I had the privilege of growing up in the last few years of the 1990’s, and my younger years were filled with images of teenagers in technicolor jumpsuits, animated monkey men with golden hair fighting off androgynous aliens, and lots of fucking Pokémon. Even though it originated in Japan, and still has more draw to it there than anywhere else in the world, you would be hard pressed to find a single soul in modern society who isn’t at least vaguely familiar with these cutesy fighting animals.
While the game-play for the original Pokémon games — versions Red and Blue — weren’t exactly innovative or original, they did harbor a certain sort of draw to them that children and adults of all ages were able to latch onto. But most surprising was the music. I have known a lot of people who dismiss video game music, especially the kind created from 8bit and 16bit systems, but I’ve always admired this form of expression. There’s something truly awe inspiring about being able to create beautiful music with so many technical restraints. Junichi Masuda, the composer for these games, not only worked within the restraints of these systems to create something palatable, but he created wonderful music that impacted the game’s experience on a fundamental level.
However, it is hard to deny the fact that the music of these games doesn’t really stand up all that well outside of the context of a GameBoy. Until now. Dedicated fan, and student of music Skotein has spent the last few years creating faithful and innovative orchestral covers of many songs from the entire Pokémon game franchise, but he has just now finished his biggest accomplishment to date; a complete album of reorchestrated covers from Pokémon Red and Blue versions, simply dubbed, Kanto Symphony.
Handled almost completely by Skotein himself, Pokémon Reorchestrated Kanto Symphony is a wonderful accomplishment with just over an hour of beautiful, often times haunting music that faithfully brings to life the music of my childhood. While the music wasn’t composed from actual orchestral instruments — Skotein is just one man, after all — this shouldn’t detract too many listeners, as the music sounds as organic as possible. Discovering Skotein and his Pokémon Reorchestrated project will be one of my fondest memories of 2012, as this is the first time someone has so faithfully, and earnestly re-imagined a key component from the formative years of my childhood.
You can listen to samples from Kanto Symphony and many other projects here, and you can purchase the full Kanto Symphony here, and here. Please buy this album if you like what you hear. This man has put a lot of work into this, and he deserves the recognition. Cheers!