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Whether you hit the console every day or only once a year, there’s no denying the potency of a great video game soundtrack on the human brain. When he’s not cooking up breakbeat-heavy rave sounds and off-the-chain jungle goodness, Brighton producer Zak Brashill aka Etch is obsessing over video games, having earned some fond memories of the 32-bit and 64-bit era.
Ahead of the release of his (extremely heavy) ‘Ups & Downs’ record dropping next week – a ‘collection of dubs which date as far back as 2014 and up to the present day’, Zak has shared his ten favourite video game soundtracks from that era, providing inspiration – and even sample fodder – for his forthcoming album. “These are in no order of preference – that would probably send me into cardiac arrest because I am a massive massive nerd,” he says.
1. Silent Hill 2 OST – Akira Yamaoka – ‘The Day Of Night’
“I think potentially Akira’s work on the original Silent Hills (1, 2, 3 and 4) are absolutely top notch of that era. Really really morose but almost quite euphoric. I’ve sampled the whole soundtrack endlessly, it’s incredible and if you’ve ever played Silent Hill 2 which is probably one of the best games ever made, the way the soundtrack works to create this really unsettling but almost euphoric atmosphere, no game has done that ever again.”
2. Manhunt OST – ‘Fuelled By Hate’
“I’m not entirely sure who produced this soundtrack – I can’t find it online, probably not looking deep enough but this game was my fave when I was, like… really young. In fact my MSN Messenger handle was email@example.com, aptly fitting in with me being a goth outcast at the time. What I love about the soundtrack of this game is it has this really subtle dark ambient brooding atmosphere, very influenced by John Carpenter’s work on Assault On Precinct 13 and also on a lower key Goblin’s work on the original Dawn Of The Dead film, proper win-win situation there.”
3. Ape Escape OST – ‘Mysterious Age/Dark Ruins’
“Ape Escape had a mad soundtrack, very in debt to UK music, a lot of jungle influences throughout, which almost seems really bizarre coming from a game like that.”
4. Ico OST – ‘Shadow’
“In the context of the incredible emotive storyline of this game and the sort of…. air of mystery around the plot it really is a great soundtrack. Really beautiful atmospherics as is to be expected from this series of games ICO, Shadow Of The Colossus and The Last Guardian.”
5. Zone Of The Enders OST – Entire soundtrack
“This is one of the first PS2 games I ever got and back then it was incredible. I’ve gone on to sample it heavily, it’s got so many incredible ideas (so hands off you fucks, I tax this).”
6. Tekken 3 – ‘Bryan Fury Theme’
“So I am a Tekken 3 fanatic and to be fair a lot of the music was really good. I’m told they were very much influenced by UK music like big beat, D&B and so on, and they’ve gone on to really ace that sound. I always love it when these Japanese developers try to re-create UK music from that era – it’s really incredible. It’s the same with Tekken 1 and 2. In fact Tekken 1 release a very sought after 12″ with Lemon D, Dillinja and a few others remixing tracks from the first game.”
7. Airblade – ‘Bust A Beat’
“This was a really overlooked game – I had hours of fun on it, my uncle did a lot of the concept art and on top of this it had a lot of really good hip-hop tracks on it, including Public Enemy I believe. Damn, I really want to play this again now…. Think it’s quite hard to get hold of now.”
8. Final Fantasy VII – ‘J-E-N-O-V-A’
“This game means everything to me, I first played it when I was six and I was completely captivated by its incredible storytelling, just… It was leagues ahead of everything in that respect. I regard it as personally the best game ever made, the development of the characters, the story and the gameplay on top of that, I’ve noticed the same people who argue against it have never played it. But it really influences my music – in fact I often use samples from it and a lot of them are dotted about in ‘Ups & Downs’ (out next month). Let’s see if people clock, as it’s filled with sounds and fx from a lot of games quite subtly.”
9. SSX – ‘Merqury City Meltdown’
“This was the second game I got for my PS2 in either 2000 or 2001 along with Tekken Tag Tournament. SSX captivated me – not only was it really enjoyable in general but all these amazing tracks, ‘Shake What Yo Momma Gave Ya’… was incredible man, I used to play that at house parties way back when and people went mad without realising it was a videogame soundtrack, haha. ‘Surprize Package’ gets an honourable message too, I think Lil Bow Bow actually did a track around the same time that was really popular that used the same beat.”
10. LSD Dream Simulator – ‘Track 03’
“A friend showed me this incredible jarring and quite disturbing game via an emulator because you can’t really get it outside of Asia and, I mean, it’s a PSone game so… good luck auctioning. But yeah, the game is insane. It’s basically just transferring different states of consciousness and it gets really quite menacing but it’s also got a really great soundtrack and something that’s influenced me a lot and it should be noted it’s procedurally generated so completely out-of-the-blue things happen. But the soundtrack is incredible, a lot of experimental electronic music within, it’s very impressive, if not massively flawed by the tech at the time. But it’s incredibly endearing and I do dabble with it now and again.”
Etch’s ‘Ups & Downs’ is out October 5th via Sneaker Social Club x Gully – preorder it here.