In Extremis

2016 Soundtrack Saturdays

Aug. 6Echoes of DavotoFirst up for Soundtrack Saturdays is one of, if not my favourite piece from the Chasing Shadows OST. It’s got a nice layering of the repeating Avotoc guitar, along with a nice synthy-whistle, and a lead guitar melody that slips between the ranges above and below the repeating guitar. 
Aug. 13Ocarina of Time: Title ThemeSecond up on Soundtrack Saturday is one of the most influential tracks to my music career. While this track isn’t my favourite track from the series, it was the first thing I heard from one of the most influential video games of all time. So on a running list of things that have influenced me, this had to come first.Now, onto the track. It leads with a calming piano that never quite goes away and highlighted by a kind of flute (probably an Ocarina, but it was ’98 and MIDI). This is all underscored by some subtle strings. It’s beautiful and simple, like most of the game.
Aug. 20Before The WindNext up on Soundtrack Saturdays is the title track of the current plot-arc. This track was redone this past spring and is now available for free!It opens with the mysterious air reminiscent of the current antagonist, whisking away to a heroic acoustic guitar triumphantly plucking away at our hero’s theme. We move back to the theme of the antagonist, and close off with some bells that leave an air of mystery.
Aug. 27Shadow of the Colossus: PrayerI don’t want every other week to be Zelda, so here’s another track from a soundtrack that I adore. This is Prayer, from the game Shadow of the Colossus. It was a bit of a buggy cult hit on the PS2.Anyway, the track is largely piano, with some strings and ambient voices and other noises. The dramatic use of rolls, grace notes, dynamics, and tempo modulation take the track between feelings of calmness, somber, relaxing, and sadness (not particularly in that order).
Sept. 3Journey HomeBack to In Extremis! This is one of my favourite tracks to have composed/put together/played. This entire EP is just me, an acoustic guitar, a decaying repeat effect, and environment noise.This track in particular has a repetitive sweeping on the two or three higher strings while a quasi-melody is played on the lower strings. Over time the environment noise changes from mountain-top winds to the sounds of the sea as we journey back home from the mountain.
Sept. 10Halo Reach: Winter ContingencyAnother non-Zelda track and one of the longer one’s I’ll post. Winter Contingency is from Halo: Reach, out in 2010.The track is orchestrated, has some rock-out moments, and stretches that are filled by Halo’s (nearly) trademark monks. Your emotions are taken on a bit of a roller coaster from the heights of the beginning to the lows of around 5:30, then up and down again.
Sept. 17Vale ReefAnother In Extremis track, this time from the free(!) Environmental Atmospheres EP.Vale Reef is an atmospheric recreation of the Kettlah’s world. I wanted it to be spacious without being too reverb or delay heavy, so there are pulsing synths and (very) underlying strings along with plenty of bells. The aim for the atmosphere is to be like some normally inanimate object has been brought to life, but they seem benevolent or ambivalent at worst; slightly unsettling while being slightly relaxing.
Sept. 24Destiny Taken King: RemembranceHere’s a track from a more recent video game. The Taken King expansion came out for Destiny about a year ago, and this a beautifully simple track.Piano, strings, and a single voice weave a tale of remembrance that sounds regal, reflective, and at times a little empty.
Oct. 1For MothsI haven’t mentioned the newest EP yet in a soundtrack saturday, so here’s one off of Matriarch Grove EP. I had a lot of fun writing and recording these, this song especially so.Marimba, Xylophone and a pad just like all other Quarryn pieces. There’s some variation in tempo as well as rhythms that accent that change. It’s a fun little song which was really interesting to make given what the Quarryn music normally is.
Oct. 8Runescape: Gnome Village 2Some of you might know the well of nostalgia I have for Runescape’s music. If not, now you do.It’s a light little ditty that builds every couple of times it repeats until we get a melody in a  flute/whistle. It’s just so darn catchy!
Oct. 15The BladeAnother track from the FREE(!) Environmental Atmospheres EP.It’s a foundational work to give an idea of what Sha’an music will be, with an unrelenting high pitch and constant drums. There’s some synth work that jumps between harmonic and melodic roles, as well as some wooden percussion to accent the drums.
Oct. 22Halo 3 ODST: OvertureI wanted to make every other week not Zelda, and it seems like I’m going to have too much Halo if I’m not careful.What’s not to love about this track? The rain that establishes the atmosphere of the whole game, the sweeping chords, and then the melody played in reeds. Some great drums and electronic sounds give way to some piano and flute, which in turn crescendo into a grand gesture that that plays out for the remainder of the track.
