Shnabubula Releases NES Jams, Brains Melt

The story picks up immediately where Game Genie ends. A young boy, Tommy, has just defeated his Game Genie, and in its place is a mysterious NES cartridge. Upon placing it in his NES, something wondrous occurs; the message PREPARE TO JAM appears and Tommy approaches his brother’s keyboard. Suddenly, the game and his fingers begin to play music together! Now, this is just a brief summation of the album’s story; the real beauty is the album itself. Just read with me as I take you on an aural tour through the 11 tracks contained on this album. Let us begin.

1. Underwater (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)     2:51

Starts out calm and aquatic sounding… 0:20 brings in some piano work. 0:40 brings in a nice little jazzy part. Pretty nice track; great way to kick the album off. 1:09 kicks off a bit of a calm section, and 1:18 or so is where it really kicks off with some nice arrangement. The piano and the NES accompaniment work phenomenally together. 1:56 or so brings in a series of crescendos. 2:10 is where you can tell the end is coming. Everything keeps on getting better and better until the finale begins at 2:44.

2. Temple (Zelda 2)     3:16

Source kicks off right away, of course. Sam keeps it simple, sticking to the source pretty tightly with minor changes with the accompaniment. 0:29 is where the accompaniment takes off, and the keys follow shortly after. The source is held tightly for the first minute, and then some nice arrangement comes in at 1:09 or so. This is probably one of the best renditions of this theme I’ve heard, and I’ve heard a few. 1:52 brings a breakdown, and it starts to pick up once again at 2:04 or so. 2:16 is where some real awesome piano comes in, and it only gets more awesome from there. The source is loosely held throughout this segment, and comes back in full force with crazy accompaniment at 2:56 or so. Final at about 3:09.

3. Alien Lair (Contra)     3:06

This one starts out kinda tense. 0:17 changes that in an instant; some big stuff is going down somewhere. 0:37 brings even more tension in, with force put into each and every piano note. 1:06 brings a very brief break. This song definitely has a nice feel to it, one that captures quite a few intense emotions in its many layers. 2:04 brings this point home, and even moreso at 2:15. The accompaniment goes pretty nuts from here on out. The end is definitely near at 3:01.

4. Night Sea (Little Nemo the Dream Master)     3:45

And now a well-placed calm spot; don’t be fooled, it’s just the calm before the storm. Shnabubula actually released a video of this track on his Youtube channel as a teaser for the album; it was the second such teaser. 0:32 brings in some nice bass. Nice work on the keys at 0:56 or so, and great accompaniment at 1:04 on. This song definitely has a great flow, one that makes me just want to sway back and forth to the rhythm. Some nice solo at 1:55 or so; back to the source at 2:10 with some embellishments. Naturally; wouldn’t be a Shnabubula track without them. Okay, so maybe not so calm; 2:40 or so brings some pretty crazy piano, and it calms down at 2:56. Very calm at 3:10 or so; it remains this way until the end of the track. The true finale begins at 3:34.

5. Dwelling of Doom (Castlevania 2)     3:16

Funky, just the way I like it! It starts getting even funkier at 0:22 or so. Even crazier parts begin at around 0:56; this song is focused mostly on the keys and the accompaniment only adds to the experience. It starts getting pretty crazy at 1:30 or so; breakdown at 1:50. It really picks back up at 2:07; signature Shnabubula insanity comes in not too long after. I’m still amazed that he can moves his hands as fast as he can; seriously, he must be part machine or something, because this skill is near-inhuman. The finale begins suddenly at 3:10.

6. Kung Fu Alley (NES Original)     4:42

This is completely original, and completely lacks the keys of all the other tracks. Fitting that it’s the middle track; five are before it and five are after it. Very nice rhythm, and very nice to listen to. Apparently, the track was supposed to loop at some point, but it wouldn’t. Ah well, it’s a great song nonetheless. Pretty nice part at 1:32 or so. Short breakdown at 1:58 or so, that goes into another great part; sounds like it could be a stage set atop some cliffs or something. 2:28 brings in some nice duality between dominant parts in the track, and 2:42 brings in some nice backing effects. 3:06 adds in a whole different part that fits in perfectly. Again, the song has some great flow and rhythm to it. Everything fits together perfectly, and it sounds phenomenal. There’s a feeling of something coming at 3:56 or so; probably signaling the finale. And the finale does come in at 4:28 or so.

