January 3, 2013
Buy at Bandcamp
Dubstep, trance, and Nintendo music might sound like a weird combination on paper, but they sound like they were made for each other when artist bLiNd is at work. NESteryears takes you on a classic Nintendo journey that will fill veteran’s hearts with nostalgia and new comers with wonder. While this is strictly a stand alone album, it is some of the best remix work I have ever heard. bLiNd truly takes the melodies and make them his own and does not hold back when adding syncopation to the music. The wobbles, ambient effects, and synth riffs are aggressive and industrial sounding, but the melodies remain strong and memorable throughout. Let’s take a closer look.
“Put Em Up” is a great example of bLiND’s approach to trance music. Featuring an energetic build up right in the beginning, the track builds to a medium volume, then drops down and sways for a short time before the drums build the music to the top. The bass line keeps it simple and stays on the upbeat and fades in and out with the beat. Throughout the track, bLiNd maintains a strong focus on the melody to ensure this isn’t some general trance track, namely the iconic theme from Punch-Out!! The music is mastered rather loud, as most dubstep and trance music is, but the production values are impressive and match that ‘old meets new’ concept.
Based on Mega Man 2, “Skull King” sticks to the trance vibe going with an even brighter tempo and more aggressive drum beat and takes on a very sci-fi atmosphere exemplified by the distorted synths. Even if you have not heard the original music or have not played the game, you can get a sense of the intensity and speed that is felt in the original. “All Systems Go” is similar in style to ‘Skull King’. The distorted synth-bass and sound effects take on the futuristic characteristics of Metroid‘s music. The wobbles and synth lines are a great foundation for the triumphant solo during the bridge. The beat adds power to the solo, but when the drums drop out, you can really get a feel for how close bLiNd stuck to the original music. The spacey melody becomes an action packed ride when the drums are present. The trade off between a transient interlude and hard-hitting breakdown never gets repetitive or dull.
The Legend of Zelda’s “El Ganon Diablo” is a heavy take on some of the earliest game music that made a name for itself. While the original music is minimal, it still manages to portray the evil and power of Ganon. bLiNd takes this energy twp steps forward and into the experimental genre of dubstep. The buildups are in a breakbeat style and simmer at a medium volume and tempo, and the suspense is overwhelming and the breakdowns are big and intimidating. There are many different sounds layered that come at you from left and right. The guitar picks up the melody during the bridge and is an edgy break from the synth and drums. This is a great mix that exemplifies the sinister nature of one of the most prolific boss battles in gaming history.
That said, “Moonstyle” (Ducktales) is probably favorite remix on this album. While I have yet to play the original, let alone the re-mastered version, this remix might just be the deciding factor to make me go experience Disney history that is Ducktales. The beat is incredibly brisk, being the fastest track on the album. While “For A Friend’s Soul” (Final Fantasy) made me lean forward and stroke my beard, “Moonstyle” plastered me to my chair and made me smile a wide smile. In the subsequent track, the bass lines in “Ghosts N’ Pills” sound like razor blades that cut through the boomy drum beat. The spoken word in this track fits the tortured sound that a lot of modern dubstep music has. The feeling this track leaves me with is not what I got when I played Pac-Man, but I enjoy the buzz, nonetheless. It is incredibly imaginative that bLiNd created music predominately based on in-game sounds, since Pac-Man does not feature a great of music.
Moving on to the most popular NES tracks of all, Super Mario Bros.‘s “Mushroom Bounce” is something for all Mario fans to get excited about. The upbeat percussion goes well with bLiNd’s interpretation of the melody. The dance-style rhythm makes for a trippy groove that never seems to get old. The bass line can get a little muddy on some of my speakers, but regardless the music is fun to listen to and is an excellent re-imagination of an infectious melody that will stick with the listener for quite awhile. While “Mushroom Bounce” has a confident upbeat groove, it is completely contrasted by the track “Dirty Coins”. This track is more rooted in the modern dubstep genre with hard wobbles and phased synth sounds, and captures the dark yet hooky nature of the main riff. The addition of in-game sounds is rhythmic and breaks up the aggressive style bass lines. The coin sounds offer a familiar timbre that is layered right on top of the music.
Every Nintendo fan should own this album, as it is a great mix of the games that influenced the industry greatly. The melodies are recognizable and bring back happy memories of intense gaming sessions with friends and family. Offering a fresh take on the classics, the beats are never overpowering and the focus is always on the melody from the original game soundtrack. While some of the bass riffs are muddy, the drums and melodies make up for it. You can put this album on and want more after its finished. NESteryears is a perfect listening companion if you want to get a couple friends together, reminisce about favorite gaming moments, and take a trip down memory lane.
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Posted on October 27, 2014 by Marc Chait. Last modified on March 26, 2015.