21/05/2021

๐Ÿ’ฟ Video Game Vinyl Fantasies | #1 | Britt Recommends ๐Ÿ’ฟ

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Having got into vinyl around ten years ago upon inheriting my late grandfather’s record player, it was only upon the release of Streets of Rage 2 via Data Discs (in 2017-ish?) that I began dipping into picking up video game soundtracks with any regularity.

At first, it was just the Data Discs releases that intrigued me; Outrun, Golden Axe, Sonic Mania, Shinobi etc. but I soon got hips deep into the scene and began learning of some really cool labels that were releasing some serious gold.

In this article, I thought I’d shine a light on the labels and releases that really stand out for me and will include links in each section. Whilst this list isn’t exhaustive, it does pretty much sum up the records that are entrenched in my mind at the moment.

Maybe the next article would be the soundtracks I’d dearly love to be released in vinyl form, who knows?

For now, enjoy and please, let me know if there are any that I’ve missed!

Album Title: Deadbolt 

Artist: Chris Christodoulou (https://www.chrischristodoulou.com/)

Label: Blackscreen Records (https://blackscreenrecords.com/)

Whilst this list isn’t in any particular order, this is the one that always pops straight to mind whenever the topic of video game soundtracks on vinyl pops up and it would very clearly be in the top three, should this be my ‘What makes Britt’s trousers fly off into the sunset?’ list. Whilst I enjoyed the game, this soundtrack REALLY stuck with me. The cool, sexy beats that open -and run through - the album are broken up by moody, pulsating passages and some saucy guitar work as well as some seriously funky time signatures that never feel jarring, there’s always a deep sense of melody and flow.

The artwork is also a winner (the records are presented on white vinyl) and Chris Christodoulou’s included written notes on the background of each track really adds insight to the creative process for this quite frankly, amazing double-album that goes well beyond the game it was created for, to become one of my favourite instrumental albums, inside or outside the genre of video game music. Perfect for all occasions, especially first dates.


Album Title: Borderlands 3

Artists: Jesper Kyd, Michael McCann, Finishing Move Inc, Raison Varner, Julian Peterson & Mike Jones

Label: Laced Records (https://www.lacedrecords.co)

I can actually remember the exact moment that I ordered this red / white double vinyl album. I’ve always been a fan of the Borderlands series as games, but the second I heard Michael McCann’s Sanctuary 3 I literally paused the game to check if it was available on vinyl, it was the equivalent of buying a record purely off the strength of a single and it was absolutely the right move. There are also some ambient pieces that make up the first disc that really stands out. The second record has some boss themes on it and so can understandably get more full-on and industrial but it never loses thematic sight and always sits together as an album. Great game, great album… I may have to buy the others.


Album: The Cat Lady

Artist: MicaMic (https://micamic.bandcamp.com/)

Label: Stumpy Frog Records (https://www.stumpyfrog.com/)

The Cat Lady stands to this day as one of the best games I’ve ever played. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Rem Michalski and the inspiration to contact him came from stumbling across this vinyl release of Harvester Games through Stumpy Frog Records, God bless Twitter. Beautiful, double-gatefold hand-drawn artwork of main character Susan Ashworth and double 180g records make up the album, which kicks off with an awesomely seductive bass riff and leads you through a wonderfully understated, laid-back, smoky selection of tracks culminating with a brief blast of distorted drums and ending with the only vocal track on the album. Grab this FAST if you fancy it as it’s limited to 500 copies and I know for a fact that there aren’t too many left. I remember the soundtrack being far harsher due to the content of the video game, the truth is, this is a sultry, moody soundtrack that really encapsulates the emotional impact of the game without resorting to sledgehammer subtlety.


Album Title: Shadowrun: Hong Kong

Artist: John Everist (https://everistsound.com/)

Label: Blackscreen Records (https://blackscreenrecords.com/)

It will burn me forever that the Shadowrun games were never ported to consoles, but I have to move on from that fact. 

I actually bought these (I also picked up Shadowrun: Dragonfall, single disc) on a whim as there was a preposterously generous sale on at Black Screen records at the time (and I needed something to keep my Deadbolt pre-order warm in the post). Whilst Dragonfall is quite tasty – aside from a hard cut between one track and the devolution into one-minute-long bonus tracks and trailer music at the end of the album – Shadowrun: Hong Kong is the absolute keeper for its mellow, Eastern vibes and hypnotic beat. A double vinyl release, I’ve listened to this so much over the last few months because it covers a surprising amount of ground for me in terms of mood. I’ve had it on when working, reading, having friends over or winding down in the evening (drinking bourbon) and it’s perfect for everything. Definitely, an album that will get thousands of spins over the years for its gently chameleonic approach.


