Double Interview: New EPs by Amphibious and ProjektZero

I recently got the chance to interview Amphibious and ProjektZero about their respective EP releases: Oceans and Getting to Know You. Both artists have associations with the arrangement community, so I asked them each about the stories behind the making of their tracks, their influences and how creative competitions have affected their work.

Amphibious – Oceans EP

Amphibious has gained a reputation for creating ambient, chilled music with fluid movement. To that end, his release Oceans is a concept EP, specifically referencing a journey through the sea as a topic. Amphibious explained his motivations for exploring a musical narrative. “I’ve always been told my songs remind people of water for some reason, and the ideas I came up with definitely had that vibe, so I decided to add a theme to my EP. It also sort of fits with the name Amphibious, which is cool too.”

Work on the album began in early June and continued over the summer. He stated that, “I’d been experimenting with music a lot over the last year or so. I got Komplete in May for my birthday, and I spent a few weeks learning the various things in the package. But for the most part, the songs I started never did get finished. One of my roommates and I were talking about how I didn’t really see many through to the end, so I decided I’d take this summer as an opportunity to change that. I sat down and got some ideas ready. That is when I started to work on my new songs for the EP.”

Meteo Xavier contributed the EP’s artwork. Amphibious initially created a cover image himself, and related an anecdote to that effect: “I knew my artwork was bad when I originally made it, but I figured something quick and shoddy would be better than nothing. I got a few comments on OC ReMix about how bad it was; Meteo in particular wanted to redo it himself and I guess he decided to whip something up quick. I’m really happy with it, he did it pretty quickly but it’s infinitely better than what I had before.  Many thanks to him.”

When asked about the contributing factors to his musical style, Amphibious noted that “This particular album had a lot of influence from David Arkenstone. He did a lot of world and Celtic music such as the tavern music in World of Warcraft, but he released a chillout album that I absolutely love. ‘Plunge’ in particular draws influence from that.  I would also say the Metroid Prime soundtrack has had some influence on me as well.”

The track “Pelagic Fortress” on the EP started off as an entry for a composition competition.  Amphibious shared his thoughts on time-constrained musical gatherings: “When I first heard about compo, it seemed like a cool idea, but two hours sounded so short.  However once I tried it, I was pretty amazed at what I could come up with in such a short time frame. ‘Pelagic Fortress’ in particular fit the theme of my album very well. Overall the compos definitely have helped me with efficiency. And having a theme given to you is sometimes a helpful way to come up with new ideas.”

Oceans EP is currently available at Bandcamp for free, or pay-what-you-want pricing. Amphibious is pleased with the response to the release, noting that “I’d still consider myself a bit of an amateur, and there have been some fair criticisms, but some people have really enjoyed my stuff and I’m very pleased with that.”

ProjektZero – Getting to Know You

Matt “ProjektZero” Rittinghouse identifies with the nerdcore scene, though his music has recently gravitated away from his rap roots and toward groove-based, melodic pop songwriting. His EP carries a unifying concept, as he expressed that “the theme with Getting to Know You is that I wanted each song to provide some glimpse at me as a person, or the things I feel. ‘Loop On’ deals with relationships; ‘331’ and ‘Mannequins’ deal with friendships and isolation; ‘The Stand’ deals with my geekier tendencies; and ‘Fake It’ deals with this sort of transition out from my teenage years.”

Untested Methods and zircon are credited with mixing on specific tracks. Matt explained how these collaborations came about: “I met Eric (Methods) at Nerdapalooza 2010. I’m a huge fan of a lot of his remixes, but I’m probably a bigger fan of the chiptune-infused synthpop style he has developed in his independent work. He and I are both music production geeks that use FL Studio, so we’ve been chatting fairly regularly since Nerdapalooza, and we’ve tried several efforts at collaboration along the way. This was just the first one that made it to a finalized, published product.”

Matt considers zircon and the OC ReMix community to be a great motivation and influence on his production. He elaborated on zircon’s contribution to the EP: “I’ve had zircon on my contacts list since he did a series of FL Studio production tutorials a few years back. I had been struggling very, very hard to mix ‘The Stand’. I’d worked on it for eight hours a day, for three days straight, and had finally just fallen into despair over mixing the song. So I shot zircon a message, and he graciously offered to help me out. He pretty much saved that track from falling apart.”

