[Occassionally Twinfinite’s Endless Playlist gets a new album to review. This week it’s the Spate OST composed by Mike Raznick]
I wrote in my original review that the music relied mostly on orchestral strings and haunting vocals to complete the dark atmosphere of Spate and having gotten a chance to listen to the full album, I realize I was only scratching at the surface of an iceberg. While the majority of the album rarely deviates from the string ensemble, the album is very much like the absinthe featured so heavily in the game, a slow burn.
No track exemplifies this slow, methodic buildup better than the intro track “Prologue”, which begins rather slowly to become more manic as it reaches a climactic high. In fact, this pattern of slow beginnings repeats itself much throughout the album as a good chunk of the tracks with some of them never reaching the same highs as the prologue. However, and I came to realize this fairly quickly, the Spate OST is reliant heavily on the game’s atmosphere and mirrors many of its aspects.
Stray notes drift in and out of consciousness and melodies begin only to evaporate into thin air. Rather than being unfulfilling, these brief moments add to the dark, noir-like atmosphere of the soundtrack. It’s ghostly in a way that matches the game’s outerworldly tone perfectly.
But while this soundtrack is almost perfect in accompaniment with the game, something gets lost in the solo effort. The tracks sometimes fail to differentiate themselves without a visual setpiece to tell them apart. While slow, haunting melodies work well to immerse the gamer into the world of Spate, the soundtrack alone makes it easy to get lost in its swamplike denseness. Depending on your taste in music, that could either be a good or bad thing.
That isn’t to say the album sounds the same throughout. Opera elements are brought in, especially closer to the end of the album, with “Ascension” pt. 1 and 2 being relative high points in the album. It’s just there’s a definite lull in the beginning, where some of the tracks are almost indistinguishable from each other.
Music, I find, is a highly subjective medium (as with all things), and while I don’t consider myself a proper music critic, that may have led to my ear’s inability to discern the more subtle differences between tracks. However, if you appreciate slow orchestral albums that offer a dark atmosphere and slow, gradual buildups towards terrifying highs, then the Spate OST is for you. If you’re into heavy instrumental material as well, this album is also worth a listen. However, without the game, the album feels sort of lost in itself for me at times, and requires a certain level of patience to reach its amazing end.