Gamer Soundtracks: Maximalism’s Soundtrack for a Great Adventure is Epically Awesome
When you slip on your Gunnars, slap on your Steel Series headphones and settle down for an evening of guiding Kirby though his colorful little world your senses explode with visual and audio stimulation. The sense of sight and the sense of hearing at the two oft used senses when it comes to playing video games. Clearly we don’t smell anything (besides our own late night gaming body odor) or feel anything (besides the rumble of the controller). We tend to focus on what we see, sometimes not paying full attention to what we hear.
Game soundtracks are as big a part of the game as the game itself. Think about Skyrim and the song “The Dragonborn Comes” and how epic and pulse pounding that song is. The music gets into your soul and inhibits the gaming experience, creating a full experience and pulling you further into the universe. In this, independent artist Maximalism (Brad Podray) has created Soundtrack for a Great Adventure, a truly epic genre shifting video game soundtrack without a video game.
Soundtrack for a Great Adventure is the soundtrack to the game you didn’t know you were playing. Or, in many cases the soundtrack to the game you are playing, but the music is either nonexistent or sucks. Frankly, I’ve been listening to it at work. While not composed with a full orchestra, instead using East West sample libraries and soft synths in Ableton Live, it sounds like a full orchestra and the budget that would go along with it. This album is professionally composed at a high level and does well with the intricate complexities of electronically composed music. Podray seemed to have quickly realized the medium he was working with and adjusted as such, making the music do things that traditional instrumental music wouldn’t be able to do.
The album kicks off strong with “A Terrible Battle”. This battle march song quickly transitions into a full scale war epic, with depth that would make the Moody Blues jealous. The mix of electric guitars with strings, then going full on into synth electronica is smooth and feels like the opening sequence to either an epic action film or game. Let me just get it out of the way now, if you are looking for an artist to create your video game soundtrack, or movie soundtrack at either the independent or professional level, you need to take a listen to Soundtrack for a Great Adventure. I’ll tell you why.
I listen to a lot of music, a lot of music across all genres. I love electronica and artists like BT and Deadmau5. I’m a fan of progressive rock and experimental jazz. Generally though, I’m not a huge fan of listening to video game soundtracks or movie soundtracks independent of the medium. However, in the case of Soundtrack for a Great Adventure I find myself listening to it over and over without any visual frame of reference. I find this astonishing, as at the same time I can quickly make the mental parallel that this music must have been the soundtrack to something, but isn’t at this point.
That is what Podray has done with this music, he has created an experience without the experience. Sure, you can say that songs like “Under the Earth” were created with genre stereotypes in mind (this particular track is Asian influenced and quiet), but it was still done in a way that you can imagine the scene without the scene actually existing. The next track “Into the Narrow Pass” is kind of a Viking/Gaelic type tune that wanders into Korpiklaani territory for a bit.
While Podray has created a viable demo tape here (you can download for free at Bandcamp by the way) he has also created a viable piece of composed music that steps outside the “see what I can do” territory. His intent may have been to create a piece of music that potential employers, he has created a well composed and meticulously put together composition that stands on its own, with or without visual reference. This bold statement was brought to you by the track “Tenacity”, the track you might hear as the hero is climbing the long road back after a defeat or getting ready to enter battle.
There really isn’t a bad track on the album at all. “Move, Move I Tell You” is a bass heavy, string composition heavy track that gets your blood pumping. If you are sitting at your desk at work, this is the perfect track to help you power through your TPS reports to get out of the office before five. “Enter the Saviors” is a wicked electronic track with rapid fire beats and “The Tale of Big Jim” ends the album on a solid high, muscling through transitions to the epic finale.
Soundtrack for a Great Adventure is just that, a soundtrack for a great adventure and one that Podray hopes you’ll go on. The album is available for free download at Bandcamp and perhaps the next great adventure soundtrack you hear from Maximalism will be accompanied by the visual treat of your favorite video game or movie franchise.
Album art: Matt Fendahleen