The bands and composers entwined with videogame music
Glen Chapman highlights some of the successful marriages between videogames and musicians…
Battles – Little Big Planet
Little Big Planet is full of great music from artists such as Jim Noir, The Go! Team and Battles, to name but a few.
Of all the selections that feature in the game, though, it’s Atlas taken from Battles’ 2007 full length debut album Mirrored that’s my highlight. Part prog, part math rock, the song is carried by great drums, a hypnotic riff and indecipherable lyrics. It’s a great fit for this wonderful platform game.
As a live band Battles are simply incredible and are definitely worth checking out if you get the chance. Either way, its music is a terrific accompaniment to a really good game. A version of the song can currently be heard on car adverts in the UK.
Rza/Wu-Tang Clan – Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style & Afro Samurai
Rza and other members of the Wu-Tang clan have often spoken about their love of videogames and kung-fu. Therefore, it was hardly a surprise when they combined these two interests in 1999 and released Wu-Tang Clan: Shaolin Style on the PlayStation. The game utilised the game engine from the funny-for-five-minutes 3-D fighting game Thrill Kill, featuring a story mode, a variety of fatalities for each character and a great soundtrack.
I found the game more entertaining than the game from which it borrowed so heavily, despite the mostly negative reviews it received. And it entwined music and videogaming very, very tightly.
Most recently RZA has lent his considerable talent to the videogame of Afro Samurai, in a similar role he took up for the TV series, although he contributed to a lesser extent than he did in the TV show. For the game he contributed two full tracks and acted as musical director.
The Beatles – The Beatles: Rock Band
The third Rock Band game to be released gave players the chance to play through some of the highlights from one of the biggest bands of all time. Dhani Harrison, the son of Beatle’s guitarist George, assisted with discussions between Harmonix Studios and Apple Corps to ensure that this title got made. The title received the endorsement of the surviving Beatles and their signature instruments were made available as peripherals.
Whilst this is far from the most challenging title in the Rock Band series, it’s great fun and certainly one of the most consistent in terms of quality of content, and downloadable content is regularly made available.
It’s also one example of an increasing number of bands and artists who specifically tie themselves in to games of this ilk. SingStar has attracted Abba, Queen ,and Take That, for instance, while Guitar Hero – well, we’re coming that shortly.
Here’s a clip of The Beatles at work…
Metallica – Guitar Hero: Metallica
Based on the Guitar Hero: World Tour engine, this game features 28 master recordings from Metallica’s back catalogue, as well as over 20 other songs that have had an affiliation to the band throughout their career.
Like the Beatles release mentioned previously, this is a thoroughly enjoyable gaming experience that stands up as a highlight from the series in which it features. There may be a couple of obvious omissions from the band’s back catalogue, but for the most part the song selections are great.
Unlike the previous title, however, there’s a lack of downloadable content, which is disappointing considering the great songs that could be converted.
ERA – World of Warcraft
ERA is a musical project by French musician Eric Levi, who started his career as a founding member of rock band Shakin’ Street. When his former band split, Levi went on to compose a number of movie soundtracks, but has undoubtedly seen his greatest successes with ERA, which he formed in 1997.
ERA has been phenomenally successful, selling more than 10 million albums in its career. Its blend of Gregorian chants and ethereal electronic has proven to be a hit with listeners and has been featured in movies, adverts and as backing music for Mixed Martial Arts.
ERA’s music has also featured in various videogames, the most notable and famous of which is the mighty World Of Warcraft.
In fact, ERA is running a competition at the moment to make a music video for one of its latest songs. More details on that at the bottom.
Bomb the Bass – Xenon 2: Megablast
My favourite videogame music of all time! Bomb the Bass is the pseudonym for London-based musician and producer Tim Simenon and his track Megablast (Hip Hop On Precinct 13) is insanely catchy.
Based on John Carpenter’s theme for Assault oOn Precinct 13 (hence the title), it provides the theme tune, musical leitmotif and title for the Bitmap Brothers’ ace shooter that was released on the Amiga and Atari ST in 1989.
Many hours of my youth were spent playing this game and I would say that the theme tune was part of the appeal to me. That, and the fact that the game was incredible.
Music Video Competition
As promised, here are the details of the competition, where the search is on for a talented amateur music director, who will be given the lead track from ERA’s new album to work with. Talenthouse is hosting the competition. The link with all the information you need can be found right here.