Recent music release Family Music by Japanese artists YMCK arrived at GameCritics headquarters in a jewel case decked out in an eye-melting 8-bit color explosion. What came inside the case was just as vibrant to the ear. Difficult to categorize, the YMCK sound approximates upbeat jazz fused with light vocals and an array of NES soundtracks.
After starting the CD and pushing play, I could almost swear that I had just dropped a quarter into an arcade machine. In just a few moments, a wealth of memories that I hadn't thought of in years rose to the surface and brought back the feeling of being eight years old and working a trackball with a greasy pizza hand.
Song 5, "Pow*Pow" sounds like it could have very easily been taken directly from an old Super Mario Bros. game, and track 2, "Magical 8Bit Tour" is the perfect thing to accompany scrolling credits at the end of a long adventure. The vocals provided by singer Midori fuse the human and electronic elements, and the percussive tones and understated singing come together to create something that seems instantly (and welcomely) familiar.
The energy and creativity used in creating the CDs 12 songs is obvious, especially considering the limited palette of sounds that the old 8-bit machines were capable of. However, if there were any complaints to level against the work, it's that there isn't enough variety in tone; energetic and airy is easily accomplished, but my ear kept waiting for something a little deeper or more raucously riotous. There were times when I felt sure that the tempo was going to skyrocket and start kicking out some harder beats, but it never occurred. With such homogeneity between songs, it's a tall order to listen to the CD straight through unless it's playing as background music.
Even so, Family Music is an extremely interesting piece of work from musical and cultural viewpoints. By being built upon an auditory foundation of common experience that is unique to a certain generation, the content is both a reminiscence of days gone by and an exploration of territory only beginning to be covered.
| Artist: YMCK
Album: Family Music
Publisher: Records of the Damned
After examining the disc, GameCritics had the opportunity for a quick interview with the artists Yokemura (keyboard, composition), Nakemura (VJ, keyboard), and Midori (vocals) to ask them a few questions about themselves and their work.
To start, could you please tell us when YMCK was created? How did the members of your group meet?
YMCK: May 2005. Nakamura and Yokemura were both the members of the band called Stereo-Phonic Theatre (SPT). YMCK was originally formed to fill the sudden absence in a timetable for one of the concert events held by SPT. Two guys alone on the stage doesn't look good, so we invited Midori to join.
Can you tell us about yourselves personally? Are you musicians full-time?
YMCK: None of the members are full-time musicians. We all have "ordinary" jobs besides YMCK.
What inspired YMCK to create this type of music?
Yokemura: I remember the unique, warm sound of the Famicom (N.E.S.) that I listened to during my childhood when in my friend's room (I myself didn't have a Famicom at that time.)
Are all the members of YMCK game players? If so, what are your favorite games? Do you keep up with current game trends?
Yokemura: My favorite is Super Mario Bros. I first met Princess Peach 3 months ago. It was a pretty hard adventure. This is my current game trend. (smiles)
Nakamura: My favorite is R-Type.
Midori: My favorite is Metroid.
How has your music been received in Japan, and also abroad? Where have you toured?
YMCK: We're receiving pretty good reactions. Our CD sells very well, and lots of fans come to the live concerts. Outside Japan, we've been interviewed by several magazines. We have toured Sweden and Taiwan, and this November we're going to Thailand.
Thank you very much for your time.
YMCK: Thank you for interviewing us!
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Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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