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Humanize Us With the ilomilo OST (Review)

June 3, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Humanize Us With the ilomilo OST (Review)on Twitter

Editor’s Note: Stephen Meyerink is an editor at RPGFan, and he is head of the Soundtrack Reviews dept there as well. He was gracious enough to submit this review of the ilomilo original soundtrack for OSV. Thank you, Stephen!

There’s a lot of game music out there that lacks character. The kind of music that, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to stay stuck in your head. Sometimes it sounds phoned-in. At other times, it just seems uninspired or overly manufactured. At other times, you have a selection of music that just doesn’t seem to be consistent with the rest of the game it accompanies.

ilomilo‘s music is definitely none of those things.

However, I suspect you’d rather have me define the music by what it is, rather than what it’s not. If you want more, follow along after the jump.

I spent a little while thinking about how I could articulate what the the ilomilo original soundtrack, written by Daniel Olsén, makes me feel. And for a game featuring mutant marshmallows, I think it’s most interesting that the one word I could choose to describe the soundtrack as is “human.” There’s a sense of humanity in this music that is both uncommon and incredibly refreshing. Sure, it’s quirky and whimsical and all the things you’d expect from a quirky and whimsical puzzle game. It’s charming, and it’s catchy; but all of that is pretty secondary to the fact that it has a sense of humanity to it. It’s calming and heartfelt and feels alive.

Syncopated beats and childlike xylophone patterns are prevalent throughout the album. The majority of the track titles are adjective-noun phrases: “cozy sofa,” “grandpa’s favorite record,” “red, green, and blue doodles,” for example. Each track handily evokes an auditory presence for these various things, and succeeds fully in delivering you to a particular place or emotion.

“me and my paper plane” is a great example. There’s a really pleasant syncopated background beat that feeds into some xylophone and a wee bit o’ whistlin’. Aside from the fact that I’m genetically predisposed to love whistling in music (hello, Michiko Naruke), this whistler is able to communicate with only his tones, and it gives this track life.

As befits a relaxing summer day, a very relaxing bit of guitar pluckery and harmonica tooting combine to great effect in “sunny days.” And again, much like the rest of the music, it has an overwhelming amount of character; the various instrumental performances come together and truly succeed at eliciting the kind of response that the composer was aiming for.

Puzzle game music is a difficult proposition, because you have to straddle the line between being varied and memorable while not getting in the way of the player thinking about how to best proceed. In some cases, you may even hear a particular track on a loop for quite some time, so you need a great hook or something for the listener to latch onto and not grow weary. ilomilo‘s soundtrack handles that deftly. I haven’t played this game, but if I sat down and this music greeted me, I’d feel like I’d come home. It pulls you in and makes you feel as though a team of live performers are telling you a musical story.

In other words, listen to this soundtrack. You’ll feel happy. If you’re reading this at time of posting, it is (obviously) part of the Indie Game Music Bundle 3. If you’re late to the party, don’t fret: the album is available separately from CDBaby (ironically as digital-download only) for $3.99.

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