Sunday, January 15, 2017

Paradoxically Sized World IV

"Darkness to the Light"

[This is one post in a series about my music mixes.  The series list has links to all posts in the series and also definitions of many of the terms I use.  You may wish to read the introduction for more background.  You may also want to check out the first volume in this multi-volume mix for more info on its theme.

Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—that is, I don’t guarantee that the next post in the series will be next week.  Just that I will eventually finish it, someday.  Unless I get hit by a bus.]

Kicking off yet another volume of music both from and inspired by LittleBigPlanet, we have my middle child’s all-time favorite LBP song: “Race Against the Sunset,” by Lullatone.  It is truly an awesome tune, found right in the “Prologue” area of LBP3, and it always puts me in a Paradoxically Sized World sort of mood.  I’ve paired it here with a non-LBP track from Shugo Tokumaru, “Platform,” as sort of a mirror of the opening for Paradoxically Sized World III.1  Together they make about 3½ minutes of an excellent volume opener.

Also in the back for more category is one of my favorite electronica artists Ugress, who finally shows up with an actual tune used by the game: “Ghost Von Frost,” which was used in the PS Vita version.  Similarly, we saw Pantha du Prince last time, but this time we get to hear his tune which was actually used in the game, “Photon.”  Likewise Cinnamon Chasers, who give us “Luv Deluxe” (both tunes are from LBP3).  Contrariwise, last time we saw Tashaki Miyaki,2 it was their LBP-used music, whereas now we’re straying from that.  Strangely, it’s yet another late-fifties remake, this time “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” originally by the Everly Brothers.  Tashaki Miyaki give it their inimitable stamp, of course, which makes it fit in nicely here.

It also kicks off a little 3-song run of 50s/60s-inspired music, including “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” from Trentemøller and “Bombora” by the Atlantics.  Trentemøller is yet another band I would have never heard of if not for LittleBigPlanet, although by this point we seen them on several other mixes.3  But this track from LBP2 was my official introduction to them, and I’m so glad I found them.  The Atlantics, on the other hand, are a 60s surf-rock band from Australia.  “Bombora” was a major surf-rock hit for them in 1963, although this is their 1999 remake, which I find to be a bit fuller and more echoey, which you really want in a surf-rock classic, in my opinion.  This version was also the one used by LBP, for its PSP version.

Speaking of runs, right in the middle of this volume there’s a pretty kick-ass run of worldmusic: from the Indian feel of Beth Quist’s “Om Asatoma Sad Gamaya” (which also provides the volume title), to the Caribbean vibe of Thievery Corporation, out to the Far East for a touch of Japan from KOAN Sound, then circling back to the Middle Eastern strains of Falik, another band I discovered via Magnatune.4  Nice little world tour, if I do say so myself.

Other tunes that actually come from the franchise include Gary Numan’s “Trois Gymnopedies,” a mellow, almost spooky, piece of new-wave electronica from before there really was electronica, which is used for the “Bear with Us” level in LBP3.  (Fun fact: although Numan’s version is from his 1980 album Telekon, the original Gymnopédies are 3 works by Erik Satie first published in 1888.  See also Wikipedia.)  Plus we also have “A Go Go” by Trüby Trio, which is one of those songs quite rightly dubbed an “earworm.”  It’s a catchy little piece of bossa-nova-inflected jazz from a German band who specialize in a style called “broken beat”.5  Another catchy little tune is from Combustible Edison, another of those bands we keep seeing turn up here despite the fact that they’ve never been officially used in an LBP game, more’s the pity.  “Alright, Already” is one of those tunes that just makes your head bop, whether you want it to or not, and keeps it under 3 minutes so as not to wear out its welcome.

As always, I’ve added a note for each track used in a LittleBigPlanet game: either 1, 2, 3, PSP, PSV, or Kart.  If a track doesn’t have a note, it isn’t from an LBP game (that I know of).

