Well the last thing I would have thought about doing lately was putting up a new article on Continue? – sorry guys – but that was until I heard the latest album out by Karl Brueggemann. I had no idea what to expect when I downloaded “Sonicesque vol.1”, Karl posted it himself to the ffshrine forums – where I directed my recent article about a vg music canon – and he billed it as he had twiddled around with the sega vst: so it would sound like new, classic sonic. He was also nice enough to answer a few interview questions, so check that out inside too!
As you get into this album, you can hear that certain songs sound exactly like older sonic songs, and clearly make references to others, and he says himself “There are nods to classic levels such as “Mystic Cave Zone”, and “Marble Zone”, among others.” Just the ‘first level’ song Flicker Island is a solid beginner and it has the exact same feel to it as Angel Island or Green Hill Zone.
Then as you move on you get into a nice song like Magma Ruins which smacks of Marble from Sonic 1, but at the same time it is entirely its own song, with easily one of the most catchy melodies in the whole thing.
Catchy is definitely the key word to this album. The first listen through is an awesome experience, but it’s really the second and third that kill you because the hooks from each song have you snagged forever by the time you make it to one my personal favorites (as if the whole thing just isn’t, of course): Skyway Station.
Skyway Station has a bluesy feel to it and it’s done with a very Daft-Punk sounding synth, which just makes it even cooler, and by the time you get to the C section, you’re in this very futuristic chill scene. The sound dynamics on this track are great too, he uses quick stops and one track isolations.
Dynamics are another HUGE part that make this album so great. Not only does Karl show that he clearly has all of the traditional Sonic dynamics mastered – what with the kickin’ slap bass, classic repeating drums, and synth strings jumping in and out – but he adds in his own influences and flavors to each track as he goes through the album, and one of the best tracks to show that is: Grand Gizmo.
Grand Gizmore is another really cool song, that has a solid melody with a lot of sass, and the huge crashing answer to the first part of the melody in the A section is so strong it smashes the song into your memory whether you personally like it or not. I can’t say that I was in love with the song when I first heard it, but by the time I got to the credits and it was being sampled (as every traditional credits song does) I couldn’t help but appreciate the brilliance of the song.
I think my choice pick out of the whole thing is Crooked Caverns, this song is just sick. It starts off like it sounds, as a kick to Mystic Cave Zone or Sootopolis Zone, but then it changes into a beast of it’s own making, and then again. One of the cool things about this song is that it just keeps changing, it’s not one of the A B A B C A repeated song formats, but instead, it feels like it just keeps changing and having different parts. My favorite part is when the song explodes at about 1:08 and it has a polyphonic almost NES sounding theme from a castle or something, and then it just suddenly calms down for ten seconds until it launches back into the main theme with vengeance again.
If there was any track in the whole thing that I could say was a letdown (which I wouldn’t want to even think about) I would probably stick it onto the Big Bad Boss. The track starts out nice and epic enough, but it never really hits the power and shreddage of the usual Robotnik themes. I think it would make a nice mini-boss, or pre-boss theme, but it definitely just doesn’t have the teeth for a killer boss theme – BUT luckily, I don’t have to say that this is truly a letdown because based on the commentary Karl received on this first work he vows to add more fire to the next album.
NEXT album?! The interview Karl gave should answer all of that for you.
When did you first discover sonic?
I’ve been playing Sonic since i was 5 years old. I played Sonic 2 pretty much every day for most of my childhood.
Did the music click with you right away?
Yeah, definitely. It was so melodic and memorable. I would sing it all the time. The music of the first 3 Sonic games has actually been a big influence on me as a songwriter. I have a few bands I write for, and so many of my songs invariably end up having a little Sonic in them. It probably helped that I played the games so much growing up, but the music of Sonic has always resonated with me.
When did you discover VSTs and Music writing materials (like reaper)?
-Well, I’ve been messing around with recording and midi software for years. Probably since I was 13 years old or so. I first started using Cakewalk to make original midi compositions. Then I was introduced to Adobe Audition. With that, I learned more of the recording/mixing side. I had a crappy band in high school, and I used Audition to record our music. Then, for a few years, I used Pro Tools, and got more knowledge under my belt. But when I found out about Reaper, I was blown away. I’ve made leaps and bounds in recording and mixing, thanks to Reaper. I think it’s the best recording program out
there! As far as VSTs go, I’ve only recently started to get into them. It’s kind of a new, exciting world for me. Hearing the sounds of VOPM got me really excited, and motivated me to do this project.
Was sonic your first experiment with them?
-Yeah, Sonicesque was my first experiment with VSTs. But before that, I used Audition and Pro Tools to record tons of original videogame compositions that I would play on my keyboard. I have like six albums of original videogame music that no one will ever hear. Some of it is quite bad. I know how to use my time wisely.
Do you plan on doing another?
-Yes! I plan on making a Sonicesque Vol. II. I’ve gotten so much positive feedback from people on this, that it’s motivating me to make another that blows this out of the water. Many people have said that they wish this was more fast and upbeat. So that’s what I’m thinking about for Vol. II.
If so, will you stay in the sonic vein?
-Oh of course. It would be harder for me to not stay in the Sonic vein. Vol. I turned out to be pretty Sonic 1 influenced. I’m thinking of going for more of a Sonic 3 feel for Vol. II.
Do you see this getting big, or is it just a fun side thing?
-It’s definitely a fun side thing, but if it ends up getting big, that would be really cool. But I never had that in mind when I was making it. I just do this stuff for fun. The fact that other people can enjoy it too is a great plus.
And would you ever submit to OCremix?
-Yeah, I plan to one day. Maybe I could do a Genesis remix of a more modern VG song. That might be cool. We’ll see!
If I can leave this article with any song, I’d be happiest to roll out with Windy Wetlands. This is just a freakin’ awesome song. It’s got a nice ending feel to it, and this odd bouncing tempo that you wanna walk around town with (and feel like a pimp). The keyboard solo in the middle is tops too.
Check it out, the entire album is on youtube and you can download the zip here: