Star Fighter Dreams‘ compilation album, “10 Years Dreaming,” merges crisp 8-bit sonic elements, catchy chiptunes and an flurry of electronic elements into a symphony of intricate and expressive tracks to create a soundtrack for a video game that should definitely exist. If this were a soundtrack of a video game and you asked me which came first, the game or the soundtrack, I’d wager it was the soundtrack.
This album skillfully conjures an array of shaky emotions, oscillating between melancholy and exuberance while never losing its nostalgic charm. Its nine tracks manage to tell a narrative that feels cohesive, introspective, and danceable all at once. And the fact that it’s a compilation makes it even more impressive.
The opening track, “(Re)Try,” is a jubilant ode to the dogged persistence of life, filled with bouncy arpeggios and a thumping beat that immediately pulls the listener into the 8-bit universe the artist creates. “(Un)Broken,” the second track, introduces a slightly melancholic tone that seems to echo to some part of our memory, masterfully showing the emotional depth that can be achieved within the so-called limits of chiptune. The vocal samples perfectly sharpen hot beats and radiating energy.
“Burdens,” the third piece showcases Star Fighter Dreams’ skill to weave complex emotional states into catchy bass driven beats, creating a captivating listening experience. There’s a bit of static in there that I’m pretty sure is intentional and seems to be an ode to all of us who touched the fragile audio/video signal cord while coasting through our levels.
The fourth track, “Empty Dancefloors,” is a paradoxical blend of danceable rhythms and breakcore textures, resembling a vibrant mainframe of chiptune bliss in an otherwise empty digital realm.
“Inclimate” is a storm of chiptune beats and blips, painting a landscape that feels chaotic yet engaging. What we love about chiptunes is when the beat is so good that it maxes out into a satisfying wall of sound. This is the standout track of this album. This track is a clear nod to the adrenaline-filled boss fights of classic video games – and this boss is a hard motherfucker.
“Over The Line” is the hangover of playing into the wee hours of the morning. You’ve already been through so much and now you have to deal with this shit? It’s a hard listen but absolutely worth sticking it out because it start resonating with you out of nowhere.
“In Flux,” delves into more contemplative territory. Its changing rhythms and evolving melodies embody the title’s suggestion of constant change. While it has some modern elements, it stands as the official beginning of the end.
“(Ill)Prepared,” is the track that haunts platformers. It’s pretty much the perfect song for those of you who kept dying over and over. It’s that track you don’t mind – the one where you press pause and you hope the music keeps playing. Deep, crisp bass and a lot of really engaging melodies that seem to constantly change in scope and emotional depth.
The album ends on a thoughtful note with “(In)Decisive.” Its flawless chiptune melody and reflective pace provide a satisfying conclusion to the musical journey Star Fighter Dreams has crafted.
Every bleep, blip, and bass thump is clear, with no sound ever feeling out of place. The complexity of the compositions and the clean production allow the album to be engaging from start to finish. “10 Years Dreaming” is a delightful journey. It feels like an electronic love letter. Whether you’re a fan of electronic music, video game soundtracks, or just enjoy unique musical experiences, this album is definitely worth a listen.