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Osamu Sato’s Transmigration Is Music To Trip To

So... when's it supposed to kick in?
Image: Osamu Sato / MobyGames / Kotaku
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Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s new, daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. Today we’re getting esoteric with an album spun off of a very weird CD-ROM adventure game. (Or was it the other way around?) And oh, it’s by the guy who conceived LSD: Dream Emulator.

The multimedia craze of the 1990s was more hype than substance, but there’s no denying it produced some interesting cultural artifacts beyond just cheesy-ass computer speakers and discs full of bad clipart. Chief among these are a number of games and game-like productions that leveraged the novel technical capabilities of CD-ROM to innovate new types of interactive experiences.

Those words sound ridiculous as I type them but they’re like, true and stuff.

“The elves adorned the artefact with mysterious runes...”
“The elves adorned the artefact with mysterious runes...”
Image: MobyGames

I’m talking “CD-ROMs” like The Manhole, GADGET, Cosmology of Kyoto, and Puppet Motel, to name a few standouts. Heck, even the more mainstream Myst and The Journeyman Project sorta count. If you can get past seriously dated presentations and often-minimal game elements these multimedia quirk-fests can offer a wealth of obscure joys to the dedicated medianaut.

Not usually me, as my time and attention span are both limited. But I like reading about them.

Another notable work in this vein is 1994’s Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong Nou (longplay / review), a CD-ROM adventure game by musician and multimedia artist Osamu Sato. (He’s best known to us game obsessives as the mind behind PlayStation cult hit LSD: Dream Emulator.) Eastern Mind is some good experimental shit, if two-plus decades of scattered reviews and Sato’s ever-growing fanbase are to be believed.

What I can say for sure is that Eastern Mind’s opening song is a banger, and it’s also the first track on Sato’s 1994 electronic album, Transmigration (VGMdb). Sure, that counts as game music.

Let’s listen:

Osamu Sato / Sato Archive (YouTube)

Transmigration’s a great 31 minutes of music. Pulsing, immersive beats, eclectic, densely sampled soundscapes, a little grit… It’s kind of like a slightly more intense spin on something you’d hear from the “psybient” band Shpongle. And now that I said it... yeah, if you’re in the mood for that extra intensity, Transmigration could be a pretty decent addition to a trip playlist.

Which, good thought me. Suggestion noted.

If you’d like to sample more Sato, 2017’s All Things Must Be Equal (playlist / VGMdb) was his first album in many years, and I think you’ll agree that the guy still has it, whatever “it” may be.

Osamu Sato / NicheAudities (YouTube)

Probably talent is what I meant. He’s good. By the way, track 10, “Retrocognition 2017,” is a collaboration with some Ryuichi Sakamoto guy.

He’s good too.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! I thought it’d be fun to dip into something outside of the mainstream games space. Into it? I’m sure we’ve got some Sato experts in the audience. Feel free to drop some uh, knowledge... down below, and I’ll see y’all tomorrow, assuming I can stop staring at this wall.