Album Title: Sonic Mania

Artist: Tee Lopes (https://www.teelopesmusic.com)

Label: Data Discs (https://data-discs.com)

Not only was Sonic Mania a huge revitalisation of the Sonic brand in terms of the gameplay, the music completely captured that colourful, positive energy that was present in the best of the 2D Sonic titles. Coming on clear vinyl with a splatter effect, this was the album that @kingdomofcarts used to put on every morning to get hyped up for her day and it’s the perfect choice. If music was a unicorn surfing over a rainbow to give you a high-five and then start breakdancing to entertain you, it would be this album.


Album Title: Streets of Rage 2

Artist: Yuzo Koshiro (Twitter - @yuzokoshiro)

Label: Data Discs (https://data-discs.com)

Ah, the album that started it all! To say that @kingdomofcarts and I adore this game would be an understatement, we named our son after one of the main characters and both the video game and soundtrack are inexplicably linked in our minds, such is the power of this awesome title. Streets of Rage 2 was a game we bonded over and it literally kicked off our relationship as well as our hobby of collecting Mega Drive titles. What a game, what a soundtrack.


Album Title: Nidhogg 2

Artist: Mux Mool (https://muxmool.bandcamp.com)

Label: Alpha Pup Records (https://alphapuprecords.com)

I reviewed this game several years ago and completely loved it, racking up numerous hours with friends and, at one point, using it to settle disputes with @kingdomofcarts – “which one of us is walking to the shop in the rain to get wine?... Nidhogg 2 will decide”.

The game is an absolute keeper and a huge part of the charm is in the music. Mux Mool handles the vast amount of audio work and each track is a standout with its own character and way of capturing the in-game locations. This is one of those albums that isn’t just evocative of a classic game but stands as a great record outside of its soundtrack trappings. It was always quite expensive due to the import charges but I somehow picked it up at a really fair price (on pink vinyl) as a Christmas gift for @kingdomofarts…but was it more a gift for myself? Who’s to say? ๐Ÿ˜‰



Album Title: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: The Raven’s Saga

Artist: Jesper Kyd, Einar Selvik & Sarah Schachner

Label: Lakeshore Records (https://lakeshorerecords.com)

When I received this 10inch EP for review, I have to admit that I was initially unsure how it would roll when played outside of the confines of the video game (which I LOVED). Beyond the fantastic Jesper Kyd (a big hero in our home) penned the main theme, would it be blaring war-horns, epic, sweeping music and chanting? Well…yes. The odd thing is, I happened to have the record player volume up pretty high when I popped this in and within minutes, my eyes were closed, my head was back on the sofa and I was utterly lost in the power of the primal force of music that makes up this EP. To the point that, if it was a full album with longer sides, I’d probably have been completely hypnotised, lost in memories of wandering from Kent to Budleigh Salterton over foggy moors. Not one to casually throw on at parties but wow, what a way to recapture the feelings of misty exploration evoked by playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.


Album Title: ActRaiser

Artist: Yuzo Koshiro

Label: Wayo Records (https://www.wayorecords.com/en/)

This 30th-anniversary edition is one of the most well-presented double-albums that I own. The marbled blue records are absolutely gorgeous and the idea of having one record consisting of a re-mastered soundtrack from the much-loved 1990 Super Nintendo / Famicom title and the other – a live orchestral suite of said soundtrack? Good. A ribbon around the whole thing is the multi-page booklet included that covers thoughts on the soundtrack from all those involved, a really nice touch that gives a great insight into the creation of the soundtrack and its lasting impact.


Album Title: Outrun

Artist: Hiroshi Kawaguchi

Label: Data Discs (https://data-discs.com)

Come on, guys…it’s Outrun, of course, it’s on heavy rotation!

Are there any labels or key albums that I’ve missed? Let me know! One thing I’ve learned since picking ups some of these great albums that it can be easy to miss smaller labels releasing really interesting music. Comment below or email me at october-sun@hotmail.co.uk to let me know of any I should be keeping my peepers out for.

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