Tag Archives: video game

Soundtrack Review: Returnal (2021)

On May 7th, Milan Records released the original soundtrack to the newest Playstation 5 game Returnal, with the music composed by Bobby Krlic. Best known for his work as the Haxan Cloak, Bobby Krlic brings his experience as an award-winning composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist to Returnal, imbuing the score with a gritty and experimental quality that matches the tone of the third-person shooter game. The album marks Krlic’s first-ever video game title as lead composer and follows his critically acclaimed, award-winning scores for director Ari Aster’s Midsommar, Hulu’s Reprisal, TNT’s Snowpiercer and The Alienist.

Bobby Krlic (aka The Haxan Cloak) is a British artist, composer and record producer based in Los Angeles. Over the past decade, he has created music under The Haxan Cloak, releasing two critically acclaimed full-length albums (The Haxan Cloak and Excavation) and touring extensively as a solo artist, building a devout fanbase. In 2015, Krlic began collaborating with fellow producer and Oscar-winning film composer Atticus Ross on soundtracks including John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 and Michael Mann’s Blackhat. Since then, Krlic has scored a number of major network television shows including TNT’s SnowpiercerThe Alienist: Angel of Darkness and Hulu’s Reprisal as well as a recent collaboration with Swans for Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2. Notably, he wrote the much lauded original soundtrack to Ari Aster’s sophomore feature film Midsommar, for which Krlic received The Ivor Novello for Best Original Score in 2020.

In Returnal, after crash-landing on a shape-shifting alien planet, Selene must search through the barren landscape of an ancient civilization for her escape. Isolated and alone, she finds herself fighting tooth and nail for survival. Again and again, she’s defeated – forced to restart her journey every time she dies. Through relentless roguelike gameplay, you’ll discover that just as the planet changes with every cycle, so do the items at your disposal. Every loop offers new combinations, forcing you to push your boundaries and approach combat with a different strategy each time.

The music for Returnal is, well, it’s really incredible. I was immediately intrigued by the game’s “caught in a time loop” premise and wondered how the game’s music would play into that concept. As far as I can tell, the music does connect to that idea of time repeating itself over and over again, though not in the way I thought it might. Most of the tracks sound warped and distorted, there are sudden, static-like sounds that cut in and out of the music, and my favorite part? There are times when it sounds like voices are cutting in to the music, creating this muddled effect that makes it sound like you really are lost in time.

The instrumental mix is about what you’d expect for a game like Returnal, a combination of electronic instruments and synthesizers mixed in with choral voices. What really caught me by surprise though is how calm the music is for the most part. Given what I’ve heard about this game, I was expecting sci-fi music that was more action-oriented, or at least faster-paced. But it’s nothing like that, and it’s making me seriously reconsider what this game is all about. This sounds like a more cerebral game than I initially thought, and I’m very excited about that. I like games that require you to think and this music makes me think Returnal is one of those games.

If I have one complaint about the soundtrack for Returnal, it’s that it’s surprisingly short, there’s only nine tracks in total. I don’t know if that speaks to the overall length of the game, but I’ve seen some soundtrack albums that are three times as long, and it was startling to see this one be so short.

That minor issue aside, I enjoyed the soundtrack for Returnal, and I think all of you will too.

Returnal Track List

  1. The Crash
  2. The Forest
  3. Helios
  4. Citadel
  5. Murals
  6. Recessed
  7. Motionless
  8. A Mysterious Device
  9. Dream Already Seen

Let me know what you think about Returnal (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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My Thoughts on: Mortal Kombat (2021)

This time last year I never would’ve dreamed that I’d be so excited to sit down and watch a movie based on the Mortal Kombat video games. But these are strange times we live in and as it turns out Mortal Kombat was quite an enjoyable experience.

As the name implies, Mortal Kombat is based on the iconic video game series of the same name and sees Earthrealm under threat from Outworld. After losing 9 Mortal Kombat tournaments, if Earthrealm loses once more, they’ll belong to Outworld forever. Quite the high stakes wouldn’t you say? While the film does try to explain the ramifications of everything, I couldn’t help wondering more than once if my understanding of the movie would have been greatly enhanced if I’d played more of the games (my exposure is currently limited to Mortal Kombat X).

That’s not to say that you can’t follow the movie if you haven’t played the games at all. The film does a pretty good job in explaining who is who and why they’re important. It’s just that some of the bigger aspects could have used a bit more exposition, like why Outworld wants to rule Earthrealm so badly. Or why, and this was my biggest issue with the film, a certain character is able to engage Sub-Zero in the fight that dominates the trailers promoting the movie. Don’t get me wrong, that fight (you all know the one I’m talking about) is beautifully shot and is a lot of fun to watch, but I legitimately do not understand how it was able to happen. There’s the loosest explanation given, but it wasn’t quite enough to satisfy me. Sometimes it’s best to include that extra five minutes of exposition, even if it does risk slowing the plot down a little, and part of me wishes Mortal Kombat had done that.

Aside from those issues, Mortal Kombat really is a lot of fun to watch. My favorite part has to be the sequence that emulates the video game (you can’t miss it), right down to the different combat arenas and fatality sequences. While it is a little cheesy how they would duplicate the game’s performance (one character even proclaims “Flawless Victory”), you can tell it’s all done in good fun. I mean, if you’re going to adapt a video game to film, an homage like this is probably the best way to go. A word of warning though about those fatalities: they really are as gory as you’ve been led to believe. So if that bothers you….you’ve been warned.

Of all the characters in the film, my two favorites are definitely Lewis Tan as Cole Young and Jessica McNamee as Sonya Blade (with an honorable mention to Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero). Watching these two get thrown into the world of Mortal Kombat was a lot of fun, and I feel like Tan perfectly played Cole Young as someone who is initially disbelieving but quick to buy in once he realizes his family is at risk. Part of me was disappointed the film didn’t include Kitana (my favorite Mortal Kombat character) but there IS an Easter Egg reference to her if you look closely. I also have to briefly mention Taslim’s performance as Sub-Zero which is one of the best in the film. The only real complaint I have is that I feel like we don’t know enough about him, his motivations and why he is what he is.

