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Game Music Festival 2013

Kentucky Route Zero Act I: Ring of Fire
I've heard of sparse soundtracks, but this one might take the cake. The beautiful, tasty-yet-not-overly-decorated, simple, homemade, subtlety flavored cake. I had a feeling that's what I was getting into, following Neal's review of Kentucky Route Zero, but I didn't know the extent of it.

The album starts slow with The Stars Drop Away, a very minimalist track that's heavy on ambiance and wonder. It's at once soothing and foreboding. The kind of song you can hear playing while a hero sets off happily on a journey... knowing full well he could die at any moment.

Ghosts in the Static has a bit more instrumentation to it, but less of the near-optimistic wonder of the first track. There's a strange — some may call it off-putting — crunchy static that gradually takes over the deep organ music, along with some other ghostly sounds that I simply can't find words for.

And suddenly, you're listening to Johnny Cash and June Carter. Not really, but country folk ditty You've Got to Walk couldn't be more different than the other songs. Performed by The Bedquilt Ramblers, which is KRZ composer Ben Babbit along with Emily Cross and Bob Buckstaff, it's a surprisingly toe-tapping song that seems inspired by some of Johnny & June's duets. As a big fan of The Man in Black, I quite enjoyed this track. I can't begin to imagine how it fits into a game full of ambient and subtle music, but I don't care. It's a good time and just plain fun to listen to.

And then things get strange again with Animal Bones. Outside of the third track, the creepy factor slowly builds as you listen to Kentucky Route Zero Act I, and this is the most foreboding track on the album. It has a hollow sound. The stuff of nightmares. It's not unlike the scarier tracks of Sword & Sworcery EP when you're being chased by Death. I sure hope the plan for this song was to compose the soundtrack to someone's nightmare, because that's exactly the feeling I get from it.

All in all, KRZ Act I's soundtrack is as bizarre and surreal as the game apparently is. As a heavily atmospheric composition, I feel that it's one of those soundtracks that really benefits from being heard in-game to set the mood. It's certainly worth a listen, and unless you avoid any and all country-styled songs, at the very least, I recommend checking it out for The Bedquilt Ramblers' track.

Buy this album from Loudr

This RPGFan feature was made possible thanks to the fine folks at Loudr. Be sure to check out the Game Music Festival website for more interviews, commentaries, and special limited-time deals on album collections by the artists here and more!

Game Music Festival





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