Music for Videogames v.1 marks the inauguration of Asthmatic Kitty Records into the world of videogames. This fifteen track compilation is unique in that we painstakingly combed through our web of friends to find songs that represent not only high quality music, but also intensive and challenging gameplay experiences for the independent videogame, AudioSurf.
AudioSurf, a cross between Guitar Hero, WipeOut, and REZ, constructs its game levels around inputted songs from CDs or MP3s. Players must navigate their own music while playing a Tetris-like puzzle that matches the tempo of the song. It is synesthesia realized as play, innately weaving sound and sight to form a completely extraordinary way of listening to and experiencing music. The songs in Music for Videogames v.1 accordingly emphasize distinction, intensity, and dynamic.
The collection of songs also subverts videogame music at large, which often leans to either established “indie” acts, or the predictable electronic stereotypes. With just over a third of the tracks exclusive to the compilation, tracks from the likes of The Beauty, Grampall Jukebox, Seth Kauffman, and Asthmatic Kitty’s own artists Ero Gray (aka Papa Alabaster of the Future Rapper project), Rafter and Sufjan Stevens serve notice that this is not your dad’s videogame music. Aspects of Physics, Anticon Record’s Dosh, and zygote employ dissonance and dynamic in a way that only incites even more challenging gameplay from AudioSurf. But nor does this compilation eschew the pure joy of digital to digital; exclusive tracks from Fantastic Mr. Fox and new Anticon Records signee Son Lux masterfully demonstrate a compositional maturity beyond their years, Ablerock ends his world, and contributions from Actuel and Mansbestfriend are finely sharpened directions. Each song represents a different challenge in the videogame, changing the feel from a puzzle game to frantic hyper-racer with each track.
But while designed especially for AudioSurf, Music for Videogames v.1 is a also compilation just as easily enjoyed outside of a game. Because we carefully selected each song based on both quality and playability, the compilation surprised us with its uncanny sense of purpose, distinctive even outside of the game space of AudioSurf.