I have a major problem with the Minecraft – Volume Alpha album, and it’s this: I think this has to be one of the most difficult albums I have ever had the pleasure to review. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful achievement, but the music is so tied up with my memories of the game, and a general feeling of nostalgia, that it’s hard to separate the music from the game itself. I’ve spent far too much time sitting at my desk, wondering if the music is good because the game is so amazing, or if the music is good in its own right. Each time I listen to a track I remember an amazing moment in the game: That bit when I discovered an abandon mine, the bit when I almost died after discovering a skeleton dungeon . . . and loved it, or the immense pleasure of building my own home. This album evokes very strong emotions that few games manage to master, or even hint at, and it is for this reason that I’ve had such difficulty with the review. However, after much soul searching, I think I’ve managed to separate the game and its music.
So, how do you represent the vast world of Minecraft in music form? The answer, I think, is that you don’t. Technically you could have had an American pioneer style of music, or maybe completely 8-bit, to match the retro art style. But that’s not what German composer Daniel Rosenfeld (AKA C418) has gone for. He has gone, strangely enough, for lullabies. Simple yet beautiful melodies and harmonies that are almost childlike in their simplicity and execution. And it works! I’m not sure why, but somehow his music perfectly complements the game in such a way that without it the game would be seriously disadvantaged. Though the game is mostly music free, I literally couldn’t imagine the game without the soft music drifting in and out as I play. (more…)