Insert Disk 7: Shatter – Official Videogame Soundtrack by Module

When most people think of good music, videogames aren’t usually the first thing to come to mind. Then again, neither are movies unless a major label pushes out an OST with OMG-THE-BEST-BAND-EVER on the tracklist. An appalling reality, actually, considering these days a specifically-written score can outdo Michael Bay’s playlist of the year by a mile. Yes, I am glaring with contempt at the emo-plagued OSTs that back up the live action Transformers movies while at the same time regarding Steve Jablonsky’s scores as beautiful audio porn.

Game scores tend to be a different beast to those of movies, due to their nature requiring them to loop for as long as they’re needed. More often than not, this leads to music not entirely suited for releasing as an album (not that it’s stopped anyone trying to listen to it outside of the game anyway), mostly because it’s the same bit that loops after only a minute and gets pretty old after about three. Some artists, though, like Module with this soundtrack, manage to create some of the best 5-minute-plus tunes in an OST perfectly capable of serving as a standalone album in its own right. And he pulls it off like a godly boss to boot.

I’m going to assume most of you won’t know what Shatter is. In the worst possible layman’s terms it’s a stained glass take on Arkanoid that pours napalm over its rulebook and proceeds to rewrite it from scratch by etching it onto pretty windows. Brilliant game. Get it from Steam or PlayStation Store. The soundtrack, meanwhile, is beautifully fitting, mixing 16-bit with stadium space rock like it was it was going out of fashion. If it was even in fashion to begin with. Frankly, if it wasn’t in fashion, it should have been, dammit!

Highlights include:

Amethyst Caverns: My favourite track on the album. Absolutely haunting to listen to and, putting aside its namesake stage in the game or even the masterpiece of an official music video that saw tiny toy robots seeking out an energy source (in the form of the song itself) in the hopes of escaping Earth, it’s a track well suited to creeping through crystalline caverns (okay, that was actually kind of the whole deal with that level aesthetically), the Fortress of Solitude or perhaps the lair of a cybernetic siren or banshee.

Granaular Extractor: You’re storming a villain’s factory and all the apparatus is moving to the beat of this song.

Argon Refinery: An espionage theme if there ever was one, with the guitar solo near the end possibly backing a moment of pressure. Like “OH SHIT THERE’S A BOMB!” or someone trying to break into a computer system on a limited timer. Similarly, Xenon Home World works as well, but may be better suited to less time-sensitive scenes or chapters.

Boss Music (all sections): This is going to sound a bit “DUH!” but this is the kind of music I want to be hearing when facing a big bad. There needs to me more music like this, in games and in cinema. Seriously.

Aurora: For when you need your resident good guy genius character to get their ponder on, I think, or if your take on cyberspace is, like the flawed take on Norse mythology that was Too Human, a fae-filled forest. With glitter, perhaps. Wait, why do you have that pitchfork?

The digital album’s available for $2.99 here. Alternatively, if you’re as much of a vinyl whore as I am (don’t you even DARE misread that!) or are just feeling generous, you might still be able to get the lovingly-crafted translucent blue 12″, with throws in a Steam key for the PC version and the digital album too. I’d say it’s worth it, speaking as the guy with number 006.

Insert Disk 7: Right Back to You by Electric Youth

I’ve already tweeted this beauty as Battle Music, but I feel it’s worth making it a Disk 7 too. It’s ’80s car chase music for the 2010s, though my opinion may be a little skewed by the way I discovered this song (an unofficial music video on YouTube put this to footage from the movie Black Moon Rising). Busy motorway, middle of the night and white hot pursuit that leads to an unexpected diversion into a nearby town or city where the real chaos begins. Perfect soundtrack.

SoundCloud user SKELETON HANDS, for example, also reckons:

this is so 80s film montage music. any filmmakers out there? if there’s a montage in your film about building something as a team, or training for a fight or competition of some kind, this song needs to be in the film. it’s perfect!

That I’m not so sure about, but I think I see where he or she is getting at.

Insert Disk 7: Visitors by Lazerhawk

Lazerhawk’s “Visitors” is a 80s-style electro album that seems to be equal parts driving tunes and music to get abducted by aliens to. Or music to cruise down a highway in the middle of the night with ETs in the passenger seat(s) of your fast car. Either way, I’d consider the album a successful mixture.

