The Messenger by Rainbowdragoneyes
“I can’t get over how cool your hat is.”
A Messenger is Needed
Grab that scroll and Cloudstep into the past this week with The Messenger by Rainbowdragoneyes. Pressed on Past and Future vinyl, by iam8bit, this double LP to Sabotage Studio's unique and generation-melding action platformer has delivered itself onto vinyl. Will this time-bending soundtrack have what it takes to break the 500-year curse? I sat down with Rainbowdragoneyes to answer this very question. Grab some shurikens and let's go!
Hills of Destiny
Based out of the mountains of Denver, Colorado, and thriving off of his diet of fire and brimstone flavored ice cream, Rainbowdragoneyes is a force to be reckoned with. Predominately a metal and hardcore chiptune artist, Rainbowdragoneyes has gained quite a following over his seasoned tenure as a musician. Inspired by "thousands of death metal bands, the electronic artist Savant, and anything [he] thought that sucked that [he] could do better," it's no wonder Sabotage Studio gravitated towards Mr. Rainbowdragoneyes' sheer determination and tenacity as a musician for their dynamic action platformer.
The nature of Sabotage Studio's game is one of nostalgic adventures reborn with a modern twist. Inspired to work within the limitations of the game's own graphics, Rainbowdragoneyes shared with me the writing process that led to his genius scores:
"I've been making chiptune for over a decade now, most of which by using actual hardware such as the GameBoy™, which is how Sabotage found me in the first place. To create this soundtrack in the most genuine and authentic way possible, I thought it appropriate to stick to programs that allow me to create specifically within the limitations of the NES and Genesis, respectively. I'd be remiss not to mention one of my biggest influences Jake Kaufman, who I've been listening to for at least as long as I've been making chip music. But since I got the job based on my previous body of work, I learned to trust my instincts and just make something cool that I liked, while trying to fit the tone of the specific level/situation."
The Arcane Shoppe
This forced limitation allowed Rainbowdragoneyes to push his creative envelope to the max.The Messenger uses a neat mechanic where the game will dynamically switch between 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, hence the Past and Future nature of this soundtrack. This compelling mechanic creates two very diverse worlds born from the varying bit depths allowed in the game, and more importantly, allowing the soundtrack to be completely dynamic within an instant. This variable nature of The Messenger's graphical aesthetic lends its soundtrack to be equally diverse in its composition. With these limitations in mind, Rainbowdragoneyes shared with me the very calculated set of programs he used in order to compose music that fits The Messenger perfectly:
"Famitracker, an NES tracker for the 8 bit side, and Deflemask, a multi-chip tracker using the Genesis chip for the 16-bit side. Both free programs under active development with a thriving community of extremely, often overwhelmingly talented people."
Fire & Earth
Set out with these programs and a clear vision of making something that lived up to his own brilliant expectations, Rainbowdragoneyes began his exploratory journey to the past and back again. Immersing himself in the constraints he put himself in, Rainbowdragoneyes had this to say about the thrilling challenge that this unique mechanic had on his writing process:
"The biggest challenge was spending the time to program every song twice, using 2 different programs that can output data files to be played back on hardware that run at different speeds, so getting the template set up and getting the tempos to match was the first step. But once the song is written in one program it's just a matter of transcribing it into another program, which isn't difficult, just takes a bit of extra time. But to keep up with the level of quality and authenticity the rest of the team was delivering, it had to be done and I was more than happy to do it!"
To Break the Curse
Being able to work closely with the team at Sabotage Studio to craft the music for The Messenger was just as dynamic and evolving as the game his music would eventually inhabit. Reminiscing on his time working with the studio, he had this to say:
"Before we really dug in, all I had to go on were creative briefs for each level, some concept art and some info about the story, tone, why the character was there, etc. Once it became more full-time, I was set up in Unity with the cloud updates to see everyone's progress, and we were in touch all the time on Slack so I was keeping up with the progress and playtesting all my tracks and sound effects."
The intensive nature of the games dynamic graphical and musical architecture lent a unique experience for Rainbowdragoneyes to have a hands-on knowledge of the musical landscapes he would be crafting. Having the freedom and liberty to experience the game while composing allowed for him to truly fine tune his music to become the seamless masterpiece it is today.
