Abinox: a soundtrack for soundtracks
From the description, composer lpower was trying to make “Abinox” a soundtrack about soundtracks. So meta. While the goal may seem perplexing, it makes sense once you’ve heard the album; and it helps that the end result is good fun to listen to.
At first, I thought the meta-ness sounded super pretentious and silly. That changed when I listened to the album.
This album is looking at ‘game soundtracks’ as a genre, and expanding on it. For example, classic game soundtracks were relatively ambient and loopable; you should be able to listen to them forever. They also needed to augment the gameplay somehow – a minor key would make the cave creepier, an up-tempo piece could make the race more intense.
That’s the sort of thing that Abinox then expands on. For one, some of these songs don’t loop, because this isn’t a soundtrack (per se). Each song is basically a soundtrack archetype that is expanded on and fleshed out into a more fully-formed piece. Yes, it’s still relatively ambient and works well in the background, but like a classical piece, it expands and grows into different movements. For example, look at the song below:
The title is self-explanatory, no? Listen to it – it’s clearly a fight scene, maybe paired with a race for your life. A dogfight, maybe? It’s exciting and tense, and I can easily visualize the sort of level that this could be paired with.
The chaos at the beginning and the driving baseline pump throughout the piece, with a few notable exceptions. For example, at 4:05 chaos pauses, then returns much slower and controlled. Then it fades to a strong duet line for a little while; here I see the protagonist and the sidekick still on the run but taking a moment to plan or reassess. Shortly after, we only a single, low melody line. Maybe this is the villain ordering his troops onward? Then the chaos restarts, the enemy is back, and the dogfight is on again.
This wouldn’t work as a game soundtrack – the piece has distinct movements and changes that would mean the player would have to be in the right place at the right time. But it’s still almost a soundtrack. Perhaps a better way to think about it is as a soundtrack to a theoretical playthrough – noting the player’s failures and successes, the choices they make, and their style. I can see how this is a meta-soundtrack: it starts as a soundtrack, but then uses those ideas to change each song into a story. It’s a great album: I love how it sounds, and I love how it makes me think about game soundtracks as a genre.