Rich “Disasterpeace” Vreeland is a powerhouse and a true workhorse of a composer. As revealed on his vgmdb artist page, he manages to release four or more albums a year, an eclectic mix of original works and game soundtracks.
In 2011, two of his original works were “Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar” and “Deorbit.” The former is available on bandcamp for a $1 minimum (suggested price $5, or $10 for the CD version), and the latter is in the same state, though no CD version is offered (perhaps because it is a shorter work). “Deorbit” is something of a follow-up album to “Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar” as it has unreleased tracks originally planned for that album, though it is also a “catch-all” album in that it has other previously-unreleased tunes included.
After the jump, you’ll find the results of my critical ear versus these two albums, both of which were featured in the Indie Game Music Bundle 3.
Rise of the Obsidian Interstellar, or “RotOI,” is this amazing concept album that tells a story through instrumental music, track titles, and this text prologue: “A small band of galactic travelers are bound together by mysterious circumstances. Meanwhile, in the darkest reaches of the universe, an unparalleled force dwells on ambiguous intentions.”
In other words, it’s the soundtrack for a game (RPG? shmup?) that ought to exist, but does not. Here, Rich is flexing his creative muscles in a way that demands attention. You think the FEZ soundtrack is good? Well, so do I, but that sort of musical quality doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of hard work, and Rich had been cutting his teeth by releasing original works for years. RotOI was a project Rich started on in 2006, and only at the beginning of 2011 did it see the light of day.
Rich is the king of irregular time signatures and complex polyrhythm. You can hear it all over the place. It works better in some tracks than others, though. One of its best uses is in the insanely catchy “Club Wolf.” It’s like someone took an early Genesis prog-rock album and made it better with the power of chiptunes.
Now, every great concept album has sections that exist solely to convey some particular event, and thus the music itself isn’t particularly masterful, but the result of listening to the album in proper order makes it something better than it really is. Good example: “Beta’s Brilliancy.” As the track gets closer to its end, we hear all these crazy grainy sound effects that are like the 8-bit equivalent of a star shining brighter and brighter, or a rocket reaching higher and higher, through the atmosphere and out. This sound effect continues into the first few seconds of the next track, a fantastic mid-tempo (and tempo-changing) piece of music called “Ensis.”
“Day of Reflection” serves as a quick 90-second (though, actually, slow-tempo) transition to what is undoubtedly my favorite track on the album. “Wagering Lights” is 4 and a half minutes long, and it’s just crazy catchy. There’s so much good stuff going on here, including all the complex rhythm stuff Rich is great at. But it’s not just that. The chord progression is very mature and doesn’t repeat itself all that often. The music remains interesting throughout the entire listen, and really becomes more interesting the more you pay attention to it. It would also make for the greatest NES/Game Boy RPG “flight” music ever made.
And if you were looking for something that might serve as great battle music, look no further than “Counter of the Cumulus.” It starts a little slow, but holy crap, does it get awesome fast. This needs to be performed by a full band.
Oh, and speaking of, there is one track on this album that isn’t relegated to chip-land. It also happens to be the longest track on the album. “Submerciful” comes in at just under 7 minutes. It features some more life-like synths, and brings the album to a nice close, though there is a short epilogue track, the simple but beautiful “Constellations.”
Now, Deorbit, this one is a special collection of B-sides and other unreleased. Some tracks were originally intended for RotOI but weren’t ready for the Jan 1 2011 deadline or didn’t fully fit the consistent vision Rich had in mind. So … for being entirely chipped, and being from the same composer, it’s still a rather eclectic mix of music, and it’s not all his best work. But it’s good, and I can certainly appreciate all of it. Track 6, “The Sun and the Moon,” and track 2, “Polis,” are in my opinion the most musically interesting tracks of the bunch. They’re also quite long. “Sober Colony” is pretty good too!
If you missed these albums with the GMB3 bundle, they’re both available at Rich’s bandcamp page for a minimum of $1 each. Show some love and support!Tags: Bandcamp, Deorbit, Disasterpeace, Game Music Bundle, GMB3, Original Work, Review, Reviews, Rich Vreeland, Rise of the Obsidian Insterstellar