Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Video Game Soundtrack Spotlight: Shatter

Whether the Jack Thompsons of the world would care to admit it or not, the video game industry has become a viable medium of entertainment for consumers and there’s simply never been a better time to come to accept it. Whether you’re witnessing your middle-aged relatives waste away on Facebook with Farmville or enjoying the meatheads in your college class converse about how "sick" their latest streak on Call of Duty was, the nerd culture that was once tucked away in the corners of society is now acceptable, unfortunately fashionable, and even capable of incorporating impressive levels of other entertainment industries within it. In laymen’s terms, I’m speaking about the wealth of original soundtracks found in modern video games. In this new feature, we’re going to take a look at a few soundtracks that stand as not only impressive within their respective product, but stretch far enough to be able to be found respectable under musical criticism as well. Specifically, the albums spotlighted will be completely original pieces of content, games containing pre-existing songs that have been collected to form a soundtrack will not be highlighted as we specifically want to find the original soundtracks that stand apart as worthy pieces of music themselves. Today, we highlight electronic artist Jeramiah Ross, who performs under the alias Module and his outstanding, dynamic work for PlayStation Network game Shatter. 

Considering the obsession of chip tune and archaic video game noises in music recently, the fact that Shatter’s interest in past video game music doesn’t overshadow the more modern funk present alongside the album’s electronic elements is a breath of fresh air. Working closely with game studio Sidhe, Module’s slick production keeps the album’s crazier moments of orchestration that showcase the synergy between the occasionally funky electric bass that are layered with smooth, quick beats that are intelligently tucked in the pockets of the album that need the momentum. For an album filled to the brim with sound--with most songs exceeding six minutes in length--the fact that each song accelerates enough to keep the album’s pace consistent is an impressive display Module’s sense of direction with the soundtrack; the songs never feel randomly sporadic or distracting, but tight and logically sequenced. 

Whether it is the flashing electronic sounds over the rudimentary opening bass line of “Krypton Garden,” or the fantastically dancing keys that surround the impressively integrated guitar solo of “Neon Mines,” Module integrates electronic elements not just as a cover of pretty glitter, but a robust and complex organization that gives the mixture of instruments just enough spice to retain the eclectic atmosphere at any given moment. The dark, grungy opening of “Xenon Home World” doesn’t tread onto industrial territory, but it’s just sinister enough in its electronic wallowing in the background to give the blaring guitars a significant presence in their surprise appearance. No matter what edge Module goes for in an individual track, his electronic presence seems focused on carving out the song's atmosphere rather than becoming superfluous in its addition to the song.

So whether you’re interested in playing the video game Shatter or not, Module’s erratic, inventive compositions remain just as interesting of a project as they would if they stood alone. The instruments don’t feel like weak samples for the sake of authenticity and the intelligent use of electronic elements is enough to keep each song sounding unique from the next; the album thankfully never blends into a bland canvas of electronic sound due to each song’s almost excessive amount of personality. Module’s creation may be background content for another product, but on its own it stands as an album proud of its electronic, video game-ridden roots, as well as its ability to diversify when necessary.

If you’re interested in hearing Module’s soundtrack for Shatter yourself, you can stream it and purchase it for the low price of $2.99 here

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