There is something very certain about lying on the sofa and soaking up the sound of a really well-pressed wax plate played on a mammoth facility. Because say what you want about the digital sphere and the many different streaming platforms that are available to choose from. When it comes to enjoying music, regardless of its genre. So there is nothing that beats the feeling of the far more physical experience a vinyl record offers. The tactile creates an intimacy and forges a strong bond of togetherness that the undersigned finds particularly satisfying. Impressions that simply can not be obtained by clicking play in Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal or whatever service you may now use in your everyday life.
Simple, yes absolutely. Flexible, definitely. But genuinely enjoyable from a comfortable armchair placed in front of a bar really large floor-standing speakers with associated peripherals and extra everything? No, the two are incomparable and I am of the firm opinion that music deserves better. Now I am certainly also unaware that I am preaching to deaf ears. The already saved know exactly what I’m talking about, but for the great masses, especially since those who did not grow up in the format of the 70’s and 80s, the LP and everything around it is and remains something cumbersome and unnecessarily complicated. But summer is a time destined for renewal and change, an excellent opportunity to really enjoy a really well-pressed wax plate.
Games and movie soundtracks have for me is a genre of music that makes itself extra excellent on the format. Much thanks to the fact that it becomes so much easier to devote all attention to the composers’ works in their isolated form without other distractions and impressions. Even the senses are free to completely focus on the music in its most undressed form, something that can often feel like a journey of discovery into the unknown. I have often found a completely new appreciation for music I already thought I was familiar with, but which I later realized to some extent drowned in the audiovisual noise that is naturally created by film and video games. It’s not weirder than that.
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Our poor primate brains do not always really cope with the bombardment of impressions they are exposed to. A cacophony of chaos, and old man as you are, I prefer to enjoy things one thing at a time. Which also made me completely rediscover the greatness of Olivier Deriviere’s incredibly atmospheric, dark compositions. A soundtrack that definitely and very undeservedly falls into the category of overlooked and all too rarely mentioned soundtracks. For despite many years in the industry, Olivier Deriviere is still a relatively anonymous voice whose music we have not only been able to hear in A Plague Tale: Innocence but also Streets of Rage 4, Dying Light 2, Obscure and Remember Me.
But there is no doubt that his compositions for A Plague Tale: Innocence are among the best in his career, so far. It is melodic, dynamic and rich in wonderfully fate-saturated texture that marries perfectly with the game’s dark story. The key harp, viola da gamba and other time-typical instruments form the framework and give the music a wonderful weight as well as time-correct anchoring. Hugo and Amicia’s arduous journey through the plague-stricken France in the 14th century with the Inquisition notch in the heel feels alive through the music and repeatedly gives shivers of prosperous discomfort. Uncomfortable, scary and simply wonderful. But where there is darkness, we also find light, a truth that nevertheless agrees with Olivier Deriviere’s soundtrack.
For each dark and haunting musical track, it is offset by warming bright spots that touch and give hope. Strangers, Together Forever and Beyond the Horizon are perfect examples of this. Compositions that stand in stark contrast to the hopelessness and creeping discomfort that Inquisition and The Rats constitute. The music is a perfect extension of the game’s gripping and gloomy theme and manages to stylishly balance right on the edge of the abyss without completely falling into its darkness. It is a soundtrack that touches and surprises with plenty of complexity. Brilliantly well-balanced and nasty immersive with a wonderfully beautiful, well-produced press from Black Screen Records. The Germans who also gave us LPs with music from Dear Esther, The Medium and Anno 1800, among others.
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All of the twenty-six pieces of music from A Plague Tale: Innocence are represented and are spread over four sides on two smoky 180 gram wax plates. The press oozes quality just like everything else Black Screen Records has released and the envelope is really big, designed by Asobo’s own artists Damien papet and Olivier Ponsonnet. It is a product full of love and it is both visible and heard, even more so played on our always equally good-sounding and brilliant Technics SL-1210MK7. Paired with its Ortofon 2M Blue pick-up, the sound is almost outrageously good and really reveals every little detail in the wonderful pressing.
Of course, it must be said that Olivier Deriviere’s music is not something that can be classified as easy listening. No, this is more of a regular experience and definitely something that makes demands on you as a listener. But if you’re ready for something a little more different and emotionally upsetting, there are currently few other game soundtracks of the same caliber as A Plague Tale: Innocence’s official soundtrack. Simply brilliant.
Previous articles in this series:
VINYL: (1) The wax carousel has arrived
VINYL: (2) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Soundtrack
VINYL: (3) Back To The Future – Original Score
VINYL: (4) Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
VINYL: (5) The Medium Original Soundtrack
VINYL: (6) Shadowrun: Hong Kong (Official Soundtrack)
VINYL: (7) God of War – Original Soundtrack
VINYL: (8) Ghost in the Shell (Original Soundtrack)