“Listen: all this takes a lot of gettin’ used to. And you do get used to it, after awhile. There’s three things I’ll always miss though. One: not havin’ to watch my step all the time. Two: …ehh, forget about two. And three: I miss the songs.”
And with those words, the insta-classic narrator of Supergiant Games’ hit title Bastion kicks off Darren Korb’s mighty whirlwind of a soundtrack. It’s gutsy, it’s gritty, it’s hard-down country folk with a touch of capital-W World music and some electronic inspiration to match the mere fact that this is music for a game.
But yes, for the most part, it’s Korb and an acoustic guitar, playin’ the blues so you can sing along. After the jump, my take on this strange and wonderful soundtrack.
Availability: Bandcamp. Go and listen to the streaming audio while you read.
Honestly, let’s just skip to the best part. We’ll skip around a bit, but I want to start at my favorite song: track 12, “Build That Wall (Zia’s Theme).” Using a variation on the tried-and-true 12-bar blues formula, Korb and a female vocalist lay the foundations for a dark, melancholy blues piece that relates the desperate situation in the world of Bastion to a romantic relationship. “I dig my hole, you build a wall.” Indeed.
Moving straight ahead, the music transitions nicely to “Spike in a Rail,” sticking to the same key, but bringing some alt-country rock to the prior blues piece. Listening to this makes me want to own something -anything- related to the Wild West.
(For other vocal tracks, see tracks 17 and 22.)
I had mentioned “World music” earlier. One particularly vibrant track, which reminds me of the Chrono Cross battle theme with the fast-paced bowed strings and wild percussion, is track 8, “Percy’s Escape.” If you hold out for the song’s B section, you’ll hear a really nice melodic pattern on some kind of pitched percussion instrument (vibraphone? marimba?). Very cool stuff.
A nice mass of electronic percussion backing an otherwise all-acoustic track, “Bynn the Breaker” represents the unique quality of Korb’s work. An authentic mix of down’n'dirty blues with some sounds of the Far East *and* electronic backing loops? In the immortal words of Shaft: “I can dig it.”
And if you can’t dig it, I feel sorry for you. There’s a lot to love in this soundtrack. Only a handful of tracks could be excused as boilerplate BGM. Most tracks are either richly layered or else left intentionally sparse for effect. If you’ve not paid attention up to this point, it’s time to remedy the situation. You can buy the CD or go digital-only using the Bandcamp page linked above.Tags: Acoustic, Bandcamp, Bastion, Blues, Darren Korb, Electronica, Guitar, Review, Supergiant Games