I’m often drawn to the understated elegant soundtracks. They don’t sound grandiose; they don’t sound imperial or adventurous or over-the-top. The smallest nuances in how the individual tracks are composed, the development in the pieces that grow along with the characters and plot… These are the soundtracks I hunger for.
Recently, I found myself checking out the nominees for best original soundtrack for the Golden Globes. Of course, “La La Land” was the winner of the award with its whimsical, jazzy soundtrack. It’s something fun and different and puts people in a good mood when they listen to it. It’s a phenomenal soundtrack and for cooking or hanging around the house, it’s a joy to listen to. But for writing…I look for the darker more serious soundtracks. This is why I was immediately enamored by Nicholas Britell’s score for the Golden Globe best drama motion picture winner, “Moonlight”.
And just like that it’s the end of 2016. I realize I wasn’t as active as I’d purported I’d be at the beginning of the year. I owe that to moving into a new house though. The transition has eaten up a lot of my valuable time. Not only that but I’ve spent much of my autumn beginning a new book and when I do that, I tend to dig in deep and not come up for air. That being said, I’d like to change the topic back to what this blog post is really all about: my top ten picks for video game soundtracks this year!
Several of you readers know I’m a sucker for video game soundtracks. I’ve always been a fan of film scores and in the past few years have developed a love for these equally arresting and inspiring albums. I didn’t want to break with tradition so here I am at midnight on the 30th/31st of December to share with you the soundtracks writers who love music should buy. But why you ask? Keep reading and you’ll see…
#10: Dead Secret Soundtrack by Ben Prunty
Why: The Dead Secret soundtrack begins with jazz-inspired flavors and some Asian influences to fit into the storyline. Because it’s a murder mystery, there’s an air of suspicion and curiosity in each piece, growing darker and darker as the game progresses. However, it’s the tracks that are most ambient that stood out most to me. In particular, WOODCUTTER (the theme of the antagonist) is one of the most bone-chilling on the soundtrack and inspires fear from its minimalist drumming. Another is “Permanently Altered” which I listened to several times while working on my latest novel. I recommend this to anyone working on crime or noir fiction, or perhaps something historical in the 1920-1950’s. Track picks: WOODCUTTER, Kwaidan, Permanently Altered, What were you up to?
(I wrote this back when the Oscars were happening… yeah.)
I have always, and will always be a fan of music composed by Thomas Newman. I own a number of his impressive film scores, several of them Oscar nominated or winning and all of them gorgeous in their own right. Little Women, Phenomenon, The Horse Whisperer, Meet Joe Black, American Beauty, The Green Mile, Finding Nemo, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Help, Skyfall…(and let’s not forget TV show Six Feet Under and Miniseries Angels in America)! And now, the dramatic and emotional score for the Oscar nominated film, Bridge of Spies.
At least once in your lifetime, you’ve put on the radio in your car or on the internet or your digital music player and went about your daily activities. Somewhere within the mix of songs you listened to, there came that one song, the one that made you stop and listen in awe to it, one that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It impressed you, thrilled you, made you want to listen to it over and over again. Years ago, I found that feeling with Austin Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Journey”. It was plaintive, arresting, and called to a deeper part of me. Now, I’ve found a similar impression again with Wintory’s soundtrack to the game “Abzu”.
This week, I’ve fallen in love with a new and beautiful game called Unravel by Electronic Arts. In it, you play as a little anthropomorphic yarn boy named Yarny, who traverses a picturesque world of fond memories. There are lots of violent video games on the market right now, so it always makes me feel warm and tingly inside when I’m introduced to something that is based around a unique and more wonderful idea. The idea in Unravel? To reconnect, whether it be with the past, or with people you’ve lost touch with or with places you’ve begun to forget about. It’s a magical and refreshing experience, one that I haven’t felt since I first played Journey.
Unravel’s soundtrack is a collaboration by two Swedish musicians, Henrik Oja and Frida Johansson. The nostalgia present in each track, blended with the stunning visuals of the game makes one feel as though they are really running along the seaside, exploring mountains, and sailing through the treetops. Not only is it immersive, it also easily makes you feel lost inside each narrative that Yarny traverses. Today I’ll be sharing four songs from the unofficial Unravel soundtrack and writing what I see when I listen to them.
