Proto-grime from 1994

Dylan Beale’s accidental groundbreaking SNES soundtrack to Wolverine: Adamantium Rage is getting the reissue treatment.

We’re not purely fixated on old music which sounded like future music at IO, but we do love it. After we were shouting out Om Unit’s mixtape of pre-dubstep dubstep the other week, now we’re back at it heralding the official reissue of an early 90s video game soundtrack with a knockout grime instrumental a good eight years before Youngsta slapped down ‘Pulse X’.

With a questionable split legacy as one of the worst SNES titles ever made in terms of gameplay, Wolverine: Adamantium Rage was fairly well discarded to the trash compactor of 90s video games until people started mining 8 and 16-bit soundtracks for hidden weapons. At some point around 2016 word got out there was one such weapon on this particular OST, and Jamal Edwards’ (RIP) site SB.TV tracked down the producer responsible, Dylan Beale (pictured up top), to find out how the hell he managed to make a track as deadly as ‘Tri-Fusion’ so out of context. Sadly the original interview can’t be accessed now, but read on for some insight from Beale further down.

Beale’s work across the soundtrack is killer, tapping into electro, hip-hop and breakbeat hardcore all driven by the insanely limited sample set the SNES cart allowed for. Pushing up against those limitations is how he wound up making such deadly beats, with the ruthlessly clipped beats and punchy orchestra stabs simply adding to that quintessential boxy, ‘Pulse X’ sound. Around 2016, Brixton-based grime producer Sir Pixalot decided to prove the point by running some bars from J-Wing over the top of ‘Tri-Fusion’, and the results are wholly legit.

S I R P I X A L O T · Dylan Beale – Tri-Fusion X J-Wing – Sirpixalot Dubplate Acapella

Now Sneaker Social Club have remastered the soundtrack and given it a proper release, cut loud on double vinyl and featuring a few additional unused beats from Beale’s archives as well as an extended version of ‘Tri-Fusion’. It’s the video game soundtrack you could actually get away with dropping in the dance and it being more than just a novelty move. Truly deadly stuff – here’s a longplay of the game in its OG 16-bit glory.

We reached out to Beale to find out a little more about the context behind the making of the soundtrack, and this is what he had to say:

“While I was with the Stuck To Your Lips people we created a couple of ‘hardcore’ tunes for an Alien Sega Mega CD release the company Bits Studios were pitching for. The deal never materialised, but several months later my friend Shahid was looking for additional help in Bits’ music and FX department to support the multiple projects they had running at the time. 

“I started in the Cricklewood studio with Shahid on January 4, 1994, and Wolverine was the first project that was handed over to me to deliver. Shahid created the music engine we used on the SNES cart. From memory we had roughly 200Kb for engine, music and SFX. As I came from a sample background in all my previous endeavours, I approached the project wanting to continue with this philosophy. At that time ‘chip’ music was the popular solution and if you listen to the Sega version of Adamantium Rage, which was made elsewhere, you can hear the difference in the two results.

“I was used to the Akai s950’s 2 mb of memory, so suddenly I was reduced to this bare minimum of memory while needing to increase the quantity of music I was making. It was the first time I’d ever had to think about writing music for a game. I just focused on writing tunes I liked which had an element of pace, energy or tension. If you listen to early UK hardcore, they were common emotions aimed at a sweaty dancefloor in between the euphoric piano or string section. My other big influence was hip-hop – I thought the underlying aggression you can generate from that harder gangsta rap sound was perfect for a game about a man-wolf with blades for hands.

“It took about six months to get the game done, locked in a little room with three other people writing code for the game. I was on headphones and battling to get every sound to loop perfectly as the SNES had strange limitations on the size of loops.

“I do vividly remember when we first played it on a bigger set of speakers to the boss, his initial reaction was one of amazement that we had created something so ‘real’ and different in comparison to everything else out there in terms of video game music. I listen back and cringe, but at the time, comparing to everything out there, it was totally unique, a moment in time.

“Every time I see my old friend Jon Torrens I repeat, “WWWWWWWWWW WOLVERINE” to him, as it was his voice I’d sampled for the title track – he was one of the game’s designers. Even after nearly 30 years we still catch up a few times a year, which shows you how important this time was in our lives – creative, life-affirming, and a great memory.”

Adamantium Rage OST by Dylan Beale is out now on Sneaker Social Club.