I’ve decided that this edition of Chipfinite Weekly will start off with a riddle. Here’s a good one: what do you get when you cross an NES and a keyboard? The answer is simple: an amazing album. Courtesy of chip artist Shnabubula, NES Jams is, by and large, the most impressive and entertaining album in the area of classic game arrangements that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. Why may that be? How about you hit the jump and find out.
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In most cases game arrangements, especially from the NES era, completely eschew the original bleeps and bloops of their chip-based origins in favor of more robust and versatile instrumentation. In contrast, NES Jams consists of two simple instruments- a piano and NES emulation software. Featuring two hands upon a keyboard stretching its wavy way into the distance upon an NES cartridge, I don’t think that I’ve seen an album cover more perfectly expressive of the musical contents of its tracks. Pairing the naturally smooth and expressive piano with the electronic emanations of the NES, both instruments are woven together perfectly to create an amazing interplay, aided in no small part by impressive piano playing with more than a hint of jazzy improvisation. Always perfectly distinct yet unbreakably intertwined, the two instruments work together impressively, with neither every truly taking over the spotlight. Bringing new life to a variety of tracks from classic NES titles through both creative instrumentation and wonderfully expressive arrangements, NES Jams carries a sound not only unique, but also amazing.
Of the eleven tracks contained within, my favorite (though I freely admit that it may be through my familiarity with the tune) is an arrangement of the Temple theme from Zelda II, beginning with lucid movements upon the keyboard that slowly become more free and complex, as the song overall grows grander. Also of note is the final track, an arrangement of Wood Man’s theme from Mega Man 2, which perfectly matches and even surpasses the high-speed energy of the original.
Available on Shnabubula’s Bandcamp, NES Jams is available for whatever price you desire to pay. Get on it, yo!