7. Title (Double Dragon)     3:34

This was the first song Shnabubula released as a teaser on his YouTube channel. Source comes in at the ten-second mark. Very fast-paced, and great to listen to. 0:32 brings a slightly slower part. 0:54 kicks off more source usage and also signals the beginning of some awesome arrangement; check out 1:24. Just when you think the source is gonna kick off again at 1:38, Shnabubula switches it up with a rather beautiful breakdown. It starts picking up again at 2:02. Everything that follows is just pure greatness and insanity, especially at 2:32. Source leaps back in at 2:43, maintaining the same speed from the insanity. The finale kicks off for this song at 3:14. Yes, a 20 second long finale. Great work though.

8. Gemini Man (Megaman 3)     3:57

This is probably one of the more underrated MM3 tracks; let’s see what Shnab can do with this one. Some nice flair comes in at 0:12 or so in the form of source usage. More source usage at 1:06 or so. The accompaniment on this song works so well with the keys, and really helps to set the mood. 1:38 kicks off a nice arranged section. 1:59 brings in a breakdown, and it starts to come together once again at 2:17. 2:51 brings the source usage back into full force, with the usual additions and arrangement. 3:08 is where the accompaniment really adds a feeling of finality to the track; the end is definitely near. 3:24 on reinforces this point, and the finale finally begins at 3:48 or so.

9. Stage 1 (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)     2:59

This kicks off instantly with a great speed and feel. 0:27 makes you just want to yell out HEROES IN A HALF-SHELL! TURTLE POWER! 0:52 has a pretty nice section of keys. 1:12 has the HEROES IN A HALF-SHELL part once again. 1:28 signals the start of a pretty sweet section, focusing on keys with some great accompaniment. 2:14 keeps the speed going with some awesome section, building and building until 2:35 when the finale starts with the HEROES IN A HALF-SHELL part and truly ending at 2:55. Such a great fast song.

10. Area A (Shatterhand)     3:25

In comparison to the previous track, this song is rather slow. But it’s still great; it picks up at 0:17. Okay, maybe it’s not slow; it’s pretty nice. A really smooth section begins at 0:47; 1:14 or so signals another pretty nice section. 1:38 has some more arrangement, and everything’s put together in a wondrous fashion. A sense of finality almost comes in at 2:17 or so; a small breakdown at 2:24 or so also sounds like it is leading up to the end. Some really awesome piano comes in at 2:46 with great crescendos on the accompaniment. The end is near at 3:10, and the song ends at 3:23.

11. Wood Man (Megaman 2)     3:37

Here it is, the final track on this album. Sticks to the source pretty strictly at the start, then takes off at 0:32 with the accompaniment first, and then it really begins with the piano at 0:42. There’s a great breakdown at 1:14, and it continues for some time. This part loosely adheres to the source, keeping the same rhythm but adding in many many more parts. Great work on the keys from 2:00 on. 2:19 keeps the insanity going. I’m surprised his hands aren’t on fire by now; this is such an insane speed. Some source resumes at 2:42 with more crazy piano playing; it normalizes at 2:55 or so. Some nice accompaniment effects begin at the three-minute mark, really adding to the sense of finality. They pick up even more at 3:22 or so. The finale begins at 3:32, and the end of the album is shortly after.

To help publicize the release of the album, Shnabubula organized a listening party on 3/15, hosted on Noise Channel Radio. The show, run by virt’s wife Truestar, peaked at 100 listeners, and the album is currently at #5 on the Bandcamp top sellers list. It’s actually pay-what-you-want, so if you want it free, you can get it for free. But I’m sure that Shnabubula would appreciate some payment on it; he certainly deserves it. The album can be found both on Ubiktune and Bandcamp; it’s well worth the download, and the money if you choose to actually buy it. Stay tuned for an interview with Shnabubula, among other things. Until next time, game on!

ReMixer Spotlight: Rexy

Everyone in this community knows who Rexy is; with her haunting piano renditions of favorite tracks, she’s rather well known. I recently had a nice chat with her, bringing about another long-awaited entry in my Interview with a ReMixer series. Here’s the result of an interview that almost never was. More on that afterwards.

[EXPAND Click here to view my  exclusive interview with Rexy!]

Mirby: What started your interest in video game music?

