One of my favorite places to find new music is in the soundtracks to video games. While even indie flicks can pull in big-name acts to fill their track lists, for the most part game developers don’t have the same money to sink into music. The upside is that the artists who write music for video games are usually little known and often very talented. Here are a couple of artists and tracks from console and PC games that deserve some lovin’:
1. Darren Korb: Setting Sail, Coming Home (End Theme) (from Bastion)
Korb describes the style of music he composed for Bastion as “acoustic frontier trip-hop.” The sound is so effective that you wonder why no one else is writing music like this. “Setting Sail, Coming Home” is from the game’s finale, and while I won’t give anything away for those who might play it, I will suggest that it may or may not have made my boyfriend cry. If you like this track, I strongly suggest giving the rest of the album a listen – it’s available through Spotify. Follow the link to listen to the song through youtube.
2. Tomáš Dvořák: Mr. Handagote (from Machinarium)
If you aren’t already familiar with this Czech composer, go to his website where his whole discography is available to listen to for free and familiarize yourself rightnowrightnow. Dvořák, who also distributes music under the name Floex, learned clarinet as a child, and starting writing electronic music in 1996. The soundtrack for Machinarium was his first breakthrough with American listeners. His compositions make the game, matching perfectly the whimsical, post-apocalyptic city of robots where the narrative takes place.
3. Jonathan Coulton: Still Alive (feat. Sara Quin) (from Portal)
It’s impossible to write a blog entry about video game songs and NOT mention the infamous closing theme to Valve’s mega-hit adventure-puzzle game, Portal. While this particular song became an anthem declaring one’s internet citizenship, the rest of Coulton’s work has been unfairly ignored. His catchy and well-penned pop songs are a sort of hybrid of They Might Be Giants and Ben Folds, with a twist of nerdy humor. “Re: Your Brains” and “Code Monkey” are just as addictive as “Still Alive,” but without a super-powered internet phenomenon to draw attention to them.