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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.


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


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:

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.


Purchase WildStar Original Soundtrack – Volume 2

Sumthing Else Music Works, Carbine Studios and NCSOFT® present Volume Two of the original soundtrack for the free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game, WildStar.  The game’s soundtrack composed by Jeff Kurtenacker (Pirates of the Burning Sea) is released in multiple volumes – Volume 2 features several never before heard compositions and will be available for digital download and streaming on August 23.

Highlight tracks from Volume 2 include “For the Greater Good” and “From the Ashes” featuring the vocal talents of the Los Angeles Opera singer Nicole Fernandes.  Preview the album now at

“The new tracks are narrative depictions of the Chua, Cassians, and Aurin, and musically tell the story of each faction’s homeworld and background before arriving on Nexus,” explains Kurtenacker. “It’s an exciting addition to the in-game music selections for Volume 2 since these are longer tracks that dive deep into the lore of the WildStar universe.”

Using synthesizers, a wide array of guitars, and a 75-piece Los Angeles orchestra, Kurtenacker’s approach to the WildStar universe is highly thematic, creating memorable and exciting music that engages players throughout their MMO experience.  Equal parts epic space fantasy and western frontier swagger, the music of WildStar delivers a unique blend of musical elements that puts you right in the middle of the action and brings space adventure to life.

Join the galactic battle between the Exiles and Dominion as they race to uncover the secrets of the Eldan—a hyper-advanced race that mysteriously disappeared long ago. Trek across the beautiful and dangerous planet Nexus, and find adventure, fun, and a hell of a good time as your skills are put to the test through high-intensity combat. Download and start your adventure at


Sunday, September 4th, 10:00am-11:00am
PAX Sphinx Theatre, Sheraton Seattle Hotel (3rd Floor)

2016 PAX West Maestros of Video Games Poster

What does it take to write music for games? Hear from six of the industry’s leading composers as they share their experiences and discuss the craft of scoring music for video games.

The 2016 PAX West composer panel “Maestros of Video Games” will feature the following music star lineup:

Sarah Schachner
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (additional music).

Inon Zur
Fallout 3 & 4, Syberia 2 & 3, Dragon Age 1 & 2, Prince of Persia, Fantasia, Eagle Flight.

Jack Wall
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 & 3, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Lost Planet 3, Into The Stars.

Sascha Dikiciyan (aka Sonic Mayhem)
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Mass Effect 3, Tron Evolution, Borderlands.

Austin Wintory
Abzû, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, The Banner Saga 1 & 2, Journey.

David Housden
Thomas Was Alone, Volume, The Hit Squad (movie), Volume VR.

Moderated by Emily Reese, award-winning radio host and producer of “LEVEL with Emily Reese” podcast.

Following the panel join the composers for a meet & greet / autograph session at the Westin (2nd Floor) from 11:30am-1:30pm.

For information on PAX West visit:

hi rez Jason Graves Headshot

Jason Graves, Composer of Breach and Clear: Deadline

 SEMW: Let’s talk a little bit about methodology on your work for Breach and Clear: Deadline. This record is quite vicious. Fans like myself would have it no other way, but the physicality, the sheer blunt force of this LP is incredible. It’s one of the best scores I’ve heard in the last 5 years, and artistic statements like these rarely come with such potency. What sort of initial goals did you have from the outset of composing this material, and did you feel particularly adamant about what exactly you wanted the record to communicate? What was your driving force during those recording sessions, if you could nail it down?

JASON GRAVES: Well, first off, wow and thanks for the compliments! The approach was fairly straightforward, as this is an indie release and I had complete control over the music. The guys at Mighty Rabbit are so much fun to work with – they give me as much latitude as I need and honestly think that the best score they can receive is the one I’m the happiest with.

So the biggest goal, between Mighty Rabbit and myself, was to capture the emotion of look-down, team-coordinated military planning and execution. I wanted the suspense and teamwork to interplay with each other – those are the two juxtaposing gameplay elements. The pacing needed to be exacting and plodding but not feel too bogged down.

If there was one word I had to pick to encapsulate the album it would probably be “control.” It may feel like the music is about to explode at any moment, like there are horrors all around you and you’re going to be attacked at any moment, but listeners can also hopefully feel the control and discipline of a professional military team working together, fighting to protect each other against all odds.

