Friday, May 31, 2013

Game Music Online: Game Music Mash-ups: The Mako Album and Black Materia: Final Fantasy 7

A little over a month ago, I was blogging about how I'd discovered a couple of game music mash-ups online.  Well, actually, I need to be honest...  I didn't just discover game music mash-ups, as a person who doesn't really listen to popular music or follow pop culture, I was just discovering what mash-ups were period.  Anyhow, at that time, regular reader/commenter Kevin suggested that I check out a couple of game music mash-ups that he really liked: The Mako Album and Black Materia: Final Fantasy 7.  I gave both of these albums a listen today while I was organizing/sorting/putting away some art song and arias I've played in the last few months.

It's an interesting experience for me to hear these albums as I don't really listen to rap.  Now, I don't dislike rap-- when I was young Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer, and Sir Mixalot were popular-- so I grew up with the best of them!  (Actually, I can't think of any style of music I dislike.)  I just don't really listen to much popular music, rap included.  The emphasis that rap puts on the lyrics is really awesome and that's a large reason why I liked Random and Lost Perception's Black Materia so much.  This album really isn't a true mash-up-- I'm not sure what to call it exactly!  In a mash-up, music and rap that were made independently are put together, but in this case, the lyrics were written and wrapped to the already existing game music.

For me, this creates a much better effect in so many ways.  First of all, the music isn't as distorted as it can be (speed, pitch, editing) with a true mash-up.  Now, I'm not opposed to changing music to fit in a mash-up, but the music lover and purist in me wants the music to be as true to the original as possible.  If the pitch is changed greatly, it doesn't sound right to me-- the original sonority is too engrained in my mind.  If it's too sped up (or slowed, though I've yet to hear a track that's slowed significantly), again, it doesn't have the right feel.  If the track is heavily edited with extra pauses or beats, it just doesn't sound right-- too schizophrenic .  Think about it: these game tracks that are popular enough to get mash-ups were composed by top notch musicians and if the music gets altered very much at all, some of the craft and genius of its original form is lost.  Secondly, I love that the lyrics are specific to the tracks and the game.  They remind me of Pac-Man Fever, where the lyrics are akin to an insider code that a gamer understands at a different level than a casual listener will.

The other album I gave a listen to, The Mako Album, sort of fits all the things that I don't love as much about mash-ups.  I'm sorry to say that and intend no offense to The Specialist, but that's why there are lots of styles and opinions in life.  I like pure, less manipulated audio.  The rap and music needs to fit together more naturally than it does here for my taste.  Still, I like the creativity and that people are taking this music and putting their own stamp on it.  In every interview I've read or heard, all the game composers love that their music has inspired so many people to listen, play, and remix their audio.

Thanks Kevin for these suggestions!  You were right on about which one I'd like more.  Now that you all know even more specifically about my tastes (as I myself am learning as I encounter the genre), what other tracks/albums can you suggest for me to hear?  Much appreciated!