Appreciating the Spider-Verse movie soundtrack

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Yes, it is known, the animated Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse movie is an awesome masterpiece. It’s beautiful creative artful animation, combined with a gripping story packed with action, humor, laughs, and drama well-earned it an Academy Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice Award for Best Animation film of 2018.

But, I felt a part of it went unnoticed by the big critic heads out there: that is Spider-Verse’s excellent movie score and soundtrack.

The vocal tracks are a mix of current music artists including Post Malone, Swae Lee, Nicki Minaj, Anuel AA, Juice Wrld, Lil Wayne, Ty Dolla Sign, Thutmose, Ski Mask the Slump God. The results are an excellent feed of the best examples of modern hip-hop and urban beats.

And wow, it’s two single hits are damn perfect for this film. The first being Post Malone and Swae Lee’s “Sunflower,” a dreamy style, unlike anything expected based on past Spider-Man media, but really sets the mood and animated world centering on Miles Morales. Just listen to it!

And there is my personal favorite track, which I think is the best vocal ever set for a superhero film, “What’s up Danger,” by Blackway and Caviar. This piece exemplifies everything that one needs to know about the spirit of Spider-Man’s character. Listen:

There are many other great vocal tracks throughout the movie to gush about. But, the end credits with its mindbending animation, is heightened much further by its “Elevate” track by DJ Khalil with Denzel Curry, YBN Cordae, SwaVay, Trevor Rich. It’s adrenaline pumping, head thumping, body-energizing awesomeness. It’s a good track to put in your exercising playlist, to give that extra boost to keep going. Gotta go hard!!

So yes, great vocals…but now let’s move on to the cinema score of Spider-Verse, done by Daniel Pemberton, whose other recent work includes Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs and Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Here, his original work is masterful and sets a roller coaster of suspense, mystery, tension, raw emotions at perfect moments throughout.

Every track sets the mood, and in some parts really enhances the tension and drama. Some tracks tell a story just from its tone and progression. Visions Brooklyn 1,2,3 is a perfect example, and a personal favorite. But to truly appreciate, one needs to listen to the whole track…

Prowler’s theme is memorable, sending chills to the viewer as it perfectly signifies the stalker hunting its prey, closer and closer. You hear this, and you run!

The “Spider-Man Loves You” track feels like an addition to a legacy of Spider-Man films. It may not be as catchy as the iconic 60’s cartoon intro, but there is a feel to it that is special to this new expansion of Spider-Man towards a new generation of fandom; which I believe has done far more than the MCU live-action movie and tie-ins in the preservation of its original premise.

So yes, the Spidey-Verse soundtrack is amazing. I think it’s better than the Black Panther movie soundtrack, which did receive the Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. Yet, I think with all the love for Spider-Verse from its fans, there will be many repeat viewings for decades to come, and the love and appreciation for its soundtrack will grow with age.  

HERO OF TIME: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Live Orchestral, coming soon

Hero of Time, an epic re-imagining of the soundtrack to Nintendo’s treasured adventure RPG classic,
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, is set to release on March 27th, 2017.

Presented by the Materia Collective, the Hero of Time is an arrangement and recording with a full 64-piece orchestra, featuring key moments of the classic game. The project was given life through successful funding on Kickstarter, by over 1,000 backers contributing over its $50,000 goal.

Preview:

Hero of Time will be available through digital and limited edition CD formats on March 27, 2017. Preorders are available now via Bandcamp for digital/LE CD), iam8bit for vinyl (!), and iTunes. Hero of Time will also be available on Spotify on March 27th.

“Orchestral recordings of music from The Legend of Zelda have become increasingly popular over the last several years,” notes arranger and project director Eric Buchholz. “With Hero of Time, we sought to create a single, cohesive experience that weaves all of the complex underlying themes of the game, like impermanence and mortality, with Koji Kondo’s timeless melodies that have become as iconic as the game itself. The orchestration takes an ‘east-meets-west’ approach, with the inclusion of taiko ensembles, eastern woodwinds, and harmonies found prevalent in Japanese film and game scores.”