Admittedly, I had to give it a few good listens before I could distinguish between the tracks outside of “Space is the Place” and the “Distant Signal” interludes dividing each quarter of the album, though I chalk this up my own stupid ape brain rather than any fault of the artist’s.

Speaking of the “Distant Signal” tracks, I’d love to hear versions of these tracks without their deliberate radio sound quality. I’m not saying that Lazerhawk shouldn’t have put that effect in, not at all, but I think that cleaner versions could easily stand out on their own as tracks. I’m not above paying a little extra for it.

Highlights include:

Space is the Place: Catchy and uplifting. Enough said. Already tweeted as #BattleMusic.

Lazerhawk’s Theme: A suitably epic opening to the album.

Visitors: A car chase theme if there ever was one here. A betrayed pursuer lies in wait for his prey to exit a car park before chasing him down a quiet road. This would be his theme. Another recent #BattleMusic.

Disco Planet: A funky (Oh ha ha) number, suitable for any kind of chase, really, be it on foot or on four wheels. Or two. Also kind of suits a moment of teamwork in espionage, I think.

So Far Away: True to the title, perhaps a theme for hero with a distant love and the moment they take out of their time to dwell on that matter.

The album’s going to cost you, but at $9.99 (£6.52 when I bought it), you might want to have your brain probed if you think that’s too much. For those that don’t, get it here.

Insert Disk 7: [FREE MEGA ALBUM] by F-777

Sadly, that’s the actual title. Comes across as spammy, doesn’t it? Fortunately, that’s the only bad thing about this brilliant collection of music, which I’ll return to in a bit.

I’m going to start posting stuff under the “Insert Disk 7″ heading, which could be anything from music to links to news articles that I hope would serve as inspiration, if not to me then to others, along with my own personal brain farts on the subject. Hey, it’ll knock the ranting:other ratio dominating my posts down a fair few pegs.

But why “Insert Disk 7″? Kind of a dumb story. My brother bought an Amiga game – Super Skidmarks, to be precise – back when the Amiga was relevant at the time, only to find that it was missing a disk. Yep, number seven. The game was returned to Electronics Boutique (yeah, we had those in the UK before GAME assimilated them) for a refund and another copy was picked up some time later. Just one problem: it wasn’t a different copy at all. It was the same one, shrink-wrapped and slapped back onto the shelf! Like I said, a dumb story with nothing to do with anything and pretty frustrating at the time but nowadays I can’t help but laugh about it. Meanwhile, the game’s demands for that non-existent floppy kind of fits in with the aim of this post and future ones: Inserting ideas into peoples’ heads like inserting a floppy into a disk drive, in a manner of speaking. And 7 is considered lucky, isn’t it?

Back to your irregularly unscheduled programming:

I’ll admit, this wasn’t what I was looking for in the few instances I dared to have a gander at Bandcamp, but I’m glad I stumbled across it all the same. It’s a collection of stuff that the artist hadn’t released beforehand mixed with older releases so, as a result there’s no real connecting theme to the whole thing. Possibly the only part that demands at least one listen in sequence is the “We Believe” part.

It’s difficult to cherry-pick highlights from this collection, but if I must:

Sound of Infinity tickles my inner nerd, pure and simple. It’s like the theme of a side-scrolling shooter and the herald of a hero’s arrival to what has been a pretty hopeless space battle for the good guys rolled into one brilliant dance track. Possible #BattleMusic. Scratch that. Likely. No, wait. Definitely.

He’s a Pirate and Lion King are pretty nifty remixes of their respective Disney movie themes. On that note, I really should get hold of the Pirates of the Caribbean series some day. Criminal, I know.

We Believe Ep.2 is one of the best of the “We Believe” sequence. Both it and its Special Trance Edition remix have a very 90s feel to them, which just adds to the the awesome. I’d certainly call upon either for victory lap music.

Memories (2011 Edition) stands out on account if being a sad yet simple piano solo in the artists words, and I’m inclined to agree. One for when you need to hammer out a depressing story or chapter.

Dark Angel is definitely music to fight to. Hell, if there were a music video to this, it may as well be two adversaries running into one another in a nightclub, both parties waiting for their opponent to make the first move before they ultimately launch themselves at one another in unison.

The album’s free to download here (if you can’t see the Bandcamp widget), though wish it was at least Pay-What-You-Want, because I expect people, including myself, will throw money at their monitors listening to it in spite of its non-existent price tag. Somehow, though, I suspect the inclusion of certain remixes knocks that idea on the head. Shame.