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 Esther, Miasmata, 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 Curry, and 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 IonFX. The 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.
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]