The full track listing is as follows:

01. Hero of Time
02. The Man with Evil Eyes
03. Fateful Morning
04. Hyrule Field
05. Castle Town Market
06. Princess Zelda
07. Lon Lon Ranch
08. Dungeon Dwellers
09. The Legendary Blade
10. Seven Years
11. Sheik
12. Memories of the Forest
13. Feast for the Fire Dragon
14. Dark Waters
15. Village of the Shadows
16. Spirit of the Valley
17. Courage, Wisdom, and Light
18. Ganon’s Tower
19. Great King of Evil
20. The Desecration of Power
21. Epilogue ~ End Credits

For more info on the Hero of Time, visit the Materia Collective at www.materiacollective.com.

The Best Music Tracks of Sunsoft’s 8-Bit Composer, Naoki Kodaka

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For a time past of very limited music and sound effects in video gaming, the Sunsoft game development company was truly ahead of its days.

During the late 80s and early 90s, Sunsoft produced some memorable greats for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Though the company did not last as long as Konami, Capcom, Namco, players will never forget some hits, Blaster Master, Batman, Journey to Silius. The games of Sunsoft brought a distinct, wonderful flair to the label, setting their games apart in style and appeal.

Their sound in particular was Sunsoft’s special signature, through its musical tracks and sound effects. To play their games was to experience a setting of mood and involvement to the worlds they presented (also well done in visuals). Their scores emitted experimental tones, mixed in with new-age electronica, a genre still in its pioneering stage to the mainstream pop. The use of digitized bass samples, noise waves, triangle waves, and other bits and beats used to heighten the mood of gameplay; either as sound effects or mixed with deep melodies. If you listen carefully in many of the Sunsoft games, you can hear multiple effects and samples recycled, a signature proudly represented.

Much of Sunsoft’s musical scores are credit to its master composer, Naoki Kodaka.

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Little is known online about the young Japanese musician, other than his dedication to Sunsoft and teamwork with sound programmers, Nobuyuki Hara and Shinichi Seya. He produced game music for Sunsoft from 1985 to 1997. His tracks would live on through classic gamer nostalgia fandom, and various remixes of his work.

Here below are my personal favorite tracks composed by Naoki Kodoka, presented in their original game track format (with special thanks to the YouTube posters of each). Have a listen …

Blaster Master Area 1 –  An instant classic mood-setter for the long adventure ahead. Also, my current phone ringtone…

Blaster Master Area 4 – Great stalking theme and buildup to this stage’s giant boss battle. Hint to what that may be: listen carefully at the end of the build-up..

Blaster Master Area 5 – Peaceful and chill, furthering out the water and diving themes of this stage.

Journey to Silius: Title theme – The kind of theme that you should take your time and listen to before pressing Start.

Journey to Silius Level 4 – One of the hardest game levels of my NES days, but the music does push the player to meet the challenge..

Batman Area 1 – Not as memorable as the Danny Elfman movie theme, but the opening stage score sets the tone of Batman’s 8-bit crime-fighting skills.

Batman Boss Battle – Fantastic digital drum beats going on, with multiple tempo layers to get the plumped for the tough boss battles…

Gremlins 2:  the New Batch Office Theme – This tune well plays off the comedic, anarchic mischief of those Gremlin creatures.

Gremlins 2: the New Batch Gremlin theme – Great buildup and variance, all because you ignored the rules. Also reminds me of the main theme of the original movie score.

Fester’s Quest Title Theme – A strange licensed game featuring Uncle Fester of The Addams Family. Sunsoft’s take on the theme was quite creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, altogether ooky…

Fester’s Quest Boss Battlethe game as a whole, not as fantastic as the Blaster Master or Batman, but the boss theme was quite kick-ass and pushed the limits of the NES sound chip capabilities.

Super Spy Hunter Stage 06 Plane FightA cross mix of the classic Sunsoft style, with the James Bond inspirational of the franchise…

Ufouria: the Saga: Hebe in the Cold Area – From a game not released in the US, with a complex theme that almost feels like a story in itself..

Batman:  Return of the Joker Ending Theme –  Naoki Kodaka’s final NES game, and an end to an era for Sunsoft. it feels fitting, as a goodbye to all the best we got out of the NES, thanks to Sunsoft and many other games pushing the limitations of its console.

– Orion T

MUSIC: Ghost in the Shell – Inner Universe, by Origa

WARNING: Features graphic violence and nudity.

  • Title: Inner Universe
  • Composer: Origa
  • Length: 4:54

Notes: Expanded version, regular version used in the first season of the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex anime series.  Footage is from the original Ghost in the Shell movie produced by Youtube user “fenman01.”

