Over the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight my favorite “unconventional” video game soundtracks of 2013.  “Unconventional” in that it’d be unusual for me to cover these scores for my day job at Classical Minnesota Public Radio (I’ll be covering my favorite orchestral scores there).  The scores I’ll cover here are an amalgam of electronic music, perhaps from this era or the bygone 80s.  There’ll be some chiptune music, too.

Today belongs to Ibb & Obb, and an artist called Kettel.

ibb and obb 1

Kettel is Reimer Eising, from Holland.  Once I heard his music for Ibb & Obb, an Indie co-op game for PSN and PC, I had a desire to own everything he touched.  I even wanted to hear the commercials he’s scored and the remixes he’s done.

What amazes me about Eising’s music is how complete it is.  The layers of sound interact with each other, depend on each other, and never seem arbitrary, or out of place.  Simply listen to how the track named “Post Hero” unfolds, from the opening chimes, to the bass, to the multitude of layers that come after.

Eising’s music is like 21st century polyphony.  “Polyphony” describes a texture.  There’s monody, homophony and polyphony.  Monody is one line (like one, single, unison line). Homophony is a lot like a hymn in church, where a bunch of voices are singing the same rhythm and such, but harmonizing.  Polyphony describes a texture in which two or more lines interact together, quite independently.  Here’s a good example of just two lines interacting, one played by the right hand while the other is played by the left hand.

I envision Eising’s music to be a somewhat grander version of that type of polyphony (which was prevalent in the Baroque era), if only due to the addition of several more layers.

Another shining example of his 21st century polyphony is called “Secret BB”.  It begins sporadically, making it difficult to discern a pulse.  That sensation lasts only for six seconds though, when other sounds pop into the texture to solidify a steady beat.  It’s a playful track, mirroring the gaiety of the game.

There really is only one word that can describe Eising in general: “groovetastic”.  Maybe “groovetacular”.


Case in point – hear “Fincity”.  It’s like someone put the 90s in the Cool Blender and now, all of a sudden, that decade of music is relevant.

The smoky, background trumpet in “Post” is fantastic.  It floats above the current of sixteenth notes running through the subtexture.  Here’s some more great, floaty trumpet for you.  (Or here.)

Secret Dewuko” is creepy as hell.  Eising would write a delicious horror score.  The track demonstrates his control over not only the sounds, but his tremendous control of the silence.  It takes an incredible amount of focus and discipline to write with such respect to silence.  He lets each statement hang in the balance, almost as if the music itself is breathing.

As is the case with almost everything recorded ever in the world, it’s best to listen with headphones.  Panning abounds.

A word about the game itself – I love co-op games.  There is indeed a single player mode, but I haven’t checked it out yet.  I’m not always the best judge of a puzzle game, as I tend to get frustrated quickly; however, the co-op aspect helps dilute my fiery puzzle-game temper, and it’s been a fun play-through so far.

As for Kettel, you will not be disappointed.  Check out Eising’s Bandcamp page here.  And come back next week to discover more, great “unconventional” video game soundtracks of 2013!

Kettel - ibb & obb - original soundtrack - cover

Pick up your copy of the soundtrack right here!

Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.