Lately, I’ve been overcome with an unbearable urge to revisit the video games from my past. The low-polygon fantasies I explored as a child on my Playstation and Nintendo 64 have been on my mind constantly. I’ve downloaded soundtrack after soundtrack, compiled playlists, pirated ROMs and browsed used video game stores around town for shreds of my past. I’ve always been particularly fascinated with the music in RPGs, but only in recent years have I taken the time to learn about the composers of some of my favorite music ever.
D.V. Caputo, who records under the name DV-i, seems tapped into that same stream of influences. His interactive soundtrack (you can download it packaged with a custom dating simulator/visual novel) Aurora Memoria feels like wandering through a neon-lit arcade, soundtracks from various consoles attacking you at every angle. There’s the light, ambient air of “Love Theme” sandwiched up against a PC Music-tinged take on new jack swing with “DigiFamily,” or the jungle breakbeats on “Fractal Mode.”
I used show up at the bowling alley in my small town after school, pockets brimming with quarters to spend in the arcade on games like Dance Dance Revolution, Time Crisis, Rush 2049 or Virtual On. The soundtracks for those games are still seared into my head, and listening to Aurora Memoria feels eerily like being transported back into that room with the pastel tiles and gaudy lighting. In particular, “Classroom” begins like a classic Ryuichi Sakamoto song before flipping into a jazzy scatterbrained synth stomp, some of the drum packs and synth pads recalling A. G. Cook’s solo work during the formative years of his record label.
In one branch of the dating simulator I helped a young student with amnesia named Hisoka rediscover her past. The game’s dialogue (written by Callie Beusman) is hyper self-aware and tongue-in-cheek (the trailer boasts 3D graphics and CD quality audio), but still thoughtfully crafted to pull you into its story, aided sufficiently by its phenomenal soundtrack. Whenever you return to your dorm to rest, you’re treated to the addicting “Prelude Bedroom,” a slow-snapping jam that sounds like Com Truise with the cuteness dialed up 100%.
Regardless of the music quality, Aurora Memoria is notable for being quite possibly the most interesting album release of the year. Beyond a digital download, you can pick it up via SD card housed in a custom 3D-printed case. It’s among the most fascinating album releases in a year where it seems like everyone is trying to push the boundaries of the traditional album release. But on constant loop for weeks now, Aurora Memoria separated from its accompanied game has become one of my favorite musical releases of the year. Vinyl be damned, dating sims are the hot new album format.
Aurora Memoria Philosophical Data Session 2093 is out now via Priz Tats.