The music, which I’ve already reviewed, is just as amazing with the film as it is without it. I stand by my previous thought that in terms of music, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack is one of the best that’s come out this year. Especially during the fights in the latter half of the film, the music sucks you into the drama and adds that extra layer of detail that makes the film fun to watch.

One last note: the film ends with a blatant tease for a sequel and despite the many flaws I would be more than happy to see a sequel happen. There’s so much more they could do with the Mortal Kombat story and I’d like to see the filmmakers given an opportunity to keep the story going. This has the potential to be a really fun popcorn film franchise, so I’ll be waiting eagerly to see if a sequel gets greenlit.

While deeply flawed with some aspects of its storytelling, Mortal Kombat is a really enjoyable experience that does its best to faithfully bring the story of Mortal Kombat to the big screen. There are more than enough Easter Eggs and references to satisfy any fans of the video games and the teased sequel left me begging for more. My final verdict: Go see Mortal Kombat, it’s worth it.

Let me know what you think about Mortal Kombat in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Mortal Kombat (2021)

Film Reviews

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Soundtrack News: ‘Demon’s Souls’ Music from the Video Game Coming to Vinyl 6/18

Milan Records has announced the first-ever vinyl release of Demon’s Souls (Original Soundtrack), an album of music from the PlayStation®5 console remake of the classic game title, by composer Shunsuke Kida.

Available on CD now, Kida’s score delivers a bold and brilliant soundtrack befitting of the game’s lore.  Out Friday, June 18 and available for preorder now, the album’s vinyl edition arrives as a 2-LP deluxe gatefold set featuring artwork by renowned illustrator, designer and artist Ken Taylor – an inside look at the vinyl edition can be found here.  Demon’s Souls is currently available for the PlayStation®5 console from Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), PlayStation Studios, and Bluepoint Games. 

The vinyl will also be available in various vinyl color variants exclusive to Mondo, Light In The Attic Records, Newbury Comic, Channel 3 Records and Black Screen Records; detailed information surrounding each color variant can be found via individual retailers. 

In his quest for power, the 12th King of Boletaria, King Allant channeled the ancient Soul Arts, awakening a demon from the dawn of time itself, The Old One. With the summoning of The Old One, a colorless fog swept across the land, unleashing nightmarish creatures that hungered for human souls. Those whose souls were stripped from them, lost their minds – left only with the desire to attack the sane that remained. Now, Boletaria is cut off from the outside world, and the knights who dare penetrate the deep fog to free the land from its plight are never seen again. As a lone warrior who has braved the baneful fog, you must face the hardest of challenges to earn the title “Slayer of Demons” and send The Old One back to its slumber.

DEMON’S SOULS (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

DISC 1 – SIDE A:

  1. Demon’s Souls
  2. The Beginning
  3. Maiden Astraea
  4. Storm King
  5. Flamelurker
  6. Tales of Old

DISC 1 – SIDE B:

  1. Penetrator
  2. Maneater
  3. Maiden in Black
  4. Fool’s Idol
  5. Leechmonger
  6. Tower Knight

DISC 2 – SIDE C:

  1. Old Monk
  2. Phalanx
  3. Armor Spider
  4. Dirty Colossus
  5. Dragon God
    DISC 2 – SIDE D:
  6. Old King Allant
  7. The Old One
  8. One Who Craves Souls
  9. Return to Slumber

DISC 2 – SIDE D:

  1. Old King Allant
  2. The Old One
  3. One Who Craves Souls
  4. Return to Slumber

The Demon’s Souls soundtrack will be available on vinyl starting June 18, 2021.

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Building a Fantasy World Through Music: Talking with Composer Ben MacDougall about Godfall (2020)

Recently I had the chance to talk with composer Ben MacDougall about his work on the video game Godfall, which was released for the PS5 in November 2020. Ben MacDougall is a prolific composer for film, TV and video games, who most recently wrote the original fantasy score for Sony PlayStation 5 launch title, Godfall. His rich and diverse portfolio enjoys airtime on prime-time networks and has been featured on high-profile global TV events such as the Olympics and Academy Awards as well as countless franchises, campaigns and AAA studio projects.

Please enjoy our conversation about the music of Godfall!

How did you get started as a composer for video games?

That depends on how far back you want to go! My first major game project was called Duelyst, which was also a project I worked on with Counterplay Games, but before that I had been writing for linear format projects (advertising, tv, film, trailers etc) for a while.

There isn’t a huge difference, musically speaking, between game music and any other music for media. At the end of the day, it’s your job as the composer to tell a story and help create an even deeper emotional experience for the viewer or player. So I guess you could say it was when I started writing music that told a story.

How did you get connected with Godfall and what did you think of the game’s premise?

It’s hard not to fall in love with a premise as bold and exciting as a brand new, beautiful fantasy land – complete with its own deep lore and history! I already knew the developers from our previous project – which was such a blast to work on that Godfall just flowed onwards from that. Especially from a musical perspective, the opportunity to thematically define a new world is pretty enticing. And did I mention all the colors and light? It’s stunning.

If you’ve played the game or even seen some of the promotional art, then you’ll know what I’m talking about: Aperion looks amazing, and the game was clearly made by really talented artists and programmers who love playing games. Godfall also feels great to play, and a lot of attention has gone into making you as a player feel like you’re actually in the world, rather than just playing a game there.

What was your starting point in putting the music for Godfall together? In other words, how do you decide how an epic game like this sounds? That has to be a daunting task (I’ve seen the launch trailer and the game looks incredible), how do you even decide where to begin?

Well, there’s definitely a poetic answer, and a realistic answer for this one. I am always a fan of coming up with solid themes right at the start, and capturing my initial response to the prompt as authentically as possible. However, when it comes down to it, you write what you’re asked to, when you’re asked to! Luckily, in the case of Godfall, the two went hand-in-hand and the first thing I wrote was the ‘Aperion Theme’, which you can find on the soundtrack as Track 03, called ‘Land of the Valorians’.

From that initial point, for a massive project like Godfall it’s really a question of establishing musical parameters and boundaries. There are different elemental realms in this game, and each of those needed its own sound, so the sensible starting point in planning it out was to define each realm’s sonic identity. I basically created word clouds of adjectives and instruments that I thought would work, based on all the source material I’d seen up to that point. That’s not to say you make a bunch of decisions on day one, and then stick rigidly to them. For me, it’s this framework that allows you to explore outwards ‘with intention’ – as you’re doing it consciously and in the context of a larger plan.

