sumthing else

Insider Blog

Yoku Island Express Cover

Sumthing Else Music Works releases the Yoku’s Island Express Original Video Game Soundtrack featuring an original score from Jesse Harlin (Mafia III, Star Wars: The Old Republic). Yoku’s Island Express is a family friendly, quirky, open world pinball game that allows the player to expand beyond the typical pinball experience. The soundtrack is available digitally on May 29 with the video game’s release.

“Yoku’s Island Express is an adorable and charming oddity. In short, it’s an open world Metroidvania pinball game about a tropical island with a Cthulhian elder god problem. As strange a mashup as that description is, I knew I needed to create something just as charmingly strange musically so that the score could function as a character in the game all on its own. Game players hear everything from beat boxing to bebop, medieval madrigals to chiptune basslines, and sinister reggae to Keystone Kops-styled piano chase music. There’s a song with pinball machine sounds in the percussion tracks, and that same track has banjo, ocarina, talking drum, and a drunken trombone. There’s even one track that uses the DNA sequence of yeast run through a robot-voice generating vocoder as part of the backing track. The score is definitely a little out there,” Jesse said of the game’s outlandish sound.

In scoring Yoku’s Island Express, Jesse experienced total creative freedom: “The developer Villa Gorilla was super encouraging about all of the nutty ideas I wanted to try. I got to just stretch out and run as wild as I wanted with it. They basically said, ‘Just do whatever you want. Just do you.’ And for a composer who’s spent 15 years working with other people’s franchises like Star Wars, MARVEL, Avatar, and Futurama, that was not exactly an easy request to fulfill. I had to go back to those old influences to figure out who I was again. What exactly is my own musical voice? Turns out that it’s kind of quirky and weird, but it works. And in a sense, that’s exactly the same way I’d describe Yoku’s Island Express. It’s quirky and weird, but it works.

The imaginative design of the game and the freedom to do whatever I wanted was the biggest influence on the score. I ended up building the soundtrack to be like those in the games I grew up playing: melody is king and the goal is to make you walk away from it humming the songs for the rest of the day. I basically tried to make it a chain of earworms – songs that get stuck in your brain and then won’t leave you alone – but, you know, in a good way.”

Yoku has arrived on Mokumana and he’s ready for the easy life, soaking up the sun and delivering parcels on a tropical paradise! However, an ancient Island deity is trapped in a restless sleep – and it’s all down to Yoku to traverse the island using a unique blend of pinball mechanics, platforming and open world exploration, in an amazing adventure to help those in need! Flip and bump our pint-sized protagonist around the stunning hand-painted island on your quest to rebuild the post-office, and wake an old god from its deep slumber. For more information on the game visit

Arena of Valor Cover

Sumthing Else Music Works releases the official soundtrack from the best-selling mobile game Arena of Valor. Developed by Tencent Games, the game’s epic fantasy/sci-fi soundtrack is now available digitally from Amazon, iTunes,, and other music services¹ throughout all international markets² outside of China.

The Arena of Valor official soundtrack album includes the original music scores composed by Hollywood Music In Media Award winner Jeff Broadbent (PlanetSide 2) and frequent Tencent Games collaborators Matthew Earl (Moonlight Blade) and Zhao Hongfei (Honor of Kings). Combining anthemic choir and orchestra with modern hybrid synths and ethnic flavors the soundtrack provides an emotional and captivating musical experience.

In Arena of Valor players compete in intense matches featuring unique characters, including DC Comic superheroes Batman, The Joker, Wonder Woman, and more. Available on both Android and iOS platforms, the game is one of the most popular mobile games in the world. For more information visit

¹ Digital Stores (Worldwide): 100+ digital platforms including key digital sites such as iTunes,, Spotify, Google Music, Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Red,

² International Sales Coverage: United States, Canada, Mexico, U.K., Ireland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Middle East, Africa, Latin America, The Caribbean, Pan-Russia, Asia Pacific, Japan.

A relative newcomer to the video game space, Nikola Nikita Jeremic is proving to be a composer to keep an eye on. His appreciation for the medium comes through loud and clear in his latest project, Starpoint Gemini: Warlords. Geno recently had a chance to sit down with the up-and-comer and get some insight into Nikola’s creative process, his set up, and his inspirations for the soundtrack’s sci-fi soundscapes…

GENO: The sound of space is generally approached in terms of its scope: massive, formless and uncharted. It’s been well served when scored from this angle, but many struggle to maintain an LP’s worth of momentum and the message devolves into a meandering greyspace by record’s end. Your recordings for Starpoint Gemini: Warlords feel utterly counterpoint to this general working order. Everything feels 1:1 where you can reach out, interacting with even the furthest set points on your map; it’s an incredibly intimate score and all the more exciting and singular because of it. Can you talk a little bit about the origins of this record and why it feels so up close? Did you have a finite direction already in mind before ever scoring a single note? And what were the tenets that guided your early process?

NIKOLA: The idea for this type of soundtrack came from my initial meeting with development team at Little Green Men studios, and we’ve had a lot of brainstorming sessions before I even started working on the actual score for the game. I first got in touch with them in 2015 and I’ve sent them two demos (one ambient and one action) for review, and then we’ve decided to go for that type of Homeworld and EvE Online sound. Luckily enough, all of us in the team are big fans of those soundtracks and the stuff that Vangelis did during the 70’s and the 80’s. It feels so up close and personal because it is something that I’ve always wanted to do, and I gave myself 100% to this score. I am a big fan of big analogue synth sounds and I always wanted to do a score based almost completely on synth sounds. I was mostly guided by concept art and gameplay of the game and my sheer imagination. To be honest, this entire score is one big one-man jam session with a lot of improvisation. I wanted to make the ambient tracks uniformed, so they can be played on a playlist inside the game engine, but still make it feel like a single track which is never-ending. The action music approach was a bit different, and I wanted to make them all driven by big percussion beds layered with sequenced synth basses and weird noises with some occasional orchestral elements here and there. The biggest challenge was making the three thematic cues for the credits and the main menu. I always wanted to write a memorable melody for a game franchise, so I guess SPG Warlords is my first shot at this.


