4 out of 5
Label: Data Discs
Produced by: Shaun Crook (mastered by)
As we get into the mid-90s, the Saturn drops; Genesis is treated as the system for “hardcore gamers” with its bevy of attachments, and the 32-bit, disc-based system is the more casual affair. We’re relatively late into the Genesis’ lifespan; Treasure’s ‘Alien Soldier’ arrives, with Gunstar Heroes‘ composer NON returning, and everything was up a notch – meaning including the music, with NON’s experience lending itself to now especially complex arrangements and a unique tone and tracks that very truly could be post-rock masterpieces if done up with live instruments.
Heroes’ music was, to me, rather generic. It didn’t set a scene, it just set a pace. That lack is replaced by an almost non-stop flow of confident, bottom-heavy tunes on which NON doesn’t simply assume that a good beat will keep things flowing: drilling drums are present but slow down and speed up to guide or as led by the other layers of synths, which wind through different moods at odd time-signatures and combine for tunes that are equally catchy and weird and occasionally goddamned epic. Each side of this 2 LP set has some moments that slip back into “this is a video game song” generics, more notable as things wind down on the D-side, but NON has conceived something that works very effectively as an album – meaning that those moments are well propped up by the songs preceding them, or by an instantly mesmerizing barrage of noise on the following track.
Data Discs’ quality pressings cannot be denied: I have not listened to a single album from them that doesn’t sound pristine. Some other labels, I find myself making judgment calls on the existence of noise on a pressing – that maybe it’s part of the source that’s being remastered; that “live” music differs from bleeps and bloops – but with each new, fantastic sounding LP DD puts out, it’s getting harder to make those exceptions. NON turned things around drastically for Alien Soldier’s music, and I need to start a band just so I can cover some of these tracks and give them even wider exposure.