Next one in this series of VGM vinyl album description/review-ish posts is here! And it’s about Austin Jorgensen’s soundtrack to the absurd tragicomical role-playing game, LISA (sometimes LISA: The Painful) and its expansion LISA: The Joyful. This one was released by Ghost Ramp (their first full-length video game music release so far) mid-November.
The release was announced all the way back in February in an interview Ghost Ramp did with PCGamer, where they talked about their plans for some of their first video game vinyl releases.
Like FTL, which I covered in a previous Now Playing-post, LISA is also the product of a succesful Kickstarter. However, for LISA Austin Jorgensen didn’t just do the soundtrack – he also made the game! And for once I am writing about a game that I have not only played, but completed (including the DLC). And I gotta say – I’m probably a little biased for this post as I absolutely love and adore the game and its soundtrack, so feel free to keep that in mind.
The soundtrack comes in a nice gatefold sleeve, which has a glossy outer cover while the gatefold has a more matte finish. The quite spectacular artwork is done by Karsten Schreurs who have drawn some great character interpretations that are detailed but still true to the low-res characters from the game. The release also comes with a small insert with the tracklist and game art.
It’s a double LP release and there were two different color options to choose from – a picture disc with character art option and a colored vinyl with a blue-and-black split disc and a red-and-black split disc. I went with the picture disc (a little more on that later down in the “The Music” section), because I’m a huge sucker for the game and the characters in it. As seen below the discs features pictures of Brad Armstrong, Marty Armstrong, Terry “Terr Bear” Hintz, and Rando.
Additionally, a “special edition” variant of the picture disc version was also available and comes with a few extra goodies – some pins, and some patches. You can see the whole special edition package and its contents in the image below.
Ah yes, the most important part of this! How does this sound? Well, as I mentioned above I would comment on the picture disc choice here. The reason for this is that picture discs generally don’t sound all that good simply due to the way they’re made (basically a very thin film with the artwork is pressed onto the records, which often adds additional surface noise). However, this is most definitely one of the best picture discs I’ve heard with hardly any noticeable surface noise. So as for the pressing and sound quality, I definitely wouldn’t be concerned with sound quality between the two variants.
How’s the music, though? Batshit insane – in the best possible way. This is arguably the most varied soundtrack I own in terms of styles and genres (and I’m not even sure how to eve describe these). It’s wonderfully weird and complements the atmosphere of the game strangely well.
I have one minor gripe, which is the tracklist. For the most part they’ve chosen to include some of the best tracks taken from the game (and its expansion). However, I would have loved to have some of the really crazy stuff on there such as “Air Raid” (although I’m still glad that they put “Work Harder” on this – the look on my girlfriend’s face when I put that one on and timed my own “UH-HURH” noises correctly to the music was priceless). It’s kind of an unfair criticism, I admit. The original soundtrack is 90 tracks long (+ 25 tracks from the expansion), so it was undoubtably hard to choose only 30 for this release – and likely even harder to please everyone. Overall, they did a good job, though, and I feel they chose songs that are essential to the game.
To sum up – this is quite a spectacular release if you liked the game and its music. I think it’s quite a niche release – even within the niche of video game music on vinyl, even though the soundtrack received quite some acclaim. However, as someone who never thought they’d own this soundtrack on vinyl I am very thrilled that Ghost Ramp decided to put this out and this have probably been one of my most anticipated releases to come out this year. I’d even go so far as to hope for a second volume with some of the tracks that didn’t make it on this one.
If you’re unfamiliar with this soundtrack I’d strongly recommend giving it a listen on Austin’s Bandcamp. The soundtrack to LISA: The Joyful is currently only available for purchase via Steam, but some of the tracks can be found on YouTube.
It might not be for everyone, but I’m personally a big fan.
If you’d like a copy of this then there’s still special edition copies available via Ghost Ramp, but also regular picture disc and colored vinyl versions.