Wednesday, October 13, 2010

20-Sided Rhymes

Dave the Knave is a genius!
If I had any credibility at all, the 20-Sided Rhymes project would've blown it to hell. You see, this compilation hasn't been in the works for weeks or months, but for years – two of them, in fact. And like most things, what it ultimately became was not what I had initially intended.

The original idea that I pitched to a close circle of friends shortly before Nerdapalooza 2008 involved little more than a tribute album to the classic role-playing game (a la Dungeons & Dragons). But as tabletop gaming proved a bit of a limiting concept for our friends in the video game music scene I soon expanded the scope to include the electronic games that were the direct successors of pen-and-paper RPGs.

Since I was projecting forward it only made sense to also look back, and so the piece was altered again to encompass not only the more modern and technological flavors of role-playing but also the literary roots that inspired this entire movement in interactive entertainment.

But somehow that still wasn't enough. So in the end, 20-Sided Rhymes, this clean and simple concept that I thought I had totally hashed out years ago, somehow became something bigger. Because at some point I realized that the iconic die role and the eternal plight of Hyrule's green-clad hero and even the simple nerdy pleasures of seeing The Lord of the Rings series competently brought to life on a big screen weren't in and of themselves what I was looking to capture.

These were, if you'll allow me the luxury of hyperbole, merely manifestations of the true spirit of nerdom.
The thing that excited me about this project was the same thing that excited me about D&D and comics and sci-fi/fantasy and all the other trappings of my geeky adolescence – it all hinged on the ever-so appealing concept of losing yourself in a character.

Call me crazy, but I believe that we as nerds game and read and write and create more or less for the same reason. These activities are all about stepping outside ourselves, they are about exploring other lives and worlds and personalities. Some would likely attribute this to a sense of innate self-loathing, to the worst kind of escapism, but I have learned that playing another part or latching on to the experiences of a fully rendered external character actually serves to help me gain a firmer grasp on what it really means to be me. It allows me to further quantify my own motivations and reexamine my ideas and my attitudes.

From Nate's lament of his healer's lack of physical prowess to ZeaLouS1's gangstalicious take on CCGs, and even to Marc's rejection of the D20 in favor of a little transgender theatrical cosplay, 20-Sided Rhymes represents the musical equivalent of the fantastical character-driven narrative. Some of said characters may not belong to these performers outright, but the stories are all theirs. And that's the important part.

So please enjoy this fine selection of rarities, remixes, re-releases and more than a couple of tasty originals with my compliments. If you enjoy this project, please spread the word and support the artists represented.
As usual, I offer this compilation to you free of charge, although this time around I do ask that you consider doing one of the following:

Should any or all of the songs presented herein remind you of that magical journey you once took in the purely metaphorical shoes of another character, consider treating yourself to a new game or film or novel. And feel free to lose yourself within the power of an enchanting narrative. It's healthy.

More to the point, you could also donate a couple of dollars to the Child's Play charity to afford a sick kid that same opportunity to escape the drudgery of real life for a few scant moments. It's what a Lawful Good character would do!
And now that I've said my piece, on with the show.
Download 20-Sided Rhymes in its entirety
All songs mixed/mastered by The HT at Studio 6, Port Orange, FL except where otherwise indicated.
Individual track downloads:

1 – Videogame Orchestra – "Conan the Barbarian – Riders of Taramis"

2 – Beefy – "20-Sided Rhymes (feat. Snake Eyes)"

3 – The Four Eyes – "Painting Guys"

4 – My Parents' Favorite Music – "Rambo MacGyver (feat. Snake Eyes)"

5 – Spheres of Chaos – "Random Encounter in the Cereal Aisle"

6 – Glenn Case – "D&D at the Public Library (feat. Adam!)"*

7 – ZeaLouS1 – "I Get Mana"

8 – Nate Trier – "The Healer's Song"

