Piano Collections: Pokémon Red & Blue by Trevor Alan Gomes
“I like shorts! They’re comfy and easy to wear!”
Say farewell to your mom, pick a starter, and set out to catch ‘em all this week with Piano Collections: Pokémon Red & Blue by Trevor Alan Gomes. A tribute to Junichi Masuda’s masterful works comes pressed on white with red and blue splatter or black vinyl by Materia Collective. This double LP set to the successful Kickstarter campaign is finally here! What are you waiting for? Lift that kickstand and pedal off into Trevor's gorgeous and eloquent journey. This just might be the most beautiful look at the Kanto Region yet!
Based out of California, Trevor Alan Gomes is a talented composer, arranger, and musician known for his stunning arrangements of video game music on piano. This is Trevor’s first ever physical release on vinyl -- he has done arrangements for many game franchises such as Chrono Trigger, Pokémon, and most recently Celeste, which at the writing of this review is up for pre order on vinyl. With this album being filled with so many stunning arrangements from various talented musicians, Trevor’s meticulous playing style is as playful as it is daring as it carries these scores to Victory Road!
This is one of, if not the best, Pokémon arrangement albums I have had the privilege of listening to. Trevor and his team of arrangers have truly captured that playful nature the Pokémon series instilled into us all those years ago. From the moment you flip the switch and power on that red light, you know you are on a cartridge of dreams. The feeling is no different when you are dropping the needle here and playing amongst the grooves. Let yourself be carried off to a whimsical parade through the nostalgic waves of the past as Trevor guides you along this expedition on his ivory and ebony cascade of notes.
The arrangements on this album completely blew me away and are as epic as the journey they tell. In one moment you’ll be gliding down a route on your bike, turning the bend onto a diamond studded beach to surf amongst the waves. The next moment, you'll be drawn into the cavernous depths of the earth surrounded by pitch black, only to be drawn out into a lush and dense forest of keys that tickle the leaves as the wind slides past you. The imagery and emotion behind the music here is so tangible and intoxicating I couldn’t help but get lost constantly. That’s one of my favorite things about this album: Trevor does a great job of giving every single note here a chance to shine in it’s own way. His dynamic range is impeccable and stays true to the emotive, musical landscapes in the early world of Pokémon.
The dynamics of this album has to be one of it’s most breathtaking aspects. The way Trevor plays with the notes, most notably his attack and musical intonation, truly shows his prowess as a musician. It is one of the things that I think makes this album a true treat to listen to over and over again. It always seems like there is something new to discover each and every revolution of this album. As it spins whimsically on I can’t help but get carried back to the days of slinging a Game Boy around from bedroom, to backyard, to grandma’s house and back again. The sheer work, love, and dedication to covering Mr. Masuda's work here is unparalleled, and is why I highly recommend this album for your collection.
There is no doubting how gorgeous this release is. This special color variant originally for backers on Kickstarter was later available in limited quantities to the general public for $60. All around the design for this release is excruciatingly beautiful to pour over. The gorgeous cover art by Nora Kristiansen is stunning to say the least, and fits the music and Pokémon universe so well. The soft watercolor styling is beautifully done and makes for a playful design that is appealing to look at and accents this color variant of the vinyl so well. Another incredible part of this packaging is the typography and layout carried out by Daniel Jimenez-Wall (Rozen). The subtle silver embossing of the album title on the front cover is impeccable and adds to the premium feeling of this release as a whole, while the back cover steals the show in design in my opinion. The clever layout of the tracklisting here is so unique and definitely something design junkies can drool over. Each side is marked by color and is rotated ninety degrees around the album info centered on the rear cover. It’s quite impeccable and truly feels like a work of art in its own right.
Clocking in at around twenty-five minutes per side, this double LP set went through some production hell at the pressing plant trying to make this decision come to fruition. While it is an incredible feat that they managed to squeeze so much music into this double LP set, it isn’t without its faults. There are a few moments where this record got pretty noisy for me. There was occasional crackling throughout this release, with some thumping on a couple passages, along with some groove distortion with there being so much music pressed here. Those who are sensitive to occasional crackling might be reaching for their Escape Ropes with this release; especially with how quiet the album tends to be, the issues stick out. While it isn't necessarily the worst pressing I have heard, I know I personally ran into some issues being able to fully immerse myself in the wonderful music Trevor and this awesome team of musicians arranged because of some of the issues present here. I know that it was a bold decision to try and press such lengthy discs here, but I think ultimately the pressing quality falls a little behind Materia Collective’s track record because of it. It may have been less of an issue if not non-existent if this album were pressed across three discs instead of two. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s enough Repel that could help you avoid these encounters and might be something you have to deal with if you purchase this album. Not all is bad here though... The mastering for this record was carried out by Jett Galindo, and is definitely incredible, as her work always is. The open airiness of the noise floor allows plenty of room for the music here to breathe, and accentuates Trevor’s dynamics so well in these arrangements. It is quite nice, and honestly goes a long way in helping to alleviate some of those pressing issues.
Hall of Fame
Overall, I would say while this is an incredible release and gorgeous dedication to the wonderful Pokémon music we have all grown up loving, the release falls slightly short of what it could be due to some pressing issues that may or may not be related to the length decision here. I still think that this album is incredible and is highly worth a listen, but be aware of some of the issues that may arise with your copy if you choose to snag one. I have heard that the black pressing currently available alleviates some of these issues due to it being a heavier weight pressing.
(Arranged by Trevor Alan Gomes, Kyle Landry, David Peacock, David Russell, Julia Seeholzer, Laura Platt, Mark Benis, Sebastian Wolff, Sebastien Skaf, Steven Melin)
Remastered for vinyl by:
Vinyl produced & distributed by:
Where to Buy?
This album is still readily available from Materia Collective and Trevor Alan Gomes’ Bandcamp page. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter variant was very limited and is no longer available. There is a heavier weight black version available that, from what I have heard, sounds slightly better than the Kickstarter variant. In addition to vinyl there are CD versions of this album available in multiple cover variants for your starter of choice. I highly recommend you check this album out -- you won't regret your time with it, I assure you!