My favorite new section to have created on Game People this year is most likely our Soundtrack reviews. It made me appreciate what else is going on while I’m ploughing through the latest game.
Not only that but it gave me a thirst for collecting Game Soundtrack CD’s. There is some great music to be found out there. But also it is a great way to bring those video game memories with you in your day.
This week Catherine (Soundtrack Gamer) reviewed the Alan Wake CD. Although currently you have to buy the Limited Edition version of the game to get this, after reading her review I really hope it gets a standalone release:
Alan Wake has a soundtrack that mixes alt-rock, psychedelia and pulp-twang with Petri Alanko’s haunting orchestral landscapes. Although more noticeably uneven than when in game, it actually creates a more pleasurable and less earnest listen.
It made me go back to play the game again and appreciate the work that had gone into the atmospheric orchestral backing to my favorite set pieces.
Alanko creates a musical grammar that reminds me of those sad unfolding dramas of the late 90′s. The solitary piano and shivering violins avoid becoming too stereotyped though. There is a light touch and brooding development through each of these original pieces.
Like Catherine, the most memorable theme for me is that of the opening moments:
Welcome to Bright Falls is most iconic of his pieces, and is used most often in the game – as well as plenty of trailers over the last few years. The strings take a lead throughout but are book-ended by piano and woodwind to create some movement moments.
But this Alan Wake CD isn’t just about those orchestral moments, there are also band focused tracks too:
Nestled amongst these orchestral pieces are some hard-found modern tracks. It would have been easy for Remedy to reach for familiar or well known pieces to punctuate their game, but instead there has been considerable work tracking down some happily rare and underrated songs.
Young Men Dead from Black Angels is real neo-psychedelia with an energy that makes you want to reach for the controller again. We move from this back to Alanko’s work, but not before being stopped short with the amiably droopy vocals of Anomie Belle and How Can I Be Sure.
While keeping the minor theme, both these tracks create a real sense of blues and soul. Where the grand motifs of Alanko touch on something disturbing, the modern songs keep that feeling rooted in reality.
Barry Adamson is case in point, with a gravely lyric and blues lick. The Beaten Side of Town’s half spoken half sung narration brings to mind men jamming on their porch step before going in for supper. We go straight into Barry Adamson’s The Beaten Side of Town, which takes us from the porch to a much more glam setting. This is the work of the rock-opus, a story told within a story for us, and a break from Wake’s concerns about the night.
Dead Combo’s Pulp Fiction sounding plucked guitar melody easily stands out in this company. This makes the hairs on your neck bristle as its staccato strumming and electric lead guitar call us into a world of mystery not far from 70′s James Bond.
Almost without meaning to I had pretty much replayed the whole game. Only this time through I had noticed every song along the way. I think I enjoyed the game all the more for it.
Wired: Excellent mix of orchestral and contemporary styles.
Tired: No stand alone release yet.