Getting to Know You includes a cover version of a song by Brad Turcotte called “Fake It”. Matt expressed his desire was to cover this song, and include it on the EP. “Through my old school nerdcore ways, I’m hip to a place called SongFight, where Brad is a regular competitor. I feel like I’m a broken record for saying it, but I’m a huge fan of his work, and his entire album Out of It is absolutely classic to me. I specifically chose ‘Fake It’ because I felt like it sort of encapsulated the changes that I went through in college. I think that song feels like every twenty-something’s anthem.”

JG Hollowell, also known as Mithurn, provided the second rhythm guitar heard on “Loop On”. Matt talked about how they both became acquainted: “JG is an old, old friend of mine. Probably since before I started making music, or at least somewhere around that time frame. I met him through an MMO, but it just so happened that he lived in Charleston close to me. I went off to college, but met back up with him shortly after I graduated.” Matt also remarked on their collaborative process by saying that, “He presents a whole different dynamic to songwriting when I work with him. I can’t just fall back into sequencing; I have to work live. I’m playing guitar and singing, trying to come up with melodies or chords on the spot. He has a lot more of a free jam session background, and I strongly respect that. ‘Loop On’ evolved from a jam between us.”

The track “Mannequins” on the EP originated as a track ProjektZero made for a compo. Matt expressed his thoughts on the composition competition experience, stating  “I absolutely feel that the compos benefited me. I’ve put out six albums since I’ve started doing them. Of course, most of those directly came from the compos. This new EP is more refined, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the compo experience. The advice and the high pressure trial-and-error was just invaluable to shaping my songwriting.” He agreed that the mannequin concept from One Hour Compo was somewhat unusual, but felt that “that’s what was liberating about it. I couldn’t get lost in the theme, specifically because it was obscure. So to really thrive with mannequins as a concept, you had to make it your own. And I think that’s what made that week’s theme probably my favorite one of the entire series so far.”

Getting to Know You is available now at Bandcamp with free or name-your-price options. The cover art was created by Brett Houston.

Quick Look: Mega Ran’s “Pump It Up” feat. Adam WarRock


Although we’ve gushed about his unadulterated expertise in the past, we find it absolutely necessary to show to the world how amazing Mega Ran’s new video is.  Joining nerdcore giants MC Chris and MC Lars this fall for the Race Wars Tour, rap virtuoso Mega Ran has just released a new video with none other than the incredibly talented Adam WarRock, this year’s breakthrough artist at Nerdapalooza. Along with its scandalously catchy beats, “Pump It Up” features the best of both performers — Mega Ran brings his own A-game with superb fluidity, backed by WarRock’s assertive yet unforgettable rhymes. Peep “Pump It Up” above and get ready to start bobbing your head right until the end.

 

The ‘Quick Look’ series  is your biweekly source for videos of emerging artists, rad performances, or just about anything awesome that we can get away with posting that involves the VGM community. Have any cool videos to link us with? Shoot me an e-mail at [email protected] Be sure to click on the ‘Quick Look’ category below to satiate your visual appetite here at ThaSauce.

Triple Review!!! Benjamin Briggs, ProtoDome, and WillRock!

She’s done the normal single review, she’s possibly created the double review… what will Taylor Brown do next to top herself? Nothing but the logical evolution of this series. Much like how Pokémon Black and White introduced Triple Battles to the series, I shall now attempt to fuse the two into a new thing. And there’s nothing else to call it but… THE TRIPLE REVIEW!! And no, this is not just a hasty way for me to clear my backlog. Maybe. Regardless, in this edition I shall review Benjamin Brigg‘s Attention Deficit EP, released much earlier this year; ProtoDome‘s BLUENOISE, also from earlier this year; and WillRock‘s Refraction of a Dream. All three of these come from wacky people well-known around the community who are quite talented in their musical stylings, and much like fine wine have only improved with age. So, without further ado, I present to you… THE TRIPLE REVIEW!! Woohoo!

