Bird World’s dreamy opening is the kind of main menu track I leave running while I finish my chores. At least, I would if it were part of a real game. Leon Chang’s newly released album is a concept album of sorts, a 12-song soundtrack to a video game that doesn’t actually exist.
Chang, who goes by @leyawn on Twitter, has been posting weird mash-ups (like Joey from Friends repeating “How you doin’” over the show’s theme song) to game-themed remixes (an excellent version of the Neko Atsume theme) on his SoundCloud for years.
Bird World is his first complete album. He began releasing songs over the last year and a half before gathering them into a full album this week.
“I wanted to make a thematic album,” he says. “A video game soundtrack gave me a launching point for each song. I would envision a location in the game and try to think of how the music for that area would sound.”
Bird World may not be a real game, but the soundtrack feels right at home with many classic titles. Close your eyes, listen closely, and your imagination may fill in the blanks. For a song like “Noodle Cove,” he says, you might picture racing around a sunny cove grabbing items. “Green Tea Forest” could transport you to a magical woodland.
Chang says he wanted to expand beyond chiptune beats for a richer feel, but many tracks are inspired by specific games. "‘Noodle Cove’ is based on fast-paced Mario Kart or Sonic songs,” he says. "Battle On Mantou Mountain" is inspired by various battle songs in Super Mario RPG with a bit of ‘80s-style riffs and guitar thrown in.” He also lists orchestral inspirations from the soundtracks of Studio Ghibli films or works like South Korean film My Sassy Girl.
Bird World is currently available as a digital album for $7, or as a limited edition USB stick with printed world art guide for $15. Chang says he envisioned Bird World in the visual style of Breath of Fire 2 and 3, or perhaps Super Mario RPG, in the SNES or PlayStation era.
Chang is placing his games alongside of some of the most beloved scores in video games. As he should. Bird World fits in just fine.