Mariachi covers might not be first thing that comes to mind when people think of video game music. Mariachi Entertainment System might just change that for a few people. Headed by David Ortiz, a ten-year veteran of his local mariachi circuit, the band has been creating video game covers on YouTube over the past year and been well received by a rapidly growing fan base. Ortiz states on the band's YouTube page that his goal with Mariachi Entertainment System is to "say something about Mexican culture and video game culture. I hope to accomplish that through my musical arrangements, and I hope viewers enjoy them." The channel has garnered well over 1.1 million views and seems to be flourishing, so I think it is safe to say that viewers are enjoying the work he and his fellow musicians have been putting into these beautiful musical arrangements.
In fact, the YouTube channel far exceeded what the members of MES initially expected and three months ago they launched their first album of video game covers. The self-titled album draws from a wide variety of tunes, like Sewer Surfin' from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time, Gerudo Valley from Ocarina of Time, and the Gourmet Race theme from the Kirby series. All the tunes manage to be both immediately familiar and entirely new again thanks to the driving force of mariachi flair that speeds each track along at a breakneck pace that feels effortless.
The passion that drove the channel and the album has resulted in Mariachi Entertainment System launching a Patreon that has been backed by over 80 patrons. The interest in the band has even led them to begin doing live shows together, the first of which was in July.
The San Antonio-based band recently funded a Kickstarter to release their second album of music. Squeaking by their $8,000 goal, they plan to include tunes from Sunset Riders, various Final Fantasy tracks, more Mega Man covers, and a tracks from many more musically interesting games. The additional funding will help them up the sound quality and obtain a physical release for the album.
Honestly, I find this some of the most refreshing video game-inspired music in recent memory. Many people think of game music as ambient noise or bleeps and bloops (not that there is anything wrong with either of those - I love me some quality bleeps and bloops), but rarely do people think of video game music as gorgeous instrumental arrangements in a traditional style like mariachi. Mariachi Entertainment System feels fresh and new, despite drawing on source material that has been ingrained in the public consciousness for twenty or more years. At the very least, they are certainly worth a listen or two... or ten.