16 BIT SESSIONS #9: Dragon Sound – Friends

16 BIT SESSIONS is where James tries to figure out all this Mega Drive music business by covering songs and trying out different sounds. This time, it’s a cover of Friends by the fictional band Dragon Sound from one of the best bad movies of all time, Miami Connection.

Up top promo: our Horseshoe Tavern show is next Monday! Check the SHOWS page for the amazing poster designed by Kai Salminen and all the details you could ever need.

Here is the wonderful, wonderful original:

I don’t know when or why or how I decided I love bad movies. Of course I remember watching The Room for the first time, of course. Who wouldn’t? There’s something irresistible about the earnestness of terrible film-making, as Greg Sestero testifies in his book The Disaster Artist (a must read for any fan of bad movies). Maybe I connect to it on a certain level because my main musical instincts are to make commercial-suicide 90s console chiptune throwback music and I like the idea of people committing to terrible ideas beyond all sense, lack of talent and reason. Maybe there’s a connection between crazy amazing rock & roll and bad movies – Wild Zero, Neon Maniacs, the soundtracks to Astron 6 movies like Manborg and The Editor. Even John Carpenter’s worst movies have great soundtracks. Though even typing this out I’m seeing how blurred the lines between bad and great are. I’ve definitely cited some great movies here that probably don’t fit into the bad-good category.

Maybe that’s looking too far into things and it’s just trash and trash is great. I’m happy with that.

I love Miami Connection because it’s equally as earnest and well-meaning as it is shambolic and utterly insane. It revolves around a diverse group of well-meaning tae kwon do orphan-musicians who end up as one side of a gang war with a motorcycle ninja clan because they took another band’s gig for some reason. I want to print every frame of this film, pile it up and hug it. The letter scene. The dad who’s 10 years younger than his son. The toe grabbing. All of it.

It helps that the music is legitimately fuckin’ class. Friends and Against The Ninja not only sum up the Very Deep Themes of the film, they’re infinitely catchy and you’ll hum them for days after watching the film. Angelo Janotti, mulleted guitar hero of Dragon Sound, wrote or co-wrote both tracks, which explains a bunch – while the film is cast with Grandmaster YK Kim’s students to (a) save money and (b) show off Tae Kwon Do as a martial art, Janotti is completely inept at Tae Kwon Do in the film, barely musters a kick and gets himself very kidnapped. You’ve got the looks and the sound, Angelo! That’s all that matters.

I think this is pretty much what a Dragon Sound video game would sound like. I’d love to see Miami Connection as a scrolling beat ’em up like Violent Storm, Double Dragon or my eternal favourite, Streets of Rage 2. Somebody with more talent than me make that happen, please! We’ll make the music!

I’ve been a little swamped due to our upcoming show at the Horseshoe Tavern so most of the sounds here are presets or samples I already had ready to go. The lead voice is a mix of xylophone and string presets, and there’s a bunch of my all-time favourite sawtooth wave and bells and keys presets covering the instruments. The bass is a standard electric bass sound that may actually be from the Yamaha FB-01, but I’ve mixed in some of my own sampled low-end bass sounds to fill things out a bit. The heavily-compressed guitar strumming is done by square waves with – eek – a bit of Ableton ping-pong delay.

Overall, I hope this makes you want to don a sleeveless red shirt, learn Tae Kwon Do and kick some ninja butt. Until next time, which may be the last regular update while I start writing and programming our next original project!


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