Oct. 29Movement I clipThe first movement of the Orchestral Suite is not too far away.Formally done, I want to wait until I make more progress on the second movement before I release it that way they’re not too far apart. I expect to have it out in November or early December at the latest.
Nov. 12In Extremis Suite Mvmt. IToday, for Soundtrack Saturday I have NEW MUSIC! I now present to you, the first movement in In Extremis’ Orchestral Suite: Omneutta. The first movement is design as an overview into the rest of the suite (coming soon!) and sets up the musical landscape for future movements.
Nov. 19Skyward Sword: Staff RollThis piece is technically in a game and on a soundtrack, but it’s not boss music, area music, character music. Maybe it counts as cutscene music? This is the Staff Roll (aka Credits) for the most recent console Zelda release: Skyward Sword.It opens triumphantly with brass calls and woodwind flurries to a (mostly) string section that calls back to many of the themes not only from this game, but from the Zelda franchise. The Skyward Sword theme is slowly reintroduced with Oboe until it moves around the woodwind section and makes way for another big orchestra session. The main Zelda theme is revisited as a march in the middle of the piece and the end transitions from the Skyloft theme back into the game’s theme.
Nov. 26Re:CurrentsI can’t believe I haven’t shared this yet. This is actually my favorite piece from Chasing Shadows. This was probably one of the first things I ever composed and it got refined a lot over the compositional development process of Chasing Shadows.The central ostinato is performed by a vibraphone-esque instrument with a 16th note delay. A french horn and choir set up a smooth solo string passage in the middle of the piece. The smooth horn later returns and eventually the vibraphone ostinato is left alone to fade away on a final chord. The piece evokes a contemplative thoughtfulness that is present in its namesake chapter, and the name of the piece is a subtle play on emails.
Dec. 3Halo 2: ImpendProbably my favourite piece from Halo 2 that isn’t a suite. The suites are so expansive musically that there’s a million things to love about each one.This piece however is my ideal Halo music. There’s the choir that evokes the ancient feel, a little dash of the digital elements of the science fiction landscape, great percussion, and sweeping strings. For me, this song is a great piece to relax to or get motivational drive from.
Dec. 10Piano Arrangement: TreasureOne of the better piano arrangements from Chasing Shadows if I may say so myself. It shows a lot of my Nintendo (Koji Kondo be praised) influence. The track doesn’t have a lot of linearity to it when it comes to flow – it’s made up of a few different tracks relating to treasure from the OST.I think the biggest success of the tracks contained within this arrangement is the willingness to play with silence. There’s the moment when you spot a treasure and you’re breath is momentarily taken from you before excitement rushes in, or when you’re diving for treasure and an apex predator passes by and you’re not certain if it saw you. What’s the payoff of the treasure you got – is it okay, or really-freakin’-huge?
Dec. 17Wind Waker: Farewell Hyrule KingOther than the opening track (Legendary Hero, not the title screen), this has to be the best track from Wind Waker. It’s actually repurposed Hyrule Castle music – I think the first appearance of this theme was in Link to the Past.The track starts out pretty simple, but then the strings kick in and the cadence builds to something you know will be great. Just after halfway when the melodic line is augmented by a 16th note run in the middle ground is where the piece really hits home to me. This run hides in the background for a bit then at 1:42 it becomes a driving force to the melody line that’s now in octaves. Probably on every Zelda fan’s list of best tracks from the series.
Dec. 24In Extremis Suite Mvmt. IIAnother Soundtrack Saturday, more new music! This movement tells the story of the current plot-arc: Before The Wind, or rather retells the story after the conclusion of the final chapter. It is a song of triumph and heroism, but with painted with a different brush than you might expect.
Dec. 31Oracle of Seasons: Subrosian DanceOh man, the Subrosian dance. I wanted to pick out something festive for the New Year and this is it. Not a huge analysis of the music here. It’s catchy, it’s upbeat, and it’s got a great bass-line. Hopefully someone makes this into an EDM track without so much of the early 2000’s MIDI-fuzz sooner than later. 

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