Paradoxically Sized World IV
    [Darkness to the Light]

        “Race Against the Sunset” by Lullatone, off Summer Songs [EP]

        “Platform” by Shugo Tokumaru, off Port Entropy
        “Trois Gymnopedies (first movement)” by Gary Numan, off Telekon 

        “A Fifth of Beethoven” by The Walter Murphy Band [Single]

        “Ghost Von Frost” by Ugress, off Collectronics 

        “Om Asatoma Sad Gamaya” by Beth Quist, off Silver
        “Mandala” by Thievery Corporation, off Radio Retaliation
        “Introvert” by KOAN Sound, off The Adventures of Mr. Fox 

        “Xanthanon” by Falik, off Streaks and Strokes 6
        “Photon” by Pantha du Prince, off Elements of Light 

        “Alright, Already” by Combustible Edison, off Schizophonic!
        “Luv Deluxe” by Cinnamon Chasers, off A Million Miles from Home 

        “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by Tashaki Miyaki, off Under Cover [Covers]
        “Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go!!!” by Trentemøller, off Into the Great Wide Yonder 

        “Bombora” by The Atlantics [Single]

        “4 Ton Mantis” by Amon Tobin, off Supermodified
        “A Go Go” by Trüby Trio [Single]

        “Subterra” by Saru, off Downtempo Dojo
        “Space Suit” by They Might Be Giants, off Apollo 18
Total:  19 tracks,  72:55

There are very few songs in the LBP franchise that I’ve heard before (which is one of the reasons I like to use it as a music discovery service as much as a videogame), and most of those I have heard, I haven’t heard the version that LBP uses.  One of the exceptions to that rule is “A Fifth of Beethoven,” by the Walter Murphy Band.  This was a #1 hit in 1976,7 and I’m just old enough to remember hearing it somewhat ubiquitously around that time.  Wikipedia describes it as a “disco instrumental” version of Beethoven’s famous symphony, but I never thought of it as disco.  It’s just pretty cool.  I was a bit surprised to hear it used in LBP (right in the first world of LBP2, “Da Vinci’s Hideout”), but now I have difficulty thinking of it in any other way.  This song is also noticeable for almost certainly being the first time I ever heard a vibraslap.8

And, while I’m not sure there’s anything truly unexpected here, I could point to our last 3 tracks, all from the closing tracks of the volume.  First we have “4 Ton Mantis” by Amon Tobin, a Brazilian sound designer who has never actually been featured in LBP, but probably should be.  This track of his is a little mechanical, a little insistent, and a little ambient all at once, and I think you’ll really dig it.  That leads us into “A Go Go,” and thence into “Subterra,” by Saru.  Saru, a.k.a. LA-based producer and DJ Steve Branson, is one of those bands that I no longer have any idea how I managed to stumble across, and he meets my critera for “really obscure artist,” but his album Downtempo Dojo is not to be missed.  And, to close us out, a snippet of a song from those masters of song snippets, They Might Be Giants.  I just felt like “Subterra” has such a strong sci-fi vibe, for some reason, that I couldn’t imagine anything other than TMBG’s “Space Suit” following it.9  Plus it makes an awsome way to close out the volume.

Next time, we’ll put on our black lipstick and silver jewelry and blend into the night.

Paradoxically Sized World V


1 Where, you may recall, I used a Tokumaru tune (“Rum Hee”) that was from the game (also from LBP3’s “Prologue,” coincidentally) paired with a Lullatone tune (“Hot Sand”) that wasn’t.

2 Meaning, last time we saw them on this mix, which was last volume.  We also saw them on Darkling Embrace I.

3 Specifically, Darkling Embrace I and Smokelit Flashback V.

4 “Another” being a word which here means “in addition to Beth Quist.”  See Rose-Coloured Brainpan for more info on Magnatune.

5 Which I have to confess I had never heard of before I started doing research for this blog post.

6 This album seems to have utterly disappeared from the Internet, for some bizarre reason.  The only link I could find to throw you was this one, which goes to a YouTube video of the whole album, which makes it somewhat difficult to extract just the song (although, if you want to try, it’s between roughly 52:08 and 58:03 in the “video”).  The only other place I know of that you can find this particular track is on SoundClick.

7 Just for a week.  But still.

8 Other notable songs to include the vibraslap are “No One in This World” by Kutiman, which we saw on Smokelit Flashback IV, and “Would?” by Alice in Chains, which will see on another mix in the fullness of time.

9 Although I wrestled with this decision, because “Space Suit” makes an excellent bridge, and I already had it slotted for another mix, which we shall also come to in the fullness of time.  But when something’s perfect, you roll with it.  So here it is.

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