Snatcher is a reminder of why it’s a great time to be in love with vinyl. What we have is the soundtrack to Hideo Kojima’s (Metal Gear, Zone of the Enders) cyberpunk adventure game Snatcher — released in 1988 on the MSX2, 1992 on the PC Engine, and 1994 on the Sega CD system—and pressed to vinyl for the first time ever by Ship to Shore Phono Co; truly a niche within a niche, within another glorious niche. But it’s releases like this that show just how awesome the “vinyl resurgence” can be.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all nostalgia bait; Snatcher is a well executed piece of music that can be enjoyed without ever playing the game. One of my favorite things about this release is the fluidity from piece to piece, keeping the listener fully engaged and omitting those quick 20-30 second jabs often present on video game soundtracks. At times, especially on a song like “Pleasure of Tension 2,” it’s akin to listening to Tangerine Dream or Vangelis; it’s easy to get lost in the soundscape or space out for a while.
Side C has some interesting tracks, specifically the two wildly different character themes. “Theme of Jamie” sounds like the backing track for a Phil Collins song, a driving rhythm drenched in synth horns and computer drums. On the other hand, “Theme of Katrina” is a simple, sweet melody that could fit into any village scene from a Legend of Zelda game. The way the bass track moves with the toy-piano melody is a real joy to hear; it’s a comforting sound that sets itself apart from the rest of the album.
I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Snatcher, but I was pleasantly surprised by the overall complexity of the release. Ship to Shore Phono Co do a fantastic job of picking releases that, while not always household names in the U.S., can carry their own weight against more common video game scores and soundtracks. Often, after the initial listen, I find myself wanting to take some time and play the game — Axiom Verge and Mother come to mind — but the fact remains that good scores can almost always stand on their own without the visuals or game experience. We have Snatcher as proof of that.
Snatcher is housed in a medium weight gatefold and features heavily stylized cover art from the game, masterfully illustrated by Ian Wilding. Inside the gatefold, you find the full cast of characters drawn in comic form under the title font. While this release doesn’t include an OBI strip, there is a clever red color scheme on the back that mimics its appearance and gives us the full track listing. This particular copy is on clear vinyl and sounds pristine. There’s also two gorgeous 12″x12″ inserts that feature more stylized character art from the game. I would loved to have had an insert with more info about the game, but fortunately there is plenty about it online.
“Snatcher” is available on “Orange/White/Red Tri-Color” (STS Exclusive), “Snatcher’s Eye” Green within Grey (STS Exclusive), “Crystal Clear” (Available through lightintheattic.net), and “Red with Black Splatter” (The Yetee exclusive) vinyl.