In my arsenal of music, I reserve spaces for certain composers who go above and beyond the expectations for a brilliant musical score. I have maybe five soundtracks that I consider to be the best and most inspirational of all time. These are songs that move me to tears when I listen to them, songs that alone without the aid of visuals, can make me envision a book scene in its entirety. These pieces move me and have moved many other people by their beauty. As of late, I’ve had the pleasure of discovering what I consider to be my new number one soundtrack in this area. I was introduced to the soundtrack for an indie video game called Journey by thatgamecompany, a work of art in its own respect.While telling a spellbinding story with the use of gorgeous visuals and this sumptuous soundtrack, thatgamecompany manages to win the hearts of all sorts of people.
Having never played the game before, I listened to Austin Wintory’s soundtrack on its own. I was enraptured, guys. I don’t say this often. I fell in love. I ordered the soundtrack within a few hours of listening to the entire thing on youtube. Today, I bought the game. This is the ONLY video game score that has EVER been nominated for a Grammy award. If you listen to the entire soundtrack, you will understand why. A soundtrack should take you on a journey, it should open your mind and your heart and make you experience that journey. I wholly want to support this composer and thatgamecompany with “Journey”, which I’ve done. I strongly suggest listening to the entire soundtrack here. If you are moved in the same way that I was, please buy it. If you are just looking for a taste, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m going to share 7 of the pieces from the Journey soundtrack with you and what it is that I see when I listen to them.
Nascence: He stared out on the desert, spread out wide before him. From the window of the hotel, it seemed as though it was another world, a place that existed beyond some force field, a place that couldn’t actually be touched. The way the sun came up over the horizon, coloring the world a hot orange and lighting up the dunes made him wonder if this was what he needed to see. He wondered if this was where his destiny lie, out beyond the ever-shifting walls of sand. (This song provides a good establishing shot. It’s short, but the first notes really hit you with the emotion in them.)
Threshold: He followed the colorful serapes in the marketplace. Bright jewels that dripped from handwoven baskets, the hot tang of saffron as it drifted past his nose, the sound of the sand scraping beneath his shoes and the feet of others that passed by. The air was hot as it clung to his clothes. He took a deep breath and inhaled warm air and a bit of sand, which gritted against his teeth once he closed his mouth. High above, the afternoon sun blazed down across stone structures, igniting the worn smooth floors like liquid gold, flecks of mica suddenly radiating beneath him. He moved through the throngs of people, his ears tempted by the call of flute music from far off.
Second Confluence: The ruins were beautiful in their isolation, the way the shadows played over the hieroglyphics on the walls, the way the sand glittered as it whirled in the beams of light streaming through. This place had existed so long in isolation, in a place where people had forgotten it. Everything that once happened inside it on a daily basis had been lost to the crags of history. Now, it had come back. New memories could be forged there. He leaned his hand against the stone wall, and took a moment to think of the rough texture beneath his fingers. This place was so unlike the office he was used to sitting it day after day, unlike the flat in London that he returned to night after night. There was a raw energy here, a power that connected him through time and space to the mysteries of the past. He wanted to know more of what had happened here. He wanted to know more.
Fourth Confluence: In the night, everything transformed. The sun-ruled city was suddenly bathed in blue, the radiant buildings shaded in charcoal and a seemingly soft whisper of wind pulling the lively sounds and smells far away from him. Quiet blanketed the city like an unsettling dream. There was a peace in this that he didn’t quite comprehend. He was pulled along with it though, his body wanting to fall into the placid routine of the night time along with everyone else.
Atonement: He gazed far out across the open world. It was miles from the city he’d spent the day exploring, miles from human interaction, miles from safety. He didn’t know how long it would take to get back, if he could keep going in the right direction. He’d never intended to get so lost, never intended to get so carried away. He pushed forward, his feet pushing deeper into the sand with each move he made. The wind whipped around him, pulling sand into his face as he slid down an embankment. The dunes rose up on both sides of him, trapping him in the canal of sand. They seemed too high to climb and blocked his view considerably. He breathed hard. His throat felt ragged and all he could picture was crystalline water pouring down his gullet. He felt himself swoon to one side. He had to keep going. He’d never get back if he didn’t. He had to keep his thoughts strong and not allow them to pull him down. His desire for destiny had taken him so far from everything he’d ever known. This wasn’t the time to give up. This was the time to prove that he could take charge of his own fate.
Reclamation: He entered the town square, his ears anticipating the sounds of people. Silence everywhere. He strained to listen, strained to hear something that would confirm he’d returned, that he wasn’t hallucinating. But there was nothing. There were no people. He stumbled further forward taking in the sun-soaked buildings he’d witnessed only days before. There were no scuffs of footsteps across stone tiles and sand, no calls from the marketplace, not even that calm flute music was playing. Instead, it was only the wind, ripping through the open doors, yanking at tarps from unoccupied tents. Silence. Isolation. Just like that temple he’d visited a few days ago. Only memories of things that had once happened here were left. He fell to his knees, bewildered, the hunger and exhaustion finally catching up with him. What had happened? Had he been left behind?
Apotheosis: He wrapped the cloth back over his mouth as he stared into the desert on the opposite side of the town that once was. He saw the same sea of sand, the same unyielding sunlight, and a haze on the horizon, blending the blue sky and golden sand together. He didn’t look over his shoulder as he started running. He fled across the dunes, his heart smashing in his chest as he forced his legs to push himself further. Wait, his head screamed as he raced further toward the horizon, further toward the blur there. Don’t leave me behind! He let his feet slide down a grand dune and leaped into the sand below, all the while never losing his momentum. This wasn’t the end. This wasn’t where he would remain. The closer he drew, the more the sand seemed to vanish further ahead. Almost there… almost there… he chanted. Air scraped through his windpipe, sand lodged in every crack of his skin as he finally reached the place where the sand ended. He stared down into the drop off, down into the valley where the desert spread far and wide. The sun painted everything bronze as it set. An endless desert, he mused as he caught his breath. It’s beauty was comparable only to it’s deadliness. Lost, he realized. There is no going back.
Next week on Inspiration Through Music, I’ll be taking a look at Stacey Kent, singer of some easy-listening jazz favorites of mine. Stay tuned!