GENO: ‘Horizon’ and ‘The Expanse’ are breathtaking; there is this texture to them, a melancholy that you have made exist in physical form. I’ve tried to tear them apart to try to get at what exactly makes them so genuinely bereaved, but there is this glistening, devastated warmth that you’ve achieved almost blessedly free of organic instruments (there are a few). Was this your aim with both of these compositions and how did you make these particular works so expressive and lyrical?

NIKOLA: Are you reading my mind by any chance? 😊 HAHA! 😊 Yes, that was the point for those two tracks, and a general feel of emptiness and melancholy was the driving force of the ambient tracks in the game. I mean, you’re all alone traveling through this entire galaxy with loads of dangerous encounters waiting for you behind every asteroid field etc… But still this loneliness is so soothing and relaxing. I dedicated special attention to creating original synth pads and textures in order to create this washy big soundscape for these tracks. I also wanted to make some sort of minimalist leit-motif to make them lyrical. I had the similar approach to other ambient tracks. ‘Horizon’ is a sort of an homage to Vangelis’ early minimalist works.

 GENO: Starpoint Gemini: Warlords feels incredibly live, improvised even; this is brilliant because it feels absolutely unencumbered, unpredictable and this freedom translates directly to more affecting set pieces. Was this recorded in a semi or completely live setting? Your action cues ‘War Machine’, ‘Form The Line’, ‘Red Line’, and ‘Loose Cannon’ are inspired in their bestial clanging. What sorts of ideas did you want to get across about these tracks specifically, and what’s your general feeling toward the scoring of action in 2018? Are you more at home creating this sort of hard driven rain, or do you feel more aligned with the introspective, probing nature the likes of ‘The Expanse’, and ‘Horizon’?

NIKOLA: Like I said, the entire score for this is one big improvising jam session where I played everything. It is done completely “in the box” with software instruments and a few hardware synths and guitars that I own. So, it is sort of recorded with software instruments, but they were performed live by me. I played every single note, and there were no quantizations of notes. I really wanted to make everything feel live, even the sequenced rhythmic synths.

Regarding the action cues, the sole idea was to make them pounding and angry. ‘Loose Cannon’ is a good example of this idea, because it is this huge wall of sound which so intense and it really drives the action moments in the game. Your adrenaline really jumps when you’re surrounded by an armada of enemy ships and you need to take them out fast because your shields are going down from all the shooting. To be honest, I do like writing hard-hitting action stuff, but somehow, I feel more at home with these soundscapes and ambient music in general. If I ever get the chance to work again on another big MMO title (I worked on Destiny 2), I think that I’d be most helpful as an additional music composer for ambient music. You know those big ambient cues when you’re exploring the worlds of The Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars, World of Warcraft and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt? That’s what I’d love to do! 😊

GENO: Let’s talk about ‘Unempty Space': there is this heavy, oppressive and otherworldly presence here and it’s really, really unnerving. Congratulations!!! It is no easy task making space frightening again. This is so much more than an application of stock reverb and looping dissonance. Talk to me about how you’ve made space sound terrifying again. Are there certain keys, scales, or chords you feel naturally lend themselves to fear? Is it something you applied to your work on this LP? What was your methodology as it pertained to balancing all the disparate elements of space? Is it chiefly about defining the color, the sound, or the ambient noise? Can it be pared down to a few simple traits?

NIKOLA: Thank you so much for the kind words! 😊 ‘Unempty Space’ is actually the very first demo I sent the developers back in 2015, and they’ve loved it so much that we decided to keep it in the game as a featured track. This track is really what I meant when I said that everything was improvised and played live. I just started messing with some sounds and started sketching and eventually ‘Unempty Space’ is what came out of it. I think this track was done only by using Urs Heckman Zebra 2 soft synth, I am not sure. When I approach a track that needs to be unnerving and dark, I don’t think about chords and notes, I usually think about the type of sound I want to achieve. So, here I was looking for the type of sound that would make me feel uneasy and I went with that. I played a few notes and go the track going. Most of it was revolving around the key of D minor I think and diminished neighboring chords. The reverb was straight out of the synth, nothing additional was used here. My personal formula for portraying the vastness and darkness of space is to have big low-end drones and layer some different pads and soundscapes on top of that. But you have to be careful when balancing the sonic ranges of the individual instruments in order not to make everything too washy and muddy, because that’s a common issue for me when working on these types of tracks. You can achieve this type of sound with a single software synth and one reverb that can glue everything together if you’re creative enough.


GENO: Let’s talk kit for a minute; I’m extremely curious as to what this setup would look like on the floor of a stage. The guitars, the line of instruments… the list/s of players. Is this something that could feasibly be performed by a small group of musicians, or would it be something on a much larger scale? What exactly am I hearing on this LP? Your synth sound is particularly wonderful, really daring. What sorts of synthesizers would you say are your “go to”? For this record, did you employ older, outdated synths? Would you say you have a passion for the instrument in general? Which of any instrument did you find most effective in conveying your message on this recording?

NIKOLA: I think this entire soundtrack could be performed on a stage with a few musicians on synthesizers, a guitar player and a smaller orchestra. I like smaller orchestras, because the sound is always delicate and intimate, plus it doesn’t get in the way of additional instruments standing out. What you’re hearing on this LP is exactly that. A few good synths, a Fender Stratocaster and a small orchestra. I don’t own many hardware synths even though I am a massive synth enthusiast. My go-to soft-synths here were U-He Zebra 2 and Arturia V collection (CS 80, Moog, Jupiter and ARP 2600). When it comes to hardware synths, I used my Yamaha DX7 and two KORG Volcas (Volca Bass and Volca Keys), and I can’t say enough praises about Volcas. Truly affordable and easy to use analogue synths with massive sounds. I ran most of my hardware synths through a few guitar pedals to make them sound a bit more massive, and I also had my electric guitars on top of that. I am a passionate fan of synths and guitars, and I always find a way to include them in every work that I do, be it a sci-fi or epic fantasy. The CEO of LGM studios said for example that the track called ‘Frontier’ sounds like something that Vangelis and David Guilmour would do together, and that’s probably the biggest compliment I ever got as a musician.😊

GENO: The completed work for Starpoint Gemini: Warlords, is lengthy. Making even short albums can be a painful experience. About how long did it take you to complete (start and end date), and what did your cutting room floor look like? Did anything stand out about the recording of the LP to you, i.e.: longer demo period, altering course, or starting over from scratch? Is there a particular song that you personally enjoy the most and why?