BENJAMIN BRIGGS – ATTENTION DEFICIT EP

1. Too Soon – 4:06
Starts off pretty nice… nice rhythm. 0:17 brings in some more melodic parts. At 0:32, it all changes, and by 0:40 the main meat of the track kicks in. 0:55 brings a brief breakdown. 1:20 or so brings in a change with Mario fireball sounds keeping rhythm. Nice idea there, chth. It starts to come back together at about 1:58. Chippiness at around 2:20. The fireballs fade away at 2:30 or so. Another breakdown at 2:40 or so, followed by another buildup. 3:18 brings in a pretty cool effect that keeps the track going. Much like the title of the album, these instruments keep changing as rapidly as an ADHD kid’s focus of attention. Ends with racecar sounds.
2. Benji Needs A Lawyer – 3:47
OBJECTION! Oh wait, my bad. Starts off with the basic rhythm, and 0:16 brings in another layer intermittently until about 0:34 when another layer is added. 1:04 brings in the bass. 1:20 brings it all together. This is a good track; makes me start to move and groove. 1:48 brings in some nice chipchimes. Remember, I’m now using chip- as a prefix. Nice mixup at around the 2:10 mark, followed by a slight breakdown and solo at about 2:44. Chippy awesomeness right here. Breaks down at about 3:15 in preparation for the end. At 3:35, the end is definitely near.
3. Troll 4 Life – 3:51
The previous track flows right into this one. Nice chippy effects at 0:35 or so. Even cooler ones at 1:04. This track seems to be just a rhythm with random sound effects, which is fine by me. It proves me wrong at 1:31 with some melody. Johnny Bravo sampling at the 2 minute mark! Okay, this track is now about 500% more awesome. Solo at 2:32. Reminds me of the old Sonic tunes a bit. It starts to fade out at 3:20. Beavis and Butthead sampling at 3:40.
4. I Can Has This Dance? – 3:55
No, you can no has this dance, chth. But you can has a review! Great usage of sound effects again; in this case, it sounds like the Mario 3 death sounds, both the enemy and Mario’s sounds. The main melody slowly builds in the background until 1:07 when it explodes in awesomeness. 1:40 brings in another layer of instrumentation, and 1:48 throws one more on top. It’s a beautiful haunting melody, that almost reminds me of Lavender Town from the original Pokémon games. 3:04 brings a gradual fade, with the sounds of Mario coming back to the forefront.
5. Love The Game – 3:51
Starts out awesomely. Nice ambient howl-thing at about 0:24. Think I heard this same instrument in VVVVVV’s soundtrack. Breakdown at 0:54. Chipchimes in the background sound great. It all explodes at 1:32, bringing a much fuller soundscape. Slight breakdown at about 2:08. Buildup at 2:18, which explodes at 2:30 with singing. Is this chth himself? I think it is. Not too shabby, even though I think I heard a faint hint of autotune. More howl at 3:05. This heralds the final part of the song, which starts to fade out at 3:34.
6. I’m Nobody (feat. Cornelius Rawness) – 2:54
And now for the final track of this album, which starts out with rough and muffled chiprhythms. At about 0:20, singing comes in. It’s pretty good; I’m enjoying it, and the effects help it fit right into the atmosphere of the track. Great writing; not many songs use “codependency” in their lyrics. The main music is pretty good too; well done. 1:46 brings in Cornelius’ part. Nice usage of the Sonic sound effects. 2:24 brings the chorus back. “I’m nobody, I’m nobody, I’m nobody… at all…” Finale at 2:46. Great work, Ben!

