Kenley Kristofferson

Composer.

Category: VGM Wednesdays

VGM Wednesday – “Demise of the Ritual” from Shadow of the Colossus

“Demise of the Ritual” from Shadow of the Colossus, by Ko Otani

Shadow of the Colossus is one of those games that I never, ever thought I would beat.  I don’t know why, but I had this fear of it, like I wasn’t very good or something.  I knew a ton of people who’d beaten it, but I never thought I’d be one of them…

… until one day I was.

I picked up the Ico/SOTC Remaster for PS3 and started playing it, getting to the third colossus and being unable to make the jump on the platform.  For those who’ve played, it’s this one:

3rdColossusJump

Ugh, so hard, except it’s not.  Once I learned the back jump control (R2 + looking back + triangle), it wasn’t hard at all.  I just didn’t understand the controls, which I needed to learn.  The game gave me a situation where I needed to figure it out so I could use it later on, which is just good game design.  Once I got it, I got it for the rest of the game.

Then I fought the colossus and fell into my old traps of thinking I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t good enough to beat him.  How was I supposed to beat this game if I’m stuck on the third boss? There are thirteen more after this! So I kept running, falling off, and eventually dying.

But each time I died, I did a little better each time.  This is a concept that comes up in our classroom a lot: Failing better.  Every time I died, I was further along than I was before, and on the fourth round, I beat him and there was much rejoicing.  Then I fought the fourth one and beat it the first time, and the same with the fifth.  I was getting better.  I could do this.  As we say in the band room, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

I still died at times as the game progressed, but I was dying less and less and getting better at figuring the puzzle of beating each colossus.  The game got a lot more fun once I overcame my self-sabotage.  If I reframed my perception and my approach, the game (or, at least, the playing of it) was entirely different experience.  It was fun.  It was exhilarating.  There many times where Wander was literally holding on for dear life and I was right there with him.

Before I knew it, I was at the sixteenth and final colossus.  I had reached the end of a game I never thought I’d finish.

Malus-final-colossus

That’s where the music comes in.   Ko Otani’s score is absolutely gripping and I would finally hear “Demise of the Ritual” in the game environment.  A lot of the battle themes are moved around and reused, but not this one.  This one only happens during the last colossus and, in the spirit of honesty, I never thought I’d hear it while I was playing.

And hear it I did.  By the end of the nearly two-hour battle, I was humming all of the inside parts and singing some of the beautiful English Horn writing whenever it came up.  It’s a humbling experience to die five times on the final boss then win after hours of fighting, but I was failing better each time.  On my third attempt, I hadn’t even reached him yet and had no idea how to proceed.  It was one of those experiences where you just have no idea how you’ll ever succeed, where you collapse before you’re even close to the finish line.  And we’ve all been there, right? I’M SO TIRED AND IT’S ONLY TUESDAY!

But then you keep going.  You assess where you went wrong and what alternate solutions are.  You keep doing what you did right and changing what you did wrong.  If you don’t do something exactly correct, you practice until you get it, and that’s where video games shine:

If you can’t do it, you can’t move on.  There are no pity passes or half-marks, it’s pass/fail and that’s it*

In the end, I did it.  It was a gripping feeling to finally beat a game I didn’t think I could ever finish.  As weird as it sounds, sometimes I feel like a fraud or a phony for not beating games in the core repertoire.  Granted, there’s an argument that the need to finish games isn’t entirely necessary to experience them, but I try to finish things that I start.  I haven’t beaten Ocarina of Time yet, which is embarrassing, but I felt the same with it that I did with SOTC: I just can’t do it…

…except that I can, and taking down SOTC showed me that.  So  I guess I’d better get on that!

-K

PS: (I’m going to try to create some content again because that’s important)

* Mostly, not every single game has pass/fail, like that ridiculous option to skip parts you can’t beat in L.A. Noire, which is garbage.

