have been (note: I have yet to play Diablo III).

In my opinion, games like Torchlight II rely heavy on audio communication. Only so much can be said in text so normally one usually has to mute the game before they could play and chat. However, on those nights where you are playing by yourself and you finally get to listen to Matt Uleman's work, you find yourself amazed on just how atmospheric the game. The music is incredibly fitting to the rather grim and dark (not grimdark) the world has become. It's a great soundtrack to listen to on those quiet nights on gaming.

     You can get the soundtrack off of the Torchlight website.

9: Donkey Kong Country 3: Double The Trouble by OCReMix

     When I first reviewed Double the Troubles, I said I was not a fan of DKC3. After going through the album, I decided to go back to the game and give it another chance. I still found it to be lacklustre compared to the first 2 games. However in doing so, it made me appreciate Double the Trouble so much more. They made the world seem more impressive, giving it more life. At parts it retains the colourful nature of the world, and at some parts they make it a bit more dark.

     I know that I am probably a rare voice in my displeasure of Donkey Kong Country 3, but I will freely admit that what the team did here was nothing short of phenomenal. The songs are catchy and fun to listen to with a wide variety of music genres. While it is not as good as Serious Monkey Business, I still encourage people to get the album. The amount of work that went into the album is awe inspiring.

     OCRemiX had a tough task trying to top DKC2: Serious Monkey Business and if I could I would say that they topped it, but sadly they didn't. The album is still enjoyable to listen to and to Emunator's credit he made it enjoyable to me.

You can find the album on the DKC3 OCreMix site.

8: Intergalactic Continuum by The One Ups

     Intergalactic Continuum is a strange album. Instead of re-imagining staples in the genre like Mario and Final Fantasy, the One Ups went in a different direction. They took games such as Double Dragon, Plants vs Zombies and even Angry Birds of all things and made covers of the songs. While they did do a Final Fantasy VII and Legend of Zelda cover, those were the only mainstream soundtracks to get recognition. The rest were the more underground albums.

     I am not saying games like Angry Birds and God of War are underground, indie titles. They are widely well known and well received, but you probably won't remember the music. That is what I like about this album. The One Ups decided to go against the grain and work on music that is either forgettable or haven't been done yet. I like that because it exposes people to music they may be missing out.

     I still won't play Angry Birds though.

     You can purchase this and many other albums off their official Bandcamp page.

7: Dust: An Elysian Tale

     It is not Halo, Gears of War or Fable franchises that make me want to get an Xbox 360. It is a little XBLA game called Dust: An Elysian Tale.

     Hyperduck Soundworks did a wonderful job of bringing the world of An Elysian Tale to life. One thing I often say about the importance of video game music is how it helps makes the world seem real. It helps gives it character and immerse yourself in the world. It works in tandem with the art and characters of the world. You need all three to make a game come to life.

     I own a PS3, not a 360 so I have not had a chance to play Dust yet although I have heard many wonderful things about it. If you own a 360, you owe it to yourself to play this marvellous game. Dust's soundtrack is great to listen to. My only wish is that I had the means to play the game.

     You can find the sound track on the Hyperduck Studio's Bandcamp page.

6: WiiU Grooves: DJ Cutman

     I do believe that WiiU Grooves is the first remix album of the Nintendo's latest home console. Sadly I don't have a WiiU yet so I haven't experienced the music from it so I went into this album not expecting anything.

     Before I listened to WiiU Grooves, I decided to listen to DJ Cutman's other works and I found myself enjoying his musical remixes. They were catchy and had a great beat to them. However WiiU Grooves took me completely surprised as it was not what I was expecting. The music is very relaxing and laid back. I would expect hearing this stuff in a medical office.

     As I said before, I believe this is the first Video Game album I have ever come across that is associated with the music of the system itself. There have been albums in the past which the main feature was a single game or a group of games, but not the system itself. I don't know if its because before the Wii and WiiU there has been no real music while on a console, but given the huge amounts of creativity, I am surprised no one has made an album about other consoles.

     Maybe this will spur other artists and groups to work on other album's based on systems. An album based on the Dreamcast or PS2 would be awesome.

     You can get this album off of DJ Cutman's bandcamp page.

5: Unsung Heroes

     Coming in at number 5 is the first OCReMix album of 2012. Unsung Heroes is great because it features songs that aren't Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, Mega Man or Final Fantasy. This album features remixes from other games such as Lord of the Rings volume 1 on the SNES and Persona 3.

