Game Music, Reviews

From The Heart: Kan Gao’s “To The Moon” OST (Review)

November 28, 2011 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook From The Heart: Kan Gao’s “To The Moon” OST (Review)on Twitter

Kan “Reives” Gao, head of Freebird Games, has spent years refining his crafts. Those crafts are writing, game-making, and music-making. These things go hand-in-hand when you’re a one-man powerhouse using naught but RPG Maker and some basic V/A production software to achieve your goals.

His latest title To The Moon is getting a lot of positive attention from key online outlets. Though the game may seem dated based on screenshots, the retro style serves to better present a deep and moving story. Also assisting this moving story is the emotive soundtrack, which is written by Gao himself, though he did collaborate with Laura Shigihara (Plants vs. Zombies) for vocals on some tracks.

After the jump, we’ll talk more about the soundtrack for To The Moon, including how to buy it.

All your base are covered by Gao. For a relatively short game (advertised as 4 to 5 hours to complete), this soundtrack offers nearly an hour of unlooped audio, with consistent instrumentation (synthesized Western traditional orchestra) but varied musical style. You have vibrant allegro pieces for themes like “Teddy,” slow brooding piano solos such as “Lament of a Stranger,” and the heartfelt (if a little saccharine) ending vocal track “Everything’s Alright.”

Kan Gao’s choices in instrumentation are in line with what I would expect, and want, for a game with high-res 2D sprites and backgrounds. There are bowed strings and woodwinds, piano and orgel, plucked strings and sparsely-used brass. I love the trade-off between clarinet and bassoon, with pizzicato strings behind them, in track 2, “Between a Squirrel and a Tree.” But it’s tracks like these where I’m bothered that Mr. Gao didn’t choose to loop the tracks or fade out. They just end abruptly, and then on to the next track. A little more production value is what this music rightly deserves!

There are a few piano solo tracks scattered throughout the album, and it’s here I think Kan shines most as a composer and a performer. I already mentioned one song earlier; two others I really enjoy are “Having Lived” and the piano version of “Once Upon a Memory.” In another life, I had dreamed of doing music composition, and piano is my primary instrument. So, yes, I am jealous. And Kan should be very proud.

If you want the soundtrack, you can get it via Bandcamp for $5 Canadian. Half the profits go towards unspecified autism-related charities. Be sure to check it out.

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