Hills of Intent
Throughout all of Rainbowdragoneyes' experience in creating the soundtrack for The Messenger, one memory stands out amongst the rest and truly showcases the drive and love that he has for anything he dedicates himself to. While on what was regarded as the final and "very hectic" Van's Wapred Tour with his band, Nekrogoblikon, Rainbowdragoneyes had a moment of complete muse that became one of his favorite memories from the writing process for this soundtrack:
"in the back of the bus, while everyone else [was] out partying and getting drunk, [I spent] the first 2 weeks of the tour writing at least 3 songs from scratch on my laptop that made it into the final game."
To the Top
Honing his skills for years from the wizards of synth before him, Mr. Rainbowdragoneyes has emerged from the depths of a pixelated time loop to deliver us this scroll of finely crafted notes and free us from the demonic grasp of time. This is The Messenger.
Pixelated bamboo groves clank in the distance as an Eastern and rocking synthscape emerges from time and space. Hypnotic bass beats and electronic hums come to life as Rainbowdragoneyes’ wizard-like notes run across the wall like tiny notated ninjas. Running from grooved wall to grooved wall, the needle thrashes into Rainbowdragoneyes’ symphony of 8-bit tones. Transforming as it spins from side to side, the evolution of sounds here is truly mesmerizing as the 16-bit tones take over and bring a completely new facet of sounds to this already rocking score! The dynamism this album possesses is a complete and utter treat to the ears, and one experience that must truly be witnessed. Whether it’s traipsing through a blissful bamboo laden creek or creeping through the crevices of diamond studded peaks, there’s one thing for certain, the depth an complexity of this game is shown tenfold in the compositions through which Rainbowdragoneyes has lovingly perfected.
Bamboo Boogaloo II
The dual scores presented here are absolutely breathtaking. Getting to experience two completely different and wholly complex soundtracks that have similar composition and tone creates a unique listening experience that I don’t think I have ever had the privilege of experiencing before on this format. The genius hard work of Rainbowdragoneyes is pressed well into these gorgeous purple and blue grooves; it truly encapsulates that late 80’s and early 90’s nostalgic cartridge-driven tunes that defined an entire generation of music. The Messenger is truly an experience of metamorphosis, and one that I think everyone should go out and pick up. As this thing spins, you can really feel the hard work put forth into creating this electronic experience. The nostalgia here is truly palpable -- don’t miss it!
iam8bit are well known for their video game soundtracks and creating highly artistic packages and artwork for their vinyl releases, and this one does not disappoint. Featuring artwork from the extremely talented Peter Mohrbacher, a stunning visualization of the games stylistic graphics was created. Displaying the past and future ninja on the front and back cover, the duality between these two soundtracks is ever present in this albums presentation. The gatefold depicts the in-game, pixelated art style, beautifully showing the magical wizard’s music studio and collection of rare records and instruments. This is a truly charming part of the whole experience, and is where the tracklist is shown for both Past and Future variations. The mastering here is very well done and is honestly one of the better iam8bit pressings I have heard. The clean and crisp sound of each note is delivered beautifully with rocking bass that will make anyone reach for their volume knobs for full effect. This is without a doubt one of the most superb iam8bit releases to date, and it shows through every aspect of its design all the way down to the gorgeous colored discs and awesome labels. Do not sleep on this limited release -- you won't want to wait another 500 years, would you?
Water & Wind
Rainbowdragoneyes is currently in the process of relocating his dwelling next month, which has proven to be an expensive endeavor for this hard-working composer. If you love what you've heard today, please don't hesitate in visiting his Bandcamp page and purchasing some of his awesome tunes. He is currently running a sale on there and his merch shop. Just enter the code FEEDME at checkout on either page and get 50% off anything you want until the end of June. Not a bad deal for an amazing cause if you ask me!
Where to Buy?
This album is still readily available directly from iam8bit and is strictly limited to 3,000 copies. iam8bit are very strict on their limited release rules which means that once this one is gone, it's gone for good. Don't miss out on your chance to pick up this awesome soundtrack. Digital download of the album is provided upon purchase for listening, but I must say it is completely worth it to wait for the album to be on your doorstep before plopping this thing on your table and giving it a much needed spin!