Tuesday, July 18, 2006

respect due

glisten: Hirokazu 'Hip' Tanaka

Hirokazu Tanaka - Title Theme (from Kid Icarus)

Hirokazu Tanaka - Reapettes' Theme (from Kid Icarus)

Hirokazu Tanaka - Stage One Theme (from Kid Icarus)

Hirokazu Tanaka is one of a small band of mostly Japanese music writers active in the mid to late 1980's who are to music what Wesley Morse was to art; which is to say, anonymous but prolific producers of populist entertainment that was reproduced and enjoyed literally millions of times.

Tanaka was a video game sound engineer and composer for Nintendo from 1980 to the end of the nineties. These days, Tanaka works as the President of Creatures, Inc, which shares the Pokemon trademark with Nintendo; but in his heyday, 'Hip' was responsible for some of the most memorable tunes and jingles of his generation.

Tanaka is probably best known for his work on the soundtracks to Kid Icarus and Metroid. Both games were scored in 1986, but they sound drastically different; Icarus is tinny, light and sugary where Metroid is dark, dense and foreboding. Both are wonders of minimalist composition and still pretty damned exciting to listen to. Nostalgia sweetens this cocktail considerably, but I'd be willing to recommend these short pieces even to the most video-game illiterate. At heart, they are beautiful and addictive themes with a direct view to an twelve year old Tofu Boy enrapt before the TV screen, playing with power.

Ah, the tender sounds of the good ol' daze. Enjoy!

Hirokazu Tanaka - Samus Aran Appears (from Metroid)

Hirokazu Tanaka - Title Theme (from Metroid)

Hirokazu Tanaka - Brinstar Theme (from Metroid)

tell me more about it...

Buy Famicom 20th Anniversary Original Sound Tracks Vol. 1 from Play-Asia.com, delivered to your door for $25 American.
This remarkable Japan-only collection of video game music and sounds expanded to three volumes; this first disc offers a collection of simply essential Nintendo-phile tunage and loads of Tanaka tracks. the complete themes and effects to Ice Climber, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Super Mario and Kid Icarus are only the start of this pricey (but easily obtainable via P2P) compendium. Highly recommended, no matter how you get it.
Read this Gamasutra interview with Hirokazu Tanaka.
Well worth the registration; Gamasutra articles and interviews are indispensible to the curious gamer.
Explore lengthy fansites for both Metroid and Kid Icarus (some tunage in that last one).

If you're feeling a desire for playing these games again coursing through your veins, why not watch these tool-assisted speed run for Metroid and Kid Icarus?
It's the next best thing to holding the controller... if you were some sort of cyborg freak.
Download these lovely desktops for Kid Icarus and Metroid from Desktop Gaming.
Listen to dozens of takes/remixes/mashes of Tanaka's work over at OverClocked Remix.
Metroid Metal recasts Tanaka's soundtrack as a metal masterpiece.

Try this at home!