PROTODOME – BLUENOISE

1. Hello World. – 1:07
Atmospheric!! More atmosphere at 0:31. Nice finale at 0:57.
2. 9am Skies. – 2:21
Did I just start listening to an Animal Crossing song? 0:15 shows that I didn’t, with a mix of Proto’s chip mastery and jazz stylings. I don’t think anyone else could do chipjazz quite like ProtoDome. Nice melody. Slight breakdown at 1:18, and another 1:27. This is reminding of Pilotwings now. Another solo at 1:51. The end is near at 2:07.
3. Blueberry Jam! – 2:17
Nice rhythm to kick it off. 0:17 brings in more music. He really is jamming right here. No sign of blueberries, but this is a nice jam. 0:43 or so brings in a breakdown, which ends at 0:57. The chippiness of this song is epic. A change-up comes at 1:26 or so. Breakdown at 1:48 or so which heralds the end.
4. Bitmap_Blues. – 1:56
How many songs do you know of that use underscores in their titling? I can only think of this one and a few on Reanimation. Ooh, jazzy! This is soooooo 8-bit, I’m loving it. Nice work at 0:36. I want to play an NES game with this music. And just pause it so the music plays indefinitely. Nice solo at 1:20. The end is in sight at about 1:35.
5. Heat Death – 2:54
IT BURNS!! IT BURNS SO GOOD! If I died in a fire, this is what I’d want to hear in my last moments of consciousness. Nice job setting up the atmosphere. 0:30 brings in chippified vocal samples. Breakdown at about 0:58. This is such an ethereal track, it’s beautiful. Chipvox comes in again at 1:24. Beautiful breakdown at about 1:48. Changeup at 2:04, which seems to bring in more real instrumentation. Chips return at 2:34 to bring in the end.
6. Her #0000ff Eyes… – 2:54
I think that’s… blue? Bumpin’ bassline, Blake! Chips at 0:24. Slight breakdown at 0:55 or so. Bassline remains quite prominent, and a nice key solo here. More chippiness at 1:14. Nice solo at about 1:38. This song has me movin’ around while reviewing. The rhythm is infectious. 2:29 brings about the finale of the track.
7. Zero-G Lemonade. – 2:09
And now for the finale of the album. How would Zero-G Lemonade even work? Would you float around with it and drink the suspended lemonade particles? Ahem, back to the review. Nice instrumentation in this track. 0:44 brings in a vocal sample stating the track’s name. Hard to hear but it’s there. Nice piano parts interspersed throughout this song. 1:43 replays the chipvox. 1:55 heralds the end of the song, and thus the album.

WILLROCK – REFRACTIONS OF A DREAM

1. Fatigued – 1:42
Ooh, ambient. I feel fatigued just listening. 0:27 brings in guitar reminiscent of Pink Floyd. Or at least, that’s how it sounds playing off the background music. Great work here, Will! 1:14 ends the guitar for a changeup that presumably sets the stage for the rest of the album.
2. Down The Rabbit-Hole – 2:24
Oooh, nice bassline. Nice chimes at 0:09. I like the increasing speed of the chimes, and how they stop at 0:30 for more ambience. OH GOD I’M FALLING INTO A HOLE!! A HOLE WITH WEIRD AMBIENT SOUNDS AND STUFF! Also weird voices at 1:09. This song is extremely weird; the visuals on my media player aren’t helping. I really feel like I just fell into another realm, one that is far different than our own. 2:08 brings in breathing. Not nearly as creepy as effects I’ve used before.
3. Pool Of Tears – 2:11
This album flows cohesively. Nice chimes and acoustic guitar. I’m glad that absurdity is over, fun as it was. Electric guitar at 0:33. Speed increases at 1:15 slightly before stopping seconds later. Bass picks up at 1:28. Nice rhythm at 1:48 that slows down as quickly as it starts. No doubt prepping the next track.
4. The Garden Waltz – 0:53
Kicks off immediately with what could be used as a game over effect. Waltz rhythm at 0:11. I never thought I’d hear Will make a waltz but hey. Should’ve been an epic guitar waltz. It ends suddenly at about 0:35.
5. The Caterpillar – 1:24
Bassline at 0:15. Building guitar that stops at 0:35 or so. Nice woodwind at 0:48 or so. Reminds me of Easton from the original Mario Land. The end comes quickly at about 1:16.
6. Tulgey Wood – 1:44
It flows right into this track that begins with piano. Slow, somber piano. It stops at 0:30 and replaces it with intermittent effects. Piano returns at 0:54 with a fuller soundscape. More effects at 1:22, straight from the ’80s. Chimes at 1:30 or so.
7. Lost – 1:44
It’s birdcussion! Piano kicks in almost right away with drums. Awesome guitar at 0:26 or so. Piano comes in at about 0:54, with woodwind shortly after. It ends at 1:40.
8. Don’t Step On The Mone Raths – 1:24
Will, it’s spelled “mome raths.” Eh, no matter. Trippy effect here. Is this the sound mome raths make when you step on them. This track is just full of ambience. It’s well done, don’t get me wrong. But there’s a lot of it.
9. Refractions Of A Dream – 2:06
Title track time!! This song is fuller than the previous, complete with synth rhythm almost right at the start. Guitar at 0:46. Guitar cuts out at 1:22 or so, only to be replaced by some more ambience. It slows down at 1:40 with more ambient sound effects. The last seconds set up the last track.
10. The Queen Of Hearts – 4:11
Nice rhythm to kick it off! Dramatic beat at 0:22. Chimes at to the rhythm, and 0:45 brings in chippy awesomeness!! Slight breakdown of the chippiness at 1:15 or so, only to return at 1:28 or so. This is a weird song, as it seems to end at 1:58, only to pick right back up. Screech at 2:14 brings the track to a halt. Guitar screech at 2:43. More trippiness follows. Honestly, I have no idea what is going on, but I’m a little scared. Seriously, great mind-trick performed by this track. Easton-esque woodwind rhythm comes in for a second, only to be replaced by ticking, and more ominous ambience. It ends at 4:08.

