Friday Album: James Newton Howard – “The Hunger Games” OST

The Hunger Games is...sort of the weird kid, whether in book or movie form. It should naturally follow that the tone, direction, and scheme of its soundtrack are a bit uncommon. Vibey dulcimers and glimpses of ferocious, tribal percussion square off against unapologetically keening (yet perfectly civilized) strings, warm but bitter violin solos, and the [...]

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Mary Gunderson – “Beckon the Moon” {Free Download}

Mary Gunderson’s watery approach already appeared once before on this blog ("Behind the Red Door"). While some might call it verging on New Age, I fail to see why a) this actually matters and b) where the rationale comes from. In my opinion, this kind of track has too much momentum, drive, and intent for [...]

Friday Album, A Bit Late: Gustavo Santaolalla – “The Last of Us” OGST

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGsuMgeVlVg To be strictly reductionist, The Last of Us is a staple zombie apocalypse game (complete with the requisite gunplay, gore, and tight-corners fighting), but its superbly tense plot and cavernous characterization caused a stir. Linear storytelling in games has almost become risky in recent years, not so much because writing has gone downhill but [...]

Soundtrack Month: “The Elder Scrolls Online” (Brad Derrick, Malukah, & Others)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOTIsNELvis Yes, another TES soundtrack. No, it’s nothing like Skyrim. The Elder Scrolls Online caused something of a ripple both positive and negative in the gaming world, not only in terms of its game mechanics but also the soundtrack itself (mostly because Jeremy Soule had departed the series by this time). Brad Derrick and several [...]

Soundtrack Month: “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring [The Complete Recordings]” (Howard Shore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F_OH_hX6MY&list=PL99D96766C5C05441 This probably appears to be an excessively obvious choice, but it’s still worth considering if you really haven’t listened to it yet. The Lord of the Rings trilogy had some of the longest soundtracks in recent years. In an age when a 100-minute movie is considered long, only Bollywood soundtracks boast a longer average [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Dragon Age: Inquisition” (Trevor Morris)

Fantasy RPG games always run the risk of being too abstract or too dense to be approachable. Yet some well-wrought character development and a knockout soundtrack kept the world of Thedas grounded and more than a little palatable in this third installment. Trevor Morris (yes, his second appearance on this blog this month) managed to [...]

Soundtrack Month: “Fringe: Season 1” Michael Giacchino, Chris Tilton, & Chad Seiter)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qazv_HLwN70 Fringe was one of those sci-fi shows that almost - but not quite - wanted to laugh at itself now and then. Armed with speculative science and just enough gunplay to seem like an ordinary mystery thriller at times, it initially grew a legion of fans by being daring and borderline grotesque - and [...]

Soundtrack Month – “Skyrim Atmospheres” (Jeremy Soule)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUfvMZuKU8c How do you easily sum up a fantasy game world as expansive as The Elder Scrolls? You don’t. While the franchise was always known for a staggering (and occasionally unmanageable) amount of objectives, quests, and hidden surprises, Skyrim was especially praised for its landscapes and free-form world. Seven years after its initial release, it [...]

Ashot Danielyan – “Warm Night in Cold Moscow”

If you're craving splendid pedal effects and tranquil chords, look no further. The style is almost (but not quite) New Age, except that the texture enjoys shifting around in a more free-form way and allows a little room for mystery and shadows. Songs like this charmer make me especially happy that ambient piano is still [...]

Ivan Black – “Narcissus Reflection”

Some off-kilter (but polite) ambient/atmospheric for your consideration. This song has a much more "manufactured" flavor than the usual fare you'll find here, but I felt that it was deserving enough to share because it always conjures up some kind of imagery for me when I listen to it - and what's the point of [...]

Friday Album: Cryo Chamber Dark Ambient Mix {Free Album Download}

https://cryochamber.bandcamp.com/album/dark-ambient-of-2015 Cryo Chamber is an independent microlabel specializing in ambient and dark ambient artists, especially instrumental ones. Dark ambient music is typically bleak (and is basically goth culture’s meditative cousin or half-sibling), and yet – as I’ve mentioned before – it can be restorative for overall focus and concentration. (I don’t know about the rest [...]

Jeremy Soule – “Crystal Oasis”

This is formal, official soundtrack material, but it doesn't have any stuffy ensemble touches and instead veers into tranquil electronic atmospheric...almost. It's a bit cheerful compared to the usual fare I bring you, but variety is important sometimes. https://soundcloud.com/game_soundtracks/crystal-oasis-guild-wars

Excerpt from “Lord of the Rings Online” Ambient Soundtrack – “Old Forest Drone”

A delicious drone - just because. Unfortunately, I cannot enlighten you on the artists or composers involved because most of the ambient music for LOTRO was created somewhat anonymously (this is an official track, but the game devs didn't make a point of openly bragging about the music team). It's slightly possible that this is [...]