When I grew up, I was one of the Trekkies. I loved anything and everything Star Trek but I had a respect for Star Wars and the world and characters that George Lucas had created. This year brought the series back to life with the latest (and greatest) in the Star Wars story, The Force Awakens. Having not watched The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, I was missing pieces of the story and worried I wouldn’t be able to follow it. Thankfully, The Force Awakens was easy to follow, had a collection of fantastic characters and locations, and a plot that kept me guessing what was going to happen next. Most of all, I was impressed by John Williams new score. There were many times while watching where I was actually drawn to listen closer to his compositions and found them stunning and beautiful.
HAPPY NEW YEAR (a bit late) and welcome to the Monstrum Chronicles blog! Here’s hoping you all had a fun and festive holiday season and a wonderful start to the new year. 2016 promises to be an exciting year! I’m looking forward to making a few changes in my writing career as well as here at the blog and in my personal life as well.
First off, I would honestly like to be able to attend a few more shows this year in lieu of the fact that they are the best way to get my books into reader’s hands. 2nd, I’d like to focus on trying to market my books to a few more brick and mortar businesses here in Maine. I’ve been a salesperson for several years and yet it’s always so much harder when you are trying to sell something you’ve created yourself. This fear has made it difficult for me to take those steps forward. Not this year though. I’m going to give it my all here.
Read on to find out what 2016 has in store for the Monstrum Chronicles blog!
It’s the end of 2015 and with that revelation, I’ve decided to go through and list some of my favorites of the year starting with music! For long time subscribers to the blog, you’ll know that I have done a weekly blog for music that is inspirational to writers. It’s most often music that I’ve found from video game soundtracks or ambient/instrumental composers. This year, I wanted to list my top five favorites that I’ve listened to while writing. (Note: these are my personal choices and they’ve all been released in 2015. If it wasn’t released this year, it doesn’t make the list!)
#10: Dying Light Original Soundtrack by Pawel Blaszczak
Why: As a big fan of Blaszczak’s soundtracks for “Dead Island” and its sequel, I was extremely excited to hear what he’d be doing with “Dying Light”. The soundtrack for “Dying Light” is a perfect mixture of thoughtful isolation, of tension and terror. It differs from the Dead Island soundtracks by incorporating a bit more synthesizer into it, making it feel a bit more technical and almost CSI-like. Several of the tracks were very similar which doesn’t lead to much variety. Thing is: that consistency makes it a PERFECT soundtrack to listen to while working on any police procedural, detective story, or crime drama. It’s also great for any urban paranormal stories you might be working on. Track picks:Horizon, Invitation, Demolition, Now They Are Coming, Praise the Sunlight, Breakdown
Undertale was something that honestly passed me by at first. I missed the initial hype about this game. I am so, so glad that I didn’t let it slip by completely. Undertale tells the story of a human falling down a hole into another realm ruled by monsters. After a feud several years prior, monsters were banished underground by humans and have been searching for a way to pass through the barrier. The human naturally also wants to find a way through it to get back home and so embarks on a journey to get there, encountering oodles of odd characters along the way.
How would you capture the depth of the ocean in your writing? How would you creatively sculpt its darkness, its mystery, its vastness, and its beauty into words? How would you even go about composing such a piece? Everything about John Luther Adams “Become Ocean” does this. There is a natural grace, a gentle ambiance, and an escalating reverence that perfectly captures how mankind loves, venerates, disrespects, and is in awe of the ocean. But the song isn’t just about what the ocean is; it is about becoming it. It’s about transforming and transporting.
I was lucky enough to have been introduced to “Becoming Ocean” through the Discover Weekly playlist in Spotify, an online music program. The playlist updates weekly, introducing you to 30 new songs each Monday. Last week was when I was graced with “Becoming Ocean”. It is a collaborative effort of composer John Luther Adams, Ludovic Morlot, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.