Compiled in early 2006
Remastered in February, 2015
"In early 2006 I purchased a modified Sega Dreamcast that could emulate older game consoles. It also included a music player that read the musical data from all 822 worldwide releases for the NES. The sequence of events that followed began with the obvious. I loaded up the music from Super Mario 2, Final Fantasy, Skyshark, and all the other games I remember playing as a kid with soundtracks I loved.
Then I started exploring, loading up the soundtracks of NES games I had never heard of, Japanese only releases, and the deep recesses of games I thought I knew. What I found was a wealth of lost composition - an entire generation of named and nameless Japanese composers who had worked professionally within the limitations of the Nintendo Entertainment System's crude sound synthesis technology. Entire symphonies composed with no more than 3 notes occurring at any given time.
When I was younger I made mixes of video game music by placing Sega CD and Sega Saturn games directly into a CD player, but I never had access to the musical data of cartridge based systems. I connected the Dreamcast audio into my tape deck and over that first weekend I made the video game music mixtape, 'NES Days 2006.’ I began to explore the music from other video game consoles and started making mixes on my computer.
For me and my musical partner in crime, Tech Honors, this was like stumbling upon the Library of Alexandria. Tens of thousands of songs we had never heard! It was a time in our lives as musicians when we were beginning to pinpoint exactly what it was that moved us in music - learning the "tricks" that would lay the foundation of our compositional engines.
I combed through hundreds of soundtracks for NES, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis games, looping the tracks in a way that made them feel like a single musical thought. Each track selected for these mixes contained something that resonated with that developing compositional sense. Relatively unknown composers like Naoki Kodaka were placed shoulder to shoulder with game music legends like Koji Kondo and Koichi Sugiyama - all that mattered was how moving the compositional content was.
Throughout 2006 I made 9 VGM mixes. The NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis were each given 3 volumes that were a major part of what life sounded like in my early-to-mid 20’s. The Days mixes were passed around the Dayton, Ohio circle of musicians - their popularity perhaps culminating with Yakuza Heart Attack regularly covering a track from that first NES Days mix, from the Japanese game Captain Tsubasa Vol. 2.
Those mixes resonate in our music even today. For a long time I wanted to share these volumes online, but the rudimentary software I used back then resulted in uneven volume distribution and even some painful sounds on a few tracks. As an audio mastering exercise, I’ve gone back to those original files and applied modern production techniques to "remaster" them.
This is the one that started it all: "NES Days - Volume 1,” digitally captured from the original cassette tape recorded in early 2006. This is the original tape, mixed as music was discovered, recorded off an emulator running on a Dreamcast. Time and play has given the tape a magical sound, with the different channels slightly panned in forced stereo by the emulator. The mix appears here unedited, including a song from Wrestlemania interrupting Mega Man III and Side A running out in the middle of the credits for Super Mario Bros. 2."