Sunday, 14 January 2018

Gaming Music Remixed Down At Club Saturn! (Part 2)

You may remember in the first part of this post, that we established the link between rave culture and gaming, that came about in the middle of the 1990s, when that particular type of music could be found dominating the airwaves, creeping into television programme soundtracks and as the music of choice, to sell anything from cars to Guinness. We also noted how much, both Sega as a company and the Saturn as a console, embraced the rave scene wholeheartedly*, using it's music as the soundtrack to many software titles, the odd commercial and as part of the very project we are reviewing right now:
Club Saturn.
*as did I- see pic below!

Father K embraces the rave scene... @ the Tribal Gathering, first legal rave in two years, May 6th 1995.
So read the first part of the article and get ready for part two...

Track 8: Virtua Fighter (Marshall Jefferson House Mix)
No mistaking this as the theme to a fighting game, with the grunts and screams of various Virtua Fighter characters being sampled and employed throughout this rather odd house track. The reason I say 'odd', is that it includes a very unusual acoustic guitar break, appearing a few times throughout the mix, which sits in contrast to the driving rhythm and sparse instrumentation of the rest of the track...
Again though, the lack of  reference to the actual game is disappointing. The track itself, however, is a bit of a grower. When I first heard the CD, I wasn't overly impressed by many of the tracks, but on a second listen, two months later, I'm enjoying more and more of the tracks. I think I wanted them all to be instantly recognisable... and they're not!

Track 9: Fighting Vipers (Back To Basics Drum 'n' Bass Mix) Another 3D fighting game celebration, this time our favourite alternative to Virtua Fighter, Fighting Vipers. No mistaking the game the track is linked to, as it samples the phrase "Fighting Vipers" and "Let the action begin" from the start of the game, These are peppered throughout the track, along with an in-game button press sound emitted when you are selecting your character from the roster. A heavy drum 'n' bass track, bordering on the 'Jungle' genre.

Track 10: NiGHTS (Richard Jacques Ambient Trance Mix)
A second appearance for the Saturn's most iconic game, with Sega's own in house music producer Richard Jacques on remixing duties.

Sega maestro Richard Jacques sits at his work station...

For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, "Ambient" usually refers to a very slow tempo music, which features lots of 'dub' qualities, full of echo, dream-like, heavy on bass, (but not necessarily on rhythm), with many unusual noises and snippets of speech. It's usually associated with the E-d up after party or "chill-out". There are some strange samples at the start that are jumbled up, before we hear Eliot (or Claris(?) or NiGHTs(?) snippet of speech from the part of the game where one turns into the other...
Then the familiar NiGHTs theme comes into play, and we hear the various noises associated with flying through Nightopia collecting orbs.. With Jacques at the controls, it was never going to be anything other than superb, although it doesn't hold a candle to the other NIGHTS offering, the "Expressive Records Drum 'n' Bass" mix. However Jacques manages to finish the track cleverly, by sampling the alarm clock that signals the end of an unsuccessful attempt at a circuit!

Track 11: Duel (Golden Axe) (Mr. Time of Krome 'n' Time Jungle Mix)
I can't say too much about this track, because I don't know the game. But I'm fairly sure the main sample from the track which says "we are controlling transmission" is actually from the TV show "The Outer Limits", which of course is quite cool, but has nothing to do with Golden Axe Duel. I assume this was pointed out to Mr. Time, who drops a reasonable, but fairly standard drum 'n' bass track, because he also squeezes a sample of the word "duel" into the title. Perhaps the lamest track on the CD despite the big name producer.

Track 12: Worldwide Soccer (Richard Jacques Trip Hop Mix)
What makes this the second best track on the album is the unique combination of two Saturn legends on one track. Richard Jacques, the man responsible for the original cheesy rock of Sega Worldwide Soccer 97/98, now samples Gary Bloom, legendary commentator of  Sega Worldwide Soccer 97/98. The combination of the two legends on one track makes me weep with joy. I can't express how amazing I find this wondrous fusion of Saturn goodness!

Track13: Shinobi X (Remarc 'n' Lewi Jungle Mix)
Another fairly standard mid-nineties jungle track. The samples may be game relevant, but there's not much I can identify as sampled from the title game. Another filler, rather than thriller.

Track 14: Baku Baku (Acorn Arts Hard House Mix).
Now this is actually a fairly cheesy 'hard house' track. Hard house (as opposed to 'house') is in this instance, what I would actually call 'techno' or 'tech house'. It's low on instrumentation or melody, heavy on squelching 303 synthesisers and banging frenetic rhythms. Not my favourite by a long means. Unable to say whether there is a big Baku Baku connection, because as with the Golden Axe Duel or Shinobi X tracks, I'm actually unfamiliar with the title as a Saturn game...

Track 15: Fighting Vipers (Paul Trouble Anderson Avant-Garde Beats Mix)
Again, I've a little trouble with the description of this one, just as I did with the description of a techno track as a 'hard house'. This one is described as "Avante-Garde Beats", when I'd simply categorize it as 'electro'. It's got the obligatory mention of the game's title, as well as the in-game spoken, 'time over'. A few other in game and button press sounds, but by track 15, the concept is wearing a little thin...

Just  as you're perhaps tiring of the Club Saturn project, it goes and delivers a killer surprise...


So, as well as the music CD we get the Sega Flash Demo Disc, which was given away with issue 12 of the Official Sega Saturn Magazine. I've looked at the magazine online, but whilst it mentions the disc and it's contents, I couldn't see a mention of the Club Saturn project... I subsequently found out that the CD was actually just a commercial venture, designed at promoting the Saturn amongst music fans and was sold as a music CD, advertised on TV, with a free demo disc for Saturn owners (or perhaps even for those suggestible types like me, who might have been prompted to buy a console to go with the free demo disc they got with their latest rave CD!)

So, if you procure a copy of the Club Saturn CD as I did, you'll actually get a copy of the Sega Flash Vol 2 disc, which has playable demos of NIGHTS, SWWS '97, Athlete Kings and Baku Baku, Panzer Dragoon Zwei, as well as video of Virtua Fighter Kids, The Story of Thor 2 and Three Dirty Dwarves.

So there you have it... I love the music on the CD (overall) and who doesn't like a Sega Flash disc? As a unique piece of Saturn merchandise and a snapshot of 90s musical culture, I'd give it 10/10.


Daniel Turner said...

awesome! taking me right back to my raving days. oi oi ! xD

The Virtua Schlub said...

This stuff is awesome, Simon! Great articles and thanks for raising awareness for such an awesome mix. if retro gaming can make a worldwide resurgence -- surely rave culture can. And maybe it starts with the Sega Saturn!

NebachadnezzaR said...

In 1995 I was starting school. Thanks for making me feel young!