CONCLUSION
That… Well, I think the whole triple review thing worked out well. It was only 23 tracks, taking up a total playtime of less than an hour. First off, Ben’s album. I enjoyed it immensely, and it was a really fun listen. I hope that he comes out with more stuff like this in the future, because I loved it that much. As for Proto’s album BLUENOISE, it was more of the same from him. But that’s a very good thing, since it was full of really nice tracks that showcased his abilities with the chiptune style of music. Also, the track names were awesome. Lastly, Will’s album. It was… well, I’ll be blunt and say it was the weirdest album I have ever listened to, one I never thought I’d ever hear, and one that I don’t think will ever have anything even remotely similar to it. It really did mess with my mind a little, but you know what? That’s okay. The song titles obviously allude to Wonderland, and with that connection, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Excellent work, Will!
In conclusion, these three albums have been out for quite some time now, waiting to be heard, waiting to be reviewed. And it wasn’t until now that I decided I would review them. Now that I have listened to them and reviewed them, I’m happy that I did. All three showcase the artist’s talents. In Ben’s case, it’s paying homage to the classic games of yesteryear, when the technology on the system only allowed very few simultaneous sounds. For ProtoDome, it’s his talent to just keep creating wonderful music in styles he’s quite skilled with. And in Will’s case, it’s his talent to just create something off the wall, so outside the box it’s kilometres away. I think that’s what they use in Britain. Anyways, all three demonstrated that what they do, they do well. And it’s my sincere hope that they continue to do so in the future. I’ll be uploading new reviews every day this week, so stay tuned. And until next time, game on!!

Howard Drossin Backs Splatterhouse Remixes

Thanks to a tip from the amazing Jeriaska of the VGM-based community Nobuooo, we’ve been on a huge Howard Drossin kick lately. I mean, come on – what is there not to like about this man’s talent? Known for his seemingly random (albeit kickass) collaborations with top honchos like jazz composer Terence Blanchard and hip-hop producer RZA, Drossin is especially known in the VGM scene for his continued participation in the Sonic franchise over the years along with an impressive number of other notable scores as Sega’s former music director. If that doesn’t spark your fancy, the fact that Drossin’s work has been subjected as  one of the best OverClocked Remix albums of 2006 definitely should.

Anyway, enough fanboy talk. Even with his limited involvement within the video game industry lately, Drossin has done it again and released not one, but THREE amazing albums on Bandcamp. What really stands out for us, however, is Drossin’s open invitation for other independent game score composers to ‘butcher’ his music from the 2010 Splatterhouse remake. Appropriately titled Butchered by Various Artists, this remix album features several notable musicians like Chris Geehan, winner of Microsoft’s ‘Dream.Build.Play’ Challenge and Crashfaster, composer of the incredibly addictive Knifetank series. Independent Games Festival nominee Mattias Häggström Gerdt and “Make Something RADD” winner Tony Dickinson also make an epic appearance on the release.  In other words, brace yourself for free impressive remixing goodness. Yes, this album also happens to be obtainable for  free download. What are you waiting for?

Butchered by Various Artists as well as Drossin’s other phenomenal Splatterhouse albums (here and here) are available on Bandcamp now for download. Congratulations to everyone involved in the album, as well as Jeriaska for his own involvement in such an inspiring project.