     I really like this album because OCReMix decided to go against the grain and choose games that are under represented in the remix community. You rarely, if ever, see the music from the games featured on Unsung Heroes get arranged. It is indeed a breath of fresh air and hopefully encourages other artists to take a look at these games and work with music beyond the Final Fantasy's and the Mega Man's.

You can download Unsung Heroes off their website.

4: Adventures in Pixels By Ben Landis

      This is a strange album. It's a video game album based off of a comic by the composer of the CD which is inspired by video game tropes. It is eclectic, weird and easily one of the most fun things I have listened to all year.

     The song's sound like they belong a classic console like the Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. There is a certain charm in these songs and makes me think back to the old days of gaming. Landis' work on this album showcased the love he has for classic gaming. The cliche's are present and accounted for and even the song titles seem to be taken from the 16 bit era.

     Chiptunes are hard to do right. There seems to be a mindset amongst people that anyone can do chiptune music with no practice. Chiptunes are like any other musical instrument and they have to be learned. You don't pick up a guitar and suddenly you are Hendrix. If you don't know what you are doing, the music sounds like a garbled mess while the experts like Anamanaguchi, flashygoodness and Ben Landis know what works.

    You can buy Adventures in Pixels on the bandcamp page.

3: Language Arts Trilogy by Random

     Had I kept the three Language Arts album's separate, they would have dominated the list so I thought it would be best to talk about the trilogy as one.

     Random has produced a wonderful Hip Hop Opera with the Language Arts Trilogy. It acts as a fictionalized story of Random's start as a humble teacher and rise to Hip Hop star. Along the way he teaches his students the classics such as The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, wax lyrically about his dreams with songs like City of Angels and goes to do battle his rival to save the love of his life.

     I admit I am a stranger when it comes to Hip Hop music so I don't know if a concept album like the Language Arts trilogy has been done before. That being said, I love what Random did here, turning his life story of teacher turned rapper and made it into a story you want to get involved in. You want to cheer for him and watch as he makes his dreams a reality.

     You can grab the Language Arts Trilogy off of Random's Bandcamp page.

2: Unfinished Swan: Joe Corelitz

     I have debated with myself which game I preferred on the PSN between Journey and The Unfinished Swan. Both games take the medium to new heights in storytelling, visual representation and music. Journey is so well recognized that it is has been nominated for a Grammy. Sadly I haven't played much of Journey to form an opinion but it is on my list of games that I have to play. My friend David has his thoughts of the game so you can check it out.

     The Unfinished Swan is less a video game and more of a interactive story book. It takes a simplistic approach to the story and visuals and uses it's music to draw you into the world. Joe Corelitz did such a superb job on the soundtrack. The songs are nice and laid back and it reminds me of simpler times and does a great service to the game itself.

     If you want buy the game's soundtrack you can purchase it on Corelitz site.

1: Double Dragon Neon by Jake Kaufman

     Coming in at number one on the list is the 80's power ballad tribute that is Double Dragon Neon by Jake Kaufman. I had a hard time deciding between this and The Unfinished Songs because both are incredibly great albums from great games. In the end Double Dragon Neon won because of the genre of music it was emulating. As silly as the soundtrack is, I can't help but smile while listening to Double Dragon Neon. The music is infectious and you can't help but to want to dance to the beat.

      Wayforward Games and Jake Kaufman could have easily made a simple HD remake of the game and not changing anything, but instead they decided to do a send up to the decade of decadence. With the music, Kaufman could have gone the easy way out and do updated remakes of the song, but instead he remade them to emulate the power ballads and hair metal sounds of the 80's. During the final battle I half expected to hear a variation of You Got The Touch by Stan Bush.

     The game is a wonderful send up to the 80's and the soundtrack is absolutely perfect. As I said I had a hard time choosing between this and the soundtrack for The Unfinished Swan, but my love of the eighties won out.

     You can purchase the album on Kaufman's Bandcamp Page.


     What does this year have in store for those who enjoy music? If it's anything like 2012 then I am sure we are in for a wonderful treat this year.

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


     Addendum: I was supposed to be back last week, but my Grandfather had passed away right before Christmas and I haven't been able to focus on work or anything. I do apologize for the delay.

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