NIKOLA: If we don’t count the demoing period in 2015, the actual work on the soundtrack took no more than a month and a half in continuity, so that’s almost one track on every two days. From mid-November 2016 to first week of January of 2017 was the entire soundtrack done, including the mixing. You can say, I was highly motivated to work on this, because the genre is something I am really into. The developers actually had very few remarks for the soundtrack, and it is something that I have never experienced before, and I couldn’t believe it. I know it sounds unbelievable, and maybe I sound a bit full of myself, but they really had few remarks and they were signing off every track on the day it was finished and it went straight into the game. The best time I had was while working on ambient tracks, because I really experimented with the sounds for my synths. But what really stands out is when I sat down to work the main opening theme that plays in the main menu, and that was the last thing I did for this soundtrack. I got into panic mode because I didn’t have any idea about the melody that would represent the world of SPG Warlords, and it hit me quite by accident while I was improvising with this lead sound that plays the melody and I knew I had it. After that it was easy to create everything around it. My personal favorites on this soundtrack are ‘Warlords Ascension’ (the main theme), ‘Still Waters Run Deep’, ‘Unempty Space’ and ‘Frontier’ because they really represent what I was going for with this soundtrack, to present the vastness and loneliness of a space adventure.

GENO: I mentioned earlier that the record feels free of interference from the outside. Were you given total artistic control or were there guidelines via concept art and storyboards? Do you find this sort of guidance helpful? Were there ever moments during the process where you hit a wall and had to walk away from the project for a few days? What was the most difficult composition for Starpoint Gemini: Warlords?

NIKOLA: This is one of the very first projects I ever got where I was given total independence and artistic control, and that’s a double-edged sword because you’re the one who’s here to create this new sound from scratch for a big universe, and there’s always this small fear of not being good enough when the clients are taking their first listen. It’s a horrifying experience when you’re looking at faces of your clients while they are listening to your music for the first time. Regarding SPG Warlords, I never hit a wall and I was never away from the project during the composing process because I was truly inspired to create something that’s really me. Concept art and a short brief about the game were very helpful and one of my screens always had a scene from the game on it while I was composing, because I really had to immerse myself in this world. The hardest challenge was the main menu theme honestly. I always have issues when trying to compose something that needs to be minimalistic and simple enough, but still sounds big.

GENO: With any type of project comes stories, hilarious and horrifying. Did the sessions for Starpoint Gemini: Warlords yield any of this sort of folklore? Were the master reels stuck in transit for three weeks in Alpine, Texas? Did the studio get snowed in during a blizzard? Are there any memories you’d like to share about your time creating this score?

NIKOLA: Well the studio was snowed in during that period because it was a tough winter that year and I didn’t get out much. 😊 A couple of weird situations happened during those times. Once I was recording this guitar melody for ‘Frontier’ and I played something that sounded really awesome to me and I improvised all over the track, but then I realized the recording button wasn’t on. 😊 Another thing happened when I prepared the masters to send you guys for publishing, and when I started uploading them, I realized the master output was muted, so I almost sent you 60 minutes of silence haha! 😛


GENO: Music is generally a lifelong occupation. It starts with admiration at a young age that moves to active creation shortly thereafter. Is making music something you’ve always wanted to do or did you have other plans that were put aside in favor of this goal? And… one of my favorite questions that I always ask musicians: did you have a high school band, did you record with them, and can I hear it? What was your first instrument?

NIKOLA: Since my early childhood I was always surrounded by music. I remember I learned to use cassette tape and record players to listen to music on headphones that were bigger than my head at that time. I started dreaming about doing music in my teens and I kept nagging my parents to buy me an electric guitar, but then I got an acoustic and I was bored to death because I wanted to make loud noise that came from the radio. Of course, I had a band in high school with a few of my friends. It was a heavy metal band but it didn’t last for long, we had only two songs at that time and thank God there are no recordings of them! 😊 During my time with the band I got interested in soundtracks and started experimenting with keyboards, so I got hooked on synths pretty fast and to the so-called “cinematic” sound. I never got a formal musical education, I learned everything I know by myself from reading books and listening to music. When I talk about music I don’t talk about theory or harmony or counterpoint, I talk about feelings and where I want to take the listeners. That was the only thing I wanted to do and I have invested every cell in my body to make it a living profession for me, because it’s rather difficult to be able to do it here in Serbia and it is why I started networking via Facebook (Thank you Mark Zuckerberg 😛 ).

GENO: Finally, what’s next for you? Are you planning a string of new recording projects or are you currently looking to take a break and decompress? Any final thoughts for listeners and fans on Starpoint Gemini: Warlords?

NIKOLA: I am very bad at having breaks, because I am really enjoying what I do, so right now I am mostly working on smaller indie games for local developers here. There will be a couple of interesting projects here and there during this year, I hope. I am looking forward to seeing anyone playing SPG Warlords on Xbox One and they are always welcome to join me on my adventures in-game while we are waiting for future releases. 😊 I truly hope the people will like the soundtrack and enjoy listening to it as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

GENO: Thank you so much for stopping in today and letting us get this fantastic behind the scenes look at your incredible score. We wish you the very best in 2018 and are looking forward to all of your future recordings.     

NIKOLA: Thank you for having me here as a guest, and I wish you all the best in your future releases! 😊

Starpoint Gemini Warlords (Original Game Soundtrack) is available on!


Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.


UPDATE: All codes have been taken! To those that got a hold of one – enjoy!


To celebrate today’s release of the X-Morph: Defense & Zombie Driver HD soundtracks, EXOR Studios has generously supplied us with a number of FREE copies of the games to give out to you fine people. X-Morph: Defense is a unique blend of a top-down sci-fi shooter and tower defense game, while Zombie Driver HD is just pure zombie-slaughtering vehicular mayhem.

Get your free download code below – just make sure you are following the link to the correct gaming platform and region. If you have any trouble collecting your code, please contact us at Supplies are limited though, so get ‘em while they’re hot!

