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OCRO-0001 - Kaleidoscope Original Soundtrack


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Kaleidoscope Original Soundtrack [OCRO-0001]

  • OC ReMix's first free OST release!
  • Kaleidoscope developed by Morsel Games (http://PlayMorsel.com) for Xbox LIVE Indie Games
  • Tracks 1-6 composed and produced by Mattias Häggström Gerdt (a.k.a. Another Soundscape)
  • Track 7 composed and produced by David W. Lloyd (a.k.a. djpretzel)
  • Contact: mattias@anosou.com

Composers' comments:

"With Kaleidoscope, the main goal of the music was giving each world a unique identity while still making the soundtrack feel cohesive and as a whole. I worked hard on finding a few basic instruments that fit Sang Han's fantastic art and then built the tracks around these. To give them a unique identity, I made sure the main hooks were played by instruments that went well with the unique themes of the different worlds.

For 'Pretty Pleasantries,' the main thought was to make a rather simple and upbeat track to ease the player into the experience. Most World 1-1 themes from history's platformers have used this kind of happy music and I thought it was only fitting that I followed their lead. The synths and drums might seem a bit on the simple sounds but I honestly like it that way, it went well with the clean art Sang produced.

For 'Troublesome Travels,' I tried to capture that special mood of autumn. Not quite sad but never really able to be happy. The harmonies and instrumentation reflects this somewhat (I hope) and the odd phrasing gave the track a sort of uneasiness that I found very amusing while writing it.

In 'Malevolent Mysteries,' the task was to create an atmospheric, dark almost mysterious mood. Compared to the other worlds in Kaleidoscope, this one has black withered trees and isn't very cozy at all. Instead of going straight horror with Adams Family instruments I kept relatively close to the rest of the soundtrack. I focused instead on keeping it atmospheric, always in minor, and make the instruments seem a bit more hollow. The sounds are heavily reverbed and delayed and the atmosphere it created worked well.

The final level track, 'Old Oddities,' is basically one big tribute to the old classics. The world is influenced by the old 8-bit and 16-bit consoles so I gave the music the same treatment. Seeing as 16-bit sounds aren't as compelling to me as 4-bit and 8-bit, I focused on the sounds of the Game Boy and C64. If my mind serves me right there's even a Sinclair Spectrum in there but I might be imagining things. The only instrument I sampled myself is the Game Boy sound, that's my old brick Game Boy and Little Sound Dj making some noises. It's processed with both basic equalizer, some easy low-pass filtering and delay/reverb to make sure it sat well with the "regular" synths. The time signature changes, melody and harmony is something I'm still extremely happy with. The track really DID sound odd when I was done but I found myself humming it for days after working on it. It's definitely my favorite of the bunch.

Based on these four tracks, I constructed the Map theme. Using a very simple melody and bass, I could expand it with instruments corresponding to each world. In the game this track sounds different depending on which world you're currently standing in, so if you're in the 8-bit influenced world, the map theme will include the previously mentioned Game Boy samples. This was my way of further using the distinct "sound" of each world, to make sure the map theme would work wherever on the map you were.

The Main Theme was made long before the other tracks. I must admit, I actually made it before I was asked to work on Kaleidoscope. When Matthew approached me with his vision of the game and the opening scene though I knew this was a perfect fit. I have a weak spot for bells and mallets (if you hadn't noticed), and the sound used here is one of my absolute favorites, courtesy of ReasonBanks proVITAMIN Refill.

Finally, I just want to thank a few people. I know, this is not a speech, I didn't get a prize but still! Dave for agreeing to contribute an AMAZING track to the game, for being supportive, for releasing the soundtrack, for creating OCR, for basically making my career and being generally awesome. Larry Oji and the other guys at OCR for support and feedback. Jeriaska for being a strong supporter of VGM in all ways imaginable and a good friend. Matt and Sang for making this fantastic game and being generally sexy. Much love!

Keep appreciating, supporting and promoting video game music!"

Mattias Häggström Gerdt

mattias@anosou.com

http://anosou.com

http://twitter.com/anosou

http://ocremix.org/artist/4751/another-soundscape

"When Mattias first linked me to a WIP of his work on Kaleidoscope, I instantly "got" the sound he was going for: the score has a very distinct mechanic & aesthetic, emphasizing a blend of chromatic percussion/mallet elements within a pure, distilled electronica environment.

