I’m happy to announce that the vinyl version of Jessica Curry’s soundtrack for “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture” will be the first album to be featured in this new series of album showcases and descriptions. The game was developed by UK developer The Chinese Room (of which Curry is a co-founder) who is also known for making “Dear Esther” in 2012 and “Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs” in 2013. “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture” was released in August, 2015 as a PlayStation 4 exclusive game to positive reviews.
An interesting fact about the game and the score is that Curry isn’t just the composer. She was also the co-creative lead on “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture”. This is not something I see that often and I’m interested in seeing how this affects the role of the score in the actual game.
The vinyl version that I will be looking at is coming out on Monday (November 30, 2015) and is being released by the Dutch label Music On Vinyl as part of their “At The Movies” series which focuses on soundtracks for movies, tv series, and video games. This is the second video game featured in the “At The Movies” series with the first one being the soundtrack to the game, “The Order: 1886” released earlier in 2015. The soundtrack was originally published by Sony Classical and it is Sony who holds the rights to the soundtrack.
Before we get started there’s a few disclaimers I should mention. First, this album was given to me by Music On Vinyl as a promotional copy for this showcase. I do intend to keep this as objective and informative as possible, but please keep this in mind. Second, I have yet to actually play “Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture” so I am unable to connect specific songs to events from the game and I cannot address how the soundtrack works in the context of the game.
If you don’t want to look at and read about the packaging you can skip straight to the music description here.
If you’re familiar with Music On Vinyl’s releases you’ll know that first pressings of their albums often come on an exclusive color and is foil-numbered on the back cover. This release is no exception and the first 500 copies come on white vinyl with a silver-foil number on the back (I received copy number 30 out of the 500).
The album is a 2LP on 180g white vinyl and comes in a gatefold cover. The cover is glossy and features unique artwork different from the original CD and digital releases from the soundtrack. The cover art can be seen on the picture above and the gatefold artwork is shown on the picture below.
If you’re confused about the white vinyl it’s likely because it was originally announced on clear vinyl. This was changed due to quality concerns from the pressing plant.
The album comes with a 4-page insert that features liner notes about the game and soundtrack from Jessica Curry and developer Dan Pinchbeck. Inside the insert there’s lyrics from the vocal parts of the soundtrack (see the image above). The lyrics were written by Pinchbeck and sung by Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who is accompanied by the London Voices and Metro Voices choirs. On the back of the insert all the soundtrack credits are featured. For a full credit list I suggest visiting the album’s release page on Discogs.
The image above shows everything that comes with this release. The two 180g white vinyl records, the gatefold cover, and the 4-page insert. The records are housed in plain white polylined inner sleeves and the entire release is housed in a thick resealable plastic sleeve with an embossed “At The Movies” logo.
For the opening tracks Thomas’ soprano combined with strings in the back gives a sort of ethereal and slightly ominous vibe. There’s almost a Celtic fantasy-style sound to some of it while at other times it feels like an epic hymn not unlike what you’d hear from a big choir in a church. The latter is probably not that surprising seeing how the game title mentions the rapture (and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the rapture is part of the game as well).
What immediately strikes me is how much closer this feels to a movie score rather than a video game score. Don’t get me wrong that’s not a bad thing – just goes to show the variety of musical styles found within the video game music “genre” today.
When thinking of orchestral scores in video games I’m more often than not thinking of the epic fast-paced orchestral scores of AAA action-adventure titles, but this one is quite the opposite. As mentioned I haven’t played the game, but from what I’ve read it’s more focused on exploration rather than action and so it makes fine sense, but it’s interesting in that regard.
The score itself feels like a narrative of sorts and I can see how it would accompany a slower-paced exploration game well. At least in theory, but I look forward to trying the game and see how the score works in its intended context. A thing I’m noticing is that through the album all instruments are allowed some time in the spotlight. There’s definitely times where the violin is in focus, other times it’s the clarinet, and yet other times the harp or the piano.
To follow up on the comment about the score following a narrative, it does seem to progress through different stages throughout the album. Early on there is a more curious, even hopeful, feel to it. While later it seems to grow a bit darker and ominous (without ever turning completely bleak) and away from the Celtic-style sounds towards a more awe-demanding church style Choral music, before it turns more hopeful (albeit still darker than it started out) towards the end.
Generally, the pressing sounds very good and quiet and I’m not picking up any surface noise whatsoever. I am detecting a little distortion with some of the high vocals, though, which is a shame. But in defense of the album that might also be my stylus which isn’t exactly new anymore.
To sum up it’s a very atypical video game score with its choral arrangements and Celtic/fantasy-style passages (and lyrics with nature themes to match). If you’re more into the 8-bit classics and/or electronic style tunes then it might not be your thing. However, if you’re into scores for epic fantasy movies or maybe simply ethereal choral music then this might be something for you. Musically it’s solid and well-composed and I’m intrigued by the idea of having a composer heavily involved in the creative parts of creating the game. Kudos also to Music On Vinyl for giving this score a very nice vinyl pressing and venturing further into the territory of video game music. Something I hope to see them do even more of in the future.