Metroid 25th Anniversary Fan Album Harmony of a Hunter Released

This weekend marks the 25th anniversary of the Metroid franchise. I spoke with Darren, founder of the Metroid enthusiast website Shinesparkers, about the fan arrangement album he directed titled Harmony of a Hunter. The release features thirty-six tracks covered by twenty-four artists paying tribute to the Metroid series in a variety of genres.

Darren expressed his passion for the franchise and detailed his inspiration for taking on such an album project: “I noticed that Nintendo seemed quite focused on celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise, and I felt that Metroid was becoming overlooked. So I thought to myself that if Nintendo can’t do anything to mark my favourite franchise, then I would. It turns out that I wasn’t alone because a lot of people in the community wanted the anniversary to be marked and this is what gave me the determination to make this project work.” Darren also felt that music of the series was deserving of tribute, as he states  “Metroid has a great deal of memorable music that compliments the atmosphere that the series gives”.

The project began in December 2010 and involved a great deal of artists and other specialists in its creation. Darren spoke of how his communication skills came of use in directing the album, which he felt was an crucial component of directing the project: “In my opinion, communication is the key element to ensuring a project like Harmony of a Hunter works. I worked as closely as I could with people and offered suggestions and critique on certain tracks. I offered my thoughts where I felt they were needed but never pushed, demanded or limited the creative flow of the individual. If I did, the album would never have had the diverse range of talent that we have. I also feel that the project would have become more of a chore than a celebration. Asking for a track to be handed in by a certain date with no further communication just wouldn’t work.”

Harmony of a Hunter carries a wide selection of styles and genres. Darren expressed his views on this eclecticism and the cohesiveness of the release as a whole: “I feel the diversity of the album was important because I wanted an album that would appeal to as many people as possible.” He commended Lee “The Orichalcon” Barber’s mastering of the album under the circumstances, as he reveals that “Lee has done a great job at blending some of these tracks into others which surprisingly, flow very well. Due to the nature of the project this was always going to be a tricky to master, but Lee has previous experience with mastering projects and I trust his judgment and his skills.”

Darren reached out to the OverClocked ReMix community when he conceived the project: “I have always admired musicians such as The Orichalcon, DarkeSword, zircon… and in the early days of the project I wouldn’t have even dreamed that they would have contributed to this. I am so very thankful that they did because their contributions have been excellent.” At one point, some discussion had taken place regarding possible endorsement as an official OC ReMix album; however due to Darren’s goal of releasing it on the Metroid anniversary, this was not feasible.

Harmony of a Hunter is available now at the Shinesparkers fan site, which features exclusive content related to the Metroid franchise. The album landing page was designed with the help of Erik “VikingGuitar” Peabody, incorporating artwork contributed by Nate “FoxxDragon” Horsfall.

IGN Releases Metroid 25th Anniversary Tribute Medley Video

 

So you’re probably wondering what could possibly transpire in less than two days to cause us to post not one, but TWO Shnabubula-related articles within a twenty-four hour time frame. Well normally we’d be against double posting, but this time we really couldn’t help ourselves.

IGN has just released a musical tribute video in honor of Metroid’s twenty-fifth anniversary with none other than the humble Sam Ascher-Weiss and Gabe Terracciano, another wonderful YouTube musician who helps to (rather ingeniously) tear up almost all Metroid soundtracks in the span of a ten-minute long video. Two brilliant melodists equals double the awesome, don’t you agree?

Check out Shnabubula’s mind-boggling collaboration with Mr. Terracciano above, or right here for some wholesome Metroid goodness.

Utterly Insane Preview for Shnabubula’s Upcoming Album Game Genie

Music prodigy Sam Ascher-Weiss, more often known as Shnabubula, has remained incredibly productive as of late. With almost 900 subscribers and over 231,000 views on YouTube, Shnabubula’s reputation for piano improvisation and almost deranged time signatures cannot be denied.

Especially displaying his effortless talent with tracks like “Playing Super Mario World While Taking Mushrooms” and the ultimate MagFest 6 hit “Terra’s Got Her Groove Back” here at ThaSauce, we are thrilled to announce Shnabubula’s forthcoming chiptune album Game Genie. “Aqua Fever”, the latest track from the upcoming album, is a breathtaking example of his natural ability to decipher key transitions with a drop of a hat.

Preview Shnabubula’s insane talent on “Aqua Fever” for Game Genie here, out on Ubiktune soon!