As the medium grows and anthropologists and historians increasingly turn their gaze to the Gordian knot of video game history, occasionally a documentary comes out that’s both poignant and precise in its focus and direction. Diggin’ in the Carts is such a documentary: a new six-part series on Japanese video game music, its deep infestation of modern music and its pioneers from the early days of the arcades by — surprisingly — the Red Bull Music Academy.
The first episode, entitled The Rise of VGM, takes us on a journey from Pong to the early days of the Japanese arcade and home consoles. Shifting naturally between the likes of Junko Ozawa — composer on many of Namco’s 80’s hits whose works, along with Nobuyuki Ohnogi, cemented what we’d consider the modern 8-bit style — and modern artists like J-Rocc and Kode9, the documentary weaves a tale of the technical limitations that resulted in the birth of the “delightful cheap and clean ” sound of video games and the impact of its influence.
It’s the best thing you’ll watch today (unless you count this dude beating Dark Souls with a Rock Band controller), and it’s free. Head over to the Red Bull Music Academy to check it out in full. The remaining episodes will be released over the course of this month.