I think it fits the game quite well, and for my own contribution, I really just tried to respect what he came up with by penning a short original melody and trying to emulate that style to the best of my ability. I had the pleasure of playing the game at PAX '09, and I'm looking forward to the final build, since I love platformers.

This is actually my first original scoring for a video game of any kind, and while it's short and heavily inspired by Mattias's excellent work, I'm still proud of it and glad I could contribute to the game in some way."

David W. Lloyd

djpretzel@ocremix.org

http://ocremix.org

http://twitter.com/djpretzel

http://ocremix.org/artist/4279/djpretzel

Morsel Games:

http://facebook.com/pages/Kaleidoscope/121218962154/

http://twitter.com/playmorsel

http://youtube.com/playmorsel

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Let me just say that it's an honor to have composed the first soundtrack OCR releases this way and an equally big honor to have djpretzel do a track for our game! I hope you enjoy the soundtrack, I look at it as a gift to the VGM community for everything you've given me. Lots of love!

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Hi there! I just wanted to register to say thank you for this album release. It took me almost 2 days on my dial-up connection, but it was worth it! :nicework:

It was a colorful jaunt down Nostalgia Lane from start to finish.

So, thank you once again.

(And an indirect thank you for the patience others may have had downloading from me on the .torrent file; my modem is greedy as heck... sorry!)

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It's not meant in a harsh way!

EDIT: Merely just some constructive criticism. I enjoyed your themes on the most part, and can see that you've got some great potential. Better than what I can write anyway. ;)

Yeah, I didn't take offense or anything but I just wondered about a few things you wrote so I'll go ahead and ask them here. If you prefer to answer them in private just send me a PM or an e-mail to mattias@anosou.com and I'll edit this post.

"The same superficial sound effects are used in each, the developments in each track are mostly unimpressive, and overall, each theme emanates a laid back atmosphere."

Does "superficial sound effects" mean the instruments? And if so, is that bad because they're re-used? I can only think of, say, orchestral soundtracks and many other indie game soundtracks that re-use instruments and I don't understand how it's a bad thing. Same thing about "laid back atmosphere", don't see how it's a bad thing.

"Although Häggström Gerdt wished to give each theme a unique feel, each theme is mostly the same."

I thought this was just plain wrong :tomatoface:

"As well as this, much of the same devices in this theme are used in "Variations on Navigation (Map)" which is also a bit quirky, yet ultimately pretty droll."

This is four different variations on the map theme, re-using the instruments specific to each world when you're in that part of the map. The re-using of instruments in this track is intentional to provide more context on the world map.

"though still inferior to what most trained or professional artists would create."

That's just harsh :D You didn't say why it was inferior and make it sound like I'm not trained nor professional.

"The most original contribution"

I'd like to at least know why the other tracks weren't "original". Original compared to what? Why?

"It's nice to hear something a little different after hearing the hearing the same sound six times in a row."

I don't really understand this. The instrumentations, melodies and rhythm are all different in the tracks. The only thing is I used a similar overall "sound" to create a cohesive soundtrack that didn't sound like it was from 5 different games.

"With such a good background, one would assume that OCR's first original game music release would be a decent album with solid, unique themes. The Kaleidoscope Original Soundtrack, though, falls short of the mark in this regard, being quite short and mostly repetitive."

To me, this seems selling it a bit short by comparing it to much bigger productions/titles. It especially nags me about "solid, unique themes" since it seems taken out of thin air without any explanation or reference to why it's not "unique" or "solid". I agree that it's short and while it's not strange for a small indie production to have a short soundtrack, I do wish it was longer. However I need to defend the "mostly repetitive" part. First because I don't understand how you think all songs sound the same and secondly because Kaleidoscope uses an interactive score that adds different layers to the track. All tracks are one minute long but consist of 5 layers, the soundtrack pieces artificially fades in these layers to create an "album edit". While I understand that might not have been clear I thought it was worth mentioning anyway, much as like the map theme.