VGM Wednesday – “People Imprisoned by Destiny” from Chrono Cross

“People Imprisoned by Destiny” from Chrono Cross, by Yasunori Mitsuda

I love moments like these.  For those who have never played Chrono Cross, this is the scene where we fight Miguel and it’s a fight that you don’t really want to have.  These are like the moments of war with a soaring choir overtop of bloodshed, or a slow motion sword fight with a slow and lilting orchestra behind it.  They’re scenes where the music and visuals shouldn’t match, yet they do…

… Or they don’t, and their juxtaposition makes something new in the process.

I don’t want to give any plot lines away, but the story and music make this battle so gut-wrenching that it’s almost difficult to get through.  It’s a bit analogous to the last fight in Mother 3, where you’ve finally put all of the pieces together in the story and you have to go in for one last fight and Lucas knows he has to do it, but you (as the player) don’t want to.

28-tower84

That’s not it for me, though.  What really captures me about this piece is its focus on balancing melody and texture.  Even though the samples are synthesized, a video game is finally using an instrument’s range to sort its colour.  Granted, Chrono Cross does this a lot with its use of ethnic instruments (because range and colour are idiosyncratic ways of using them), but hearing the difference between the low strings in the first 8 measures, then afterward the high strings take the melody an octave higher and it changes your whole perception of the theme.

This is important because, with the exception of timpani, bass drum, suspended cymbal and one bar of harp, the strings are the only instruments playing for the entire piece.  Part of the draw of classic video game music is the colour that can be found between instruments of different genres.  Take “Terra” from Final Fantasy VI: Irish whistle, French horn, strings, electric bass, mandolin and drum kit.  There are three converging genres there, and that’s what helps make that characteristic sound.

Not so in “People Imprisoned by Destiny.”  Instead, Mitsuda explores colour and harmony with, not only just one genre, but one instrument group within one genre.  It’s one of those rare times in classic VGM that simplicity counts for more juxtaposition and, as a result, it is one of the strongest pieces in an already strong OST.

And even more so, the strings are the most homogenous section in the orchestra, meaning that the different ranges of the instruments sound the most consistent with one another.  To really differentiate colour, you have to evoke the voice in each of the different ranges of the instruments while still keeping some order and structure to the writing.  In our case, Mitsuda keeps the bass and tenor voices pretty simple, the alto voice takes the melody off of the hop and then harmonizes with the soprano when it takes over the line.

Sometimes, there really is more in less.

Enjoy!
Kenley

VGM Ed Mondnesday – “Dying Over and Over Repeatedly” or “Why Super Meat Boy Makes Students Into More Successful Human Beings”

Once upon a time, console platformers (Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog, Wonder Boy, etc.) gave the player three lives to beat the level.  In the case of Super Mario Bros., you got three lives to beat the whole game.  You may be thinking “but you’ve got 1ups!” and yes, that’s true, but allow me to pull you into a stressful part of your past…

You (as Mario) are standing on a platform with a particularly treacherous jump.  There are hammer brothers and a smattering of koopa troopas that pass juuuuuuust at the time you need to jump.  Your heart races.  Your getting warm and your face is flushed.  Your breathing accelerates and one thought cuts into your consciousness:

I don’t know if I can make it and I only have three lives.

Then you jump… and you don’t make it.

You wasted one of your lives because you made a mistake, now you only have two lives left! You can’t get that life back!

However, you need to try again… and you die.  One life left.

In a last ditch effort to beat the level and continue forward to the game’s conclusion.  You attempt the terrifying jump… and you die.

Then you see it, what you’ve been dreading all along: GAME OVER.

Life message: You tried and you just weren’t good enough.

Let me present another scenario.  You see an amazing power-up at the top of the screen in an underwater level, but it’s being patrolled by cheep-cheeps and those squidy guys.  You mull it over in your head for a while, then remember that you only have three lives and you can’t risk it.

Life message: The best things in life have risk attached and, if you want to get to the end, it’s best not to go for them.

Now, I’m no educational psychologist or sociologist, but those sound like pretty bad messages to send to kids.   I know that there are no game designers laughing maniacally in some Japanese lab, trying to crush the dreams of schoolchildren, but the messages stand.  This is the plight of older console games, especially the ones at the nexus of limited lives and extreme difficulty.

