Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Round 2

Anthony surprised me last Saturday with a pre-release copy of the new Game Music 4 All compilation Here Comes a New Challenger II Turbo. As usual, Ant went out of his way to keep me in the loop as the project came together, and, especially after hearing the tracks featured in March's preview video, I've been especially excited to experience this one in its finished form.

Just like its predecessor, HCNC2 features a staggering number – some 26 tracks in all – of collaborations between videogame-influenced MCs, DJs, producers, composers and musicians of all stripes. But, even more so than the inaugural edition, this year's comp is blissfully eclectic!

Boasting both the usual suspects – Girlz Melon, Superpowerless, Epic-1, et al – and a number of surprising new participants – most specifically Euro bootlegger Norwegian RecyclingHCNC2 excels at twisting the conventions of traditional game music and contemporary pop to its own sinister devices. What's more, the album seems to be at its best when contributors throw caution to the wind and shed their musical inhibitions. (Proceed to "Bizarro Paradise City" for more info.)

Though there's surely a little something for everybody on this release, I found myself most impressed by a number of songs that walk the fine line between the relatable and the surreal. Jay Tholen/Shael Riley masterpiece "Dial-Up Town" kicks off the disc one experience with a meditation on living in the middle of nowhere that's a warbling, maddening, beautiful jumble of pitch-corrected vocals and clippy chip music.

This gives way to later high points like Nanaki's View vs. Girlz Melon's ballsy "Battletoads and Double Dragon Medley," the ridiculously appealing narrative of Nerd Army vs. My Parents' Favorite Music's "Secrets Don't Make Girlfriends" and Zombies! Organize!! vs. Doctor Octoroc's gorgeously-balanced grocery list of technological desires "8 Bit Flashback." The second installment comes off just as hard with The Plasmas vs. 8-Bit Duane's ultra aggressive ode to Contra, the funked up DJ Snyder vs. Dual Core collab "The Flow" and "Mega Man X Medley," an expertly blended chip rock anthem, by Videogame Orchestra and (yet again) Girlz Melon.

From the anticipated (but by no means banal) rap-meets- chiptune fare by Superpowerless and Conyeezy ("Puppeteers") to skillful mash-ups from Norwegian Recycling ("Give Zelda to Me") and killsaly ("Final Solta O Frango Fantasy") to the straight ahead new school hip-hop of Epic-1 and Spork ("Blip)," HCNC2 is a chock full of aural delights specifically engineered to appeal to your inner gamer. It's a mixed bag of styles and colors, but it seldom disappoints and never bores. It will surely prove an excellent addition to your musical library, and should ultimately expose even the most discriminating listener to a staggering array of quality players on the nerdier side of independent music.

Here Comes a New Challenger II Turbo, in all its glory, will be available as a free 320kbps mp3 download and a reasonably-priced, professionally pressed 2-disc CD collection within the coming weeks. In the meantime, be sure to check out the original Here Comes a New Challenger compilation, the Hey! Listen! monthly mixtape project and all the other amazing musical contributions from your friends at Game Music 4 All.


Anthony said...

Thanks for the write up! Really glad you are enjoying the album. It's the first big GM4A comp in about 6 months so I am pretty nervous about the reception as you can imagine!

Z. said...

I think it came together wonderfully, Ant! And the excellent job the EMPulse crew did mastering the project really helps it to shine. :)