By way of example, the Air Realm ended up being sonically focused around the sounds of a tonal hand-drum, rather than the perhaps more obvious choice of using airy flutes and other wind instruments. There is no way I would have ever thought “Air Realm = Drum” on day one, but within the larger mesh of these loose constraints, the discovery and subsequent decision made sense.

How much time did you have to score Godfall? How did you go about recording with the pandemic going on?

The project has been on the cards for a while – I wrote the first notes for it perhaps two or three years ago at this point. However, late 2019 onwards was ‘go time’.

The pandemic made recording harder for sure – but recording is fairly easy to do ‘socially distant’! For instance, in the sessions I did with soprano, Laurence Servaes, she was in a separate isolated room – along with a rather fancy silent HEPA filter! You can communicate with someone in a recording room really easily, so in that sense not much else changed – aside from the fact that coffee breaks were WAY less fun than usual.

As the score was coming together, did you have any rough game footage to use for inspiration or for the recording process? Or was it more going off storyboards and/or animatics? Or something else entirely? Maybe I’m still conflating the video game process with recording for films, but I keep imagining that at some point a video game composer also has footage to look at in the same way that a film composer does.

A little bit of everything really. Sometimes it was concept art, sometimes play-throughs of different areas of the map. Sometimes its was an entire boss encounter and other times it was just a ton of adjectives or emotional language to describe what was needed!

I’d be tackling different areas of the game that were in different stages of development, so I’d always ask for whatever I could get my hands on and write to that – just by having it on in the background. As game music is a non-linear format, it wasn’t frame-synced or anything (unless it was a cinematic or something that required it), but it was always nice to overlay as much as possible, visually speaking. It makes it really easy to see what does or doesn’t work that way.

Are there over-arching themes in the music? It sounds like the music is connected in more than several places, and I was curious if this was the case.

Yes! There are various themes and motifs that pop up throughout. These include the aforementioned ‘Aperion Theme’, the main ‘Godfall Theme’ and other similarly weighty material – like the different themes for each realm. There are also shorter motifs and sub-themes that pop up a lot – either in their complete forms or in fragments here and there – all in the service of grounding the score to the world and helping to tie everything together.

“The better a score is, the less you hear it” is something that you get told a lot in college. The idea, basically, is that the music exists in the project to assist in telling the story, not to take center stage. The weaving of themes is a useful way to subconsciously guide the audience to a certain conclusion, or give them a sense of where they are, or who someone is, without actually saying it.

There are other little, more subtle touches that I wanted to include too. I clearly don’t want to go revealing everything that’s tucked away in the score, but if you listen to the main ‘Godfall Theme’, (which is effectively Orin’s Theme), you’ll hear that it is very closely related to the theme for his brother, Macros. One is heroic, and one is much darker…. but they share the same DNA. I thought that was a cool thing to do, without being too obvious about it.

Do you have a favorite piece in the soundtrack? Is there one in particular that you hope gamers notice while they’re playing?

Honestly, there is one little (and rather quiet) easter egg tucked away in there that I’m hoping someone finds one day. But that tidbit aside, there is such variety in the score as a whole that there are going to be different moments that resonate differently with different people – especially as everyone has a subtly different experience with the music due to the interactive nature of gaming.

I’ve had messages about bits of brooding Water Realm music, right through to the music in the end-credits, which is a unique take on the main theme. For me though, I’ve always been thrilled with how the track called ‘Song of Aperion’ (Track 28) turned out. The combination of cello and voice – and the purity of the sound still gives me goosebumps.

I want to say thank you again to Ben MacDougall for taking the time to speak with me about his work on Godfall.

Let me know what you think about Godfall and its soundtrack in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Godfall (2020)

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack News: Final Fantasy VII Remake Original Soundtrack Available Now

The original soundtrack for the acclaimed Final Fantasy VII Remake has finally arrived! This long-awaited soundtrack album was released today by Square Enix and Sony Masterworks. The soundtrack features over 150 tracks and more than 8 hours of original music from composers Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, Mitsuto Suzuki and others. It also features the game’s end credits theme song “Hollow” by Yosh.

You can see the complete track list below.

The original soundtrack for the Final Fantasy VII Remake is available now on all music streaming services.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK)
TRACKLISTING –

