Ghost Song is a haunting, atmospheric “Metroidvania” style game that was nearly a decade in the making. During the long development cycle, the original composer slated to work on the title (Roger “rekcahdam” Hicks) stepped away—as he too is in a long development cycle for his crowdfunded roguelike game Band Saga. In his place, newcomer Grant Graham stepped in to craft Ghost Song‘s soundscape.
And what a soundscape it is! Graham himself describes his debut game score as follows: “The soundtrack is composed of spacey electric guitars, vintage synth pads and warm felt piano, blended with organic field recordings, broken test equipment and atmospheric ambient drones.” Across the length of this soundtrack, which runs just shy of the two-hour mark, Graham seamlessly blends acoustic and electronic. Yes, there are entire songs that stick to the acoustic and those that go so hard on the electronic side that they border on the realm of experimental noise music: gritty, staticky, distorted, and inorganic. In my mind, however, Graham’s best tracks are those that, however quietly or loudly, blend the best of both worlds.
On the quiet front, we have the second track, “Little Blue.” This piece is the character theme for the protagonist (known in the game as “The Deadsuit”). Much of this song is just piano with reverb. However, there are moments where synth pads join and build, with distorted ambient noise flickering in and out—much like a ghost transitioning in and out of different planes of existence. The effect is simple and brilliant.
On the louder front, we have the final battle theme, “The Construct” (track 31). The guitar has a crunchy, electric-distorted effect. Early into the song, you could be forgiven for thinking this could go into the realm of a death metal track. However, a pulsing drum and bass line start to develop, and before you know it, the song leaps forward into a full-force EDM jam! This head-spinning trippy surprise is just as much fun in the game’s context as in a first listen outside the game.
Plenty of the tracks on Ghost Song (Original Game Soundtrack) are slow, soft, and meandering. Given the nature of the game, this works incredibly well. The leitmotifs are there if you listen for them. The appeal of listening to this soundtrack as its own work, start to finish, is that it can flow smoothly from these “background” ambient tracks into something melodic. That melodic piece may stand out, or it may also hide in the background. Regardless, this whole soundtrack has an ebb and flow that does more than merely fit as the soundtrack to Ghost Song. It is its own song. Or, rather, its own 33 songs.
One final track I’d call the listener’s attention to is the end credits music “Mist” (track 33). This piece has incredible, natural percussion alongside the synth pads and guitar. Slowly, over time, in a way that you might miss, the piece undergoes a metric modulation from a swing 6/8 time to a straight 4/4. I’ve listened to this song nearly a dozen times, and I keep missing the inflection point where the change is made, but it is there.
Grant Graham’s Ghost Song (Original Game Soundtrack) is available to stream freely via YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify, or purchased with lossless-quality audio at Bandcamp. Additionally, while not available for purchase as a separate album, Grant partnered with the game’s publisher (Humble Games) to release a Ghost Song – Lofi Remixes EP, about 30 minutes in length, featuring eight songs from the full OST. If “lofi remix” speaks to you as it does to me, be sure to bookmark this bonus freebie!