For your free games, follow the appropriate links below:

XMorphXbox  XMorphSteam

XMorphPs4NA  XMorphPs4EU

ZombieDriverHDXbox  ZombieDriverHDSteam

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of these great soundtracks from composer Pawel Stelmach right here at

XMorph Defense Cover  Zombie Driver HD Cover

For more on X-Morph: Defense & Zombie Driver HD, visit http://www.xmorphdefense.com

Recently I’ve been noticing some changes in gaming. The developers and players have been trying new approaches to gaming. With the reception of games like Journey, Portal 2 and the upcoming Sea of Thieves, it’s clear the tried and true competitive nature of gaming is being challenged. Multiplayer is evolving in a fascinating way. As a hardcore competitive gamer on every platform, you’d think that I would feel disdain for this non-competitive trend, but it is quite the contrary. These games have provided some of the most enriching experiences I have had since I got my start on my NES. These are multiplayer-centric games that do not include leaderboards, that force you to cooperate with other players and encourage you to inhabit and explore a vast world together.


These experiences are tailored to forge a bond between complete strangers, or strengthen a bond between friends playing together, and I love it. During my first playthrough of “Journey”, I played alone for about 15 minutes before I saw another cloaked figure approaching me across the dunes. This was due to the seamless multiplayer system in the game. There was no load screen, no notification that someone had joined my game – just another explorer cresting the dunes.  With no voice chat, our only method of communicating with each other was through a series of in-game “chirps” that the characters could make. My new partner and I completed the rest of the game together in one sitting, going through the trials and tribulations of reaching the summit of a distant mountain as a team. It was only after the credits had rolled that I was given the Playstation handle of my counterpart. It was in Japanese characters. I like to think that my partner was another person just like me, but living across the world, speaking another language. I was shocked when I saw this, and it gave me a deeper appreciation for the multiplayer systems at work. We didn’t need to speak the same language because we already shared the in-game language of chirping. Even though we probably lead completely different lives in different countries, we shared a wonderful gaming experience together that I will never forget.

portal 2

Playing these forward-thinking games with old friends is also a fascinating experience. If you think you know someone, play Portal 2’s cooperative campaign with them. You will gain a deeper insight into their mind, and some of the more difficult puzzles will undoubtedly test the strength of your relationship. I played the co-op portion of Portal 2 with one of my oldest friends, and with each new challenge, I learned something new about the way he processes information approaches problems. This is a bond-building experience wholly excluded by games like Call of Duty and a number of other mindless shooters.


sea of thieves

Lastly, I am very excited for the release of Sea of Thieves, for a number of reasons. For one, the game spits in the face of one of the most frequent and invasive systems in multiplayer gaming: a linear leveling system. The only unlocks available in Sea of Thieves are cosmetic. You start the game with everything you need to enjoy this amazing sandbox of pirate hijinks. There are missions that upgrade your rank with certain factions, but that only gives you access to more interesting missions, which can be shared with your crew mates regardless of rank. There is no grinding for resources or XP. This open system leaves players to enjoy the game the way it is meant to be enjoyed – together, no questions asked.

I’ve played the alpha and beta and have had more amazing experiences with other players than I can count. I’ve earned a stranger’s trust and double-crossed them to keep all the booty for myself, I’ve offered the ultimatum ‘join my armada or be put to death’, forged uneasy alliances with other crews to conquer a skeleton stronghold, I’ve been thrown in the brig for getting drunk on grog before a fight with another ship. These were all amazing experiences that all spawned from my freedom to interact with other players who were, like myself, just trying to have fun playing this open world pirate experience. Nobody was grinding for XP or trying to complete challenges, they just wanted to live the pirate life.

All of these experiences are possible due to the proximity chat included in the game – a feature I’ve sorely missed since the early days of Halo. When you are in game chat, any players remotely close to you can hear what you say. You can shout at each other from ship to ship, negotiate treaties and alliances, hear the last words of a pirate you just cut down – you may even hear some pirates sing a shanty for you!  The possibilities for this chat are endless.

I like to see games such as these challenging the status quo when it comes to multiplayer experiences. Not that I hate “normal” multiplayer experiences, I play Halo, Battlefield, Rocket League, Overwatch, DOTA and many other mainstream multiplayer games. I do however relish the opportunity to engage with players in situations that don’t devolve into silent, cold-blooded murder. Let me know your thoughts on the matter in the comments below!


Todd “Badger” Christensen is a lifelong gamer with a passion for good gameplay, be it on the high seas, in the rocket league arena or winning a lane in DOTA. You can find him Twitch streaming on Xbox with the gamertag badger989. Feel free to follow him to see all of his sweet clips!


Sumthing Else Music Works and Big Blue Bubble, Canada’s largest independent mobile gaming company, today released the vinyl edition of the soundtrack to the top-grossing global game franchise, My Singing Monsters. Released as a limited edition of 500 units on standard weight translucent blue vinyl, the album is presented in a deluxe gatefold package (pictured). Featuring the game’s catchy original songs composed and produced by Dave Kerr at Big Blue Bubble, My Singing Monsters Original Soundtrack is also available on digital and streaming outlets worldwide through Sumthing Else Music Works

My Singing Monsters is a unique musical world-builder game for mobile phones and tablets, where each of the game’s lovable monster characters has a unique musical part to play in a song. Players strive to collect all of the monsters across various islands in the Monster World in order to complete and discover each island’s unique song. As the recipient of several awards and a global fan base in the millions, it is no surprise My Singing Monsters is a top ranking title.

Track Listing:

1. Loading Music
2. Plant Island
3. Cold Island
4. Air Island
5. Water Island
6. Earth Island
7. Gold Island

8. Ethereal Island
9. Tribal Island
10. Wublin Island
11. The Continent
12. Space Island
13. Cloud Island
14. Cave Island

See some of the magic that takes place when making the music for the game by watching this YouTube video ( or to see what people are talking about check out some My Singing Monsters gameplay (

For more information on My Singing Monsters visit:

2018 is a mere ten days away and with that realization, we at have eagerly compiled our choices for our favorite records of the last twelve months. It’s a difficult task to place one score over the other as we feel so very strongly about each of these entries and artists that we’ve decided that for this year at least, they all represent the number one spot in some way, shape or form. At, we love this genre of music above all else and are eternally grateful that our sentiments are shared by such a vibrant and wonderful community. From all of us at, have a safe and wonderful holiday and we will see you in the new year. Now…onto that list.