  1. FFVII REMAKE: The Prelude – Reunion
  2. FFVII REMAKE: Midgar, City of Mako
  3. FFVII REMAKE: Bombing Mission
  4. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – Ex-SOLDIER
  5. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Reactor 1
  6. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Reactor 1 – Battle Edit
  7. FFVII REMAKE: Scorpion Sentinel
  8. FFVII REMAKE: Getaway
  9. FFVII REMAKE: Shinra’s Theme
  10. FFVII REMAKE: Those Chosen by the Planet
  11. FFVII REMAKE: The Promised Land – Cycle of Souls
  12. FFVII REMAKE: Chance Meeting in Sector 8
  13. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – Break Through
  14. FFVII REMAKE: A Close Call
  15. FFVII REMAKE: Shinra Creed
  16. FFVII REMAKE: Shining Beacon of Civilization
  17. FFVII REMAKE: Tifa’s Theme – Seventh Heaven
  18. FFVII REMAKE: Noises in the Night
  19. FFVII REMAKE: Mako Poisoning
  20. FFVII REMAKE: Main Theme of FFVII – Sector 7 Undercity
  21. FFVII REMAKE: Avalanche’s Theme
  22. FFVII REMAKE: Scrap Boulevard Cleanup Crew
  23. FFVII REMAKE: Johnny’s Theme
  24. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – A Merc’s Job
  25. FFVII REMAKE: On Our Way
  26. FFVII REMAKE: The Star of Seventh Heaven
  27. FFVII REMAKE: Lurking in the Darkness – Suspicious Man
  28. FFVII REMAKE: Just Another Job
  29. FFVII REMAKE: Lay Down Some Rubber – Let’s Ride
  30. FFVII REMAKE: Midnight Spiral
  31. FFVII REMAKE: Speed Demon
  32. FFVII REMAKE: The Red Zone
  33. FFVII REMAKE: RUN RUN RUN
  34. FFVII REMAKE: Jessie’s Theme
  35. FFVII REMAKE: Moonlight Thievery
  36. FFVII REMAKE: A Tower, a Promise
  37. FFVII REMAKE: S7-6 Annex Diversion
  38. FFVII REMAKE: Ignition Flame
  39. FFVII REMAKE: Under Cover of Smoke
  40. FFVII REMAKE: Main Theme of FFVII – Nightfall in the Undercity
  41. FFVII REMAKE: Whispers’ Theme
  42. FFVII REMAKE: A New Operation
  43. FFVII REMAKE: Target: Mako Reactor 5
  44. FFVII REMAKE: Hurry!
  45. FFVII REMAKE: Dogged Pursuit
  46. FFVII REMAKE: Born Survivors – Section C
  47. FFVII REMAKE: Born Survivors – Section E
  48. FFVII REMAKE: Crab Warden
  49. FFVII REMAKE: Undercity Suns
  50. FFVII REMAKE: Tightrope
  51. FFVII REMAKE: Maze of Scrap Metal
  52. FFVII REMAKE: Critical Shot
  53. FFVII REMAKE: Game Over
  54. FFVII REMAKE: The Rendezvous Point
  55. FFVII REMAKE: A Trap Is Sprung
  56. FFVII REMAKE: The Airbuster
  57. FFVII REMAKE: Who Am I?
  58. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks’ Theme
  59. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks: Reno
  60. FFVII REMAKE: Flowers Blooming in the Church
  61. FFVII REMAKE: Under the Rotting Pizza
  62. FFVII REMAKE: Anxiety
  63. FFVII REMAKE: Aerith’s Theme – Home Again
  64. FFVII REMAKE: Hollow Skies
  65. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! – The Hideout
  66. FFVII REMAKE: Whack-a-Box
  67. FFVII REMAKE: Midnight Rendezvous
  68. FFVII REMAKE: Collapsed Expressway
  69. FFVII REMAKE: High Five
  70. FFVII REMAKE: The Oppressed – Beck’s Badasses
  71. FFVII REMAKE: Due Recompense
  72. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – The Town That Never Sleeps
  73. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – Chocobo Sam
  74. FFVII REMAKE: Wall Market – Madam M
  75. FFVII REMAKE: The Most Muscular
  76. FFVII REMAKE: An Unforgettable Night
  77. FFVII REMAKE: The Sweetest Honey
  78. FFVII REMAKE: Luxury Massage
  79. FFVII REMAKE: Tonight’s Corneo Cup
  80. FFVII REMAKE: Corneo Colosseum
  81. FFVII REMAKE: Colosseum Death Match
  82. FFVII REMAKE: Just Desserts
  83. FFVII REMAKE: Electric Executioners
  84. FFVII REMAKE: Hell House
  85. FFVII REMAKE: Victory Fanfare
  86. FFVII REMAKE: A Certain Gaudiness
  87. FFVII REMAKE: Let the Battles Begin! -REMAKE-
  88. FFVII REMAKE: Stand Up
  89. FFVII REMAKE: Funk with Me
  90. FFVII REMAKE: Sync or Swim
  91. FFVII REMAKE: Vibe Valentino
  92. FFVII REMAKE: Stand Up – Reprise
  93. FFVII REMAKE: Don of the Slums
  94. FFVII REMAKE: The Audition
  95. FFVII REMAKE: Smash ‘Em, Rip ‘Em
  96. FFVII REMAKE: Abzu
  97. FFVII REMAKE: Rough Waters
  98. FFVII REMAKE: Darkness Ahead
  99. FFVII REMAKE: Any Last Words?
  100. FFVII REMAKE: Ascension
  101. FFVII REMAKE: Train Graveyard
  102. FFVII REMAKE: Haunted
  103. FFVII REMAKE: Come On, This Way
  104. FFVII REMAKE: Ghoul
  105. FFVII REMAKE: Alone
  106. FFVII REMAKE: Black Wind
  107. FFVII REMAKE: Waiting to Be Found
  108. FFVII REMAKE: Eligor
  109. FFVII REMAKE: Fight for Survival
  110. FFVII REMAKE: Come Back to Us
  111. FFVII REMAKE: Cheap Play
  112. FFVII REMAKE: Those in Need
  113. FFVII REMAKE: Slums on Fire
  114. FFVII REMAKE: Get to Safety!
  115. FFVII REMAKE: Aerith and Marlene – A Familiar Flower
  116. FFVII REMAKE: Limited Options
  117. FFVII REMAKE: The Look on Her Face
  118. FFVII REMAKE: Rematch atop the Pillar
  119. FFVII REMAKE: Return to the Planet
  120. FFVII REMAKE: A Broken World
  121. FFVII REMAKE: Daughter’s Farewell
  122. FFVII REMAKE: Infinity’s End
  123. FFVII REMAKE: Wild de Chocobo
  124. FFVII REMAKE: Leslie’s Theme
  125. FFVII REMAKE: The Day Midgar Stood Still
  126. FFVII REMAKE: Fires of Resistance
  127. FFVII REMAKE: A Solemn Sunset
  128. FFVII REMAKE: The Valkyrie
  129. FFVII REMAKE: The Shinra Building
  130. FFVII REMAKE: Operation: Save Aerith
  131. FFVII REMAKE: All Quiet at the Gates
  132. FFVII REMAKE: Hand over Hand
  133. FFVII REMAKE: Scarlet’s Theme
  134. FFVII REMAKE: Stewards of the Planet
  135. FFVII REMAKE: Corporate Archives
  136. FFVII REMAKE: Cultivating Madness
  137. FFVII REMAKE: Another Day at Shinra HQ
  138. FFVII REMAKE: The Turks’ Theme – Office
  139. FFVII REMAKE: Home Away from Home
  140. FFVII REMAKE: Infiltrating Shinra HQ
  141. FFVII REMAKE: The Drum
  142. FFVII REMAKE: Catastrophe
  143. FFVII REMAKE: Final Experiment
  144. FFVII REMAKE: Trail of Blood
  145. FFVII REMAKE: J-E-N-O-V-A – Quickening
  146. FFVII REMAKE: Rufus Shinra
  147. FFVII REMAKE: The Arsenal
  148. FFVII REMAKE: Midgar Expressway
  149. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Advent
  150. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Rebirth
  151. FFVII REMAKE: Arbiter of Fate – Singularity
  152. FFVII REMAKE: I’m Waiting, Cloud
  153. FFVII REMAKE: One-Winged Angel – Rebirth
  154. FFVII REMAKE: Seven Seconds till the End
  155. FFVII REMAKE: Hollow
  156. FFVII REMAKE: Credits

See also:

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Soundtrack Review: Cyberpunk 2077 (2020)

Along with the long awaited release of Cyberpunk 2077, there was also the release of the game’s lengthy (and I do mean lengthy) soundtrack. Stretched out over 37 tracks on TWO CDs, the soundtrack for Cyberpunk 2077 was a collaboration between Marcin Przybyłowicz, P.T. Adamczyk, and Paul Leonard-Morgan.

