Still Diggi1240640': Nick Dwyer’s Top Ten Video Game Soundtracks
9 February 2015
We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re thrilled about Kode9’s visit to India. If you’ve been following us, you’ll know that he will be joined by RBMA co-conspirator - Nick Dwyer; an overall sonic savant and one of the most interesting human beings to pop up on our radar. Really.
Search his name and the most recent thing you’ll find is ‘Diggin’ In The Carts’ – an award winning documentary series that Dwyer co-created for Red Bull Music Academy last year with Tu Neill. The RBMA team travelled to Japan for the 6-part documentary, speaking with the unassuming men and women behind the music that influenced a generation of electronic artists to follow, including the Hyperdub boss himself, Flying Lotus, Ikonika, Ladyhawke and more. It’s a beautifully shot, in depth piece that explores video games from the 8-bit era to its impact in modern day electronica. You can (and should) watch all the episodes for ‘Diggin In The Carts’ here on RBMA’s website.
Not much information about Nick Dwyer, the musician, is easily available online. He’s been DJing since the late 90s now, but has been focusing on production for his live group project – Weird Together. The outfit makes dance music that is shaped by sounds from all over the globe – watch their video for ‘No Comromise’, shot in Ghana and listen to a fascinating brass reinterpretation of Skrillex’s1242646'Cinem1242653' that the band recorded a few years ago.
Believe it or not, we’re not even close to listing his lengthy repertoire – the walking, talking music encyclopedia hosted a music based travel show called ‘Making Tracks’, has an extensive career as a radio host and has been a core associate and interviewer at the Red Bull Music Academy since 2005.
It goes without saying then, that we’re elated to have him come down to India and spread a little bit of knowledge and incredible sound. His top 10 list of video game soundtracks is one of the most enjoyable lists we’ve seen in a while and elucidates the influence of videogames through sound. Some of this music is astoundingly good, especially given the limited technology available at the time.
We won’t keep you – here are Nick Dwyer’s top 10 video game tracks:
Jun Ishikawa -1243592'Alchahes1243602'
"Oh man, this soundtrack. Probably one of the greatest examples of the SNES chip doing what it does best. I got this game when I was about 11 and the soundtrack had me so entranced. So beautiful. Sadly I tried so hard to get Jun Ishikawa in the Diggi1244156' documentary but for reasons we could1244195't make it happen. So epic."
Nobuo Uematsu -1244254'Final Fantasy 5
"What can you say? Nobuo Uematsu is one of the dons of Video Game Music. All of his work for the Final Fantasy series is legendary, but of course for me its the early days and Uematsu - san bringing his own unique mix of classical and pop influences and squeezing that through the 8-bit & 16-bit chips in the NES & SNES that he will best be remembered."
Histoshi Sakimoto -1244968'Magical Chas1244982'
"It was actually this track from the PC - Engine (Turbo Grafix in the States) that was what inspired me to make Diggi1245403' In The Carts. I had been digging through old game soundtracks in a store called Super Potato in Akihabara in Tokyo looking for old Japanese games to sample. Tha1245566's when I found this. Later that evening whilst listening to this track, loud, looking out from the 30th floor of my hotel seeing Tokyo at night - I had a moment where I realised I had to make the documentary. We actually re-created what I saw that night in the third Episode when we play this track, it was so important to me that we had that scene in there."
Konami Sound Team -1245961'Lagrange Poin1245976'
"Oh my god - this soundtrack. A rare Japanese only game that never made it to the outside world, and the only NES (well, Famicom) title to use the VRC7 sound expansion chip. The VRC7 was in fact capable of FM synth and you can hear it in all its glory on this opening track. So amazing to think that at the end of the 8-bit era Konami were so focused on sound and making sure their games had the best sound. They continually pushed the limits of what the machine was capable of and came up with titles like this. Hats off to the legendary composers in their sound team. Atushi Fujio especially wrote some incredible stuff during this era."
Masashi Kageyma -1246988'Just Friend1247001'
"This was something that I only discovered through doing research for Diggi1247417', I spent a summer listening to the entire history of 8-bit & 16-bit music and discovered this little known gem. I tracked down Kageyama - san who had given up making music altogether nearly 20 years earlier and he was one of the sweetest and most amazing people I have ever met. H1247704's only now realising what an impact he had and that kids grew up loving his music. The whole thing has inspired him to get back into the studio and make music again"
Yuzo Koshiro -1247900'Streets of Rage 1247918'
"Yuzo Koshiro. Words cannot describe what this man did for video game music. And little did 20 year old Yuzo realise that by putting his love of club music that he was hearing in the late 81248412's in Tokyo into his game music, he would go on to switch an entire generation onto house and techno."
Hip Tanaka -1248542'Ridleys Lai1248555'
"The original Don. One of the first composers at Nintendo and the man responsible for creating the Gameboy soundchip. We were lucky enough to get him to the Red Bull Music Academy in Tokyo for a lecture and it was incredible. This soundtrack was so like nothing else at the time. In 1986 when 8-bit music was very much kiddie friendly simple happy melodies Tanaka - san was bringing the dark."
Ben Daglish / Matt Gray -1249293'Last Ninja 1249306' /1249310'Last Ninja 1249323'
"Okay so most of my list has been Japanese composers, but 1249723've got to pay respects to the guys that got me into video game music in the first place. When I was 7 we got a Commodore 64 and I used to record the game music onto tape and listen to it before I went to bed. This was introduction to electronic music. So many props to Ben Daglish for his work on the game The Last Ninja, that soundtrack changed my life. But i1250085's this track in particular from Last Ninja 2 that is so so heavy. The SID chip in all i1250174's glory."
Neil Baldwin -1250214'Erik The Vikin1250230'
"Okay, so sadly this game never came out but Neil Baldwin had completed the soundtrack and a few years back decided to share it with the world. Really incredible soundtrack and this track is particular is so good."
Manabu Namiki -1250816'Battle Garegg1250831'
"My only non 8-bit and 16-bit offering comes from 91251187's Bullet Hell title1251208'Battle Gareg1251222' composed by the wonderful human being that is Manabu Namiki. Namiki - san was the source of inspiration for Oneohtrix Point Neve1251353's set at the Cart Diggers event that RBMA put on to tie in with Diggi1251424' In The Carts at the Tokyo Academy. Namiki - san was super inspired by labels like Warp Records and Detroit techno growing up and in particular Underground Resistance. You can hear it in this track - i1251627's straight Galaxy 2 Galaxy vibes."