These are soundtracks released late into 2018 that are also quite worthy of a few listens, so we hope you enjoy!
Monomoon ~ The Colonists
The Colonists plays quite well with the thin line that divides ambient soundtracks from more ‘active’ ones, articulating the entire album through simple lullaby melodies that mark the significant, yet quiet, presence of a narrative. It is about a group of robots that escape our planet to find a new home, to become human as their ultimate objective. These androids’ dreams are idyllic, graced by the aura of meaningful work and meaningful cooperation, the music a backdrop of peaceful synths usually led by sweet melodies that evoke a sense of adventure, underlined always by repetitive riffs that never let the adventure spill over into the tension of the unknown. This ‘controlled environment’ translates as a constant reassurance for the listener, that even in tracks with a strain of dissonance such as “The Stonecutter” creates a relaxed pace and tone. Monomoon is at their strongest, however, when deploying melodies that reflect that perfect harmony of an idealized interaction between work and the world; “Other Islands”, “The Long Journey”, or the album closer “The Old Path” lay down a happy mood that’s deep enough to dive in, but also superficial enough so as to never lose sight of the peacefulness that is at the very core of the entire OST.
Breakdown Epiphanies ~ Battle Brothers (Beasts and Exploration)
Beasts & Exploration is an expansion of the base Battle Brothers OST, which is a 2017 release that I missed entirely. The two new tracks are thus a good pretext to dive into the rest of the album, composed mostly in classical style with a small orchestra performing expressionist, dissonant melodies. The game follows a medieval band of mercenaries that come from all walks of life, and which are continually faced with hardship, particularly in combat, where brothers will surely be lost. The music’s expressionism works to firmly establish a pathetic tone, the lush harmonies of “The Humming Hills” a sublime signal of deaths inevitable, the militarism that usually accompanies these sorts of games subverted. Even in the most triumphalist tracks, as in “Laying Siege to Hammerburg (Noble Houses)”, horns blaring and drums steadily marking the pace, the very last sections hang upon a somber tone in which the beat becomes completely isolated. The debt to fantasy film soundtracks is quite evident (“Traversing the Northern Clanlands”), but what makes this soundtrack particularly strong is the pairing of its pathos with a realist streak: “The Pillage” is a sad, haunting piece that half-way through turns into a death march, leaving no doubt that the theme is that there are no heroes in this world, because they’ve all been already buried. The two additional tracks continue in this vein, with “A Storm Approaching (Beasts)” delving more adventurously into the dissonant aspects of the OST, adding metals and more expansive strings, as well as the cold sound of wind. Similarly, “Into the Wilderness” exploits the folk aspects and turns up the martial tone in a more traditional manner; what the OST misses ultimately in thematic coherence is more than made up with the simple strength of its expressiveness.
Andrew Hulshult ~ Dusk
Mick Gordon’s 2016 DOOM was a joyful flashback to the slightly jarring original soundtrack of 1993 DOOM, composed by Bobby Prince. It was precisely its strange shifts between (very) awkwardly arranged speed metal and not-so-dark (actually, it was pretty light) ambient that made 1993 DOOM an engaging work of outsider art, and Mick Gordon’s industrial metal simply turned it into what it was supposed to be all along. It was a double-edged sword: it’s less interesting, but it’s also more fitting. Enter Andrew Hulshult’s DUSK, also meant to homage 1990s shooters, albeit combining the aesthetic of both DOOM and 1996’s Quake. The soundtrack of the latter, lest we forget, was composed by none other than Nine Inch Nails, which produced a great, truly horror-laden dark ambient work. DUSK rides both styles to the limit, granting predominantly ambient pieces like “Ashes to Ashes, Dusk to Dusk” with a metallic punch they would otherwise not have, as well as creating a sinister soundworld in which the metal riffs and the alt-rock electronics can leave a much longer-lasting impression. This means that DUSK is not only a fitting homage to the over-the-top teenage machismo of shooting pixel monsters, it is also an interesting soundtrack on its own, much like Quake’s and the original DOOM’s. (David Murrieta Flores)