Strangely, that nexus resonated with one of the game designers of Super Meat Boy.  In Indie Game: The Movie, Tommy Refenes talks about his love of hard games, especially older console games.  I say “strangely” because there is one real difference between Super Meat Boy and platformers across all gaming generations:

The player has unlimited lives.  It’s not even a cheat code, it’s a legitimate part of the game design.

The game is also punishingly difficult, and notoriously so.  And, as a player, it’s okay that the game is hard because I get an unlimited number of lives in order to achieve my goal.

Life message #1: You can always try again.

Furthermore, every level has an ending that’s really achievable and many people have done it.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not hard, it means that success is possible for every player and, as said above, you can always try again.

Life message #2: It’s hard, but you can do it.

Life message #3: You can achieve the success that other people have also achieved.  They are not special or better than you, they just put in the work and time it takes to be successful.

Because you have infinite lives, the player isn’t afraid to take risks because you can always try again.  There are no consequences for failure.  In fact, the respawn time after you die is almost immediate.  Imagine if, every time you failed, you immediately picked yourself up and tried something new?

Life message #4: In order to succeed, two of the most important qualities you must develop are persistency and resiliency.

The game requires you to take risks in order to find the solution because it’s often not where you expect, or it demands a certain level of ability.  If you have it, you’ll beat the level and continue to one more difficult; if you don’t, then you’ll die a whole bunch of times until you finally achieve the dexterity and finesse you need to win.

Life message #5: Practice makes perfect.

Life message #6: No risk, no return.

The amazing thing about Super Meat Boy is that it not only demands risk, it also demands failure.  You need to fall down sometimes.  You may jump into a wall full of needles when practicing your jump timing.  Then you die and respawn immediately, before you get the chance to wallow in your own failure.  In fact, it often achieves the opposite effect: You get inspired to win.  By the time you’ve actually realized that you died, you’re already back at the start, ready to start again.

Life message #7: Allow failure to be motivating, instead of demoralizing.  If you don’t find it motivating, see Life messages 1-6.

Beating a level in Super Meat Boy is so rewarding because it’s just so damn hard.  Before we move on, let’s address how awesome that feels.

Life message #8: If you want a feeling of genuine success, find a genuine challenge and overcome it by being persistent and resilient.

It feels amazing because of a wonderful combination of personal risk, failure, persistance, resiliency, and finally victory.  After you beat the level, the designers put in a replay where you get to watch every round that you played on that level at the same time.  So you watch your ten or twenty or thirty or forty Meat Boys at the same time jumping, racing, running and dying.

All except one.  That Meat Boy makes it to the end and succeeds.  That’s you 🙂

There is no consequence for dying; in fact, it’s celebrated.

Watch an example of the bone-crushing difficulty of Super Meat Boy, at least from the opening to 4:15.  The re-run happens at 4:00, but it’s important to watch this player fail for four minutes straight.  He must fail thirty times.  Then watch him get back up and try something new.  Watch him keep going.  Watch him being resilient.  Watch him being persistent.

Now imagine if we all did that in our own lives.  Imagine if we picked ourselves up every time we fell down.  Imagine if we didn’t internalize failure and just treated it as something that happens whenever we start something new.  Imagine that failure was not only expected, but celebrated as risk taking.  Imagine taking a risk that was meaningful to you.  Imagine going all in on everything important to you.

What if we failed, got up, and tried something different every time?

What if you learned that at 16 years old?

Imagine how different your life could be.  If that makes you emotional, let it.  If you are a teenager/young adult, take that to heart and go for it.  If you’re older than that, it’s not too late.  It’s never too late.

The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the next best time is now. 🙂

Cheers,
Kenley

VGM Wednesday – “Fiddler’s Green” from Uncharted Waters, Special Edition

“Fiddler’s Green” from Uncharted Waters: New Horizons, by Yoko Kanno
Arrangement from the album “Uncharted Waters: Special Edition”.

