Tinywaves' Straight From the Underground

Hopes, Dreams and Everything in Between

Posted by Dj Tenshin on 7th August 2016

Before I get into talking about this album, I have to be very clear about my personal biases.

I think Undertale is the defining game of the 2010's.

Given the size and devotion of Undertale's fandom, (one person going so far as to gift the game to the current Pope), I know I'm not alone in my praise for this Earthbound-inspired, narrative-driven RPG.

I would espouse in great detail why I and many others feel so strongly about this game, were this not a music review.

But because this is about music, I'm going to take a second to talk specifically about the game's soundtrack.

Undertale features a minimalistic, retro-gaming inspired score. Emulating a time when instruments had to be simple (lest they not fit on the game cartridge), Undertale's soundtrack focuses primarily on melodic composition over complicated instrumentation.

This makes it an interesting parallel to Touhou project- another indie game which gained cult following success with a simple but well-composed score.

Owing in large part to the ease of accessing the basic sound files, and of the great room for creative re-interpretation, both games give a lot of freedom for remixing and rearrangement by their fans.

Just as tributes to Touhou project have become inseparably connected from Japan's electronica scene, I'm beginning to see the same coming from Undertale remixers in the West.

And if there's anything which attests to the life and vivacity present in Undertale arrangements, it would be Tinywave's new compilation album: Straight From the Underground.

Not only is each track amazing in it's own right, but every one of them manages to channel the energy from the original soundtrack in a creative and interesting way. The attention to detail showcases how much love was poured into each and every song on the compilation.

With 35 songs in total, it's nothing sort of impressive how much musical diversity this album has. Several tracks are arrangements of the same song, but despite having the same source material, every artist has their own unique spin on the rhythms and melodies.

Tracks go all across the genre spectrum, from gentle piano ballads to drum and bass bangers. I think this is the only release I will ever listen to which has both a power metal cover of a war anthem, and a bossa nova rap about loving humanity.

Straight from the Underground is nothing short of phenomenal. It's nothing sort of breathtaking how strongly the dance music scene has rallied around this game...and it fills my heart with great determination. My desire to see a follow up to Undertale is no longer just about my favourite game getting a sequel, but also about getting to hear another album of this caliber.