Saturday, 9 December 2017

Gaming Music Remixed Down At Club Saturn! (part 1)

What were you doing in 1996? I suppose if you're here, it was playing the Sega Saturn. I was too, on week nights. But at the weekend I would pursue a different form of entertainment, in the nightclubs of Manchester and occasionally Liverpool, London or Sheffield. I was, what I believe you would call, a raver. Rave culture  - dancing to frenetic "acid house" music in fields or nightclubs - had been around since the late 1980s, and I bought into it big time. By 1996, the whole rave scene had exploded  and it's repetitive beats and ecstasy influenced visuals had permeated all aspects of society - fashion, advertising, radio and television etc. but perhaps none more so, than it did gaming culture.

The fact that the Saturn appeared at this period of history, means that it's games will forever have musical, and sometimes graphical links to the rave scene. The 'go-to' gaming soundtrack up until this point had been chip tunes, soft rock or sweeping orchestral scores. But in the mid nineties more and more games started to appear with house, techno or drum and bass soundtracks... I'm sure you'll remember this as a feature of several Saturn games... Wipe Out, Sonic 3D Blast,and Steep Slope Sliders  to name but three. Games such as Wipe Out were actually produced with ravers in mind, and the idea of fusing raving with gaming culminated in the mighty Rez produced for the Dreamcast just a few years later.


But Sega Europe's attempts to tap into the 90's dance culture was a direct marketing ploy, as the
'Club Saturn' project proves. In short this is ostensibly a music project, with every track a remix of a game score or a music track featuring soundbites and samples from a given game. Some are clearly recognisable as being a variation on the original music and some are difficult to actually tie to the original at all! But they're all good if you like that genre of music and I most certainly do!

Sega's very own Richard Jacques was a major contributor to the project, but there are also big name remixes by the likes of DJ's Marshall Jefferson, Mr Time (of Krome & Time) and Paul 'Trouble' Anderson. These were big names at the time, they could draw big crowds and certainly provided the credibility needed for the 'Club Saturn' project.

So let's take a look at them track by track, so you know that you what to expect if you're lucky enough to obtain a copy...

Track 1: 'Nights' - (Drum & Bass Mix) by Expressive Records.

A fantastic start to the CD, this is a mellow and rather magical version of the NiGHTs  theme, and is perhaps the second best track on the album. I think it sets the bar a little high, because the other tracks on the disc (with the exception of one) never quite match it's brilliance. It's easy to spot as the NiGHTs theme and is a remix that even improves on the original.

Track 2: 'Daytona Racing' (House Mix) by Duderella.

A fairly standard techno-house track which samples the spoken instructions at the start of the game such as "Please choose manual or automatic transmission" or in game samples such as "3,2,1... Go!", "Time extension!" and "White flag is up... Here comes the final lap!".
Other than those samples however, it doesn't really evoke the game at all and is certainly not a remix of the cheesy "Daytonaaaa... Let's get away!" track you're used to hearing in game.

Track 3: 'Virtua Cop' (Jungle Mix) by Remarc.

A harder edged drum & bass track, utilising the sirens and screeching tyres of the in-game sound effects, plus a repetitive spoken sample of the words: "Virtua Cop". Many 'jungle' tacks of the time used police sirens, to evoke the urban landscape they were attempting to reflect through their music.
This works really well and the track definitely gives you a feeling of the game it is attached to. Its what one might describe as 'banging'... I believe that's what the youngsters say? 😆

Track 4: 'Sonic 3D' (House Mix) by Balouga Boys.

As stated earlier in the post, this is a game that utilised dance music in it's soundtrack, and thus an easy remix for the Balouga Boys, who are in charge of the mixing duties on this track. A pumping house beat and liberal use of squelching 303 synthesisers make this a hypnotic and rather splendid tech house offering, with a looped piano riff punctuating the more esoteric sounds filling your ears. I think that if you were  flailing around on the dance floor, wide eyed, with the strobes, lasers and dry ice in full effect you'd be well happy with this offering. A class house track, but little in terms of clues as to the game it came from.

Track 5: 'Athlete Kings' (Jungle Mix) by Kenny Ken.

Another heavy drum & bass track, again using snatches of commentary from the games that comprise the roster of events in Athlete Kings. Like the Daytona track before it, this is the principle link to the game and other than that it bares little relevance to any music actually used in the game.
The principle sample is "On your marks... get set... go!" with the word 'go' echoing to fade, as a heavily staccato beat kicks in, sounding like a couple of aluminium  bins falling down a flight of stairs! Good stuff if you're an urban warrior from the hood, (like what I am!) 😜

Track 6: 'Sega Rally' (Trip Hop Mix) by D'Cruze.

Here we hear the helicopter that flies above the race track, along with screeching tyres and the ignition sound that greets you at the start of the game. This is a slow track with sweeping synth 'strings' and a rather dreamy quality. It's not one for tearing up the dance floor, better perhaps for the post-rave chillout and after-party. Various button press sounds can be heard, as well as speech samples such as the ubiquitous  "3,2,1...Go!" and race instructions shouted by your co-driver like "Forward jump!". In case you were in any doubt as to what game soundtrack was being presented to you the sampled "Sega Rally Championship!" from the start of the game should point you in the right direction!

Track 7: 'Baku Baku' (Drum & Bass Mix) by Dream Team.

Something of a cross pollination of genres here. A kicking drum 'n' bass track with squelchy acidic  synths and a sample of a voice saying "say yeah" and "what time is it?". There are some noises which could be in game sounds, but really there's very little here to identify it as a gaming themed track...
Still it is a great drum 'n' bass track, so no complaints from me!

Next time! Tracks 8-15 including music inspired by Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers and the best track of the whole album, the Sega Worldwide Soccer (Trip Hop Mix) by Sega's own Richard Jacques!

1 comment:

NebachadnezzaR said...

Had no idea this existed! Clubbing was never my thing, but I'm always up for expanding my musical horizons.