The Cyberpunk 2077 video game is an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification. You play as V, a mercenary outlaw going after a one-of-a-kind implant that is the key to immortality. You can customize your character’s cyberware, skillset and playstyle, and explore a vast city where the choices you make shape the story and the world around you.

If music in Cyberpunk 2077 would have to be described with just one word, it would be attitude. No matter the style, sound palette, or specific genre Przybyłowicz, Adamczyk, and Leonard-Morgan worked with, attitude is the cornerstone of every cue they composed for the game. Night City shimmers with colors and so does the music – not limited to one specific genre. Instead, the composing trio drew from all sorts of styles to craft a unique mix that drives the narrative and provides additional layers of context to the story. Expect a wide range of music styles from jazz, through downtempo, hip-hop, metal, industrial, to various incarnations of techno.

You know, after listening to a number of orchestral soundtracks for video games in recent months (The Ghost of Tsushima and Godfall most definitely come to mind), it was actually refreshing to take in a soundtrack that is not based entirely on strings and traditional orchestral instruments. Oh, you can hear them in the mix of Cyberpunk 2077 if you listen closely, but the base of this soundtrack is 100% synthetic. Or, better put, synthesized and electronic. This immediately puts you in the world of the future that is Cyberpunk 2077, where anyone can get their bodies modified and technology has reached levels we can only dream of. An orchestral score like the one used for Godfall would simply not do in this situation, it wouldn’t fit. I expected something of the sort even before I listened to the soundtrack, so this fit my expectations perfectly.

And then, as I was listening through the tracks, it occurred to me that all of this sounded very familiar, but I couldn’t quite figure out why, as I haven’t gotten to play the game yet, nor have I seen any gameplay where I might have heard the music before now. Finally, it hit me. I’ve heard music in this style before, though it’s been a few years. The music for Cyberpunk 2077 reminds me very strongly of the score for Blade Runner 2049. Both have heavily synthesized scores laced throughout with deep bass BWOOMS that just reverberate through you. And, if you consider the larger picture, they’re based in eerily similar locales: the not so distant future, a dystopian setting, body modifications abound…I’d be very interested in asking the composers if they took direct inspiration from Blade Runner 2049, or perhaps even the original Blade Runner.

I also really like how the music subtly shifts for different locales (or what I assume are different locations). Which is to say, all of the tracks exist in the same musical family, but they’re altered in such a way to give the impression of being on the streets, up high, even underwater or in an abandoned building, if that makes sense. The composers are absolutely making the most out of this sound world (as they should be).

There is an element of repetition throughout the music, but I’ve long since learned that this is to be expected in video game scores. Having not played the game yet myself, I don’t quite know what controls when the music changes from one track to the next, but I know that at a certain level there needs to be some level of repetition in order for the music to seamlessly shift from one track to another without making it noticeable (especially since gameplay can differ wildly between one player and the next).

One final thought: I frequently amuse myself by glancing through the track listings of soundtracks (be it film, television, or video games) and try to see what details I can glean regarding the story strictly by looking at the listings. Sometimes, depending on how they’re worded, you can actually learn quite a lot. But, and this is a good thing, while I can work out a basic story outline from the track listing, I can’t detect any major spoilers, or at least no obvious spoilers. That’s tricky to do, as track listings need to be descriptive but not in a way that gives plot details away if it can be helped.

All in all, the music for Cyberpunk 2077 sounds like the perfect score for this type of game. It fits the story perfectly, but is not so overwhelming that it distracts you from gameplay (indeed, I’m certain there are many times the music will largely blend in to the background). I’m well aware that the game has numerous issues on PS4 and Xbox One (speaking as a PS4 player, I’m scared to see how the game plays if/when I get it for Christmas), but at least I can safely say the score isn’t one of them.

TRACK LISTING

Disc 1:

  1. V
  2. Extraction Action
  3. The Rebel Path
  4. The Streets Are Long-Ass Gutters
  5. Outsider No More
  6. Cloudy Day
  7. Wushu Dolls
  8. Scavenger Hunt
  9. Musorshchiki
  10. Close Probing
  11. There’s Gonna Be A Parade!
  12. Trouble Finds Trouble
  13. You Shall Never Have To Forgive Me Again
  14. Code Red Initiated
  15. The Heist
  16. Streetfighters
  17. Patri(di)ots
  18. Mining Minds
  19. Rite Of Passage

Disc 2:

  1. The Voice In My Head
  2. Modern Anthill
  3. The Sacred And The Profane
  4. Kang Tao Down
  5. Cyberwildlife Park
  6. Consumer Cathedral
  7. Juiced Up
  8. Bells Of Laguna Bend
  9. Urban Downunder
  10. Atlantis
  11. Cyberninja
  12. The Suits Are Scared
  13. Tower Lockdown
  14. To Hell and Back
  15. Adam Smasher
  16. Hanako & Yorinobu
  17. Been Good To Know Ya
  18. Never Fade Away (SAMURAI Cover) feat. Olga Jankowska

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

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Into the Realm of Kafka: Talking with Mikolai Stroinski & Garry Schyman about their Score for Metamorphosis (2020)

Earlier this year, I got the chance to check out the soundtrack for the uniquely scored video game Metamorphosis, inspired by the work of Franz Kafka and scored in a very atypical style for a video game. The plot follows you, the protagonist, after you are turned into a bug and forced to explore a suddenly unfamiliar world from that perspective. The music for Metamorphosis was composed by Mikolai Stroinski, whose past credits include The Witcher 3 and Age of Empires IV, and Garry Schyman whose past works include scoring BioShock, Destroy All Humans! and Dante’s Inferno, just to name a few.

