Torn Hawk – Union and Return

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I shared the first single from this magnificent breakthrough LP a couple months back, but my anticipation never waned. Luckily, it seems well placed: Union and Return soars like the disembodied wings on its fantastical cover art, all weird texture and glistening uplift.

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Oneohtrix Point Never – Garden Of Delete

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Oneohtrix Point Never has returned with a massive new album you can call G.O.D. It peels up the corner tiles of a thousand realities over 45 minutes, blooming micro-worlds of sound and immediately dissolving in head-on collisions.

For the first time in years, OPN – real name Daniel Lopatin – hasn’t completely restructured his sound, yet I’m feeling the same sense of dizzying vertigo that he’s made a career out of conjuring. In a real sense, the strongest component of his appeal has always been that daring sense of surprise, the act of an artist venturing over the edge of the known music world and bringing back sounds that I’ve never even anticipated, much less heard.

More than a style, it’s an idea, a philosophy. In the wrong hands, it can become a cheap trick. This is something far more substantial.

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Classic Video Game Music: River City Ransom

I decided that my friends would be a great resource in collecting the ultimate list of classic old school video game music. To start us off with an example that’s been bouncing around my head for probably 25 years now, I present the music of River City Ransom.

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River City Ransom was the first game I fell absolutely in love with. It’s a hybrid beat-em-up RPG that plays like Final Fight but lets you spend calmer moments in shopping districts, enjoying meals or steam baths between battles. You can raise your stats by eating noodles and asking for smiles from the burger shop waitress. It’s got a hyper-cheesy plot about high schoolers Alex and Ryan fighting hundreds of local gang members on the way to face Slick, who has taken over the town and kidnapped Ryan’s girlfriend.

The best part is that this game works far better as a two player affair. I spent days upon days teaming up with my stepbrother, Greg, and completing the game in one go. To be fair, we had to; the only “save” system was a three-line code you could write down with pen and paper to give yourself updated stats when you restarted. It was less of a pain in the ass to just play it all over, mostly because the game is incredibly fun.

The game was the perfect two player, co-op game. While fun on its own, RCR is an utter riot with a partner. Some of my favorite gaming memories involve sitting on the basement floor with Greg first thing on a Saturday morning, not getting up until Slick was defeated and all of the noodles were devoured.

The most memorable aspect of the game itself is the music. I can unspool any of these tunes in my mind just by thinking of the game. What I would love is for you to comment with your favorite 8-bit or 16-bit era game scores. Leave youtube links for any particular songs if you want. I know everyone (of a certain age at least) has a few absolute heartwarming favorites they’ve loved for years. Let’s share! I will be making more posts with more of this music as long as there’s interest.

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