Friday, October 13, 2017

Ep. 85: The Impact of the Piece

With a lot of modern tunes packing this week's setlist, Josh and Emily turn their thoughts to musical composition and earfeel. Where exactly is the line between a tune that's "video-gamey" and one that is not? Is it in the structure, the tonality, or is it always something in between? Ponder this -- and also reminisce a lot about snow -- at our poorly-lit campsite while we search for the melodies that truly capture the pivotal moments of our lives.

Click above to listen or subscribe.  Click below for a direct download.

Suggest a Track   Email Us

This episode was made possible by:
Game Track Title Composer(s)
Abzu Seriola Lalandi Austin Wintory
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Sunshine Coastline Hayato Sonoda, Takahiro Unisuga, Yukihiro Jindo (arr.), Mitsuo Singa (arr.)
Might Switch Force! Love You Love You Love Jake Kaufman
Dynasty Warriors 4 The Wall of Fate Yasuhiro Misawa
Alien Soldier From Objector Kazuo Hanzawa
Mouryou Senki Madara 2 Homesick ~ Her Beloved Flowers Tappi Iwase, Miki Higashino, Hirofumi Taniguchi, Aki Hata

...and listeners like YOU.


  1. Austin Wintory is a wonderful composer. Some of the most powerful gaming moments I’ve had have come from playing Journey, and a fair amount of that is due to his score. He’s also incredibly versatile; he composed the music to Banner Saga (which to my ear sounds like folk music from the Caucasus region), as well as Soul Fjord, which could be described as Nordic Funk. Give each a listen!

    The Diad’s taste in music is as impeccable as his wit is dry. Which is to say he picks tracks I would pick myself. I still find a lot of Jake Kaufman’s music to be relentlessly boisterous, but it’s also undeniably well composed. And my own dead grandma, while not the dancing type, was undoubtedly tapping her toe to this one.

    That Dynasty Warriors IV track is as awesome as Animite’s audio testimonial. I wasn’t feeling the rock so much until the strange sounds started creeping in. First it was what I’m guessing was a brass gong (but sounded like a guttural groan). Then that tremolo-filled Theremin sound came in, and it was all over. What a great track.

    I wouldn’t say VGM-ness can be attributed to the lack of emphasis on individual instruments, or variations within single voices that mimic the accidental qualities of a live instrument. The early 8-bit stuff totally fits that description, but good Japanese and Western composers were constantly searching for ways to make VGM sound more “real”. By the time the NES was midway through its lifecycle, composers were already implementing solos, drum samples, ways to make psg sound more like actual instruments.

    I've been listening to a lot of FM lately(can you tell?), and I've been surprised by how many composers add things like a breathed sound at the beginning of a flute or horn patch. Drum fills travel from left-to-right like 70's prog rock albums. It's impossible to quantify what makes a song "video gamey", but the compact nature of its composition is part of it....especially with the Japanese composers.

  2. I had a funny experience listening to this episode. As soon as you guys said you were going to play something from Alien Soldier I thought "Yes! I'm so glad somebody recommended that. I love Alien Soldier!" Then you explained that I was that somebody. haha. I had forgotten.

    After that, I heard my testimonial and was thinking "Oops. I should have proof-read that because I just called an OST an album." Apparently, that was noticeable. I do listen to OSTs like albums though. I want to hear every song to get a broader sense of the artist's vision. I've never been the type of person who can just buy the single, or a few MP3s. It's a package deal for me. And when I listen to the album, I don't skip songs.

    There were a lot of great audio testimonials this week. Also, I've been wondering for awhile, is the Dyad two people, or is it something like Aphex Twin where one person uses a plural sounding name? Or maybe it is spelled the Diad and is part of heart muscle cells?

    I would also like to second the motion that animite become a voice actor.

    1. Since the beginning of time, mothers have cautioned their children “don’t go out into the woods at night, for the Diad lurks in the unseen shadows. He may bide his time until you make a single misstep, but that is all it will take. He will pounce with only a moment’s notice.” And the children listened because everyone had a friend-of-a-friend, or a distant cousin who had been taken by the Diad.

      You see the Diad was born with only a single sound channel, but was never satisfied with such. Little by little he trapped unwary passersby, snatching from them their square waves, stripping them of their noise channels. And little by little the Diad could speak in chords. He grew square waves upon square waves, stacked triangle waves over sine waves. A menacing wall of sound built brick by 8-bit brick.

      In fact, in some of the earliest texts, it is said that the people could hardly sleep because of the VRC6 sound emanating from the forest. “O woe onto me, for the bongo sample has me undone,” they cried. But there was nothing they could do. None dared challenge the Diad, lest their sound channel be muted.
      And so it has been for centuries. Perhaps no more than an old wives’ tale intended to scare children. But then again, some say you can still hear him on Wednesday nights… A dull monotone lulls you into a false sense of security until suddenly, you are enveloped in Japanese PC synth. By the time the golf tracks hit… it’s too late.

  3. It was like another crossover there for a minute with The Diad, which would make two from among my three favorite podcasts in two weeks.

    I really relate to Josh saying that while listening to a podcast he just has to be doing something, I too get antsy. And this relates to my reaction to Seriola Lalandi. It kind of bounced off me at first and, thinking about how I often find classical music requires a lot of attention, I paused the podcast and the housework I was doing to just listen to that track. Which I did, twice, giving it my full attention, and it was palpably more evocative.

    I should say something about how great (The) Animite’s testimony was, so here it is. I also really appreciated learning about the homage-homage.

    And I’m glad to see Haju still has the knack for making incredibly good picks. Mouryou Senki Madara 2 has some pretty wild track names, they come from an official OST release:
    Tubular Bells~For Whom the Bell Tolls
    fiction of metafiction
    On the Other Side of the Whispering Wall
    Karamazov’s Mythology
    Enfant Terrible Rabbit

    just to name a few.

    The line of the episode was: “I’m staring at the numeral ‘4’ right now”

  4. Abzu: oh. My. Gosh. Hey, have you guys played Alien Soldier? The game is pretty much all boss rush. There are definitely some tracks that would be right at home on a KBOS episode....