SEMW: It’s a very rare thing to be able to capture the sound of fear and then in the same breath create the distinct rhythm of an action cue. While they may share an odd disparate strand of DNA, the approach in creating either one, requires an understanding of the difference between the two, be it subtle or outright. Breach And Clear: Deadline, unequivocally paints you as a master of this craft. Some perfect examples of this for me were “Strangers In The Night” and “Against All Odds” where you layer action on top of fear, part them, give them distinct passages and do so without a single fault in the onslaught of cues. How do you know when to separate the two, or when to have them intersect? How do you define both fear and action respectively in terms of sound?

JASON GRAVES: Again, thank you very much! It’s funny you mention “fear and action” – those are pretty much the same as “suspense and teamwork” where the music is concerned. It comes down to finding a balance between the two that feels right. I’m oversimplifying a bit, but the “feels right” is really the important thing for me.

For this soundtrack, the fear element comes in the guise of ambient electric guitar…lots of slow bends and pitches shifting around to put the listener on guard. It makes people raise their eyebrows and think, “Ok, what’s going on?”

Then it’s a matter of adding some movement and drive, which gives the listener a feeling of action or moving forward. Making things sound a lot more simple than they are again, but that’s basically the idea!

Deadline Cover



SEMW: Apocalypse Now has this gorgeous lyrical quality to it. Beautiful! Can you tell me a little bit about the creation of this composition in particular and what sort of ideas you may have used as touchstones to reach that final cut? I feel like it’s the unofficial theme of this work.

JASON GRAVES: It was definitely my favorite cue on the album. Most of the score was already finished and Mighty Rabbit needed a few Boss tracks. Their main request was for something epic and memorable, which is really the opposite of most of the album! So I literally pulled out all the stops and made something that was a lot bigger, in terms of instruments, than anything else. That’s the nice thing about holding back on a large portion of a project – being able to contrast it with letting everything rip every once in a while.

I had my first musical experience doing something along those lines with the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 – most of the score was quiet, tense passages until the last few acts when all the giant percussion and epic brass came out to play, beginning with Lara climbing a mountainside. And it made a huge difference, in both the musical presentation of Lara’s character arc and the player’s experience. I’ve had more people tell me that was their favorite bit of gameplay than any other game I’ve scored, and I think it’s the musical restraint that came before that made that scene really pop in players’ minds.

I wanted the track to have some memorable hooks and definitely a nice push-pull feel to it. The bulk of the work really came down to mixing everything together, since the tune and chord progression worked themselves out very quickly in the beginning. I remember spending a lot of time on the big drums that play on the choruses – sending the kick and snare to the Distressor compressors and then through the Manley Massive Passive tube EQ. I processed the drums parallel to the original sounds so everything I did to squash and fatten them up was mixed in with the original drums and just became ever bigger, but not too over the top or squashed.

Once the drums felt good it was just a matter of balancing the live guitar parts with the synths. They actually do a lot of overlapping in this piece, so synth sounds are complementing the big guitar riffs and making the power chords even fatter.


SEMW: Breach and Clear: Deadline plays masterfully with space. Your construction of this pitch-perfect murky ebb and flow feels wholly unmanufactured and utterly terrifying. These stretches of silence, dissonance, and dotted melody: are they more difficult to properly cultivate since they seem to require so much more restraint, than say a more prominently placed composition used for a commercial or trailer? Between the two, do you have a scoring preference?

JASON GRAVES: I really love doing both. In fact, it’s the yin-yang aspect of it that keeps me interested and on my toes. But composing more simple, restrained music isn’t any easier than working on more dense, complicated mixes – it just takes less time. If not for any other reason, there are simply less notes to work with and things just go faster. So for me the idea of “restraint” is actually the same as “keep it simple, stupid,” or K.I.S.S. – a mantra that is chanted a lot around here!



SEMW: Sessions for Breach and Clear: Deadline, must have been a very rigorous and demanding process and something I imagine demanded a certain mindset, complete with daily rituals et cetera. Was it something you scored visually with pictures and concept art? Did you lock yourself away in a studio for days, sleep deprivation? It’s such an intense work. Are there any stories you’d like to share with us about the making of this record?

JASON GRAVES: Haha, well it’s definitely funny…and a lot more entertaining…to imagine a composer locked away in his bunker, lights dimmed, candles lit at 3 AM, murky shadows on the walls and atmosphere dripping everywhere as dramatic lights flicker across the computer monitors and the game plays on a huge TV monitor.