Rather than Geno attempting to take on this task alone, we’ve asked Bernard to collaborate closely with him. Generally, they hate each other, but they’ve decided to call a truce for the length of this feature. Neither seems to know if the truce will hold.

The Music Of Persona 5

Composer Shoji Meguro

Written summary by Geno

Geno 1

Listen: Wake Up, Get Up, Get Out There

On July 3rd, 1973, a frail and visibly exhausted David Bowie stood before an audience to declare his time as Ziggy Stardust had run its course and that in fact, this would be his last show. It wasn’t of course, but Bowie, sensing the atrophy and general fatigue of his own creation sought an exit that would allow him ample space to cultivate in directions beyond zones that were both familiar and habitually referenced. Bowie realized, that the termination point of the Ziggy Stardust character was necessary to reframe and extend his legacy beyond what some might have seen as nothing more than gimmicks or sleight of hand. The answer was simple to Bowie: walk away.

In this very same manner, longtime Persona series composer Shoji Meguro, had for many years accepted the congratulations lavished upon and afforded him by his work. Rightly so, 2008’s Persona 4 solidified him as a brand, a name considered for permanent, multiple effigies found dotted across parts of his native homeland. Meguro’s sound was his very own, his signature absolutely identifiable, and his ticket sales…assured. So…his band played and played and played. This went on for years. Then, suddenly, Meguro disappeared. His output seemingly stalled mid-ascension. In this interim,his likeness became attached to music largely remixed or rearranged for projects already long in gestation. Meguro, like Bowie, had walked away. Rather than placate an expectant audience with another serviceable rubber-stamped setlist, Meguro instead gnashed his teeth, toiling alone for years and out came Persona 5.

Absenteeism has done well for Meguro, however, as complacency is replaced indiscriminately with a slovenly rabidness that Meguro,eyes open, mouth agape, sees fit to saturate these proceedings with. Persona 5 maintains some of Meguro’s autographed whistle tests, but the time spent tinkering within 5’s pupa shell is a fascinating process of anarchic rebranding. Persona 5 is Meguro delivering phrases in neither Kanji or full English, but rather some hypnotic hybrid language, that while largely untranslatable, remains utterly gripping. Meguro is also increasingly insistent that his way is the only way forward…with good reason. Beyond neon, beyond tilted angles, and  beyond logotype, this is a man in full.

The Music Of Nier Automata

Composer Keiichi Okabe

 Written summary by Bernard

Geno 2

     Listen: The Weight Of The World

“Once in a generation”, would probably be the most succinct and cliched way of describing NieR: Automata, but that kind of small-mouthed praise falls short when we talk about Automata’s music. “Once in an era” maybe, or “Once in a lifetime”. Keiichi Okabe had the nearly impossible task that was following up his previous masterpiece, the NieR: Gestalt & Replicant soundtrack from 2010. This behemoth of a burden was made even more difficult by the fact that Yoko Taro is a notoriously hard man to work with.The inherent lunacy present in the themes of Automata would’ve made it easy to create a disjointed, foul mess of a score that had no coherence and destroyed engagement from the player.

Okabe work was a resounding success; we received sorrowful punches from pieces like “Mourning”, we felt the bleakness on asking the question on what it means to be human by listening to “A Beautiful Song” and “Emil: Despair”, we soared above the carnage of the battlefield and inundated our souls with hope and defiance with the game’s final theme “The Weight of the World / The End of YoRHa”. The deep emotional resonance felt during the game’s conclusion is enough to make a grown man tear up, an expressive and beautiful parable that will stay with you long after the controller has been put down.

The Music Of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Composer Manaka Kataoka

Written summary by Geno

Geno 3

Listen: The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild: Main Theme

The Legend Of Zelda has for years, as a series, labored inexplicably and to its detriment with an inability to alter its musical typeset. Its painted corner is one in which shade and texture are oils and base waiting for reapplication. Discussions to darken or lighten are muted affairs with the same roundtable vote that errs on the side of silencing dissenters. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild and its divisive cleavage is the furthest stray from its days as a pre-fabricated edge. Lead composer Manaka Kataoka’s choices are ones that finally place adage and nostalgia in the furthest rearview. In many ways, Kataoka seems intent to score beyond the soundstage for which he was first employed, as The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is very much a personal statement from Kataoka, as it is the assigned backdrop to a series now approaching 40. Kataoka’s touch is one that judiciously mutes the franchise’s stubbornly repetitive call-outs, its overplayed bombast, and its typically indelicate handling of moments of introspection. Kataoka’s removal of Zelda’s more inherently theme park elements reveals and restores a deftness and subtlety seemingly long trampled underfoot.

The Music Of Touhou 16: Hidden Star in Four Seasons

Composer Jun’ya Ota, “ZUN”

Written summary by Bernard

 Geno 4 

Listen:The Concealed Four Seasons (Okina Matara’s Theme)

A dream is shared among millions around the world, the dream shapeshifts and morphs as it jumps from mind to mind. But somehow, it all comes back to its origin: Jun’ya Ota, “ZUN”, had done it yet again, painstakingly for the sixteenth time and counting. Touhou had always been sort of an oddball, a weird singularity on the already weird Japanese independent scene. But the music, the music was always right. Intoxicating and exuberant, much like the whole franchise, it constantly skirts the line between playfulness and seriousness. A fascinating and powerful dreamlike feeling is produced, that refuses to be pinned down as a self-serving exercise or an imitative, parodic recitation of Eastern mythology. ZUN is in top form in Hidden Star in Four Seasons, and the journey he takes us through spans every color in nature: from the beautiful pink cherry blossom of spring, to the serene white of snows in winter.

The Music Of Resident Evil 7

Composers Akiyuki Morimoto, Miwako Chinone, Satoshi Hori, Cris Velasco, and Brian D’Oliveira

Written summary by Geno

 Geno 5 

 Listen: Main Hall

It seems that composers in the modern day have forgotten that horror is an element largely devoid of sound. With this in mind, the artist’s application then becomes a route of brute force in an attempt to pull their audience along a desired line with smoke plumes and poorly costumed thrills, but this guidance, this hand holding, only deadens the delivery of cortisol to the brain ensuring a reaction that is subdued, easily manipulated and controlled. Not so with Resident Evil 7. More a cast than conclave, Resident Evil 7’s multiple composers are each actors playing to individual scenes under widely contrasting circumstances. Disparities aside, the core of their work is one that emphasizes silence almost to vertigo. It is unobtrusive and distant, but this detachment is merely in the service of heightening some measureless form of malevolent dissonance, an unsteady clanging…perpetual ambiguity. Presence, not companionship, is everything a horror record should aspire to be, and Resident Evil 7’s score is an omnipresent diary of observation; it watches but has no inclination of ever interceding.

