The curse of compiling annual lists of our favorite releases is that a few soundtracks are always released too late in the year for us to properly digest. We thus present over the coming days three albums that would have been worthy additions to our list of 2018’s best videogame soundtracks. We believe that, for listeners, they set a very high bar for videogame music in 2019 – one we may be unable to ignore come the end of the year.
Amos Roddy ~ Kingdom: Two Crowns
For me, Kingdom: Two Crowns is one of late 2018’s pleasant surprises. It’s an eclectic soundtrack that mixes a variety of classically-tinged composition styles, all excellently produced. From the minimalist buzz of “Griffin” to the romance of “A Tired Ghost” and the Richard Skelton-like drone layers of “Driftwood”, what gives all these styles coherence is a soft melancholic tone, found in the back of an ambient noise that imitates the song of birds, the aptly integrated references to traditional Japanese music, or the somber edges of a bright electronic dirge.
In a sense, this is the closest to a post-rock/nu-chamber OST I’ve heard in the past couple years, and I like to think that it’s sort of what all those bands that came after Rachel’s would sound like if they’d done soundtrack work. Tracks like “Lost but Warm” dramatize effectively the core of this story about a royal quest to build and defend a small settlement from demonic portals that spew infinite waves of monsters. Tiny lights indeed – the electronic, droning sections of the album could even remind some listeners of classically melancholic videogame works in the non-orchestral JRPG vein, sounds crackling and echoing across an ominous dungeon like a torch illuminating a painted wall within a dark cave. And just like in those works, there’s always a processed acoustic instrument (usually piano, as is the case in Two Crowns) that affirms the heroes’ impossible task, a tragedy in the making, the threads of fate forever flowing with adversity.
Still, it’s a worthy fight, and the dramatic sway of the entire OST reinforces the emotive character of its softest and prettiest melodies, making their apparent levity a signifier of something dark lying in wait at the edge of a beautiful forest. Tracks like “Basilisk”, “Morning Flight”, or the pastoral “Parting Ways”, are tranquil interludes of piano and electronic percussion that mobilize the soundtrack’s dramatism to make them seem as precious clearings in said forest, the lantern of the light that illuminates the world, even if it is but an ephemeral occurrence.
This is, in short, an engrossing soundtrack that pulls together different styles with an ease that speaks very highly of Amos Roddy’s composition and production skills. (David Murrieta Flores)