Not long after listening to the soundtrack, I received a follow up opportunity to speak with the composers themselves. Due to my day job, I’ve only just finished putting the interview together, and I’m really excited for you to check it out. Here is my interview with Mikolai Stroinski and Garry Schyman about their work on Metamorphosis.

How did the two of you get your start in composing for video games?

Mikolai: It was 2012 when I was asked to compose music for the Dark Souls 2 trailer. Both the trailer and the music itself gathered a strong fanship and soon after some independent studios asked me to compose music for their games. The Witcher 3 followed not that long afterwards.

Garry: Pure serendipity – My agent in 2004 sent my resume over to THQ, which, at the time was a big game publisher.  It sat on the fax machine (remember that technology?) and an executive happened to see it and she just happened to be my girlfriend’s (from college) roommate.  That started a series of events that led me to scoring Destroy All Humans! which I loved working on and it led me to pursue scoring for games very seriously.  And as the audio director for DAH! became the audio director for Bioshock she hired me without question, which was a huge boost to my career. 

How did you come to be involved with Metamorphosis?


Mikolai: I think it was mid-2018 when I was giving a presentation on video game music in Warsaw. Afterwards I was invited for drinks by the organizers and joined in by some people from the audience. At some point a group of people approached me wanting to show me a game they had been working on and asked if I would be interested in scoring it. It looked very original and interesting so I said I would do it with pleasure. After just under a year later I started working on it and it was during the very early process of planning the music that it became quite apparent it was going to be utilizing a symphonic palette with primarily atonal music. I somehow felt obliged to invite Garry because I knew he would enjoy it immensely – as much as I would. Garry said “yes” and the rest is history.
Garry: I have been friends with Mikolai for a few years and he contacted me one day and asked if I’d be interested in scoring the game with him.  When he described it as a Kafka game, I was YES for sure interested. 

What was behind the decision to have Metamorphosis scored in the style of composers like Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and other Expressionist composers? 

Mikolai: Choosing the music style that we did, allowed us to be dark but not horrifying. I don’t think the score ever crosses that line when it becomes horrifying. It’s also interesting how combining the gameplay with this music brings out a subtle sense of humor, which was our goal.

Garry: It was my idea initially because Kafka was an Expressionist author who wrote during that turbulent time in German history.  Though he was Czech he wrote in German and was part of that movement. The absurdist aspects of the game reminded me of the Expressionist music of that era. Mikolai immediately agreed and we were off and running.  We also decided to include the vocal style invented by Schoenberg called Sprechstimme (half spoken half sung) which perfectly complemented the game’s ironic humor. 

Once you decided on composing in that style, how did you approach scoring the game? That is to say, what was your starting point?

Mikolai: I think we both started to sketch our themes pretty early on. Sharing them between each other and applying them to the score was an important factor which helped the cohesiveness of the score. Once the pieces were instrumentally sketched out, we invited singer Joanna Freszel for a recording session. She did a fantastic job!

Garry: The developer, Ovid Works, is a Polish company and Mikolai, who was living in Warsaw at that time, was in touch with them and sort of divvying up the music between us.  I scored most of the below ground insect music and Mikolai, the above ground score.  That had an advantage as each of us created a slightly different sound for each area which worked well.  Though I must say our score was very unified and most people can’t tell who wrote which cues until we tell them.  There was a wonderful synchronicity that did not require much conversation or planning between us. 

Joanna Freszel

I’m curious, what is the singer performing Sprechgesang singing out in the soundtrack? Does it relate at all to the player’s predicament of being turned into a bug? 

Mikolai: The lyrics I chose are about the world perceived by an insect, possibly one that used to be a human in a distant past. The singing technique is so uncommon, it might as well be the way bugs sing in their heads. Or it might be, from a strictly sonic point of view, the mirroring of the crazy world that doesn’t make sense as it had before.

Garry: We each had a different approach to lyrics for Joanna; I had a former student of mine who speaks German set the actual lines from Kafka’s book for my music.  It turned out really well and is at least intellectually unifying, though I doubt anyone will know we used Kafka for lyrics.   Mikolai went in a different direction.   My lyrics do not deal directly with the player’s predicament as far as I know.  Maybe it does but that would be pure serendipity. 

How much time did you have to score the game?

Mikolai: I think it was about 6 weeks of work plus getting things ready for the recording session and overseeing the mixing process.

Garry: I think I wrote the music over a period of a month or so.  I had plenty of time, as the writing went so smoothly and the ideas just poured out.  We then had the music recorded with live players, which we did with an orchestra in Macedonia.  We conducted that remotely (meaning we were at our home studios while the orchestra played at the remote studio) and it went very well!  We got an excellent performance.  Everything flowed on this gig, at least in retrospect, it all went so easily, and I loved writing this music.  Of course, the singer Joanna Freszel brought so much with her amazing vocal performance.  I have to credit Mikolai for directing her as she came to his studio in Warsaw to record and it just turned out spectacularly. 

Do you have a favorite track in the score?

Mikolai: I like all the music that we both did. However, the favorite would be “The Final Run” or “The Tower”.

Garry: I have a couple of favorite tracks, “Corridors” and “Bug village”.  I am also very pleased with the “Menu Theme”.  Really, I dig it all.  I don’t mean to sound conceited but I just had such a great time writing this music and I feel it turned out so unique and fits the game so well. 

What do you hope players take away with them when they hear the music in this game?

Mikolai: I silently hope that it would open some players to music that, at times, might be a bit more demanding. I hope they will also notice that there is something different about it – hopefully “good different”. But that’s not our main goal. We are happy that our music helped the game have its unique color.

Garry: Well the music should underscore and set a mood and create a unique vibe for this really cool, unusual game.  I mean, how cool to make a game based on Kafka.  I would love for the players to be curious about the music and especially the vocal and perhaps explore Expressionist music.  Maybe a few will really enjoy it and that would be lovely!  I don’t write music for games or films for that matter to get the player or viewer to listen to certain types of music, but if it happens, I consider that a real contribution. 