The Music Of Ruiner

Composer Susumu Hirasawa

Written summary by Bernard

 Geno 6 

 Listen: Sidewalks And Skeletons

RUINER was perhaps one of those games that slid under some people’s radar. As a game it wasn’t exceptional. One of many stick shooters that don’t really reinvent the wheel, but provide solid entertainment for those of us with twitchy fingers and masochistic streaks. The main driving forces behind the soundtrack are two young electronica prodigies, “Zamilska” and “Sidewalks and Skeletons”, and they do not disappoint. The game’s score seethes with a retro futurism straight from the 80s, an electro-pop mix of hyper alert bounciness, and gleaming tubes with cables that connect Kraftwerk and dreams to the far horizon. It’s brutal and unforgiving, while at the same time melancholy and retrospective. Deliciously crunchy, but painful in its loneliness and the realization that the future that the 80s envisioned is no place for a god-fearing man.

The Music Of -Middle Earth- Shadows Of War

Composers Garry Schyman, Nathan Grigg, and Kelli Schaefer. 

Written summary by Geno

Geno 7

Listen: The Siege Of Minas Ithil

For composer Garry Schyman, the previous decade was one marked by laconic verse and agonizing degrees of modulation. His scrupulous moves within the world of the Bioshock  franchise were indeed wholesale victories of faultless pitch, though it seemed that Schyman’s  tenor was purposely held below the octave it was meant to scale, and that without much effort seemed easily attainable. This delivery of restraint has served his records well, as with each of his new pressings, the level of human voice is increased, colliding ever closer to the desired mark. This progression comes to full-throttle maturity with Middle Earth-Shadows Of War. It is obvious that Schyman is no stranger to projecting, as the ink on his scores from Bioshock to Dante’s Inferno, and  Front Mission Evolved, among others, are song cycles that attempt to challenge ever the grander set-piece. Still, what Middle Earth: Shadows Of War achieves is unfettered grandiloquence, and the end result is quite possibly one the most lavishly ornate and italicized action scores of the last two decades in gaming.

The Music Of Hollow Knight

Composer Christopher Larkin

Written summary by Bernard

Geno8 8  

Listen: Greenpath

Darkness and desolation are such overdone concepts, that when a game comes around completely cemented on these two concepts one cannot help but to raise a skeptical eyebrow. It was a pleasant surprise then, when Hollow Knight shattered every preconception when it came to both its gameplay and its music. Composed by relative unknown Christopher Larkin, there is darkness in the game’s music with a bit of Zelda’s DNA injected into its genes , but there is also a touch of renewal, a touch of new age whimsicality backed by a full orchestra. Hollow Knight rings like a musical dream about faith and forgiveness. A fairy tale for the modern gamer, where optimism has yet to drown in a sea of cynicism.

The Music Of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Composers Andy La Plegua and David García Díaz

Written summary by Bernard

 Geno 9 

 Listen: Passarella Death Squad – Just Like Sleep

Uncomfortable, unsettling, unnerving, unbalanced. It’s difficult to describe how Hellblade plays out without sounding a bit unhinged. But in the end what makes Hellblade so special is that it doesn’t try to separate violence from the mental wounds it creates. Senua doesn’t only physically fight the undead hordes of viking warriors, but she also fights the trauma of her past, tries to defeat the phantoms that inhabit her mind. Ninja Theory did a fantastic job with the sound direction, using binaural 3D to make the player feel like they’re Senua herself, wrestling with the demons of mental illness. It’s frightening and amazing at the same time, the music masterfully creates an atmosphere where fear is thick and permeates the air like a toxic gas. One must constantly remind oneself that this is only a game, brilliant and malevolent, but a game nonetheless.

Thanks for another great year with us here at! We’ll see you all in 2018!

2400x2400 The Invisible HRS Soundtrack with logos

Purchase The Invisible Hours Official Soundtrack.

Sumthing Else Music Works, Tequila Works, and GameTrust, are proud to present the original soundtrack to The Invisible Hours, an immersive and new murder mystery experience in the world of Virtual Reality. Composed by Cris Velasco (Resident Evil 7, Hulu’s Dimension 404 and Freakish), the soundtrack will be released today via digital and streaming outlets worldwide through Sumthing Else Music Works.

The Invisible Hours experience plays like an elaborate immersive theater production, which can only be realized through a virtual reality game. Players freely explore an intricate web of interwoven stories within a sprawling mansion in order to untangle a dark truth. A group of strangers receive a curious invitation from enigmatic inventor Nikola Tesla, offering each of them the chance to make amends for their darkest wrongdoings. When the last guest arrives at Tesla’s isolated mansion laboratory, they find Tesla dead – murdered – and a mystery begins to unfold. It is one of the deepest narrative experiences in virtual reality to date.

“We took our inspiration from stage theater and played with atmosphere and ambient sound,” explains Raúl Rubio, CEO and Creative Director of Tequila Works. “Like the original silent movies of early 20th Century, we added a soundtrack matching the action only in very specific moments for dramatic purpose. The result is an intimate, atmospheric symphony that talks directly to your soul. And composer Cris Velasco is the invisible hand behind the chill you feel when wandering Tesla’s domains spying the secret lives of all these strangers.”