I write this from the seafaring island of Cape Breton on the Canadian eastern shore.  My wife and I are on our honeymoon until the end of the month and we’ve been spending our two weeks here frolicking through the long grass, eating seafood, touring the rolling hills and valleys and listening to some killer East Coast fiddle music in pubs throughout the island.  Life is good 🙂

The fiddle is a really big deal here on the island, it’s as though everyone plays it and knows all of the tunes.  I know that’s not really true, but when you go to a jam session and there are six fiddlers getting in the circle, calling out tunes and shredding up a storm, it sure seems like it.  It’s culture in the truest sense.  It’s not manufactured for tourists and there aren’t parties planned to make a summer schedule, it’s simply what the people do and we get to be part of it.

For this week’s VGM Wednesday, I decided to pick a fiddle tune from a reasonably obscure game.  I’ve presented another tune from this game called “Close to Home” a few months back, but in keeping with the spirit of “VGM-inspired tunes” this August, I chose an arrangement.

The arrangement album, “Uncharted Waters: Special Edition,” is really the definitive way to listen to this soundtrack.  The OST feels limited in what the SNES and Genesis/Megadrive can do, but this disc is a real tour-de-force of the music that exists inside the score.

It maintains the head of the tune with fiddle and guitar, then goes into the feel of a jazz-feel solo section.  The violin and guitar call-and-response harkens back to the time of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli and it’s really fitting for the pub feel of the tune (which is where the music plays in the game).

At 2:31, the guitarist sounds like he’s quoting “Jingle Bells” (though, of course, he’s not) and plays the wrong third of the chord and it drives me bananas every time.

Anyway, enjoy!
Kenley

PS: The photo in the picture is from a jam session at the Red Shoe Pub in Mabou, NS, which is on the island and about a 30 minute drive from our cottage.

VGM Wednesday – “Forever Rachel” Transcription for Live Instruments

“Forever Rachel” from Final Fantasy VI, by Nobuo Uematsu
Transcribed for live instruments by Eiko Ishiwata.

I’ve really been trying to limit my posting of Final Fantasy music since starting this blog.  Even though I have so much history with the franchise and I know this music better than any other VGM game or series, there is so much great game music out there and I want to explore as much of it as I can – both old and new.

There are so many Final Fantasy remixes and arrangements out there.  That being said, there are very few transcriptions.

What’s the difference?

An arrangement is the setting of pre-existing musical material and changing it to fit a new style, form, or ensemble.  Any remix that you’ve heard is, almost certainly, an arrangement of some kind.  A transcription uses the precise source material (with no edits or changes) and presents it as is.

That sounds like it’s just the song, though.  Well, it is, but not always in the way that you expect.

Eiko Ishiwata has transcribed “Forever Rachel” and had it performed, note for note, by the same instruments that Uematsu used in his score.  The difference lies in the character of the sound, not the notes on the page.

I have to digress for a moment here, because if you didn’t grow up in the 8- and 16-bit era of video games, you and I may interpret synthesized instruments differently (or maybe not, right?).  When I hear music from the SNES or Genesis/Megadrive, there’s a part in my head that’s already converting the flute synth to real flute, or the string synth to a real orchestral string section.  But, there’s another simultaneous part that’s appreciating the tone colour for what it is and just welcoming the 90s SNES sound into my head.  The two parts of the brain are working in tandem.  It’s a very strange sensation, but I’d be interested to see how others listen to VGM from that era.  Feel free to tell me in the comments section 🙂

Anyway! This transcription is what I’ve been hearing in my head since I was ten years old, so I’m happy that someone made it happen.

If you’re unsure of what the theme means (especially to the arrogant treasure hunter, Locke), the Final Fantasy Wikia article describes the tale and is dripping in spoilers.

The player is introduced to Rachel as Locke’s girlfriend from Kohlingen. One day, Locke took Rachel to Mt. Kolts, supposedly looking for what would become her engagement ring. Upon crossing a rickety bridge, it began to collapse with Locke on it, before Rachel pushed him out of the way just in time. In doing so Rachel took the fall for him. Locke saved her and brought her back to Kohlingen, but due to the fall, she had lost her memory. Her father blamed it on Locke, and he kicked him out of their house.

