Don’t adjust your monitors! CelJaded hasn’t suddenly become an outlet dedicated to music reviews, but it so happens that there is one more digital album I’d like to talk about this month.
One of my readers, a composer called Reid Turner, was kind enough to get in touch recently whereupon he invited me to check out his brand new release titled Audiocade: A Collection of Video Game Inspired Musings.
According to Turner, recording soundtracks for independently produced video games can be a real challenge. An artist can regularly wind up composing music for projects that go on hiatus, get cancelled or ultimately never see a full release; surely a frustrating scenario for any musician looking for a bit of closure on their work.
Luckily, the growing popularity of such music means that the avenues for self-publishing are also growing and it’s just recently that Turner (under his full recording name of Reidwell) has collected some of these previously wayward tunes of his into the collection that you see here.
In the artist’s own words:
“Each track is inspired by different games combined with different musical styles. Whether it be the Daft Punk/K.K. Slider hybrid that is ‘Crunchy Clouds’, the mallet percussion and Sitar in Spirit Meridian, or the influence from Disasterpeaces evocative soundtrack “Fez” I want each track to take the listener to a unique place.”
As you can probably tell from the marvelous animated cover art alone, Audiocade is very proud of where its inspirations lie and the presentation in that sense is very effective at setting the right mood going into the first track.
Crunchy Clouds is the first and easily most distinct track on the album as it presents a winning combination of different synths and quirky pseudo-vocals that make for an upbeat listening experience.
It’s a catchy number to be sure and sets the tone for the rest of the album well as – much like the previously stated inspiration of Fez – Audiocade is very much an album that seeks to take you on a musical journey.
The track names themselves (that were suggested by the composer’s friends and family no less) do a good job of supporting this theme with numbers such as The Airship and The Desert presenting us with the sort of environmental electronic sound that makes older video game music especially so pleasantly identifiable.
Pixelate this Dance is another good production (probably my favourite on the album) and the turbulent Halfblown Panic had me thinking of the quirky soundtrack to Treasure’s popular platformer Dynamite Headdy more than once.
Quit Staring is also a very good retro-style tune and is definitely one that will delight the purist crowd who prefer a less embellished and more “accurate” sound to their video game music.
On the whole I feel that the comparison to Fez is a rather good one. Although I haven’t listened to the Fez soundtrack in quite a while, I must admit to recognizing the similarities in Audiocade before I even read Turner’s liner notes – it’s just a very unique sort of sound I think; quite loud and rumbustious in comparison to Fez perhaps, but unmistakably thematic in both style and presentation nonetheless.
It’s important to know that Audiocade is a chaotic and upbeat style of music. The whole production is very evocative of its source material in this sense with plenty of diverse sounds and a tremendous (almost exhausting!) energy to it at times.
But in listening to this album, I can easily recognize the enthusiasm and appreciation Reidwell has for so many of the classic and cult video games that clearly inspire and expand into his music making.
Whilst you almost certainly need to have an interest in video game music to get the most out of Audiocade, fans of the genre should definitely consider listening to this album. From the wonderful cover art, to the song titles, to the creative “video gamey” sounds that adorn each and every track, Reidwell has recorded an impressive debut work of retro-themed goodness here and I look forward to hearing more in the future.