Lyrics (English Translation):

Angels and demons circle above my head
cleaving through thorns and Milky Ways
He who does not perceive his calling,
does not know true happiness…

Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!
Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!

I am Calling Calling out!
Spirits, I am calling!!!
To remain myself longer…
Calling Calling, in the depths of longing!
To remain myself longer!

Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!
Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!

Stand alone… Where was life when it had a meaning…
Stand alone… Nothing’s real anymore and…

…Endless running…
While I am alive, I can try not to fall while flying,
nor to forget how to dream…to love…
…Endless running…

Calling Calling out! For The Place of Knowing!
There’s more that what can be linked!
Calling Calling, Never will I look away!
From what life has left for me.
Yearning Yearning, for what’s left of loving!

To remain myself longer…
Calling Calling, in the depths of longing!
To remain myself longer!

Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!
Watch in awe! Watch in awe!
Heavenly glory! Heavenly glory!

Personal Thoughts:

I post this today in response to the recent announcement of the Dreamworks backed Ghost in the Shell live-action movie, starring Scarlett Johannson.  I can’t really care. I know what Scarlett Johannson looks like shooting guns and acting badass in some sexy outfit. If they want to add a cyberpunk setting and put some familiar situations to GITS fans using a shit ton of CGI FX, than whatever. Of course, there is the whitewashing..off to a good start with its star. I’m sure the removing of Japanese elements will not stop there.

But what matter in the end, is original content can not be ruined.. The original movies and the follow-up animated series of series will always be out there in some obtainable form. I will go deeper into what makes GITS so great, another time. For now, I just really like this opening to the follow-up animated series (with choice visuals from the classic). And, I will always best remember the GITS movies and series as fantastic animated science-fiction drama.

– Orion T

MUSIC: A Tiny Spaceship’s Final Mission (FantomenK)

Synopsis (from site):

“A song about a ship which was the earth’s only hope.”

Personal thoughts:

Listen to this tune; reminiscent of the classic 8-bit/16-bit sci-fi shooter era of video gaming, especially of personal favorites – Gradius, R-Type, Forgotten Worlds, Darius Twin. I played these much to the end, for their atmospheric combination of fantastic gameplay, challenge, artistic style, and atmospheric music. For the “Final Mission,” this score brings to mind the constant theme of a sole hero setting out in some speedy spaceship. Ahead, is some threatening adversary for the peace of the universe; probably surrounded by ridiculous overwhelming numbers. The best friends of our hero will be incredible skill, wit, and the occasional power-up (maybe a cheat code if the hero sucks at previous attributes). The best reward will be the mass destruction of enemies and obstacles leading to the cosmic overthreat (is it a giant face or some brain thing?). Then do it again, in “hard” or “expert” mode. Some of this satisfaction will involve insane firepower-ups and a meaningless score of at least ten digits. The sound here, is probably the open stage for our hero. Don’t worry, the first boss will be easy..eventually.

– Orion T

 

MUSIC: Battle Against A Machine

 

 

    • Title: Battle Against A  Machine
    • Game composers: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka, Hiroshi Kanazu
    • Source: Earthbound, soundtrack to the Super Nintendo Game

Music, to fight the evil Starmen. The Starmen are a race of evil robot aliens with strange powers led by Giygas, AKA the Universal Cosmic Destroyer and Embodiment of Evil;  in an effort to lead all futures into infinite darkness. Eventually, a small town boy from Onett and friends may stop them.

The music meanwhile, is a fantastic piece of underrated electronica; from the epic role playing adventure, Earthbound (or Mother 2, to those in Japan and hardcore purists). It’s soundtrack represents the best of the Super Nintendo’s musical power to heighten game mechanics and mood beyond its own gameplay. But this particular favorite, is groovy and coool.

Earthbound is a magnificent game, essential for all mixed media story lovers. Currently, it’s available on the Wii through Nintendo’s eShop.

 

 

MUSIC: This Is The Future

Title: This Is The Future
Artist: Epic North Music
Composer: Peter Roe
Album: Viking Warrior From Outer Space
Official Website: http://www.epicnorthmusic.com

Trailer music so epic is does not need a movie. Or perhaps, you can imagine your own story..

The producers are Epic North Music, a Finland based group specializing in modern music with a sci-fi/fantasy edge; for motion picture, TV and new media adverts. They have three albums out now, available for direct purchase on iTunes and Amazon. Check out their official page at http://www.epicnorthmusic.com for more.