Once again I need to give a huge thank you to Mikolai Stroinski and Garry Schyman for taking the time to talk with me about their work on Metamorphosis. Let me know what you think about Metamorphosis in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Metamorphosis (2020)

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Soundtrack Review: Godfall (2020)

As crazy as 2020 has been (and it has been wild in more ways than I care to remember), one thing that has been pretty awesome is all the great soundtracks I’ve gotten to listen to. This year I’ve gotten to check out more video game soundtracks than ever before, and this is something I hope to continue into 2021 and beyond. To my delight, with the year winding down I was given the opportunity to check out the soundtrack for PS5 launch title Godfall, with the music composed by Ben MacDougall.

Ben MacDougall is a prolific composer for film, TV and video games, who most recently wrote the original fantasy score for Sony PlayStation 5 launch title, Godfall. His rich and diverse portfolio enjoys airtime on prime-time networks and has been featured on high-profile global TV events such as the Olympics and Academy Awards as well as countless franchises, campaigns and AAA studio projects.

MacDougall’s score for Godfall is described as follows:

Ben MacDougall’s modern fantasy score for GODFALL blends orchestra, synths processed with organic sound sources, and featured soloists, as well his own string instrument which produces a unique pulsing sound thread throughout the score. The soundtrack comprises of sweeping cinematic moments, heart-pounding combat sequences and world-exploring ambient music to accompany and immerse players in the luminous, mysterious world of Aperion.

Now I’ve gotten to listen to some absolutely gorgeous soundtracks this year (Ghost of Tsushima and The Wolf of Snow Hollow come to mind), and the music for Godfall is right up there with the best of them. Ben MacDougall really has gone all out here, and does everything that I love in a video game soundtrack. For one, from beginning to end, the music feels epic and cinematic in scope (enforcing my growing belief that the line separating video games from cinema is slowly but surely fading away).

Another element I really like in the music for Godfall is how MacDougall varies up the music between the different areas of Aperion (the game world). “Land of the Valorians” is different from “Alluvial Plains”, which in turn is different from “Waters of Aperion.” But what really makes it brilliant is that, while each region is differentiated by its own sound, you can tell that they’re all still connected by an overarching theme that places them all in the same “world” together. That is not easy to do without being obvious about it, and it’s lovely to hear how the music slowly shifts as a new area of the world is being explored.

It’s also really fun to look at the track list (the very LENGTHY track list) and try to work out the plot of the game. As with many film score track lists, I suspect there are some minor spoilers to be found if you think about some of these track titles. Also, the length of the track list has to be a sign of how long this game is (which makes sense since this doesn’t strike me as a quick game to get through). And one last positive to mention: the music is indeed beautiful, but it’s not too over the top, meaning it won’t (or at least it shouldn’t) distract you from the gameplay.

Track List

  1. Aperion’s Champion 1:51
  2. The Fall 2:49
  3. Land of the Valorians 1:51
  4. Temple of the Ancients 2:04
  5. The Warden 2:05
  6. Guardian 2:08
  7. Sanctuary 2:24
  8. A New World 2:45
  9. Crimson Glades 2:26
  10. The Vargul Tribes 1:34
  11. Prismatic Falls 1:35
  12. Alluvial Plains 1:51
  13. Bygone Ruins 1:31
  14. Ravenous Hunter 1:38
  15. Quiescent Dreams 2:28
  16. Sorcerer’s End 2:27
  17. Ascending the Tower 1:45
  18. Master of the Tower 1:44
  19. Waters of Aperion 2:32
  20. Cobalt Caldera 3:07
  21. Call to Action 2:00
  22. Leviathan’s Rest 2:25
  23. Abyssian Gaze 1:51
  24. Wisdom of the Deep Ones 2:01
  25. Warriors of Darkness 2:05
  26. The Ancient Depths 1:18
  27. The Silver Moon 2:32
  28. Song of Aperion 2:27
  29. Realm of the Nyak 2:00
  30. King of the Hunt 1:38
  31. Song of the Kindred 3:40
  32. The Storm 1:45
  33. The High Places 1:39
  34. Lords of Dawn and Dusk 1:40
  35. Aetheric Hymn 2:21
  36. Sunsteel 3:26
  37. Triumph of Air 1:37
  38. The False Archon 2:14
  39. Apotheosis 1:26
  40. Change

While it will (unfortunately) be a long, LONG time before I get my hands on a PS5 (or a copy of Godfall), listening to this gorgeous soundtrack has me convinced that the game is worth trying out. Yet again I’ve found another contender for Best Video Game Soundtrack of 2020.

Let me know what you think of Godfall (and its soundtrack) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Soundtrack Review: Metamorphosis (2020)

Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to check out the soundtrack to a new game called Metamorphosis, with the soundtrack composed by Mikolai Stroinski (The Witcher 3) and Garry Schyman (BioShock). In this game, the player finds themselves transformed into a tiny bug and must navigate a suddenly unfamiliar world in that form in order to find out what has happened and how they can regain their former shape again.

Regarding their work on the game’s soundtrack, Mikolai Stroinski and Garry Schyman had the following to say:

“This very unique game, inspired by Franz Kafka’s famous novel, takes place in a bizarre and nightmarish world inhabited by insects and a corrupt bureaucracy. The game gave us an astonishing opportunity to write music inspired by the expressionist era of art and music in the early 20th century. Composers Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg, as well later composers such as Bernard Herrmann were inspirations. We incorporated techniques of the era such as Sprechgesang (half spoken half sung), 12 tone, aleatoric, tonal and atonal harmonies to invoke a past age that worked perfectly for the world of Metamorphosis.”

I knew going in that this soundtrack was inspired by the works of Schoenberg and Berg, that alone told me this was going to be an unusual soundscape. But I still wasn’t prepared for just how expressionist and atonal this music was. If you haven’t experienced expressionist and atonal music before, then the music for Metamorphosis is going to hit you like a bolt out of the blue. This isn’t like the rich, orchestral music that accompanies games like God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn. This is music that is eccentric, off-kilter, and will keep you constantly on edge from beginning to end. For any of my readers who may have studied music theory as I have, imagine a video game with the soundtrack of Wozzeck and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Metamorphosis sounds like.

