Gamer Soundtracks: Untested Methods Brings His New Game
by Curtis Silver
Electronic nerdcore artist Untested Methods never seems to take a break from making music. Whether it be assisting other Scrubclub Records artists on their releases, or pushing out his own music. While this might be stressful for him, for the rest of us it’s a good thing he pushes himself so hard. Over the last year he has been working on what might be considered his magnum opus, an all instrumental release titled New Game.
There is something to be said about instrumental music, it provides us with a certain amount of musical entertainment without the distraction of lyrics, creating a perfect backdrop for an activity such as gaming. Yet many times with instrumental music it’s difficult to provide enough twists and turns without lyrics to keep the audience engaged. This is not the case with New Game. Throughout the whole album, Untested Methods keeps the music fresh and engaging.
A mix of live instruments, including haunting and flowing piano interludes, and electronic wrangling creates a very unique listening experience. A smattering of electric guitar permeates throughout, while chiptunes (music created from old 8-bit electronics) play a huge part in creating the overall sound. In fact, if you are a fan of video game music of any era, you will enjoy the chiptunes sound. Untested Methods is a modern day master at bending the video game beeps to his will to create electronic ear candy.
New Game starts off with a short piano intro, that quickly tacks on a feeling of entering into the game. The intro screen is showing and it’s time to press start. So now you are “On the Quest,” which is an upbeat tune to foot tap to as you begin designing your character. When I heard this track I could only think of the old Nintendo RPG Dragon Warrior. Though thankfully, a slime did not draw near. The album moves on through the gambit of video game emotions with “You’re Still the Only Princess” which feels like it could be the romantic song of the year. I could see this being played at a geek wedding as the bride, dressed like Princess Zelda, walks down the aisle.
From there, the tune “Boss Fights and Black Eyes” takes a hard edged turn, with some heavier bass and scratching electronics. There is an appropriate darkness to this track, as you can imagine jumping over fireballs and pits to defeat the level boss. A glitchy symphonic track precludes “(Are You) Finally There” which, for lack of a better description, the perfect soundtrack for the gamers montage. Training, running (to the arcade,) fighting towards the end, all the while the music plays in the background as you get stronger. This is probably one of my favorite tracks on the album, as it does feel a bit like the 1980’s weren’t that bad after all.
What would a video game themed album be without the theme from Legend of Zelda at some point? Untested Methods puts his own twist on the end credits theme from the classic game, creating an enjoyable interlude in the middle of the album. From there, he moves on through the emotional ride that is video gaming, hitting on diplomacy, pixelization, a bit of old visual basic coding and of course, the actual end credits of the album. Every track is just as entertaining as the last and the album never lets you start to fade off with anything resembling boredom.
The Super Mario Bros. theme cover song is a stripped down and electronically enhanced amalgamation of the original, creating a drifting feeling of memories and imagined futures. Untested Methods throws in the live piano and drawn out orchestration at just the right moment, not only catching you a bit off guard but almost like helping you down off a really interesting acid trip. Speaking about acid trips, the song “Let’s End This Now!” feels like it could have been one. A tune almost resembling a techno track truer to form, it makes appropriate use of electronic & live piano to keep the ride moving.
Overall, this album is a great backdrop for those long RPG sessions, such as replaying Mass Effect 3 and hoping the ending doesn’t suck this time around. Untested Methods has created an album that should be held in higher regard than his previous works. The production sounds clean, at a higher professional level and every note seems meticulously thought out and placed. New Game certainly has Untested Methods bringing his best game, and we get to hear it.
The best part is, the album is completely free and you can download it now over at Scrubclub Records, a not-for-profit record label (so feel free to donate, it all goes to charity & artist promotion.) If you are a die-hard or even casual gamer, Untested Methods New Game will get its little electronica fingers into your mushy gamer brain parts for sure.