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Monthly Archives: February 2014

Matthew King, take a bow son

He’s done good has my friend Matthew. Lite aren’t half bad.

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Having purchased Installation yesterday, their latest album, it is clear that twangy, open string riffs and robotic Japanese drumming are what will hit you square in the jaw. Bond is such a track, layering Nintendo meets early Maps & Atlases riffs until the glorious beat kicks in.

The album as a whole tails off rather tamely towards the end, penultimate tune Subaru could actually appear on the car manufacturer’s adverts for all I know, such is the slightly generic style of the latter tracks. However, what Lite seem to have no problem doing is producing off-the-wall math funk, as demonstrated by Hunger.

A hint of early, early Red Hot Chili Peppers in there perhaps?

Enjoy.

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Nail Bat omnislash to the face

MAJOR GEEK ALERT – I love video games. But, more importantly, I love Final Fantasy. More specifically, Final Fantasy VII. This is perhaps not the place to become all gooey eyed and nostalgic about the greatest game ever made (hands down), but one cannot just bypass the genius of Nobuo Uematsu – the composer and producer of the Final Fantasy music.

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So, for the one man and his dog that are still reading this, let us delve into the freaking brilliant music that Nobuo Uematsu created for the series defining Final Fantasy VII, VIII and IV………

Beginning with Final Fantasy VII and its MIDI soundtrack, Crazy Motorcycle is a frantic and industrial tune, much like its title suggests, but is also oddly progressive.

An absolute masterclass in how a song can build and rise up the registers, Shinra Army Wages A Full-Scale Attack is full of pomp and brilliant martial ideas.

Being the music set to the final boss battle of the game, One Winged Angel is frightening and distinctly sounds much like a Stravinsky composition. Listen to the game’s MIDI version here, and the full blown Black Mages version with full orchestra here, where the massive crowd goes nuts. Below is the orchestra only version, still a treat.

By the next game in the series, Final Fantasy VIII, Nobuo Uematsu had upgraded his sound, predominantly using a synthesizer to compose the game’s music. The opening track of the game, Liberi Fatali, is an epic by all accounts. Choral chanting combined with frenetic orchestral playing, there is a wealth of detail to be admired, not least with the end crescendo beginning from 2.28.

A personal favourite of mine, Timber Owls is a short piece with multiple percussive ideas and fantastic string plucking, culminating in a bopping riff with tuba at 1.07.

Plumping four riffs atop of each other before the addition of a triangle(?!), The Mission has a sweet bass line from 1.13.

A game is usually incomplete without some catchy Spaghetti Western piano……..Slide Show Part 2 most likely knocked up in a matter of minutes too.

And last, but certainly not least, the music of Final Fantasy IX has been cited by Uematsu as his favourite work, composed with medieval leanings but retaining his own style. Hunter’s Chance is typical Uematsu – progressive, full of dirty synth lines and melodically complex.

A rather sickly sweet number, but I dare you not to appreciate the simple and smiley melody of Moogle’s Theme, complete with a brilliant turnaround.

And finally, another solo piano piece which is equally dreamy as it is dark, Kuja’s Theme rounds off this blog majestically.

The above is merely a tiny fraction taken from the body of music that Nobuo Uematsu produced for the three Final Fantasy games mentioned in this post. The quality of his compositions, as well as the imagination and creativity he clearly has in abundance, cannot be understated, even though most people might never ever think to listen to computer game music. I hope that curiosity might be aroused for anyone who reads this, for there is so much to admire.

Enjoy!

Groove! numero tres

Let us revel in the ability people with instruments have to make you sit up, gawp slightly and shuffle. Or, in my case, rear up like a panicked dog emerging from the Channel Tunnel with the slightest hint of froth.

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Old American geezers Battles open proceedings with Wall Street – a sturdy mix of stringed instruments and electronic sampling backed up by some of the tightest drumming around. The production of the drums in particular is incredibly focused and resonant, with a cutting snare and huge bass drum with just the right amount of click.  Check out the inventiveness from 3.24 to 3.50, it will not fail to disappoint.

The original version is a stone cold funk classic, but this cover version of Sing A Simple Song by The Meters stands tall in its own right.

Another cover follows, as the Minutemen’s track The Only Minority is given a beefy update by Karate. A snippet of brisk funk with deliciously jazzy guitar noodling.

Finally, noise rock maestros Deerhoof give us Flower, taken from their latest release Breakup Song. The switch of riffs at 0.51………well, what more is there to say?

Bo!