Game Music, Reviews

Take A Trip to Paradise: Yoku’s Island Express (Review)

July 2, 2018 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Take A Trip to Paradise: Yoku’s Island Express (Review)on Twitter


Everyone has seen images of what it’s like to be on vacation at a sunny beach, ocean waves rolling onto the sandy shore. Then you have the palm trees with their bounty of coconuts, leaves gently swaying in the breeze. Let’s not forget the wildlife going about their daily routine, chirping and wailing all while you go into a peaceful state of mind. Then, there’s also the off chance that something goes wrong. The trip could get cut short for a random life event, you might get bitten by a crab as you were trying to get a closer look or maybe you just got too much sand in your pants. A somewhat similar event can be derived from Yoku’s Island Express Original Video Game Soundtrack. Let’s see how that image holds up after the jump!

The album starts with a cheerful, breezy sound in the first track, “Yoku Taidua And The Village”. Playful organ stabs, ukulele strums, tribal chants and a prominent bass line help portray the image of musicians serenading vacationers on a sunny island out in the Caribbean. It’s clear from the beginning that the music is full of charisma. Starting with a count in, “Welcome to Mokumona Beach” sets the atmosphere. As in, one that is quirky and playful, letting you know that the beach mentioned in the title is not your ordinary vacation destination. It has an energetic bass and drum beat, with added beat boxing effect to help get across the very nature of this locale. A hint of uneasiness and mystery begins to arise by the time “Gorilla Woods” has started to play. The heavy, walking bass line along with finger snaps and a smooth flute melody bring to mind a detective from the 40s, hot on the trail of a case-solving break. Whatever gorillas live in these woods, once thing is for certain, they are not ordinary and they will be hard to figure out.

Have you ever been down inside a giant underground cave filled with huge, colorful crystals and without a clue as to where to go? I haven’t either but “The Crystalline Depths” brings to mind a strikingly detailed image of what that would look like. This one blends atmospheric electronica with a jazz hand flair that adds breaks of tense build-ups for those moments when you feel lost. I can just see the blue or purple crystals shining with every stab of the well-executed synth pad, almost as if the instrument was placed there to accompany some form of energy flowing off of them as you walk by. Beginning with a bell-like pattern, “Lost in the Frost Pines” delves into a country stomp with accompanying acoustic guitar and smooth violin. You’re soon plunged into the middle of a dense forest where the trees are covered in ice and snow. The track turns into a more soothing array of instrumentation about halfway through. It can be seen as the memo to how you get used to your surroundings and start to become more calm and assertive in your assessment of it.

A signal from a lost galaxy rings out through the universe along with otherworldly chanting as “Flight of the Space Monks” begins to materialize. Now far away from the scene of a happy-go-lucky vacation spot, this one helps one to imagine flying through space on a ship specially chartered for these so called space monks. The progression into synth pads with the syncopation of the bass line and drums working together in conjunction helps get across the feeling of flying through vast unknown worlds. A small 8-bit break, in the middle, is the sound of these monks flipping the switches to jump into hyperspace travel. Breaking into a full-on jazz swing from the get go, “What Lies Beneath” ends the soundtrack in style. It’s a great way to sum up the overall feel of the album, mixing both cheerfulness and a bit of somberness into the mix. You started off on a breezy island, happy and without a care but then the unexpected happened and trouble started brewing. Before you knew it, you were on an adventure and running into all sorts of situations. The tribal lingo that chants through this 101 of jazz, helped along by some smooth saxophone playing, is the lesson that you have the power to make the most of every situation that you’re in, including the imagined one that arises from listening to this soundtrack.

Yoku’s Island Express Original Video Game Soundtrack is a wonderful trip on to an adventure island of varied sounds and instrumentation. The music is as colorful as it is effective in conveying what it has to, for the sake of the music and the game. The liveliness of including quirky vocal chants in between some very airy arrangements help bring everything to life. It’s as if by just listening to the soundtrack you are already playing the game but no controller has been touched. This one is worth a listen and might just be one of the best to take along on a vacation to an actual island.

Buy the soundtrack: iTunes and Sumthing Else



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