Rexy: For games, I’ve always shown interest towards the visual representation and ideas pretty much since the first Sonic the Hedgehog title, though for a long time I had this strange mentality that the songs that came from the systems I played were little more than keyboard demos; not going against the likes of Masato Nakamura or Dave Wise or the likes I was exposed to as a child, but that’s how they rubbed off.  On a music level, I didn’t feel fully drawn into the scores themselves until around 1998, which was when my system of choice was the original PlayStation. The first score I believe I appreciated for more than just a keyboard demo was that for the original Klonoa, which had that sort of Disney movie charm that moved me just as much as the game itself. Games released later in the PS1’s lifespan, including Spyro the Dragon, Ape Escape and even the port of Final Fantasy VI also helped boost that awareness considerably, thus making me start to understand the creative decisions behind writing videogame music scores.

M: Ape Escape is awesome.

R: Yeah, hard to remix because it’s practically a DnB score though. 😛

M: I would imagine. What started your interest in remixing?

R: My interest kicked in not long after I discovered OverClocked Remix back in around 2003, no thanks to my research on the subject of Sonic Crackers which led to the discovery of Malcos’s “Dirty Beta“. At around the same time, I was already taking up Saturday afternoon music tuition, which was split half-and-half between piano tutoring and handling of MIDI sequencers. So by discovering OCRemix, and seeing how the user submissions came together, I had this ambition from the start to try myself but I had no idea on what would be considered the right tools for the task. I did however keep focused on the weekend tuition, hoping that one day I’d be able to make a remix out of  my tutor’s tools, which finally happened not long after he got a copy of Reason.

M: Nice!

R: You really got to get me to think hard about these.

M: Hey, it’s my journalistic duty.

R: I know, not questioning anything

M: I make people use their brains. Haha. Any tracks that you’ve done that you like more or are more proud of than the others?

R: There’s definitely several highlights. Usually I tend to shy away from putting my OWN stuff on my iPod, but when stuff of mine DOES go on there, it’s usually those that I have felt the most proud of. One that I simply “like more” was the first track I ever won a PRC with, the Yoshi’s Island arrangement “Dream an Eastern Peace” with Prophecy; while I acknowledge now that it’s considered too liberal for some peoples’ tastes, the process behind it made it a memorable experience and made  it a great experience within the electronica sub-genre.  I guess “Dream Traveler” on Summoning of Spirits could also have gone that same way; some people might not have understood the arrangement idea behind it (with it being some hidden Klonoa tribute in Tales arrangement form), but those that did understand have interpreted the idea into a really positive way.

For those that I have an immense amount of pride over, I can easily think of three at the top of my head. Working with GrayLightning on the Castlevania: CotM remix “Time’s Anxiety” was one incredible experience, and I had known for a long time when I started out on the arrangement that he wanted to see what he can do with my writing style. The finished production on his end literally made me shiver, and with all the critical acclaim that followed it really made it pay off. “The Feather’s Reflection” on Threshold of a Dream was another strong highlight, though to be fair given the track’s age I had no idea how it would stand against the current-day audience, and to be given a huge amount of critical praise there too (most notably from fellow project musician Benjamin Briggs) really boosted my confidence to the point that I sent it to the OCRemix judges’ panel for feedback, as well as being one of those turning points for getting back INTO the community on a social level. And I can’t go through these “proud moments” without brining up “Hogtied” for The Sound of Speed. I knew from the start that that would be a completely different way of arranging on my part, but my experiences through project manager halc and resulting collaboration partner Brandon Strader ultimately made me feel more receptive to newer blood and the ideas they bring over, and the fan feedback behind the track really amplified those feelings tenfold. So yes, definitely several tracks that I feel extremely happy about. lol 20 minute question.

M: Hehe. I do enjoy chth’s comment on The Feather’s Reflection [This being the comment: Ben Briggs: “see, if (The Feather’s Reflection) had played during eagle’s tower instead of the original music, I might not have wanted to ragequit so many times” – Mirby], and I know people who agree with it. Myself included.

R: You know feedback is awesome feedback if you chose to sig it.

M: That is true. Are there any remixers you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

R: I’m personally holding out for a collab with CarboHydroM personally (!!), but I know he’s that busy he might not have time for much beyond his own personal projects. That aside, I could probably see myself working with any male vocalists or saxophone players depending on what I run into, not to mention having some temptation on working with Sixto and Level 99. But since most of my collaborations tend to materialise more by chance, it would actually be difficult to say where my next collaboration experiences may go.

