Sunday, June 23, 2013


Back in the day, when I used to host a video game radio show with +Anders Russell, once in a while we would do a game music episode. While it was really a thinly veiled excuse to close the show out with Lil Jon's "Get Low" to annoy as many regular listeners as possible, it was also a way to expose people who wouldn't have otherwise heard it to the work of people like Jeremy Soule and Jesper Kyd. It's been many long years since we did that radio show, and the increased ability for anyone to make professional quality music (provided they have the talent of course) has meant that the expansion of the indie scene has created an explosion of great game music. Here's a rough playlist of what I'd include in a show now.

Austin Wintory has written several game soundtracks, but my clear two favourites are Journey and Monaco. Monaco's soundtrack consists of caper music, lots of fast and fun piano music that meshes perfectly with the chaotic hijinks of a four player round of Monaco.

In contrast Journey is a much more traditional soundtrack, with variations on a main theme. The soundtrack to Journey puts me in mind of what it would have sounded like if Marco Polo had taken a cello with him on his trek to Cathay. If the track below interests you, I highly recommend listening to the entire soundtrack.

Frozen Synapse is a great game, a tactics game that aesthetically exists in the same realm as Uplink or, and with an electronic soundtrack that could be dropped into a Tron movie without anybody blinking an eye. I can't say definitively, but I'm pretty sure it's the first game soundtrack I ever purchased separately to the game itself.

Bastion is one of my favourite games ever. The soundtrack, described a little ridiculously by its creator Darren Korb as 'acoustic frontier trip hop', is as critical to creating the game world as the visual direction is. Rather than being an accompaniment to the action of the game, it feels more like a collection of folk music from a tradition that happens to be entirely fictional. A lot of people have talked and written about the impact of "Zia's Theme" when playing the game, but the best use of music in the game for me is when "Mother, I'm Here" is played. One of only two vocal tracks in the game, Korb has said that the idea behind the song was to create a memorial song, a kind of "Amazing Grace" for the Bastion world.

To save me writing (and you reading) too many unnecessary words, also worth checking out:
Anything from Hotline Miami if you're in the mood to go on a cocaine-fuelled rampage

Gunpoint's noir jazz

This wonderful piano interlude in The Swapper

Music to reflect on failure to from FTL

The bluegrass standards that punctuate the atmospheric ambience of Kentucky Route Zero

Finally, I couldn't write a game music post without including this gem from the Bioshock Infinite soundtrack, presented without comment.

Now that 25 of the total 50 alphabet supremacy posts have been completed, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the project so far. With that in mind, and having discussed it with +Jonathan Lange , next week's word will be middle, and we will both be looking at the project to date.

Edited to use a slightly larger player from bandcamp to show track progress.

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