Fan Work Reviews: insaneintherain’s Jazz Covers

A while back we started this segment on Wynaut? by reviewing a fanmade manga featuring a cool Golduck in the DPPt story. This time around we have a more musical feature for these Fan Work Reviews. In these articles we’ll feature a piece of Pokémon-themed work (be it writing, art, music, a nuzlocke, or anything else creatively inclined) that we feel is worth more attention. If you know of any pieces of work that you feel would qualify, feel free to suggest it, or even join the forums to write up a review yourself! You can even suggest one of your own pieces of work… but note that we’d still need to agree that it’s worth showing off here.

insaneintherain is a Youtube member who makes covers for a variety of video game music, a large chunk of tune from the Pokémon franchise. He sticks to the jazz style, and impressively does all the music himself. And he’s not just playing one instrument or just using a computer program – he does it all himself.

And personally this sounds better than the original tune from the DPPt games.

insaneintherain’s Youtube channel

What is it?

insaneintherain’s channel is nearly completely made up of covers of video game tunes. There’s a large variety of them, although the majority of games he draws from are Nintendo titles. You have the bigger franchises such as Donkey Kong, Mario, the Legend of Zelda… and of course Pokémon. There is the odd song from smaller titles such as Cave Story, and a few other sources of songs he covers such as Skyrim and Billy Joel’s Piano Man (not a video game). The remainder of videos are announcements about projects or guides about how he records and creates his covers.

The vast majority of the covers are in the jazz style, even if the original tunes are not of that genre. He records himself playing the tune with individual instruments such as the saxophone and piano (complete with video), then mixes them together through computer programs. These are then regularly uploaded to his youtube channel – he tends to put out a new video every week or two.

So chill.

So what makes it so good?

The main reason is that it sounds great. And that’s the important part of any video game tune cover – it has to sound enjoyable.

This is no easy task. As said before, a lot of these songs in their original form are not of the jazz format. It takes some talent to be able to convert tunes into a different style, and simultaneously make it sound good and be reasonably true to the source material. It requires some filler at times to help transition between different parts of the song, or different songs in the cases where he creates a medley.

One wonders if the Bug types there would have good hearing.

One of the impressive parts about insaneintherain is the large array of instruments he can play, and his good handle on mixing the different recordings into a song. Granted, some trial and error must have been involved, but he’s been around youtube for a few years now and there’s been a clear improvement with his work.

Which leads to the next point – this guy is fairly young. We’re talking a person who is 16, and started his youtube channel a few years ago. A lot of well known video game cover artists are well into adulthood, e.g. kylelandry or SmoothMcGroove. He still has a lot ahead of him if he keeps this up, and that’s exciting.

And let’s face it, anyone who can play the sax gets coolness points. And I’m very approving of the covers he has made of the spinoff Pokémon titles as well, including Pokémon Colosseum and XD.

That’s right, a Miror B battle theme cover.

‘Back to your Littleroots’ Album

insaneintherain has also created an album of remixes of RSE music that came out before ORAS was released. It’s made up of ten tracks, each covering a route or area, or a mixture of tunes, even including the likes of trainer themes (the tunes that play for a different type of trainer, e.g. a Psychic trainer, before they start to battle you). Each track again makes use of the combination of piano and saxophone.

People who collect the volcanic ash in this route will know this tune well.

And while it is an album that is on sale, he still kindly put every single track on his youtube channel, which is a great way to check out what it is like before buying. It is worth noting that for most of his other videos he offers a free mp3 download of the track in the video description text.

Also known as Sea Mauville’s theme, for those who only played ORAS.

Summer of Covers

The other main exception to this offer of free mp3 downloads is a period in the (northern hemisphere) summer of ‘13, where insaneintherain took on an ambitious fundraiser effort. Every weekday he released a new cover of a song, and only gave access to the song downloads to those who donated to the Child’s Play Charity. Some of the covers were fairly simple (for instance, just a piano solo played along to the actual tune), but given the trouble that would come with coming up with and playing a new song every day, along with recording and putting up on youtube, there’s not much to fairly complain about. Some turned out pretty good too! He tended to stick to a theme for each week.

Click, click, click…

And he managed to hit his target of raising $1000 as well. Good effort!

Every so often insaneinetherain has done some collaborations with other youtube artists. These are also enjoyable to listen to, and show his eagerness in working with others. He also has a habit of throwing in bits of other tunes into his covers – for example, in this cover of Dolphin Shores from Mario Kart 8, you can hear part of Dire Dire Docks from Super Mario 64.

Are there any issues?

Not every song may sound ‘right’ – after all, he does apply a different style to many of these tunes, and sometimes it may work out for some people but not for others. For instance, one collaboration cover is of one of my personal favourite tunes across all video games, City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2. While the cover here is still nice to listen to, the pace is for myself all too slow and chill considering the more upbeat and frantic pace of the original song. But this is minor, and the advantage of being able to download the mp3 version of the cover means that I can play it at a faster tempo from VLC Player or the like. This doesn’t mean the cover is badly done, just that the original may just sound better for yourself at times.

His earlier videos are rawer, with lower quality recording equipment and perhaps some mistakes being more noticeable, but this is not at all surprising – even now you can excuse some mistakes just because insaneintherain is still in his teens and already playing a range of instruments. It’s a difficult art and it takes time and practice to improve. Luckily as the number of videos show this has been certainly the case here. The odd contribution in the Summer of Covers project was rushed as well, but it is quite understandable given the ambitious aim of five songs a week for three months.

The aforementioned quirk of insaneintherain inserting bits of other tunes in the middle of covers can also be a downside, if you view it as a distraction from the piece itself. For instance, he does integrate a small part of Song of Storms from the Legend of Zelda into a recent Yoshi medley, but it does sound a bit too distinctive from the tone of the parts around it and bring one out of the immersion. It’s not something I mind too much myself – again, with something like music it is down to individual tastes.

It should be emphasised that some of these points are subjective, and that’s the nature of music – you can’t please everyone. And even if they all count as negatives for yourself, these do not do enough to take away from the number of great songs put out by insaneintherain, especially if you like the jazz genre as well. The main features of control of instruments, ability to construct tunes into a new style, and the simple fact that these are generally great tunes from video games to begin with outweigh any infrequent mistake or a segment that could maybe sound better done another way. And you can only improve on your art by experimenting and challenging yourself, something insaneintherain certainly does.

So while there are some early song covers that maybe are a bit rough, he’s a fairly consistent artist that keeps on improving, and releases work roughly on a weekly/biweekly basis. If any of these videos sounded nice to you, we suggest you visit his channel and check out more of his work! We also have an interview lined up as a follow-up article with insaneintherain, so keep an eye out!

Written by bobandbill
Edited by Dramatic Melody

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