Rachel agreed to her father’s decision because she had no memory of Locke, and only saw him as someone who was upsetting her parents. The residents of Kohlingen were also angry at him, leading him to leave the town. Rachel was killed one year later in a raid by the Empire, but her memory was also restored right before her death. Her last words were: “If a man called Locke should ever return, please tell him that I love him”.

Locke eventually heard about the attack, and came back to Kohlingen only to find he was too late. Determined to do something for her, he took her to an herbologist living in Kohlingen, who preserved her body in its youthful state using herbs. After that, Locke searched for a way to bring her back to life. His feelings of guilt continued to haunt him, causing him to try to protect every woman he came across in need. He searched far and wide for a way, but he does not find it until the world is destroyed. He hears of the legendary esper, Phoenix, that can revive the dead.

He immediately goes searching for it, and finds it right when the player party shows up. When he gets to Kohlingen, he uses the Phoenix esper on Rachel, but the cracked magicite shard could only revive her for a few moments. She helps Locke overcome his guilt, tells him to “give his love to the one who now dwells in his heart” and dies again but not before her spirit merges with the Phoenix magicite and restores the magicite to it’s original splendor. Thus allowing Locke to finally make peace with his torrid past.

Ah, young love.

Have a great week!
Kenley

VGM Wednesday – Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars) by Anamanaguchi

“Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars” from Summer Singles 2010, by Anamanaguchi.

I want to do something different with VGM Wednesday this month.

Instead of finding tunes from games, I want to flip that expression around and find game-inspired tunes.  That could mean a lot of things and over the next five weeks, it will 🙂

The first is from the fabulous 8-bit band, Anamanaguchi.  Their music is all original and has the feel of classic gaming, but with modern harmony and parts/riffs that would normally push any 2A03 to the limit.

The piece is called “Aurora (Meet Me in the Stars)” and, having written and re-written this description several times, I still have a hard time putting down my thoughts.  I love it – that’s it.  Maybe you will too.  You can hear all of their music on their Soundcloud… all of it 😐 One of my other favourites is “My Skateboard Will Go On,” and it makes me want to high five everyone everywhere.  SO GOOD.

I love this band and bought their albums, I recommend you do the same.

(and by “buy,” I mean with money and not download them illegally. They’re indie, so support them).

Clear skies, everyone!
Kenley

VGM Wednesday – The Wedding Edition

“The Merry Mary Bell Rings” from Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, by Yoko Shimamura, and released in 1996.

Well, tomorrow is the day!

Tomorrow, I will be married 🙂

It seems only fitting that today’s VGM Wednesday reflects this exciting 48 hours because that’s what video games do, don’t they? They resonate with us at the common times of the games and our lives.  Whether it’s the mastery of our surroundings in Portal, the adventure-seeking in Skyrim, or the celebration of love in Final Fantasy IV (during Cecil and Rosa’s wedding, of course, as this is the wedding edition).  We empathize with the game elements that we crave in our lives, at least where narrative is concerned.

I recently beat the DS port of Final Fantasy IV and, while the battles were a bit cheap at times, the wedding between Cecil and Rosa at the end (spoiler) really resonated with me because I’m getting married right away! I wanted to high-five Cecil and wish him the best because we’re both going through the same thing and, as silly as it may sound, I was just so happy for him.

(also, Rosa is a total babe who is crazy in love with him, who wouldn’t want to high-five that scenario?)

It’s a strange feeling, this “getting married” thing.  Many people say that nothing changes in their relationship, while others say it was a transformative experience.  I can’t help but ask myself “I wonder what it’ll be like for me?”

Brenna and I have been dating for seven years – that’s a long time.  Thankfully, it doesn’t feel like it.  We live together and know each other pretty well, which I think has helped us plan the wedding.

