Cloudscape: Isolation


I’ve been mean­ing to do a show­case of some video­game soundtracks for a while, and this month I have the per­fect excuse. I wrote an art­icle on the island games Dear EstherMias­mata, and Pro­teus for the fourth issue of Five out of Ten magazine, and as it hap­pens all three games have fine music. I used some out­takes from those soundtracks and mixed them up with some of the usual Even­ing of Light fare and I think the com­bin­a­tion is rather fit­ting, with all artists included here oper­at­ing some­where along the bound­ar­ies of ambi­ent, clas­sical, folk, and drone.

Dear Esther’s soundtrack is the work of com­poser Jes­sica Curryand she scored the ghostly game with com­pos­i­tions based on piano, strings, and voice, but with the occa­sional elec­tronic trick­ery involved. Mias­mata’s music, like everything in the game, is the work of broth­ers Joe and Bob John­son who together form IonFXThe music from the game is a sub­dued ambi­ent synth affair that subtly under­lines the explor­a­tion, danger, and breath­tak­ing nat­ural vistas of their island. The music in Pro­teus, finally, is a spe­cial case. There is no proper soundtrack-as-album for the game, as all the music — the work of David Kanaga — is gen­er­ated in response to how you play the game. The samples used here were extrac­ted from play­throughs of the game.

The music of these four com­posers is sup­ple­men­ted by the work of Richard Moult, Michael Tan­ner (as Plinth and The Cloisters) , Richard Skelton, and David Colo­han (as Rais­ing Holy Sparks), some­times in col­lab­or­a­tion with oth­ers. Reg­u­lar read­ers and listen­ers should be famil­iar with their work, and oth­ers will hope­fully dis­cover it along with the soundtracks. The Plinth tracks are taken from the lim­ited bonus EP Flot­sam, a com­pan­ion piece to Music for Smalls Light­house. The Richard Skelton tracks were taken from his ori­ginal Land­ings blog where he com­bined music, pho­to­graphy, and poetry. Later he worked some of the mater­ial into his Land­ings LP, but I’m fairly sure the mater­ial presen­ted here was only ever pub­lished on the ori­ginal blog.

Enjoy, and if you like what you hear, please con­sider pur­chas­ing the games and/or their soundtracks, which should be easy to find through the above links. Also, if you want to read more about the games and how their island loc­ales func­tion as spaces and sym­bols, please buy a copy of Five out of Ten, which also includes nine other art­icles of video­game cri­ti­cism. The pro­ceed­ings are split evenly across all authors.

2013_isolation_600Track­list:

IonFX - Mias­mata
Plinth - Sea Oak I
Jes­sica Curry - Dear Esther
Richard Moult - Pro­cyon over Beinn Air­igh Charr
Jes­sica Curry - Remem­ber (Don­nelly)
Richard Skelton - Chord Path (Part I)
David Kanaga - [Water]
David Kanaga - [Spring]
IonFX - The Path
IonFX - Res­pite
The Cloisters - River­christ
Jes­sica Curry - Golden Ratio
Richard Moult - Apollo Wince­le­seia III
Jes­sica Curry - On the Motor­way
Richard Skelton - Yar­row
Plinth - The Siren Mur­mur
Jes­sica Curry - Always (San­ford Mix)
Rais­ing Holy Sparks - Blue Star Katsina
Richard Skelton - Meet­ing of the Waters
IonFX - Guilt
IonFX - Trance
The Cloisters - A Pela­gic Recital
Jes­sica Curry - The Very Air
Jes­sica Curry - Ascen­sion
David Kanaga - [Win­ter / Ascen­sion]