M: A very good point. Although a collab between you, Sixto, and Stevo (both of whom I’ve interviewed before, coincidentally) would be quite epic. Do you have a favorite track from a game?

Another 20 minute question? (I had waited about 15 minutes for this question; I’m keeping these in partially for comedic effect, partially as an insight into the interview process and to keep in vital text that would make no sense without this chronal context. – Mirby)

R: I find it so hard to judge BGM [background music] as they tend to cover so many different scopes depending on what you’re looking for. Most of my favorites have a tendency to have shown origins on 32-Bit systems and beyond, which have included “Blue Knife” from Bust-A-Groove, the boss music for Dr. Neo Cortex in the Crash Bandicoot series (most notably its incarnation in the third game), the Staff Roll music from the original Klonoa (part of the inspiration for “Dream Traveler” btw), the infamous Bathroom Rap from Parappa the Rapper (if only for the novelty behind it!!), and one of the most stand-alone-awesome tracks ever form that era – Gran Turismo’s “Moon Over the Castle”, which I thank KyleJCrb for raising awareness behind that track! There have also been some scores that I have shown appreciation for different reasons than listenability, including the scores for Ristar, Live-A-Live and Katamari Damacy, though like all forms of music they’re there for listening to when the time is right. Not another 20 minute question, a fucking hard one.

M: Heh, these were written nearly two years ago. Guess I did something right back then.

R: You certainly did.

M: If that one was hard, get ready for the penultimate one! Do you have a favorite video game composer?

R: For a long time I’ve been a sucker for the works of Yoko Shimomura due to her ways of writing according to feeling, which is what I sometimes feel about myself as an arranger as well. The awareness with her really peaked when I started playing through the original Kingdom Hearts, and after being able to see some of her other scores since, her works in general have somewhat of a mesmerising quality to me most notably with the writing. Other composers I have shown a huge amount of appreciation for in the past have included Stewart Copeland from the Police (Spyro 1-4), Mutato Muzika (the Crash Bandicoot titles on the PS1, and due to Mark Mothersbaugh’s involvement it also brought in awareness for Devo!!), Spiralmouth (Crash Twinsanity), Koichi Sugiyama (Dragon Quest) and Tenpei Sato (the Disgaea series). A little easier, actually.

M: I had no idea that the Spyro composer was from the Police.

R: He played the drums.

M: This means that Spyro could conceivably be linked to Kevin Bacon then.

R: I wish I understood that gag. Oh wait…

M: Final question time! What do you enjoy most about remixing?

R: What I enjoy most about remixing is being able to grow not only as a writer but also as a person as well. In regards to writing, one may think that they’re shoe-horned into a certain writing mentality, but by being able to branch outside of the box every now and again and experimenting with new methods, you may discover various techniques that you thought you would never have had. That to me is the way that people ideally would grow as arrangers, by being able to dive into new challenges thrown at them and see what happens. As for growth as a person, the way of life as a remixer is a very difficult and grueling process, and if you don’t toughen yourself up to both constructive criticisms and unjustified hatred then you may struggle to last long at all. I’m still not the most emotionally stable person in the world either, but by knowing about the mature mindset, getting along with other arrangers and site members, and just having fun about your writing, that kind of cooperation would make you feel both safe and secure in regards to writing. In other words, I enjoy mixing because of the wonderful community at large, and all the pursuits that can ultimately emerge from it.

M: Everyone seems to love it for the community, and no surprise; it’s a great community. And it’s all thanks to Lord Pretzel… oh wait…

R: The OC ReMix community, definitely. 🙂

M: The greater community is also pretty nice too…

R: Yeah, bit of a shame that VGmix is out of the picture though… But alas, thank you very much Mirby! Good timing too, because I gotta run for the bus!

M: It’ll be reborn as something new, I’m sure. Well, thanks for your time. This has been one of my longer interviews but it was fun.

R: Not a problem, it was definitely a firm process.

M: Also, the only other person who had to leave quickly at the end was djpretzel. Leave with that on your mind. Thanks again!

R: No idea you interviewed djp, but I’ll see some of your other interviews during lunch hour if I can. Cheers![/EXPAND]

It was a rather fun interview too, but alas my IRC app didn’t save the log so this almost never was pasted. Thankfully, Rexy gave me the log, so now you all get to read the awesomeness! You can read more about her at her artist profile Viewing Artist: Rexy. Until next time, game on!!


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!