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Here is my response (I’m fine keeping this public

Does "superficial sound effects" mean the instruments? And if so, is that bad because they're re-used? I can only think of, say, orchestral soundtracks and many other indie game soundtracks that re-use instruments and I don't understand how it's a bad thing. Same thing about "laid back atmosphere", don't see how it's a bad thing.
I thought this was just plain wrong
I don't really understand this. The instrumentations, melodies and rhythm are all different in the tracks. The only thing is I used a similar overall "sound" to create a cohesive soundtrack that didn't sound like it was from 5 different games

What this refers to, is the fact that the album has the same feel throughout – there’s nothing gripping, there’s nothing exciting, there’s no mix in the instrumentation. It’s not a bad thing, but it’s good to have some diversity. If you wanted each level to sound different… then go and explore some other musical styles, that’s the best way to achieve this.

This is four different variations on the map theme, re-using the instruments specific to each world when you're in that part of the map. The re-using of instruments in this track is intentional to provide more context on the world map.

I appreciate your intentions, and see mostly how this works. Intended or not though, it’s one of your weaker themes.

That's just harsh :D You didn't say why it was inferior and make it sound like I'm not trained nor professional.

I find it hard to reply to this one, I think you're seeing yourself as someone you're not. The track’s catchy, but I don’t see what it accomplishes. Regards not referring to you as being ‘professional’ or ‘trained’ … I hate to burst your bubble, but until I hear some groundbreaking tunes from you (which I’d love to!), I don’t really see you as either of these. I appreciate you probably have a good background in music, but there’s a fair few people out there who do too who wouldn’t describe themselves as either of these. Hell, I’ve been playing piano since I was 5, have released an EP, have took various courses in music (including A Levels in England), and I don’t even consider myself professional or trained.

I'd like to at least know why the other tracks weren't "original". Original compared to what? Why?

By “original,” I mean something that hasn’t been heard before… something that isn’t the same as any old stuff that you can hear on a game music soundtrack.

In reference to your final self-boasting quote, I’m comparing this album to what else the OCR community has to offer. There are some fantastic pieces on here from particularly talented individuals, and as far as I’m concerned, the depth of musical style, cleverness, and uniqueness are in no way represented by this album. This album isn’t just an exhibition of your sound, it’s an exhibition of what the OCR community has to offer. The sooner you realise that, and compare yourself to others around you, you’ll see what I mean! OK?

Feel free to reply, but bear in mind that I don’t visit the forums often, so I apologise if it takes me a while to get back to you.

Take care, and please don’t take any offence by this. I gave the album an honest critical review from what I expect to hear on a soundtrack, I’m sure others feel differently (and can see elsewhere in this thread that they have particularly enjoyed it!), and maybe you should focus on their opinions if mine is a little too harsh for you. I’m sure you’re a talented individual, and I do look forward to your next works.

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I think you're seeing yourself as someone you're not. The track’s catchy, but I don’t see what it accomplishes. Regards not referring to you as being ‘professional’ or ‘trained’ … I hate to burst your bubble, but until I hear some groundbreaking tunes from you (which I’d love to!), I don’t really see you as either of these.

i know it's not my place.. but as a fan, even i feel insulted after reading that :/

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Generally fair opinions that you've shared, Dave, and I think I speak for everyone when we say that we're certainly glad you appreciate OCR's content and hold it to such a high standard--that means we're succeeding in our efforts to bring people quality music :-)

It's definitely fine that you feel that Mattias's music is nothing new, groundbreaking, or particularly noteworthy, that's probably the feeling that most people have of at least 75% of all the music out there, so there's definitely nothing wrong with saying you thought as much. The only thing I feel compelled to address is that while you do have such high expectations for any OCR music release, the Kaleidoscope soundtrack was a soundtrack for a game, not a stand-alone album. The musical direction was probably largely subjective to what the guy who signed Matt's paycheck wanted. I've not played the game, but I have seen footage of it and honestly, I'd say that the simplistic, quirky music fits the context really well. That is, I'm not certain that the game was really screaming out for a large heaping of, well, whatever would be necessary to turn the tracks into remarkably innovative, stand-alone masterpieces on any number of levels.

I realize that reusing the same textures/instruments may seem lazy or uninspiring, but it was done for years with 8-bit and people never really had a problem with it--obviously we're not limited to chip these days, but you get my point. ;-)

Last of all, let me just reiterate that the music was written to fit the context of a game. There have been countless times where I heard music in a game/movie/etc and thought to myself "Oh man, that music is sooo good, I must have it!" so I'd go out and buy it, but found that the experience was different (and often a little disappointing) than when I was hearing it behind the visuals and sound fx. That's possibly the case here (that is, saying that the music isn't quite as effective on it's own as it might be in game).

