Any experienced gamer is sure to recognize a few of the tunes (some in their original form, sampled, and set amidst a slightly different background) from a number of legendary game systems. Just seeing the inside jacket of the album is worth having this CD: picture an open floor with nearly every gaming console ever made! And believe me, a few of those are so obscure, it takes quite a game historian to name them all. Personally, I spent some time petting the tiny picture of the extra-rare Nintendo 3 (an 8-bit NES stylishly imitating is 16-bit follow-up), sighing gently.
With each system came several great new timbres, distinguishable only to the trained 8-bit, Atari, etc. generation ears. This disc does a great job offering the best of each generation’s game sounds and maintaining a raw purity – and ironically these older tones seem a bit more edgy. Granted some of these songs are not for casual listening â€“ a number of them, like Future Eater and Panicsville border on abstraction and noise-art. The opening track, 2600 is a short but stunning example of the sounds one could attain in a properly tweaked system. Fans of early electronic and avant-garde artists like Karlheinz Stockhausen or Morton Subotnick will probably find this mix a playful romp, all others, just be ready for something unique.
Aside from intensive listening there is a song or two on the mix that some people might find objectionable, I must say. While I found it laugh-out-loud funny, the tunes may inspire some odd looks from others or embarrassing questions from a young child who does not quite understand the delicate humor behind asexual robots, hamsters, and rear-ends (“you can’t use a porcupine”). But seriously, check out track 8. I prefer to roll down Main Street with it turned up rather loud. I’ve yet to determine whether its novelty will wear thin, but for now I am living large with 4096.
Some of these songs will come off sounding very danceable, and at times you just wish a drum and bass track would enter, thumping away. Icon/Prix has some great qualities that are just begging to be thrown into an all-out techno mix, but it genuinely holds its own for the most part. As the CD progresses, a few of the tracks are more modernized and feature more standard electronic samples, steady beats and some finely processed voiceovers (as implied by 4096). At all times the old-school, sometimes grating, timbres are never drowned out and always play a prominent part in the songs.
In a slight departure, a few tracks at the end feature the renowned game-music cover band The Minibosses add quite a treat. Their version of the Metroid music is well-done and will bring chills to a fan of the series.
Whether you are adventurous, avante-garde, a fan of the rich and often under-appreciated game music genre, or someone looking to dive in to a piece of history, the music contained in VGM Mix Tape #8 is a necessary part of everyone’s game audio library.