The Invisible Hours is a richly detailed, real time narrative VR experience where you choose whom to watch, what to hear and where to explore, on your way to solving the most unique murder mystery ever created; channel your internal detective skills to find the truth and discover a world of mystery. The Invisible Hours is available for Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and HTC Vive. For more information visit



Album releases worldwide on digital & streaming platforms July 25,
CD in stores July 28, vinyl release to follow

Echoes Cover

Purchase Echoes of the First Dreamer: The Musical Prequel to Golem

Sumthing Else Music Works, the premier record label dedicated to releasing video game soundtracks, and independent game studio Highwire Games, proudly present the visionary new album from celebrated Halo and Destiny composer Marty O’Donnell. Written for piano and orchestra, Echoes of the First Dreamer: The Musical Prequel To Golem” is not the soundtrack to Highwire’s forthcoming exclusive PlayStation VR game Golem – it is a musical prequel; composed, arranged and recorded as an independent work that introduces audiences to the world and themes of Golem. The album will be released July 25 via digital and streaming outlets worldwide through Sumthing Else Music Works with a physical CD release on July 28 and vinyl release to follow.

For a composer, a prequel album is an interesting challenge because, unlike a traditional soundtrack, it cannot lean on the listener’s memories and experiences from the game. It needs to stand alone and have its own independent emotional journey. At the same time, it must relate to Golem’s tone and world.

For example, one of the first environments that we built for the game was a rustic home, filled with hand-made furniture and colorful blankets. Inside was such a cozy bedroom, it made me think of a mother, singing her child back to sleep. I remembered a lullaby I wrote many years ago after the birth of my first daughter. I found a copy of the original and developed it for the announcement trailer. Although it’s a simple melody, it showed potential to evoke complex emotions, and eventually became the key theme for this suite of music.

The story of Golem is more intimate — it’s about a small family living on the outskirts of a fallen city so I chose to work with a somewhat lighter ensemble than I have in the past: a piano, chamber orchestra and harp. But I wrote them all at the piano and it was interesting how the emotional impact of a piece would evolve from the original piano solo to the fully orchestrated version. I decided to put both versions on the album, so that everyone can experience them and compare. I hope you enjoy listening. And I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Golem for PlayStation VR when it comes out later this year!”

– Marty O’ Donnell

Golem is the first title from Highwire, an independent developer founded by industry veterans in Seattle. It is built from the ground up for PlayStation VR and features original music from Marty O’Donnell — celebrated award-winning composer of Halo and Destiny — and innovative VR controls developed by Jaime Griesemer — Game Designer on Halo, Destiny and Infamous Second Son.

In Golem, you play as an adventurous kid who has been seriously injured. You are stuck at home in your bed, dreaming of exploring the outside world. You gradually develop the power to create and control stone creatures known as golems. You see through their eyes, direct their movements, and use them to explore beyond the confines of your room. At first, you can only build small doll-sized golems to send around your room…but eventually your powers will grow, until you can send enormous 15-foot tall giants to explore an ancient abandoned city. For more information visit

Today, all of us at are counting down our favorite records of 2016. If there is one absolute in our daily routines, it is listening to video game scores…repeatedly. There is absolutely nothing we would rather be listening to. If you knew us personally, you would also know that there is nothing we enjoy talking about more. Our congratulations to these tremendous artists.

geno unravel

Listen: Unravel Soundtrack: Berry Mire

#6: The Music Of Unravel

 Composers Frida Johansson and Henrik Oja

There has always been this idea that somehow, music in games should be separate from the wider spectrum of music at large. It is and has always been an obsolete construction. Frida Johansson and Henrik Oja’s score for 2016’s Unravel places even further strain on that same logic. Perhaps the idea originated from the pervasive thought that music was inserted over the top, a process removed from the design of the software itself: hollow, mechanical and workmanlike. When playing Unravel, however, the role of Johansson and Oja seems to be THE premiere role that not only directs both movement and action on-screen but sound design as well. The impression made by Oja and Johansson is in fact so strong, that it becomes obvious that sound was in fact meant to take lead and the elements meant to follow. Unravel is one of a select handful of scores that transforms the medium of games into a showcase for composers and performance first and above all else. It proves unequivocally that separation of “game” music from music in general is an adage far past its own expiration.

geno sf

Listen: Street Fighter V Soundtrack: Brazil Stage

#5: The Music Of Street Fighter V

Composers Hideyuki Fukasawa, Keiki Kobayashi, Masahiro Aoki, Takatsuki Wakabayashi, Zac Zinger

The continued residence of Hideyuki Fukasawa as Capcom’s maestro/ heir apparent in all matters concerning the scores of past, present, and future Street Fighter entries is the type of thing that defies all logic and expectation. You’d figure a workload of his size would have somehow left him duller around the edges…comfortably numb. After nearly a decade of unleashing several of the largest and best fighting game scores in the company’s history, it’s feasible to assume that  Fukasawa might be stretched beyond capable elasticity. Yet, someone, wisely, saw fit to extend his lease…the type of thing that gets that person promoted! Because, despite the briefest of interims, Fukasawa and his team of collaborators have delivered an astounding score that makes good on the slogan emblazoned on all promotional materials, leaflets and penny savers distributed for the game itself: Rise Up. In effect, that’s what this material evokes.

Street Fighter V is a stand alone work that separates itself from its own origins. Not an easy task. It doesn’t sound like a typical Street Fighter, it doesn’t feel typically Street-Fighter(ish), and it certainly doesn’t care about the typically rabid fanbase’s expectations as to what should be coming down the pike. It is this complete disregard for order and precedent that makes Street Fighter V the most exciting soundtrack since composer Hideki Okugawa sunk Capcom’s wonderfully pearlescent yet antiquated 90’s model sound boards for Street Fighter 3’s three iterations. Yes, it is that good.

There is so much audible glee throughout much of the bulk of this recording that it makes a strong case for setting a good clearing fire to the fields of Street Fighter’s sacred wheat much more often. The mood is so constantly spontaneous and elevated. Its barrage of dissonant, tongue-rolling, long neck(ing) guitar solos play equal complement to the dissociative droning wash-out of raves taking place at its fringes. Street Fighter V’s score, as an agitated cocktail mixed straight in the glass, is one of the most potent bearers of the namesake in decades.

geno NMS

Listen: No Man’s Sky Soundtrack: Asimov

#4: The Music Of No Man’s Sky

  Composers Simon Stalenhag and Kuldar Leeman

The idea to ground and tether the sound of space travel to the realm of human limits, based in the here and now, isn’t something I imagine most composers want to do: the idea that you can only go so high. It must be far easier to assign a score like No Man’s Sky a cache of values the likes of which are not only recognizable but at the point of ad nauseam: distant echoes upon closer proximity airlocks, upon low planet rumbles. It’s worked for decades and no doubt will work ceaselessly forward.