9 – MC Frontalot – "Hassle the Dorkening (8 Bit Weapon Remix)"**

10 – Shael Riley and the Double Ice Backfire – "The Great Marbulu" [EXPLICIT]***

11 – The Ranger – "Stat Sheet (Massive DMG remix by Zen Albatross)" [EXPLICIT] 

12 – Brian Mazzaferri (of I Fight Dragons) – "Offering"

13 – Sinister Six – "Roll the Dice" [EXPLICIT]

14 – Uncle Monsterface – "LOTROMG"

15 – Epic-1 – "Sun Gem"

16 – Marc with a C – "Don’t Know a Thing about Role Playing"

17 – Krondor Krew – "I Play D&D (The HT Remix)" [EXPLICIT]

18 - Superpowerless – "120 Seconds to Save the World"

19 – Elfonso – "Retirement from Hyrule"

20 – Dual Core – "Natural 20s"

* Mixed and mastered by Adam! and The HT
** Mixed and mastered by 8 Bit Weapon
*** Mixed and mastered by Shael Riley and Ty Guenley

Amazing cover design by the one and only Dave "The Knave" White:

Wicked-awesome front cover

Equally wonderful back cover

Tiny little thumbnail

And don't forget my ridiculously lengthy liner notes!


iscarr said...

I have three words: "Thank you, sir."

Z. said...

I'm just sorry it took so long, iscarr! :)

Dave White said...

Man, I'm so excited to finally see this released.

Anyone who wants more info about the front and back cover design can get it over at DA:

Z. said...

Same here, Dave! :D

I'm actually investigating different ways of framing the original album art you sent me last Xmas. Moving into a new office next month, and that's totally going up!

The Dungeoneering Dad said...

This is fantastic all around, the music and the art. Thanks for this, Z.

Z. said...

Thanks for the love, TDD! All the contributors really brought it on this project!

Church said...

Hrm. I thought I posted an earlier comment on how insanely awesome that artwork was, but it didn't take. I failed the Turing test once again...

Still, awesome art.

Conspiracy said...

I have recently been looking for a nerdcore D&D concept album and managed to stumble across this today. I am elated to be able to listen to this epic collection of music from so many great artists. I have already started to spread the word to my equally geeky friends. Thank you so much for all the hard work!

Geek Gazette said...

Since I discovered Jonathan Coulton several years ago and then Nerdcore a couple of years later, I've been waiting for an album like this.
I only wish there were more albums like this coming out each year.

Z. said...

Yeah, Church, Dave's cover is a thing of beauty.

Thanks for spreading the love, Conspiracy!

Thanks, Geek Gazette. I try to do compilations like the regularly, but even among them 20-Sided Rhymes is a unique creature.

Joseph R said...

'nother great D&D related track by Nerdcore pioneer Ham-STAR called 'Dump Stat':


Z. said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Joseph.

ComplexedOne said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Released just in time for the weekend long celebration of my birth. Awesome.

Really great mix that I can just put on repeat and rock out to.

Thanks again, Z. and all who contributed.


Z. said...

Thanks, C1, and happy belated birthday!

Church said...

Also, next site redesign, you totally have to use that TSR-style "HP".

Z. said...

You'll be sad to hear, Church, that those limited edition badges I ordered that mysteriously vanished from my front porch sported the TSR logo atop a D20. :(

David Nett said...

On behalf of the entire GOLD the Series team: thank you!

Nerds forever,

Creator, GOLD

Z. said...

Much love, David! Oh, and "This is life. Roll for damage." is likely the best tagline ever. :)

PapaJoeMambo said...

Can't seem to download anything. I'd love to hear this stuff!

Z. said...

Looks like I had a server hiccup last night, Joe, but things appear to be working again now.

Dan said...

Hey Z,

Long time man. Just dl this comp and it's of course kick ass just as I hoped it would be. Keep up the good work!

Dan O

Z. said...

Thanks for checking it out, Dan! Glad you dig it, brother.