30/01/2023

Twenty Years of The OneUps (Troggo Studio) Vinyl Review "Here’s to the next twenty years!" ๐Ÿ’ฟ @TheOneUpsBand @Mustin #Vinyl #VideoGameVinyl #VGMvinyl

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The third release that we’ve covered here at GF from Troggo Studio, following Lifestream and MES: Contigo en la Distancia Social – both great records – and this time around, the focus moves away from prog-rock VGM and mariachi to smooth jazz with space left for jam sessions and the occasional dip into more ambient work…which is absolutely, completely and utterly fine. These long, dark nights suit the genre of smooth jazz perfectly, and The OneUps really know how to roll. this was my first exposure to the group, a band that has been around – as the title of the album attests – for twenty years.

Having released many volumes on CD, this is the band’s first vinyl release and has been curated to showcase a track from each previously released CD volume, giving a year-on-year account of how the members and sound have evolved through the life of the band. 

Purchase link

From the Website:

Pressed on 180-gram virgin black vinyl.

Silver foil stamped on cover.

Full color 2-sided insert with a special message and 20 photos for 20 years.

Gatefold design features excerpts from 2+ hour interview conducted by Larry Oji, with QR codes to scan and jump to moments in the band's 20-year history.

Custom printed inner sleeve.

All art by CUBOSH.


Celebrate 20 years of The OneUps with this unique collector's item! 20 years of artwork, photos, and media have been curated for this specific collection. With over 140 released tracks across 20 years, the band hand-picked eight pieces-one from each of the eight mainline albums for the band's first EVER pressing on vinyl.


ONLY 500 UNITS WILL BE SOLD!

This is a must-have for every fan.

This compilation is ONLY available on vinyl and will NOT be available on streaming services.


Check out the official trailer here!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNLXV43ll8k


Tracklisting:

Bossa De Link (The Legend of Zelda)

Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Rainbow Road (Super Mario Kart)

Space Warrior Sound Machine (Super Metroid)

Super Solar Sewer System (TMNT II: The Arcade Game)

Vampire Roadshow (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)

Port Authority (F-Zero)

Steam Gardens (Super Mario Odyssey)


Give the tracks a listen on YouTube!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2mJSY_EdkT1OSekdPU2VCCRRF8SaDxxb

The cover is quite striking - matte black, with a silver foil ‘20’ emblazoned at the centre (with the ‘0’ calling to mind the four-button setup on a SNES pad, which doubles up as the band logo) – it’s a really tasteful cover that feels like a ‘greatest hits’, it specifically called to mind my recently picked-up Motown Greatest Hits, giving off the vibe that the mere impact of the band logo speaks for itself, it’s a confident move that works, due to the quality of the music contained on the grooves and the sheer sense of goodwill that the band clearly have for (and from) their fanbase. Flipping over to the rear, the left-hand side of the back cover sports the track listing, whilst the standard credits and details are at the bottom, with the white text on a black background, it feels quite cinematic in terms of design.

Opening up the gatefold sleeve shows dozens of posters from the bands’ gigs over the years, overlaid with an interview with the band, hosted by Larry Oji. In a really nice touch, the interview is split into segments, and next to each one is a QR code which takes you to a YouTube video of a song mentioned in the interview responses, or that was recorded/performed during the phase of the band currently being discussed, it’s a very neat idea. The final QR code of the interview links to the full interview itself, again on YouTube.

This being a 20th-anniversary celebration release means that that’s not all! On a black, glossy sheet are some words from The OneUps in regard to how Troggo Studio initially contacted them for the release, and the initial thoughts that went into its design. Below these paragraphs is a moody monochrome image of the band, with each member’s signature underneath their respective portrait.

The reverse of this is a collection of images and accompanying descriptions of the band through the years, 20 in all, in keeping with the theme of the album.

There is also a second glossy sheet (white) that acts as the actual record sleeve, this contains the details of the musicians that play on each track, which game the song is from, when and who recorded it, as well as who mixed and mastered the track in question. The bottom half of the sheet are some personal words from each current band member to their loved ones, fans, and friends. The reverse of this is a pure block of text, with the colouring cleverly illustrating the band logo. It’s not easy to read due to the font size and spacing, but these are words from the fans, discussing the impact that the band has had, favourite tracks, and fond memories from gigs. As you can probably tell by the content, this is very much a band that feels they owe a huge amount to their fanbase, and it’s really celebrated here, even as someone new to the band, just from reading the details, you can sense the goodwill that runs both ways between the band and audience.

The record itself is a black, 180-gram vinyl, with the band logo at the centre, on the paper inner circles. 

Track-by-Track

Side A

Bossa De Link (The Legend of Zelda)

Smooth saxophone grooves lead us into the album, as nylon strung guitar plays a Bossa nova rhythm over snare rimshots and warm, punchy electric bass. The fret noise on the guitar really lends itself to an intimate recording style, everything is casual, mellow and organic sounding. The saxophone snakes its way through the track, leading to a wonderfully dirty section where things get slightly gutsy. For me, it’s that tight Bossa nova beat and delicate guitar that steals the show, backed up by subtle drum work. It’s a fantastic take on a piece of music that has been revisited many times in many forms. The OneUps succeed in putting their own individual stamp on a song that will resonate with many, many listeners. A lovely introduction to the record!

Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)

A slightly more energetic style kicks off here, a full – very snappy – kit, that punchy electric bass and gentle violin all play underneath a lead sax that drives the way through one of my favourite tracks on the album. The production overall so far really captures a live sense, with the instruments feeling natural and played with captivating skill, the smooth jazz approach on these initial opening tracks matching perfectly with the style of production. A little treat halfway through the track is when glassy keys come in to back up a noodling, warmly overdriven guitar section that gives the sax a break. This in turn leads to the keyboard having an opening of its own. Even on the first listen, I was completely hips-deep in this jammier-than-usual take on these classic VGM tracks. The free-jazz approach gives them heavy replayability, as your ears pick up different aspects upon each subsequent listen. This depth and the easiness of the listening experience combined with that generous production make this an awesome morning / early afternoon album that can very easily be thrown on in the evenings to wind down, beautiful – a record for every occasion.

Rainbow Road (Super Mario Kart)

Jangly guitar, piano runs, and some hi-hat action tease us over a thudding kick drum as the milky lead guitar takes centre stage. This much-loved track also gets The OneUps treatment, taking the beloved and familiar and infusing it with a stylish smoothness all of their own. I’ve listened to this album over a dozen times now, and each time the approachability and richness of the production melts me. Every aspect feels perfectly captured and the more exploratory passages enhance and invigorate when they could so easily be reduced to tedious, one-dimensional solo spots. The bass also gets a moment here to thrust its funky stuff, so far it has been three golden tracks of smooth grooves, which is absolutely fine, as far as I’m concerned. Heavy hitters too, in terms of song choice, Zelda, Sonic and Mario Kart! 

Space Warrior Sound Machine (Super Metroid)

The final track of the first side takes a more experimental vibe, as laid down by the squelchy opening synth notes, although an acoustic kit still rocks along a 4/4 beat underneath it all. The milky guitar returns, that robotic synth propelling the song forward as metallic waves sweep back and forth. As is to be expected, the playing is tasteful and tight. It’s a departure from the lighter jazz style set down in the preceding tracks but fits thematically as a more atmospheric approach that is unified by the production. When the song opens up – as does the hi-hat – it really got me turkey-necking, it’s also at this part of the song that the guitar is given room to manoeuvre, again – tastefully. 

Side B

Super Solar Sewer System (TMNT II: The Arcade Game)

Palm-muted electric guitar with some grunt, slap-bass and some pretty busy drum action launches the second half of the album off, the closest the record has come to full-on rock so far still doesn’t lose thematic sight as that tight mixing and mastering keep things from getting too loose and open. This is a classic three-piece rock session, with the metallic bass and deft drumming rocking right alongside the cutting guitar. This really made me want to play the game! This track also contains some guitarist ‘foot-on-monitor’ moments. Good.

Vampire Roadshow (Castlevania: Symphony of the Night)

Back to a mellower, casually overdriven guitar sound here as the percussion gets busy over double-tracked strings. The way the sax echoes guitar lines here, almost creates Bond-like moments, although the collapsing downscales that pop up every now and then are what really caught my ear. It’s a highlight for the drums, as they churn out some really tasty moments, the backbone of this song. The guitar also isn’t a slouch as that chiming, bell-like tone really struts its stuff, leading up to a drum breakdown that sees the bass launching out over hand-percussion that re-introduces sexy sax gold. It’s a moody, sultry piece that is easily a highlight for me, capturing an incredibly smoky atmosphere that bleeds through the very vinyl grooves and fills the room.

Port Authority (F-Zero)

This, the penultimate track kicks off with pure Japanese-style rock, a harder, woodier edge to the snare and double-tracked guitar weave around each other as that big, bubbly bass wraps itself around the rhythms. It’s the perfect track to follow Vampire Roadshow, due to the melodic sexiness going on, it contains the same style of swagger and coolness contained within tasty musicianship. For all the guitar lovers out there, this is the track that contains the most face-melting solo action, so strap yourselves in and make sure your trousers are firmly buckled for this one.

Steam Gardens (Super Mario Odyssey)

A song that reminds me of my beloved Surf Coasters due to that surfin’ action in the be-tremoloed guitar and shuffling, '60s-styled beat. My DNA is inexplicably drawn to this genre and so it’s impossible for you not to be completely in love with this, the final track of the album. When the track opens up to let the Hammond organ wave its magic, I was there. A great way to allow this album to surf off into the setting sun. 

This album is such a great celebration of what The OneUps have accomplished in their career, as well as highlighting how flexible they are across genres, from jazz through synth, rock, surf-pop and more atmospheric-driven tracks, they pull out all the stops to make the magic happen.

I was a complete newcomer to The OneUps, but I am absolutely a convert as to their talents and passion. Troggo Studio has also really hit the sweet spot in terms of the album design and production, as it is truly jam-packed with information, quotes, articles, and a general sense of celebration of The OneUps’ music, accomplishments, and the respect and love that they clearly hold for their fanbase.

Purchase link

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