(read: “…which has helped me help Brenna plan the wedding.”  She’s the mastermind and it’s going to be a crazy good time)

Anyway, I guess not knowing is part of the adventure, isn’t it? It’s that you have the adventure together.  I’m not nervous for the journey, just excited.  She’s the most amazing woman that I know 🙂

Okay, off to Marrymore to get married.  Valentina and Booster are first, though.  They reconciled their differences with Mario and have decided to be happy.

Until next time 🙂
Kenley

PS: All images from this post were taken from the awesome Destructoid post, “The Ten Best Video Game Weddings.”

VGM Wednesday – “The Turnabout Sisters’ Ballad” from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

“The Turnabout Sisters’ Ballad” from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, by Masakazu Sugimori and Naoto Tanaka, and released in 2001.

When I first got a DS (in about 2006, I know), this was one of the first games that I played.  I remember liking it, but I just couldn’t get over how much reading there was.  I feel silly about it now, but maybe I just wasn’t into it at the time.  Oh, and I sucked at it, let’s not forget that one.

Then about two months ago, I tried it again and loved it.

I was better at evidence, I was more interested in the story, I liked the characters more… it was just the right time to play it.

But even more so than before, I heard the classic feel of the music.  Maybe I just wasn’t thinking about it at the time, but now that I hear it, it harkens back to the Japanese melody-centric VGM that I grew up with.  Keeping in mind, the game was released in 2001, so the music wasn’t that far out of the “golden era” (mid-80s to late-90s) of VGM.

In case you’ve never played it, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney is an adventure game about a rookie lawyer (named Phoenix Wright) who takes over the law practice after his partner (Mia) is killed.  See? Not a spoiler.  The game has two main sections: The investigation and the trial.  During the investigation, you gather evidence and information from various places and people and use it in the trial against various witnesses to win the case.  All of the chapters are uniquely interrelated, which I really enjoyed this second time around.

“The Turnabout Sisters’ Ballad” plays after Mia dies – that’s not a spoiler, she dies right at the beginning.  Her younger sister (Maya) becomes your partner and has a theme of her own, which later becomes the de facto theme of the the Wright & Co. law offices.

As we hear, they’re both arrangements of the same theme.  The first moves a lot slower and is a bit more emotive, whereas the second is more rhythmic and shows the lighter feeling of the office.  I just love the both of them, but the “Turnabout Sisters’ Ballad” gives me a stronger emotional response.  Maya often recounts missing her sister around these parts and the dialogue is really sharp here.

(Also, I am a huge sucker 1-7-1-^5 movements, like the background line at 0:38… GAH!)

Have a great week.
Enjoy the 4th of July, American friends.
Enjoy the discovery of the Higgs Boson, human race 🙂

Kenley

VGM Wednesday (Friday) – “Com64” from “Sword & Sworcery”

“Com64” from Superbrothers: word & Sworcery EP, by Jim Guthrie and released in 2011.

This past week, I was recording the Episode 6 of the IRL Podcast with Francesca and Kyle.  This particular episode was about the Humble Indie Bundle V, which I talked about last week.  They also wanted to talk about the music, so they asked me to come on (from previous Into the Score experience, and I think that we’re always looking for reasons to podcast together because we always have a great time).

While we were discussion the music from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, Francesca brought up a piece that she says “she can’t listen to on the bus anymore.”  It’s a bonus track called “Com64” and, when I listened to it, I immediately knew why.

As soon as I started playing it, I started moving my body back and forth, bobbed my head and did some punch-dancing in my chair.

That four-on-the-floor bass (0:08)…

Then the kick (0:12), with the rhythmic noise tracks clicking on the upbeats (0:00)… GAH! What a solid foundation!

Then the synth groove comes in with the main riff with the bass in octaves… (:17)

Then the turnaround (0:36) right before the melody comes back in with octaves (0:41).

GAH! Dancing so hard!

I hope you’re all dancing so hard too! Also, it’s officially summer for teachers, giving rise to many days of crazy dancing.

Have the best time,
Kenley

VGM Wednesday – “A Proper Story” from Bastion

“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