At any rate, as you yourself have said, I hope you do not take offense to my suggestions, they're just another perspective and by no means am I trying to tell you why your opinion is "wrong" or anything. Again, comments and feedback are always welcome, and I think it's great that you took the time to listen to and formally appraise both Mattias's music, and your expectations of OCR as a whole, it really is appreciated :-)

Thanks for that, and we hope you continue to do it!

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This all seems like good, healthy conversation to me, so no need to label it "drama" :-o

For a shorter game, personally, I thought AnSo's approach made complete sense - develop an overall aesthetic and stick with it, with enough variation between levels so that each world is distinct, but maintaining the overall "Kaleidoscope" sound. Whether that sound is exciting to you or not (I mean, it IS mellow...) is certainly subjective, but personally I don't think it bears a resemblance to any platformer soundtracks I can think of, and I dig platformers. Platformers usually have chirpier, bumpier soundtracks, and this seemed a little more zen to me, so in my mind it's both original and distinct. I can't say it's "hum-in-the-shower" catchy, but when someone asks me what the soundtrack to the game is like, I can recreate in my mind and describe it accurately, which means it's memorable on some level.

If someone can name a platformer with a similar soundtrack, I'd love to check it out, but otherwise I specifically feel like - whether you think it works or not - AnSo did come up with a pretty distinct sound. That's the numero uno thing I like about his score - it doesn't really remind me of anything else. At least, in the VGM world... overall, I'd describe it as "American Beauty OST meets Synths + Chiptunes"...

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I'd describe it as "American Beauty OST meets Synths + Chiptunes"...

With my love for minimalism this especially warms my heart.

Just wanted to thank you guys for your support but right now it seems like I "called you over" to get some backup and I just want to make sure everyone realizes that's not the case :P

Anyway, thanks for the kind words guys and I encourage the discussion!

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  • 2 months later...

It is my personal view that this album is very unique in it's own right. The sound it gives is one of a kind, and the vivid pictures that this album can paint in one's mind are unreal. I greatly enjoy the progressing feel that the album emits from its music. By this I mean that it feels like I'm on a journey from one destination to another, and I'm only getting closer to the end.

This is a really, really cool album. My personal favorite song on the Kaleidoscope Original Soundtrack is Troublesome Travels (Windyridge Harvest), but they all unique in their own claims. Keep it up, and great work to AnotherSoundscape, and djpretzel.

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I've been meaning to comment on this for some time, and finally got around to it.

Definitely something unique here, but not so much of a ufo for anyone who have been listening to japanese VGM for the last 20 years or so.

Haven't seen the game in action, but even without the context, the minimalist approach clearly has its charms.

I think the harsher comments may have come from the fact that most people are used to the canon of saturated soundscapes,

complex melodies and full range of instruments fighting to conquer the listener's attention.

From my point of view, this is a breath of air. Maybe not the freshiest, but at least one that let you take a break from all the generic orchestral-choirs combo,

symphonic rock and other industrial electro/pop driven soundtracks.

Favorites tracks are the groove-based, delightfully nostalgic and joyful Old Oddities, and the evocative Looking Glass with its enthralling synth and bouncy percussions.

Most pieces though resonate with memories of classic gaming music, but have a personality of their own, with this distinct chill and lighthearted sound direction.

The Kaleidoscope soundtrack manages to efficiently bring together entertainement and nostalgia in a very candid way, and with such simplicity that makes it beautiful.

Thanks to AnSo and djp for the ride. ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't played Kaleidoscope but I absolutely love this soundtrack. I really admire the work that was put into keeping each song unique while maintaining a cohesive aesthetic, and I think it pays off in a huge way. Admittedly, I'm also a big fan of "bells and mallets," but I find the style used here to be really vibrant and charming while still allowing for a diverse emotive palette ("Malevolent Mysteries" gives me chills). Maybe I'm a sucker for minimalism and ambient music (just kidding, there's no "maybe"), but I think this is excellent work. I'll be listening to this for a while.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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