Feature | MusiCube: The String Arcade (Album Review)

By David Lovato 08.02.2015

String quartet tributes are nothing new, but not many can boast paying homage to the world of videogames. The String Arcade is one such soundtrack, devoted to videogames across the industry. From Sonic the Hedgehog to The Legend of Zelda, Minecraft to Ecco the Dolphin, all time periods and consoles of origin are represented here. Most are medleys of different tunes from the game being represented, along with some original arrangements set in the same style or tone.

Image for Feature | MusiCube: The String Arcade (Album Review)

Each track on The String Arcade has its own personality. For example, "Grasswalk - Plants vs. Zombies" is a light-hearted, almost comical tune, while "Sonic 2 Scherzo - Sonic the Hedgehog 2" is a fast-paced, frantic retelling of classic Sonic music, culminating in the legendary boss battle theme. Videogame favourites are lovingly brought to life, even given new ones. Sound bites of the turrets from Portal 2, for example, are strategically placed throughout "Turret Suite" to remind listeners that the turrets "don't hate you" before the tune eventually reaches its emotional climax. It is touches like these that create their own narrative in The String Arcade, something not easy to do with a soundtrack; a videogame and music can work together to tell a tale, but a soundtrack has to stand on its own, and this one does.

One complaint is the album's closing track, "The Legend of Zelda Title Theme" from The Legend of Zelda. Koji Kondo has created arguably the most recognisable and well-known videogame music in the world, and perhaps none are as well-loved as his themes for the Legend of Zelda games. Their fantasy setting should lend well to classical music - Nintendo has itself launched a series of symphonies devoted to the games' soundtracks - but its representation on The String Arcade is lacklustre, almost unrecognisable. One of the shortest pieces on the album, it's a quiet track that starts to resemble legendary Zelda music several times, but always cuts itself off and gives in to the backing tune. Only at the end does the track begin to sound like something from Zelda, and even then it's a rushed, mashed-together minute or so of the game's title theme. All in all, it's a disappointing way to end an otherwise near-perfect representation of videogame music history.


 
8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
The String Arcade is, on the whole, a very loving and very well-performed tribute to videogame music. Even tracks from lesser-known games are presented with as much care and made as memorable as their heavy-hitter counterparts. The closing tribute to The Legend of Zelda could have been a lot better, but is a minor flaw in the grander scheme of the soundtrack.

Readers eager to pick up the album, can find more details at the official website.

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