At the height of the 16-bit war, Nintendo and Sega were locked in a dead-even battle for first place. Whatever one system offered, the other would try to top, whether it was with aggressive advertising (Genesis Does What Nintendon't) or ridiculous buzzwords (Mode 7 vs Blast Processing). So when Donkey Kong Country came along and strutted its pre-rendered sprites across the screen, making the SNES appear more advanced than it really was, Sega had to retaliate with a similarly gimmicky presentation. We got Vectorman, a hero made of hovering green balls. Stupid as it sounds, it was actually damn fun and had a surprisingly listenable electronic soundtrack.
At the time, I was 100% Nintendo, so I couldn't sully my hands with such filth. Once I grew the hell up and got over what I'd like to call "being an idiot," I finally sampled Vectorman and realized it was a pretty OK run and gunner, and the music, while sorta basic and game-y, made the experience feel grittier and harder than a SNES game. The track above's a bit slower and moodier than most though, so here's another:
Above: Music from the train stage. Still kinda background-ish and light, but good listening
Above: And then a fierce remix from Beatdrop, courtesty of OverClocked ReMix
I assumed the composer had to have other work, but I couldn't find a single other reference to Jon Holland. However, I did stumble across this ancient interview in which he let the world know exactly how he felt about his work on Vectorman, and Sega Genesis music in general.
“Music filled with gun noises! Just kidding. I would describe it as rhythmic. That is what I was striving for. I tried to get close to a dance feel much of the time, but it's especially difficult to get good techno sounds with FM on the Genesis. I used GEMS on the PC for the sound editing. It's a rather primitive program.
"Trying to make interesting music with the Genesis is like trying to write a concerto on a ukulele."
Aw c'mon man... I know Genesis music can be grating and even ear-shreddingly awful, but there's a ton of impressive work on the system. That's part of the process dude - working with what you've got. Like I can give him any shit though, as I've been listening to his Vectorman OST for over 10 years now. Hope he knows how much people still like it!
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