When the music world takes inspiration from video games the results are usually horrific abominations. In the 90’s we were exposed to a trio horrific pastiche examples.
Esteemed composer and Knight of the realm Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber cowered behind the pseudonym of Doctor Spin for the 1992 hit single “Tetris”. A trashy euro-pop dance number that reached a lofty number 6 in the UK singles chart.
The free game pack-in of Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris ensured that millions of young impressionable gamers were susceptible to the rhythmic digital re-workings of Hirokazu Tanaka. Tanaka was responsible for the Tetris theme which itself is a digitized version of the Russian folk song Korobeiniki or Type A as it its known in the game. The theme is still one of the most recognisable sections of game music almost 22 years after the games release.
The desecrating of classic Nintendo tunes wasn’t just limited to games based on rudimentary rectangular shapes. Nintendo’s squat, tubby, princess rescuing mascot was also in the firing line of the sights of the music industry.
Simon Harris is something of a music industry renaissance man. Producer, DJ, Songwriter and the founder of one of the oldest British independent dance music labels. Though you probable have never heard of Simon Harris or his dance label Music of Life. However, if you have a fondness for cheese love songs you will have heard of Harris’ most successful productions. Harris was responsible for the number 3 re-charting of ‘The Real Things’ – ‘You to me are everything’ in 1986. But chances are you will know Simon Harris better for his crimes to music and video games with the 1992 top 10 hit Ambassadors Of Funk – Super Mario Land. This Officially licenced abomination featured the skills of M.C. Mario with all his early 90’s funk, rap, hip-hop styling.
Sadly i’ve got really good memories of both these songs and have recollections of junior school discos where the boys were banned from jumping on the backs of other boys as we tried to reenact Mario stomping on Goombas.
I’m not going to go into any greater details on other horrendous musical outings. But if you have a perverse interest you should check out another terrible Nintendo product, Killer Cuts, the promotional soundtrack to the “Ultra violent” Killer Instinct.
So with the passing of time has music inspired by video games improved? Strangely enough it kind of has.
Darren J. Cunningham like Simon Harris before him is something of a music multi-tasker. Cunningham is a DJ, Producer and the farther of the Brixton based music label Werk Discs. Darren Cunningham is the latest in a long run of electronic music producers to be dubbed the “Next big thing” and has had moderate success under the gender-bending moniker Actress. His transient blend of sinister ambiance and denatured tinny sounds his music is electronic dance for the youtube age these cutting edge genres can be heard in both his two albums Hazyville and Splazsh released in 2009 and 2010 respectively. The majority of Actress’s Songs have a desaturated digital decay harshness. This is no more apparent than in Actress’ latest underground release and homage to the ZX Spectrum classic harrier attack.
The March 2011 double A release, Harrier ATTK / Gershwin, has all the hallmarks of another Actress hit. Shrill electronic pitches cut through the air whist being totally devoid of any noticeable bass, for all intents and purpose this is bass-less dub-step.
Actress manages to somehow combine the 8-bit synthesized sounds of dropping bombs and ear piercing fire spewing explosions into far more sinister than the wold war paranoia inspired game ever did.
If you have ever enjoyed music along the lines of Joy Orbison, Aphex Twins, Ramadanman or to a lesser existent Floating Points and Dorian Concept. I highly recommend you check out Actress.
However chances are you have never heard of any of them but i hope this blog may have pushed you in their direction, even if it is for a song or two.