It’s actually a really bold choice to go in this direction with a video game soundtrack. If you’re meant to go into this game feeling lost and unsure as to what’s going on (which is bound to happen if you suddenly wake up in the game as a bug), then the music is only going to help make that happen. I also really like that the soundtrack has Sprechgesang (speak-singing that sounds really demented when combined with atonal music). It’s a constant reminder that you are not in a normal environment. I would have to imagine that this music combined with seeing everything from a bug’s perspective would be quite the mind-bending experience.

I was also struck by how short some of these tracks are. In fact, some of them are barely 30 seconds long. There isn’t a set length for tracks in a score, for video games or otherwise by any means, but I’m more used to tracks being several minutes long at minimum. Having these tracks be so short is also startling, as they can end without warning and I can only imagine how that plays out during gameplay.

The soundtrack for Metamorphosis definitely ranks as the most unusual soundtrack (for film, television or video games) that I’ve listened to this year. And quite frankly I think that’s a good thing. It’s nice to listen to something completely different every now and then.

Let me know what you think about Metamorphosis in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Video Game Soundtracks

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook

Talking With Composer Ilan Eshkeri about Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

This past summer I had the tremendous opportunity to speak with composer Ilan Eshkeri about his score for the video game Ghost of Tsushima. Eshkeri attended Leeds University where he studied music and English literature. He also worked at this time with fellow composers Edward Shearmur and Michael Kamen. Notable film scores from his career include (but are far from limited to): Coriolanus (2011), The Young Victoria (2009), 47 Ronin (2013), and The White Crow (2018). He’s collaborated on several films with actor/director Ralph Fiennes.

How did you get started with being a composer?

Well, really I wanted to be a guitarist in a rock band. While pursuing that dream I ended up working for a composer and not long after became close to Michael Kamen. And then I got my first break writing film music. And I really enjoy having such an exciting career that developed from many different directions all at once. It takes me in all sorts of directions.

How did you get connected with Ghost of Tsushima?

Playstation actually reached out and contacted me about this game. I was initially reluctant because I don’t really like violent, action games, that’s not really my thing. I don’t have any great, moral objection to it, I just don’t know how I can connect emotionally to that. Or, as an artist what can I say about that in my music? What peaked my interest is they’d been using music from an art house film that I had done a few years ago, a Shakespeare film called Coriolanus. The score for it is, I think, very unusual, quite extreme and uncompromising. Typically my work with Ralph [Fiennes, the director] is like that. It was amazing to me that this mass entertainment AAA game and video game studio would be coming to me and referencing this extremely unusual art house music that I’d created.

Then I went to Seattle for a meeting with Playstation and they spent 45 minutes to an hour with this incredible multimedia presentation that talked me through the entire plot of the video game. By the end of that I was completely blown away and sucked into it. It wasn’t what I thought. This is a game about a young man who is in a state of emotional conflict because he has been brought up and trained in a certain moral code. However, in order to save his home and the people he loves he has to go against all of that. This was, therefore, a rich place to write emotional and powerful music.

Was it different, working on the score for a video game as opposed to film or television?

No, I don’t think so, because to me it’s all storytelling. It’s the oldest of human art forms. If we look back at the history of humanity, the earliest form of art we have is cave painting. What were they doing in a cave painting? They were telling a story. We moved from cave paintings to songs, the Iliad, the Odyssey, to theater. That developed into dance and acting with operas and plays; you have all these different forms of storytelling and in the last hundred years we’ve had cinema and that came from the invention of new technologies. Since then, the next step in my eyes is video games. A new technology was invented and humans decided to tell their stories through that medium. And the story of Ghost is about the new ways versus the old ways. So really, Ghost is telling a very old story but through a new medium. To answer your question, my job is exactly the same. I tell the emotional narrative of the story through the creation of music. Whether that be theater or ballet or video games, whatever the medium, eventually I’m doing the same thing.

How did you approach scoring Ghost of Tsushima? Was there a lot of research involved in the type of music and sounds that would be appropriate for such a locale and era?

Yes, absolutely. This was inspired by Sucker Punch, they wanted to bring a sense of authenticity to the game, to the extent that they got reeds from the island of Tsushima in order to make it look more naturalistic. I was inspired by this search for authenticity and I wanted to apply the same thing to the music. I found a professor of Japanese music, Professor David Hughes, who is fortunately one of the leading experts here in London and he was very kind to talk to me and explain things and tell me where to look. I was learning about Japanese scales and harmony and how the instruments worked. Then I worked with a lot of amazing musicians and they inspired me a lot. These musicians were very patient and taught me how to write naturalistic music for the instruments.

So I used a lot of instruments that we know here in the West, like the koto and shakuhachi. But my explorations also took me to another instrument called the biwa. In fact it’s called the Satsuma biwa, there being several types of biwas, but the Satsuma biwa was the instrument that the samurai learned to play. And I’d never heard of it before. What happened is that towards the middle of the last century, the art of playing the biwa had been virtually lost. As I understand it there was one master of this instrument left and had taught a handful of people. One of those is a very inspiring lady called Junko Ueda. And she, fortunately for me, lived in Spain so it was easy to get her to come to London. She spent a lot of time explaining about the instrument, she played a lot and you can really hear about the instrument solos in the opening of the piece on the album. She’s a special performer and I was really lucky to be able to include her on the soundtrack.

When was it decided to blend the sounds of traditional Japanese music with a full orchestra?

That was always the plan. The thing was, how do we keep the focus on the traditional Japanese instruments, how do we highlight them? And for me, how do I use the orchestra within that language? All of the music in the orchestra, all the melodies and scales are all based on Japanese scales and I used two of those. And any Japanese instrument could play virtually any orchestral part. I also built my own system of chords using the notes from the pentatonic (five tone) scale. Everything in the orchestra is based on a foundation of Japanese tonality. Where I needed to, for effect, I broke the rules absolutely, but not often. That was the plan behind the orchestra.

How much time did you have to score Ghost of Tsushima? Did you have any game footage to work off of? Or was it more like storyboards?

There was a mixture, because I came on in 2018. When I started working on it there were storyboards, bits of footage. There was some crude gameplay where I got a feel for the character. It was a lot of different things, many bits of inspirational material. I worked on the game on and off for about a year and a half.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Ilan Eshkeri for taking the time to speak with me about his work on the music for Ghost of Tsushima.

Let me know what you think about Ghost of Tsushima’s music (and the game itself) in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Soundtrack Review: Ghost of Tsushima (2020)

Composer Interviews

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