Reality, of course, is slightly different! I did have a little bit of gameplay as a visual reference, but the bulk of the music was written based on conversations and ideas. And that’s totally fine for me, especially when I’m working with a developer like Might Rabbit. We’ve worked together on many projects now and have a great relationship so many times the music direction is “do what you think will work and be fun to compose.”

So it simply came down to me spending a day on each cue and focusing in on the six tracks of instruments. The guitars were mostly very ambient and usually the first things I played. The synths were mostly used for low, pulsing sounds and the kick drums were run through all kinds of guitar pedals to give them movement and energy.

Of course, there’s plenty of artist choice and sculpting that happens as the day, and track, progresses. But it pretty much comes down to playing some things on the guitars, layering in some synth sounds and adding the kick drums here and there for a bit of energy.

SEMW: This album feels like the culmination of years of your own work in this particular genre. Having scored countless horror titles from the likes of the entire Dead Space trilogy, Until Dawn, Murdered: Soul Suspect, and The Order 1886, (all of which I loved, by the way), you know instinctively how to formulate palpable dread. What is it about this genre, for you, that makes it something worth returning to? Does it still present challenges and yield enough personally satisfying rewards for you as a composer?

JASON GRAVES: As long as I can keep trying new things and experimenting with different sounds I’ll be a happy composer. Horror and suspense are definitely tricky things to pull off properly, but the same thing could be said for comedy or drama. It’s always easy to overdo it – add way more music than is really needed, almost like a musical crutch or band-aid. The art lies in the subtle shades of emotion and hints of different textures and colors. In that respect, suspense and horror music needs to be especially nuanced because the music is providing a lot more of the atmosphere than it would be in other genres.

SEMW: I’m fascinated with your sound on this LP. Breach and Clear: Deadline presents a world saturated in noxious toxins where the only (yet still incredibly strenuous) physical action is that of a highly debilitating low crawl. I’m curious as to what sort of set-up you used. Do you have a particular array of instruments or gear that you prefer: a specific brand of amplifier, classic guitars, moog synthesizers, B3 organs? What physically lies behind the sound of this world?

JASON GRAVES: I love that description, thanks! I had already done my fair share of scary/horror games and was interested in trying something different, from an instrumentation standpoint. So I thought the idea of really limiting myself to a small amount of instruments sounded interesting. I basically built the entire score around three pairs of instruments – two synthesizers, two guitars and two kick drums. There are a few boss tracks that employ a slightly bigger setup, but 90% of the score is literally just six instruments.

I love limited instrumentation because it automatically creates its own sound. So in the case of Deadline I used two guitars – a Les Paul going through a Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and a Fender Strat going through an Orange Rockerverb 100. Both setups also ran through a fairly intense pedal chain of choruses, delays and reverbs and have their own 4×12 stack of amps. Any sort of pad or ambient lead sounds you hear are actually the live electric guitars.

The two synths are a Moog Sub Phatty and the u-he Diva synth, which I used sounds programmed by Matt Bowdler, aka The Unfinished. The synth sounds are fairly dry and untreated. I wanted the synths to sound like analog synths!

And the kick drums are electronic kicks from a VST called Metrum, which lets you build kick drums from scratch and easily play them in any key. There was a lot performance-oriented modulation with the delays of the kick drums so what you hear on the tracks may sound like different drums and rhythms, but it’s actually just the two kick drum sounds.



SEMW: Your body of work is so vast, and your catalog continually expanding, has there ever been a moment where you’ve been tempted to take your albums on the road into a live setting? What sort of material would you be most anxious to play out?

JASON GRAVES:I really enjoy the chance to perform/conduct live and I’ve been privileged enough to be invited to conduct all over the world. So far everything that has been performed is live orchestra. I think that’s just the natural extension of the usual “classical music concert” idea, and it’s a lot of fun to do. Albums like Deadline or Far Cry: Primal would definitely be more challenging, given their unique instrumentation – they are really more like a band setup than orchestra. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done! I’m definitely up for anything.

SEMW: Thanks so much for sitting down with me today; it is a true honor for me as a long-time fan of yours. Before you head back to the studio, can you tell me a little bit about any upcoming projects, or ideas you have for your next album? Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Breach and Clear: Deadline? It’s certainly on my short-list for record of the year.

JASON GRAVES:Thanks so much for all the amazing compliments and great questions! There are currently plenty of projects in the works, but of course I am forbidden to speak of any of them under pain of death. Let’s just say they are all very different! Hopefully we will be talking about one of them sometime in the future.



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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