VGM Wednesday – “A Proper Story” from Bastion

by Kenley

“A Proper Story” from Bastion, by Darren Korb and released in 2011.

So, the Humble Indie Bundle 5 was released just a few weeks past and it included this highly-praised game called Bastion.  I’d heard of it, but never played it.

It wasn’t until Francesca over at the IRL Podcast sent me a note and told me that Episode 6 is going to be on the music from the Indie Bundle and invited me on the show to talk about it.  Because Francesca is awesome and I want to promote indie games as much as possible, accepting was a no-brainer.  She really wanted to talk about two games in the bundle in particular: Sword and Sworcery and Bastion.

Well, better start playing them 🙂

Sword and Sworcery has been around for a little while and is scored by Jim Guthrie (who scored the fabulous Indie Game: The Movie), while Bastion is scored by Darren Korb.  Both games are spectacular and you’ll hear a lot about the music if you check out that ep of the IRL Podcast., but let’s start with Bastion.

Korb describes the music as “acoustic frontier trip hop,” which is right on the mark.  The strummy/slidy acoustic guitar gives it a real Western edge, especially the minor pentatonic opening riff of “A Proper Story.”  But it’s not only that, it’s the sliding into the chord shape that happens after it too.  So, even just in the first four bars, we hear the riff, then three slide patterns; the riff, then three slide patterns.

Right after that, the layers of electronic drum beats come in.  Deep kicks, synth cymbals and tambourine, then a synth snare on two and four.  During that sequence, the acoustic guitar part changes to a progression of

| Im     Im      | Im    bIII IV|

… which in itself is a rough-and-tumble rock progression.  However, the acoustic guitar that slides into the chord shape (of the Im chord) doesn’t make it feel like a rock riff, but almost like a cowboy one.

Then the mandolin and sitar come in and trade bars, like a call and response in jazz.  The mandolin brings in a bluegrass sort of feel, while the sitar (with its augmented seconds and 1/4 tone bends) incites a Middle Eastern flavour to the harmony.

It’s SO eclectic and we’re not even out of the first 30 seconds 😐

This is Bastion, now go out and buy it 🙂

(Then listen to the IRL Podcast in two weeks!)
Kenley

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