I must be getting old, because these days I’m actively seeking calming music to play me off to dreamland in the evenings. I already shared my go-to sleepytime album a few months back, but while checking out related and recommended albums after last month’s review I stumbled onto a release from a tiny German label called Dead Bison. I was intrigued – they’ve got almost no web presence and just three releases through the last three years, I’m not even sure how they popped up aside from Bandcamp’s recommendation algorithms being very, very good. ‘Driving East’ by Natsukashii is one of these three releases, and by halfway through the first track I had experienced a relaxing calm so pure I knew this had to be what I’ve been looking for.
Have your musical tastes left you unable to interact with your family? Do people tell you that it sounds like you just strung together an unintelligible series of words when you describe what genre of music you’re listening to? Do you need a really, really chill deep house album composed on various FM synths by one of the best musicians in our circles who thinks he can hide by using a pen name? Then congrats, because ‘Coastal Breese’ by Local T under the new Pen Name label is exactly what you need to kick your warmer months off right.
It is very rare that I get to announce that one of my favorite acts has come back from the dead, but mark my words – like a sleeper agent activated by a numbers station broadcasting for the first time in years, The National Broadcast Network has started transmitting again. And my friends, the signal is strong.
If you’re over the age of 35 and you saw who I’m writing this article on, you probably just went “Wait, what? Why?” If you’re under 35 and don’t listen to The Adventure Zone and you saw who I’m writing about, you probably just went “Wait, who?” In a rare departure from talking about upcoming chiptune releases, I thought I might take a moment and talk about one of the early Moog synthesizer pioneers whose music has largely been out of print for the last ~40 years in hopes that a look at this particular time capsule might have some worthwhile stories to tell us in this modern era. Today’s article is on the rerelease of Mort Garson’s ‘Plantasia,’ courtesy of Sacred Bones Records.
I would like to start this article off with an apology. Longtime fans of the blog may know that, generally, if I’m writing a post-event retrospective (i.e. PAX East or MAGFest) I make it a point to not only cover the music but also the various games I played at the event – highlighting indie games is one of my favorite things to do, as it helps smaller devs get some much needed press. Unfortunately, due to my increased duties helping sling merch at Chipspace this year, I was unable to play any games at MAG, so this year’s review is limited to the chiptune showcases that I caught at both Chipspace & main stage. Which isn’t to say there’s not a lot to talk about, because holy balls, there were a lot of awesome showcases at both venues!
I turn 28 this month, in fact a week from today. At this age, I find myself wishing I had the ability to go back in time and change a number of things that led my life to be the way it is today. And honestly, not only that, but there are certain parts of my life I wish I could live over again, like the parts of my childhood I spent playing my Super Nintendo and my friend’s Playstation 1 after school, jamming out to the Castlevania: Symphony of the Night OST.
This will never happen, of course. I don’t have some kind of time machine to go back, and I’ll never be able to experience Michiru Yamane and Koji Igarashi’s masterpiece again for the first time. What I do have, however, is the next best thing: Timespinner, the first game by Lunar Ray games with an amazing soundtrack by Jeff Ball of Tiny Barbarian DX and Steven Universe fame (among many others), which follows the story of Lunais – a woman who must travel between the ancient past and ruined present of her world to put an end to the tyranny her people face from an intergalactic empire. Funded on Kickstarter back in 2014, this was one of those games I backed and hoped and prayed it would actually come to completion, having been burned by a number of other very promising retro-inspired campaigns in the past – and lo and behold, at the end of September of this year I got my hands on my pledge and devoured the game immediately. Instead of my normal “music only” review column this month, I’d like to actually talk about the game as well – and as with my occasional event coverage, I’ll give you the handy #MUSIC and #GAME tags to Ctrl+F back and forth to if you only want to read one of those reviews.