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Alan Wake OST Review

31/05/2010 Artistic Soundtrack Gamer Review
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Alan Wake OST

Alan Wake




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Alan Wake has a soundtrack that mixes alt-rock, psychedelia and pulp-twang with Petri Alanko's haunting orchestral landscapes. Although more noticeably uneven when out of the game, the mix manages to create a pleasurable and less earnest listen.

The soundtrack is available in the Alan Wake Limited Edition box set. Not only nicely packaged in a faux book box, it also comes with a real novel, the game itself and plenty of other goodies. The soundtrack is on a CD and as such will play on any CD player. My mp3 player seemed to struggle to bring up names for each track, so I had to add them manually - listed at bottom.

Alanko has created a musical grammar for Alan Wake that reminded me of those sad unfolding 90ís dramas. The solitary piano and shivering violins avoid becoming too stereotyped though as does the brooding development of darker tones.

A Winter's Dream sets us up for forthcoming disasters and sets out Alanko's stall - a sweeping epic backdrop to play against. Although never becoming choral, these recreate similar emotion to Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings orchestration.

Welcome to Bright Falls is most iconic offering here, and reoccurs most often in the game - as well as plenty of trailers over the last few years. The strings take a lead throughout but are book-ended by piano and woodwind that combine to create moments shrouded in real emotions.

The Clicker is the shortest of the tracks and seems to be more functional than fully formed. Here, that album gives away a video gaming remit. Tom the Driver then dials things down as we move from the sweeping movements of the big screen to something much more like TV. And it all works well to signpost the albumís change of gear towards a more modern varied crescendo.

Where the grand motifs of Alanko touch on something disturbing, these modern songs keep that feeling rooted in reality.

Nestled amongst these orchestral pieces are some left-field modern tracks. It would have been easy for Remedy to reach for familiar or well known pieces to punctuate their game, but instead there has been considerable work tracking down these rare and underrated songs.

Young Men Dead from Black Angels is real neo-psychedelia with an energy that makes you want to reach for the controller again. We move from this back to Alanko's work, but not before being stopped off at the amiably droopy vocals of Anomie Belleís How Can I Be Sure.

By keeping the minor theme, both these tracks create a real sense of soulful blues. Where the grand motifs of Alanko touch on something disturbing, these modern songs keep that feeling rooted in reality.

Barry Adamson is case in point, with a gravely lyric and blues lick, his Beaten Side of Town's half-spoken half-sung narration brings to mind front-porch improvisation as much as anything intentional.

From here we are taken straight into the glamour of Barry Adamson's The Beaten Side of Town. This is a real rock-opus, story within a story, and in the game a happy break from Wake's concerns about the night.

It made the hairs on my neck stand up as its staccato strumming and electric lead called me into a world of 70's James Bond mystery.

Dead Combo's Pulp Fiction plucked melody stands out amongst this company. It made the hairs on my neck stand up as its staccato strumming and electric lead called me into a world of 70's James Bond mystery.

We are returned to Alankoís safe hands to finish. It left me impressed by the balance between well chosen original tracks and the commissioned material. It's a combination that feels much more alive and human than some more earnest video games.

But as an album this mix still jars a little. Iíd like to be given the space to journey into one or other of these musical camps. With the upcoming CD release of the score this will soon be possible, I only hope they also do right by their other musical choices and offer a CD of the modern music too.

Like the game that dialled down its open world ambitions, the soundtrack also keeps its feet on the ground. When it revels in the TV genre, rather than trying to be too filmic, the album really delivers. And when this works it adds a genuine feel of longevity to the game as a whole.

Alan Wake Soundtrack Track Listing

01. Petri Alanko - A Writer's Dream [1:54]
02. Black Angels - Young Men Dead [5:34]
03. Petri Alanko - Welcome to Bright Falls [4:26]
04. Petri Alanko - The Clicker [1:51]
05. Anomie Belle - How Can I Be Sure [4:33]
06. Petri Alanko - Tom the Diver (Piano+Cello) [3:13]
07. Barry Adamson - The Beaten Side of Town [4:48]
08. Old Gods of Asgard - The Poet and the Muse [4:18]
09. Dead Combo - Electrica Cadente [3:01]
10. Petri Alanko - Tom the Diver (Orchestra) [2:49]
Written by Cat Spencer

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Cat Spencer writes the Soundtrack Gamer column.

"Video game soundtracks are often overlooked and frequently missunderstood. For me though, they are as much a part of my gaming experience as the games themsevles."

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