24/04/2024

Wipeout – CoLD SToRAGE: The Zero Gravity Soundtrack Review By Britt ๐Ÿ’ฟ๐ŸŽถ @LapsusBarcelona #Vinyl #VideoGameVinyl

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A truly seminal and timeless soundtrack, sought after for years, Wipeout has finally been brought into the hands of fans by Lapsus records, and it is absolutely worth the wait.

Composed by Tim Wright (A.K.A CoLD SToRAGE, a fellow Welshman) for the 1995 video game Wipeout, a futuristic racer with a heavy focus on music and atmosphere, the Wipeout soundtrack has some key tunes that will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played the game. It’s a creation of many iconic images, from the font through to the colouring, shape of the crafts that the player races, the names of each fictional company, the flow and weave of the in-game courses, and of course, the music. 
Wipeout was a seminal entry in the future-racing genre, and the soundtrack is an enormous part of the package. When people think of Wipeout audio, they may remember the gentle hiss of the engines, or that light, metallic ‘clunk’ when a nigh-perfect lap gets spoilt by nipping the corner of a chicane, but more than likely, they’ll remember that pulse-pounding soundtrack, an almost primal surge of glorious music that pumps relentlessly throughout, and acts as the adamantium backbone of the game, the nerve centre from which all else forks out. 

The music dares you to lose attention for even a nanosecond, the hypnotic, ever-changing melodious runs feel on edge themselves, as laser-honed and driving as the current racer’s focus. Even as a purely alternative rock focused teenager, whenever I was at a friend’s house and Wipeout went on the PlayStation, even my guitar-centric mind knew that this was special, as we melted into silence, and concentration, and the music spoke for all of us. It burned tunes and moments into my mind that still thrill over a quarter of a century later. Good.

Lapsus records have released this triple vinyl, which features the full CoLD SToRAGE soundtrack on discs one and two, with the third being reserved for remixes from such folks as Kode9, Brainwaltzera, Simo Cell, and Datasette. And it’s a belter.

Presented in a double gatefold, this triple vinyl collection is the epitome of cool sleekness. Like the soundtrack itself, the design is effortlessly cool, and minimalistically reflective of the original video game cover. Again, the music almost needs no introduction, and this bold, striking approach only serves to highlight the gold contained on those waxy grooves.

The front cover is mostly a familiar grey, with that seminal font emblazoned across the top of the cover. Turning the album over reveals the rear, which is purely presented in grey and white, with only a small section dedicated to the full soundtrack, whilst the remix artists get in-game-Wipeout-esque fonts and logos highlighting their creative entities, which is very cool.
Opening up the gatefold highlights the main man – Tim Wright, natch – on the left in monochrome, a picture of him in the mid-nineties surrounded by keyboards, synths, Amigas and CRT monitors – as we all hope to be, one day. It’s a nerdy, still, and understated photograph that is wonderfully at odds with the explosive, kinetic music that exudes from the vinyl itself. The right-hand side is taken up with an interview hosted by music industry veteran Ben Cardew, and serves to highlight Tim Wright’s character, which I also want to mention, as my personal experience and thoughts on this feel oddly vital to this article, as I feel it will reflect the emotions and situations of many other listeners and fans. Firstly though, I have to high-five the work of Pedro Pina, who masters this album perfectly. When updating such intense audio, it must be incredibly tempting to ramp everything up, ‘modernising’ it, and blowing the roof off everyone’s bungalow. That’s not the approach here, though, there’s a deep richness and full-body to the audio that means no matter how intense or panicked the soundtrack itself gets, there’s always space for more or less, it’s never tiring to listen to, but instead textured and full – Tim definitely owes him a pint.

In closing this article, I wanted to talk specifically about the character of the artist. In researching this soundtrack – and Tim Wright himself – I listened to hours of his thoughts, reminiscences and views on how his music, remixes thereof, and legacy are viewed. Again, considering how vital his input was in not just making Wipeout a success, but in accidentally branding the PS1 on the world through his skills in terms of the European adult gaming market, he comes across as an incredibly humble fatalist, and I found myself entranced by his interviews and life. It is baffling that he had such a difficult time getting involved in the physical releases of the soundtracks in the Wipeout franchise, and that brings me on to my final point here.

Wipeout was huge. As someone who grew up in the UK (South Wales, specifically), it seemed like everyone had a copy of Wipeout on their PS1 (it was the equivalent of a Stephen King novel on a bookshelf), and over the last few weeks, as I’ve mentioned to friends, colleagues, and family that I was writing about ‘Wipeout’. The conversation instantly, INSTANTLY moved to the soundtrack. How many games can you say that about?*

Tim Wright, A.K.A CoLD StoRAGE’s soundtrack was a turning point in video game audio, and what makes that point even more juicy is through how inadvertent it was. Lapsus Records have released something quietly monumental here, and it is something that needs to be heard and revered.

*aside from The 7th Guest, natch

talk about conversations with friends and Faye – the impact and importance of the music, and Tim Wright – also interviews that highlight how grounded he is.

From the Lapsus records website:

Gatefold outer sleeve printed in Pantone silver, magenta and orange.

- 3LP pressed on black vinyl.

- wipE'out'' logo insert print: Pantone silver, magenta and orange.

Back in the 1990s video games were still largely seen as nerdy: fun, sure, but basically a guilty pleasure that you’d soon grow out of. The release in 1995 of wipE’out”, a lightning-fast, razor-sharp, futuristic racing game that helped to launch the PlayStation in Europe and North America, changed all that. This was a game that looked and sounded both adult and cool, the kind of game you would put on display in your living room, rather than hide away under your bed. Key to this was the fact that wipE’out” borrowed unashamedly from the clubbing experience and electronic music, in a way that put it at the heart of progressive mid 90s culture. It soon became a phenomenon.

wipE’out” looked sensational, with Sheffield agency The Designers Republic – known for their work with Warp – creating the visuals, packaging and manual for the game, drawing heavily on the bright colours and excitable geometric shapes of the rave and club flyers of the early 90s.

wipE’out” also sounded like a new rave dream. The European version of the game included music from The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield and Orbital, the kind of fashionable game syncs that were almost unheard of at the time. Equally striking was the game’s original music, which came from Welsh musician Tim Wright, aka CoLD SToRAGE, by this point already a veteran in the video games world, having worked on the music for Amiga titles such as Lemmings and Shadow of the Beast 2. His music for wipE’out” was, if anything, even more extreme than the big-name syncs, mixing the accelerated beats of drum & bass with the pure synth rush of trance to make music that sounded as breathlessly exciting as playing the game felt.

These tracks were burned into the brains of millions of gamers; the soundtrack to a generation of late-night anti-gravity racing, as the sun gingerly rose beyond the curtains. But they haven’t, perhaps, quite got the respect they deserve, something that this release will address. 
In 2023, video game music is finally getting its dues; here, remastered and repackaged –and also remixed by cutting edge producers such as Kode9, ฮผ-Ziq, Brainwaltzera, Simo Cell, Wordcolour, James Shinra, Surgeons Girl and Dattassette– are some of the most important, thrilling, innovative and most fun songs ever committed to game release.

Record Label – Lapsus Records – Purchase Link

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