With that said, working transcription isn’t always the best case to make when asked to apply your own touch to the sound of space, and it’s clearly the route not chosen by composers Simon Stalenhag and Kudlar Leeman. To this duo, the act of leaving the atmosphere  does not also assume that one leaves clean being left to pontificate the sound of distance: you leave nothing behind. No Man’s Sky is a gorgeously cruel record that chooses to instead illustrate insurmountable personal restrictions as well as the gulf of deficiencies left festering on the planet you’ve left behind, long after you’ve placed hundreds of thousands of miles between you. That’s really the mission here, because it’s not traveling into space that makes the activity unique, or even remotely memorable; it’s the person,( baggage accounted for), who is traveling into space that differentiates the experience and separates every single voluminous narrative written about it.

Geno Doom

Listen: The Doom Soundtrack: Rip and Tear

#3: The Music Of Doom

 Composer Mick Gordon

It’s easy to dismiss the idea of music as a physical weapon, that is until you come face to face with Mick Gordon’s Doom. The distinction is simple really: do you carry an axe or do you carry a guitar? Gordon carries an AXE. A guitar simply doesn’t suffice nor is it as sufficient or capable of doing what a heavy handle axe does with relative ease. Gordon is also unwilling to let the written description of “axe” garner itself a suitable image for your mind. In fact, he is more adamant than ever to plow the vibrating steel straight into your torso just so he knows that you know and are familiar and able to make that critical distinction between the two, axe or guitar. Description is one thing, but sound is another thing entirely, and here too Gordon needs you to become intimately related with its actual buzzing cacophony…so he plays it for you (see Welcome To Hell).

Of course, it’s more than violence, more than abuse and more than garish streams of blood, Mick Gordon is actually, without even knowing it, rewriting the rules for entire genres of music in the present day: rock and roll, industrial, metal, dance, trance…they’ve all been stone dead for years. Doom is Gordon’s incendiary retribution, a slovenly rally cry against those limp wristed, anemic studio creations void of the grit and backbone only to be found when boots are actually on the ground. Gordon’s Doom is the stuff of incalculable bullish extremes the likes of which haven’t been seen since the days of producer Martin Hannett screaming at Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris…to make ice… all the while Morris thumps away atop a frozen studio rooftop in attempts to appease his violent aggressor. Doom is music by suffering, by method and by a push that grows more difficult to contain the more a particular thing begins to irk and prey on Gordon’s mind. This is your warning.

Geno TLG

Listen: The Last Guardian Soundtrack: Overture

#2: The Music Of The Last Guardian

 Composer Takeshi Furukawa

A score like that of Takeshi Furukawa’s The Last Guardian is a dangerous thing to talk about. This isn’t due to some failing in the record: it is quite the opposite. The fear is that somehow I’ll have failed in my attempts to connect you with the material, and while you may be interested, you do not make acquiring the album a priority. So, I’ll say this up-front: by every scale of measurement, The Last Guardian should be your first priority today and every day until it is spinning 33 1/3rd rpms on your record player. There is also a great concern (on my part), for the overuse of superlatives. This is because if I were to use them here, you’d somehow dismiss their estimation and their power would be blunted. The fact is, I’d like to use them…a string of them in fact, because the sheer quality of this recording demands more than a carefully presented analysis; it demands incessant gushing. I can assure you, if I were to say things like (and don’t roll your eyes), “Masterful”, or “Brilliant”, or “Stunning” it would be because composer Takeshi Furukawa has suffused their meanings with something altogether new, and in the case of The Last Guardian, this is very much the order of Furukawa’s day. Rather than spoil it any further, I’ll leave it at that.

Geno Deus Ex

                                   Listen: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided Soundtrack: 101 Trailer

#1: The Music Of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

 Composers Michael McCann, Sascha Dikiciyan, Ed Harrison

I’ve spent the better part of the last five years talking about just how incredible I thought Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s LP was, is and will continue to be. Beyond that, what’s left for the legacy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s score is to become a guidepost, something that points the way forward for others. Few records are ever granted the privilege, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution took up that burden, that heavy mantle with ease. It is simply not enough, however, to hold that weight, because in the process, that initial message is left to linger until eventually its potency is lost.

For most records, there is only ever the one attempt with nothing to follow-up that once hungry mantra.The score for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is the rarest of  events where the legacy run trumps the celebrated source material. To go beyond and exceed the scope of Human Revolution says more than I can even comprehend, and if it hadn’t somehow matched up to the quality of its predecessor, I would have been the very first to tell you. The fact is, it HAD to be better than Human Revolution in order to successfully plunge as deeply as it does. If resistance, bargaining and acceptance were the core themes of Human Revolution, then it stands to reason that consequences and fact of reality should be the next point of grim(mer) contention: there is still much to articulate.

Where Human Revolution was a much shorter, much more truncated affair, Mankind Divided is afforded an exponential distance and given the necessary autonomy to communicate its highly delicate, highly personal and highly aphotic subject matter. At its very best (in its entirety), Mankind Divided achieves what most musicians can only dream, and that is to develop something that is both truly candid and affecting. Yet, even when those few musicians who can develop a muse to the point of real emotion, do so…it can feel a bit cobbled together. You can still see the jutting edges and the non-essential elements clinging together for no other reason than survival: it’s full of impurities, a stock attempt. This is not that.

Mankind Divided isn’t without cost, however, as it can feel overwhelming at times, bleaker than is perhaps possible, and even more opaquely lined than Human Revolution but again, this was always the plan, as such is the course of therapy, (to which I have likened it before) it is not meant to elicit fleeting emotions…it’s meant to drastically alter the course of your life. Ultimately, this is the sum of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and it is a conversation that continues.


This is the Sumthing team signing off for 2016. Happy Holidays from all of us at Sumthing Else Music Works.

P.S.-Remember that you can purchase both Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: Extended Edition here and Street Fighter V right here.



Having fallen in love only 4 times in his life Geno counts Double Dragon as his second and truest love. He has worked in record retail since 2000 and believes David Hayter to be the one true Solid Snake. Currently, he is putting together a band which only perform songs from Street Fighter 3rd Strike.

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